Thursday, June 4, 2015

K'done: Virrat socks

Woot woot!

Pattern: Virrat, by Tiina Kuu
Yarn: Invictus Yarns SportMaster, in True
Needles: 2.75 mm / US 2

Tour rank: #72
Actual knitting time: approx. 19 hours

I snapped that image in my rush to submit to Tour Officials, and yesterday was cloudy and grey, with not much light coming in through the window, so I didn't take any extras. Today is better, but I am feeling lazy, and I cleaned up the kitchen this morning and made a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, which sort of took all the oomph out of my getting-things-done sails. Maybe this weekend I'll take some better pictures and update this post. It's supposed to be gloriously sunny. When I woke up this morning, I thought I'd wait until the weekend to write this up, but I realized that there would be no progress shot posted today, and I've got a bit of time now anyhow, so here we are.

This was my very first sport weight sock. I ordered a single lonely skein of SportMaster to try once the supply lists for the Tour were released (and she had some in stock, and the exchange rate worked out a bit better), and fretted about the gauge. I rely a lot on past experience to tell me something about what needle size I should use to hit a given target gauge, and my lack of experience with sport weight socks and the required gauge - 27 sts to 4" - meant I didn't really have any past experience to guide me. I sat down a couple of days before pattern drop and wound up the yarn, halved the skein, and then did some very minor swatching. Not proper swatching - I cast on 14 stitches, knit a few rows, measured, then pulled it out. I did that twice - once on 2.75 mm needles, and once more on 3 mm needles. My little fabric bit was closer to 2" with the 3 mm, so I decided to go with that.

And then the pattern dropped, and I saw the stitch counts for each of the sock sizes, and freaked out suddenly past experience started telling me things. The smallest size in the pattern was worked over 56 stitches. Once upon a time, when I was still relatively new to sock knitting, I worked socks in fingering weight yarn on 2.75 mm needles, because that gave me 8 sts to the inch, which was what the patterns told me I should be aiming for. I found, though, that I got a nice fit with the sock worked over 56 stitches, rather than the 60 or 64 that the patterns I was working from were sized for. (Unless there were lots of cables, then I needed to bump it up.) So here's this pattern worked with sport weight yarn over 56 stitches, and I was about to cast on with a needle that was a bit bigger than I had previously been using for socks worked over 56 stitches. I switched the needles out, and then cast on.

And proceeded to worry about the fit pretty much the whole way through the first sock. These are worked toe up, and I was able to try the sock on up until I finished the heel, at which point trying it on becomes a no go unless I take the time to thread a lifeline and remove the needles. (I've never done that for socks, by the way.) I gave the leg nervous glances the whole time I was coaxing it into being. I have sturdy ankles. Would this leg accommodate my sturdy ankles? Would it go over my heel? There are twists/2-stitch cables/traveling stitches in this pattern. Would they allow the required lateral stretch?

Once that first sock was done, I pulled it on - with no trouble at all. Good. On to the second.

It's not super obvious in the image I've shared here, but I had a bit of laddering going on with these socks, and some of the stitches adjacent to the cables are a bit loose. A wash will likely solve the laddering - always seems to with the minor ladders I sometimes see in socks - but I'm thinking maybe I will like myself more if I actually start taking proactive steps to prevent sloppy stitches at DPN joins, or at cable edges. They've never really bothered me much, but maybe I've been in denial.

Tech specs: since these are Tour socks, I couldn't deviate from what the pattern told me to do. These socks feature a star-shaped toe, which was new to me, and while at the moment I think I prefer the look of a rounded wedge toe, we'll see how the wearing goes. Part of my hesitation with the star-shaped toe is that the sock starts its life with a hole at the tip of the toe. It gets fastened off, much like the top of a hat, so it doesn't stay a hole, but I'm still a bit nervous about it. These also featured a sewn bind off, which was simple to execute, came out quite tidy, and is fairly stretchy, but I'm still a bit ambivalent about it on principle - I prefer to avoid cast on and bind off techniques that require you to estimate and set aside a long stretch of yarn, because if you estimate wrong and end up too short, it's crazy making, and if you estimate wrong and end up too long, you end up with a stretch of wasted yarn. With the amount of yarn chicken I end up playing, wasting yarn is a big no-no in my book. Then again, I've figured out how much of a tail I need to leave for Kitchenering a toe closed, so maybe with some more practice I'll get better at estimating the length needed for a sewn bind off?

What else is there to report on these socks? The yarn was fabulous. I heart the colour, and the feel of it in the hands was wonderful - which I was expecting since it's a heavier version of Master of My Feet, which I knew to be fabulous. Nice and smooth, not splitty. I have some regrets about having only ordered a single skein. Then again, we'll see how much I wear these - I haven't tried them on in shoes yet, and I probably won't until the fall.

Also - in terms of Tour ranking - because there are more participants this year (just shy of 900, I believe!), the Tour Organizers have rejiggered the points system again. I realized that they're basically aiming for more points for the top 10% of finishers. So I totally met my goal of getting more than just completion points on this round!

Here's hoping I can keep this up.

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