Finished! Um, a while ago.
Pattern: Nordic Stripes socks, by Tobi Beck
Yarn: Sweet Georgia Yarns Tough Love Sock in Pomegranate (dark pink) and Black Plum (dark brown-purple), and Invictus Yarns Master of My Feet in Peachy Keen (light pink)
Needles: 2.75 mm / US 2 for stranded portions, 2.25 mm / US 1 elsewhere
Tour rank: #85
Approximate knitting time: 32 h
Yup, I did it again - I finished these socks, sent pictures to the Tour Director, then tossed some clothes in a suitcase and caught a plane out of here for another family vacation. Truthfully, I had a few days between sock finish and go time, but those days ended up being rather full of other preparations for the trip, and not much time for pursuits such as blogging. So here I find myself, trying to remember all the things I thought might be worth commenting on while I was working up these socks.
First up - I met my goal this time! In spite of the multiple bands of stranded fancy work! Yes, this means that on this tour, the two pairs of socks that I thought were least likely for me meeting my goal worked out in my favour, while the the ones that were most likely (stage 3) were my lowest-ranked finish. Huh. Not sure how to interpret those results.
Second - these were super fun. Something about stranded motifs make them seem to whiz along. Clearly, from my posted knitting time, they're not actually fast for me, but they sure felt fast. Maybe it's the super visible progress made when working the colourwork? To be fair, my approximate knitting time posted is truly approximate, because I forgot to run the timer for the second sock, so I just doubled the time for the first sock to get the time for the pair. That's likely going to overestimate, since second socks tend to be a bit quicker due to established familiarity with the pattern. (I'm not saying I'd memorized all the charts by the time I got to sock two, I'm just saying that I was able to be slightly less obsessive and weird about the charts.) I could totally see myself putting together more remnant bits and making more socks with this pattern. (Then again, I said that about the Rolling the Bones socks from last year, and I still haven't knit a second pair.)
Third - oh man, the ends. The ENDS. Colourwork always means more ends, but these socks upped the ante by also calling for an afterthought heel, which had some consequences for end management. One: the afterthought heel itself added in two more ends to deal with. Two: I had to break the contrast yarns to create a gap where the heel would go, which meant an extra four ends to take care of. When all was said and done, there were 12 end strands to tidy away. Per. Sock. That's, well, a lot of ends. All those strands also mean the sock isn't particularly portable.
Tech specs: this pattern came with a little more flexibility than Tour patterns usually do. It's worked toe up, but we were allowed our choice of cast on, so I used Judy's Magic Cast On. The size I used was worked over 64 sts, so I went all the way up to a 2.75 mm needle for the stranded bits, worrying about fit the whole way through. (Clearly, it's fine.) Because of my gauge, I needed to add some rounds to get enough length for my foot, and I added these into the band where the afterthought heel would eventually be placed. I also added a few extra rounds after the heel placement, in part to make that stripe a bit less lopsided, in part to try to move the next stranded section away from my ankles a little. I used Jeny's Stretchy Bind Off at the top of the cuff. For the afterthought heel, on the first sock I picked up all the stitches before removing the waste yarn, and that worked but seemed to require a lot of tugging, so for the second sock I switched to removing the waste yarn from one stitch at a time, and scooping up each newly liberated stitch along the way. It seems fiddlier in concept, but it felt smoother and easier. That being said, I'm not sure I'll use afterthought heels much - I'd rather not have the extra ends to play with.
And with this sixth pair, my Tour is complete!