Wednesday, June 5, 2013

K'done: The Secret Fan Socks

All done on day 4 of round 1!

Pattern: The Secret Fan, by Adrienne Fong
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll, in Basalt Heather
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

I wove in the ends and took some hasty pictures for racing purposes right before sitting down (a bit late) to dinner, and then later took a few more pictures, hoping to improve on the visual presentation.

Honestly, I was a little on edge about the whole signing-on-to-knit-a-pattern-I-haven't-seen-yet thing that is the Tour de Sock. Add to that the fact that I'd never worked with beads in knitting before. When I opened up the pattern on Saturday morning, though, I was relieved - the first sock is not wildly counter to my own personal tastes. To be honest, I'm not sure I would have chosen to knit it on my own if I'd just happened to stumble upon the pattern.

I am, however, very glad that I did knit these. For one thing, adding beads to knitting is a pretty good time. A slow time, but a good time. For another, this pattern is full of little details that are quite clever, and I found them to be immensely satisfying to knit and behold in the finished object. I found myself completely charmed by the gentle twists that travel down the outside edges of the pattern repeat - so, two on either side of the sock, until they split off for the heel, where one carries down the edges of the heel flap while the other continues down the foot. I was enchanted by the patterning on the heel flap - slip ribs in the middle, as if to create a (rather large and sturdy) handle for the bottom-most fan at the back of the leg, with eye of partridge on either side. I'm not sure it ever would have occurred to me to mix up different heel stitch motifs, but now that I've seen it done, I'm scheming about other visually interesting things that might be doable. The gusset treatment is different and intriguing as well, placing the decreases on the bottom of the foot, rather than at the sides where the instep stitches meet the sole stitches. The result is a sort of tear-drop shaped bit of fabric that goes under the heel, and creates a sort of pouch in the sock to cradle the heel. The twists on either side of the foot travel all the way down to the toes - the toe decreases are shifted away from the outside edge of the instep stitches to allow the twists to continue undisturbed, and they very nearly meet at the very tip of the toe. Very cute touch.

The pattern only calls for one beaded sock, and when I saw that on Saturday morning, I wondered if I could press my luck and work up the non-beaded sock first, and then hopefully have my beads on Monday to do the beaded sock. I decided against it - for one, I wanted to be a bit faster than that anyway, and for two, there was no guarantee that my beads would arrive on Monday. My non-gamble was a good call - according to tracking, the beads were delivered yesterday (Tuesday), though they didn't come straight to my house, which I was expecting with expedited shipping, but they should be up in the superbox up the street - I'll take a wander up there to check a bit later today.

Also, I decided to put beads on both socks, for matching, but I respected the pattern's asymmetry by putting the beads on a front fan on one sock and a back fan on the other. The bead and yarn combination I used resulted in not terribly secret fans, but I'm okay with that.

From what I can tell from the Photo Finish thread, I am finisher #59 for this stage of the race. (Edit: I found the official leader board, and it turns out I am finisher #62.) Not great, but pretty decent, I think - I knew from the beginning that this stage would be a bit slower for me since it started at 7 AM local time on a Saturday, which meant I would have a several hour handicap because our Saturday routine does not include me waking up at 7 AM to start frantically knitting. Really, weekends in general don't have much knitting time in them. I managed to force more than usual in - more so on Saturday than Sunday - but still the weekend totaled about 15 hours knitting time, I think, and some of those hours - two or three? - were slower because they were video game knitting hours.

Stage 2 starts next Monday, 9:30 AM local time. I have a Skype meeting scheduled for noon that will probably last about an hour, but other than that? Should be a pretty sockracey day.

In the meantime? I desperately need to tend to the cooking detritus that I've been willfully ignoring since Saturday, and I have some stuff that needs to be done in the next couple of days to prepare for that meeting on Monday, but knitwise? I have some things on the go, but I'm sort of wondering if I should give my hands a bit of a break. They don't hurt or anything, but after a few hours of dedicated sockracing knitting, I could feel a bit of fatigue in some of my hand muscles. They were always fine in the morning, so I'm not worried about injury, really. There was one worrisome moment on Monday afternoon when I realized that for some reason, I was doing this death-grip thing with my right hand, and the increased tension in my fingers shifted the needle into the tipmost knuckle bend on my ring finger and put increased pressure there, and the tip of my finger went numb. I paid particular attention to my grip and needle position after that, and it's fine. I think it was the p2tog that made me tense up - carrying the yarn in my left hand means a less than optimal angle for a p2tog, which was usually fine but ended up sort of problematic if I was trying to do it with the last two stitches on the needle - the working yarn would slip out as I was trying to pull the new stitch through.

It feels a little weird to not be reaching for a sock at every opportune moment because I'm in a big hurry to get them done. I have the yarn for stage 2 all wound up and ready to go, and sort of feel like I should be casting on. But the pattern's not out yet. I have to wait till next week!

Maybe I'll put a little more time into a sweater.

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