Knitting socks from the top down requires using a stretchy cast on. There are plenty of options, but earlier this year I tried a tubular cast on, since the pattern I was working with called for 1x1 ribbing at the cuff, and a tubular cast on sets you up with 1x1 rib straightaway, with a nice, tidy edge that is remarkably stretchy. Seems a good match for socks if I'm doing 1x1 rib.
Except. I can't seem to ever get the tubular cast on right on the first try. I use the Italian method, which is a very nice, straightforward technique. Somehow, though, I always manage to bork it up in its execution.
The first attempt always ends up with me misjudging how long of a tail I should leave - I overestimate, and given that you pull a length of yarn out of the cast on edge when the cast on is complete, I end up with a really long tail hanging out of my work, which grumps me up, so I pull it out, shorten the tail, and then start over.
The second attempt is a bit more variable in its borking. One time I mixed up which end of the yarn to work the loops with, and realized the problem at the very end when I tried to pull the yarn out of its tube, and found that it would not budge, since the tail had actually been used to form the stitches, rather than the working yarn. Sometimes I discover at this stage that I miscounted in casting on, and now have the wrong number of stitches.
The third attempt usually works out, with me shaking my head and muttering the whole way through about how if I had just picked a different cast on, I'd be well on my way by now.
The other night, I cast on for a new sock, for my sister, and I did indeed have to do it three times. The first time I left too long a tail. The second time I forgot to move the working yarn to the front when slipping the 'purl' stitches on the setup rows, which left me with an interesting variant that looked like purl bumps on both sides. I should have taken a picture - maybe I'll have to do it again deliberately, maybe someone out there might have a use for such a thing? Still, it wasn't what I was after, so out it came. Third time worked out brilliantly, and I have the tiniest beginnings of a sock cuff on the needles.
Which is pretty great, since I discovered a gauge problem with the other sock I had started, and ripped that out a couple of nights ago. It'll get another try. Later.