Sunday, 13 January 2008

Sock it to me

DRUM ROLL PLEASE...

I have finished my first socks!

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you my Toe-Up Tiger socks, as I have been calling them:




They are plain stocking stitch socks, toe-up with short row toes and heels, and a 2x2 rib cuff, made from Middlearthknitter sock yarn in Tiger Feet.

I am just unbelievably excited about these. I have made socks! I know obviously I set out to make socks, but I am still on some level surprised that it actually worked. I've never made an actual garment before, in the sense of everyday clothing, rather than scarves, hats, gloves etc. I am extremely proud of myself. I am knitter, hear me roar. Also, some completely non-feminist part of myself feels rather fulfilled, in an "I can clothe my family" kind of way, not that any of them are getting socks from me in the near future. These are all for me.

I did enjoy the process, which was easier than I thought - probably because they are toe-up, and I have no intention of making any top-down socks ever again (my grandpa's socks, still a WIP, are toe-down and I hate them). It's just better doing it this way: a one-stage heel, no danger of running out of yarn, easily tried on as you go. But they are not perfect, and I have made some important learnings from the process, to be corrected next time:

1. The gauge is too loose. This is because when I first cast on for these (in September, on my holiday to Tobago, they then hibernated until Christmas) I hadn't yet discovered that my gauge in the round is a lot looser than my gauge knitting flat. Evidently I purl tighter than I knit. Not a problem for hats and the like, but the slightly drapey fabric I've produced here is not going to wear at all well as socks, especially as they're pure merino. I'll have to treat these very nicely - no long walks. Next time, I need to go down a couple of needle sizes. These were on 3mm so I have bought a couple of pairs of 2.5mm and 2.75mm for future use.

2. The socks are too big. Partly this stems from the above, but I rectified it somewhat by baulking initially at the number of stitches my flat gauge said to cast on, so I cast on less anyway (I'm not sure how I rationalised this but it worked out well). This means the socks are pretty much exactly the size of my foot, or slightly larger. Socks are, apparently, meant to have negative ease, or they become baggy and irritating in the shoe. Still, going down a needle size whilst maintaining a 60 stitch cast on will probably sort that out.

3. The cast off is a little tight. I tried to do this loosely over a 4mm needle, but it is still a little firm - not uncomfortable at all, but if I rectify (1) and (2) it would certainly be too tight. So I need to come up with a way of dealing with this for next time. Perhaps casting off over an even bigger needle, or doing some increases in the last row. I'll think about this.

4. Slight holeyness along the length of the short row heel join, especially at the very top. This isn't too bad, but that's probably because the sock isn't stretched on my foot. The boyfriend asked why there were holes in my socks, so evidently it is visible. I'm going to use the Sherman heel next time, which promises no holes - method here and here. We'll see. Otherwise I'll have to do more research on the hole issue. Incidentally, I was following the instructions from Sensational Knitted Socks, which has an error in the short row method - the errata are here.

5. I could have made them slightly longer. I don't normally wear a long sock, so this is fine, but I had some yarn left over as I was being conservative and overestimated how much the ribbing would take. I don't like the fact that I have lovely yarn left over, but I can't be doing with ripping back. But if I make my gauge smaller, I'll need more rows to get the same length, so there should be less wastage next time.

6. I need some sock blockers. Particularly for future socks where I won't have a relevant cuddly toy to make the pictures more amusing.

All in all, I'm pleased with my first effort, and there's nothing in that list that I can't work on for next time. Hooray for socks!

And indeed, hooray for sock yarn. Tash made some comment on Wednesday night about how she found it funny that I'd said I had too much sock yarn to be able to play with it properly - she said she'd had various mental images of what that meant - acting out little scenarios, making the sock yarns talk to each other? Rolling around in it? Well, seeing as the boyfriend is off snowboarding, getting it all out and playing with it is exactly what I chose to do this afternoon. Tash, for your information, it just involved laying it all out nicely and looking at it. And here's a photo of the beautiousness:


That's a lot of socks to make.

Finally, as promised, here's the fibre I bought yesterday for spinning purposes, and the lovely wooden spindle:


Yet more leisure time I have to find...

7 comments:

Gail said...

I think you should match your next socks to Mr Cadbury's parrot...

Original Ting said...

Hurrah for Tiger socks!! I am especially please as I was born in the Chinese year of the tiger,.. not that I believe all that bollocks anyway....

stash haus said...

Congrats on the first pair of socks! I'm also knitting my first pair - it's slow going because I knit very tightly (or while tight, hee hee) and my hand actually hurt after knitting on them for too long. We'll see how my gauge works out.

And that's not too much sock yarn - I think I've got 2 bins full - and have yet to finish a pair!

Do you have a pattern or tutorial you followed for the toe up option? I'm using Cat Bordi's Socks on 2 Circular Needles. I've got Charlene Schurch's books, but she doesn't address toe up, either. This first pair I'm doing top down - but I'd like to try both ways to see which I prefer.

Denise said...

congrats on the socks, have to tell you, they get addictive...


omg is that just sock yarn :O sooo prettyyyyyy all laid out together - tell the truth, did you roll around in in after you took the picture??

Ginger Lucy said...

Heh, no D, I didn't roll around, but I did stare at it for a veeerrry long time.

SH, I was using Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks - the toe-up method is pages 39-43 in my edition (the five-stitch patterns, but I just did mine plain). You'll need the errata link in my post though.

Faloola said...

Well now we know... much less sock yarn action than I thought... but thanks for clearing that up!

KnittingJenny said...

Lucy, the tiger socks look great! And thanks for mentioning the Sherman heel----I hadn't heard of it before but I just checked it out (thanks to you) and I am definitely going to try it. I love the idea of toe-up socks, but I haven't been able to make a great heel yet. Thanks for sharing the info!