Friday, August 30, 2013


So, I recently knit myself six brand spanking new pairs of socks in the Tour de Sock.

My sister, who is dependent on my goodwill for her handknit socks, watched me crank those puppies out, knowing that none of them were for her. She has a little stash of yarns for her - some were gifts from me, others she bought then handed over for safe keeping - and before the Tour began, I asked if she might be interested in having one of the pairs of Tour socks. She declined, because she wasn't keen on the whole committing to a pattern without having seen it first that goes with the Tour, and she also is deeply suspicious of lace in socks - she suspects those holes will allow heat to escape and cold to enter.

So the Tour socks are all mine, and my sock drawer is well stocked for the coming sock season.

Her drawer, however, has suffered some losses. So I've decided I should try to bolster her sock collection.

While waiting for one stage of the Tour to start - no longer remember which one - I cast on for a set of Owlie Socks for her. I set them aside again once sockracing took off again, and picked them up for a couple of weeks after, but I had less knitting time, so they're still not done. One is done, the other has about half a leg. I got a little weary of cables, and a lot weary of working cables in the Stroll that I was using.

So I consulted with her, and dug up some more stash for something different - Carousel, in some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. I worked on those for a little while.

And then I noticed a problem.

See, because of the way this pattern is worked, you can't rely on negative ease to get a good fit on the sock. So, the pattern advises you to measure your leg circumference at the height you want your sock to reach, and then knit to fit that with zero ease. No problem, I grabbed a measuring tape and measured sister's leg, then was off and running.

My sister and I share structural characteristics when it comes to our foot-ankle-lower leg areas. We have smallish feet - we both wear size 6 shoes. We both have low arches. We both have fairly, um, sturdy ankles - they're not fleshy, but they're definitely not slender - and the parts of our legs that connect to the ankles are also sturdy. So we rely quite a lot on the stretchiness of knit fabric with our socks - the sock has to accommodate a rather large circumference to go over our heels. Normally this isn't a problem - if a sock will stretch to fit around the leg, it will also stretch enough to go over the heel.

But when there's no lateral stretch? Sure, the sock will still go over the heel. But how will the rest of the sock fit?

I snapped some really quick pictures to try and illustrate the badness here, but I was in a hurry and didn't realize these mostly suck. By the time I figured it out, it was too late to try again.

I present: a no-ease sock cuff that will fit on the leg.

But if I continue to knit the entire sock at that circumference, here's how the fabric will look at the ankle:

And on the foot?

Now, to further illustrate how badly that tube fits my foot:

Gross. No one would ever wear socks that fit that poorly.

I started thinking about how I might be able to make it work. Trying to somehow narrow the circumference in the joining process seemed like it was likely to cause puckers. Trying to narrow the circumference using gauge would work, except that I'd want to do it to make the ankle fit better, which would simultaneously make the sock impossible to pull on over the heel. So the ankle would have to stay loose, and again, no one would ever wear socks that bagged around the ankles but fit decently everywhere else.

So after some consultation with the sister, that bit of cuff was ripped out (which is why there couldn't be a second attempt at pictures). She'll pick a different pattern for this yarn.

My poor sister. I've been dangling the promise of new socks in front of her face for over a month now.

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