Saturday, October 5, 2013

Socktober Day 5 Update

I've been making good progress on my elephant socks. As usual, chart knitting is completely addicting and hard to put down. This pattern uses one large chart for the leg, but I find it easy to keep my spot by using a couple sticky notes on the pattern.
I put them on "upside down" just above the row I am currently knitting. This way you know exactly what row you're working on and you can see the work that just did. As I work charts, I refer to the row I just did more than counting stitches on the current row. It's generally easier and keeps you on the right path. The only part that's a pain is you have to move the stickies every row. But I think it's easier (and less permanent) than highlighting each row as you go.

I had some comments in response to my first post where I claimed I would be following the pattern and not making my usual changes. Apparently some of my readers found this hard to believe! Well, so far I would say that I have followed the pattern...but it was an iffy start.

The pattern says to start with a twisted German cast on over two needles. I have to admit right up front that I didn't even know what that was, but I do know what I like to use. So that's what I did, and I cast on with the same method I would use for a two strand double stitch.* It's the same cast on I used for my "punked" youtube video,** only in this case I used two strands of red instead of different colours.
What you're looking for is a cast on that won't bind the top edge. It needs to stretch with the ribbing.

[*Can I just add an "internal footnote" to say that although this makes me sound like a curmudgeon who doesn't like to learn new things, it's more an issue of really wanting to start a new project and not wanting to slow down to look stuff up? I prefer to think I'm eager; not close-minded.]

Below a close up, and you may be able to see how the cast on looks like the stitches just wrap around the edge in a K1, P1 pattern. (It completely blends in with a 1x1 ribbing, but it's not quite as smooth on the 2x2 ribbing of this pattern...but you will notice that I didn't substitute it. (Although I considered it.))
Now, before you start jumping around and saying I cheated, after recommended the twisted German cast on, the next line of the pattern says, "you can use your favorite cast on." And so I did. And so, technically, I am still following the pattern.

Since working on the sock, I have looked up the twisted German cast on (anything you need to learn about knitting, just search youtube). It is a cast on that uses knots between each stitch--something I don't like. Knots restrict movement. Knots make hard little knobs in your knitting. Although you occasionally need to use them, I try to avoid them. And when I heard that this cast on is normally done over two needles to make it "stretchier," I put up another black mark against it. If you ask me, using two needles just makes it looser, not stretchier and makes it look messier. I just don't like it. Even the cast on I did use looks "ruffle-ly" and loose when it's not being worn. I can't imagine it being even looser. Anyway, that's where I stand and I'm glad I used the cast on I did. (Even if it was a complete pain in the keister to do in a single colour. Worth it.)

Anyway, once the 2x2 ribbing was done, and the leg chart was knit, it was time for the heel. A "partridge heel." I have heard of them (a lot) but had never done one. I knew it was a type of slipped stitch heel flap, and it turns out I was right. On the heel flap, you slip every other stitch on the knit rows. Not only do you slip them but you twist them as well. So they kind of stick out.
And because the slip stitches alternate "columns," you get a pretty sort of checkerboard pattern. The slip stitches draw in the knitting and are supposed to make the back of the heel more durable. On the back you get longer floats on every other row,
which also is a type of reinforcing as the floats double the knit stitches and give you two layers, in a sense. When I slip stitch the heel flap, I usually line up the slipped stitches so they're always in the same column of stitches. I believe this is called a Dutch heel and considering I learned it from my Dutch grandmother, I guess that makes sense. (Unless this is another case of Dutch meaning German (like Pennsylvania Dutch). I'm not sure.)

And again, for my certain readers, I will note that the pattern instructed me to slip the last stitch of each row and knit the first stitch of the next row, which is completely opposite of what I usually do (slipping the first stitch and knitting the last stitch). But I followed the pattern along to see where the designer was taking me. Turns out the two methods would have been equivalent, but I didn't know that until I did it, so I did it her way. (See? Following the pattern!)

The heel turn. It's a very sharp angle. I'm not sure I
like that. But it'll stretch to shape when being worn,
so it's nothing to make a big deal about.
Once you get to the bottom of the heel, you do the turn with some short rows and decreases. This is also a first for me. Usually the bottom of the heel flap is half of your total stitches and you have to decrease all the stitches you pick up from the side of the heel flap. But in this case, you end up with fewer stitches at the bottom and only decrease some of the side stitches.

My mind is still working out if this will make for a better fit (it certainly will make for a shorter gusset), but I will find out in the making. Again, following the pattern to see where it will take me...

Once the heel flap and turn were done, it was time to pick up those stitches on the sides and continue working all the stitches:
You start with the left sock, so this is the "inside" side.
This is where I really struggled. After completing the heel, the designer had the nerve to tell me to cut my yarn. AAAHHH. Cutting yarn in the middle of a sock!? That is crazy talk. But right in the pattern, she admits that she hates to work in ends, so I had to take her instruction to cut the yarn seriously. I did stop to consider how else I could work it, but I decided to just trust her and cut my yarn. It hurt though.
This is the "outside" so you can show off your
clever little elephant.
At this point I tried the sock on. It's tight going over my heel, but then fits fine. That's the risk with stranded socks--they really don't stretch. I went down a needle size because usually 72 stitches is way too big. I think it's going to be ok.

(Famous last words?)

**Story here if you don't know it or want to reread it.

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