Knitting and Spinning and Stuff, oh my!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sock Mechanics 101-1/2

...or all the disjointed little nothings Grandma let me figure out on my own (most often some "I'm not admitting to" years later...)...

Warning: Long and rambling post today.

Wanna follow a pattern? e-valu-ate it (isn't that a tacky way to remind oneself?)! I often simply work with my own basic sock mechanics as I go, but you can't say it often enough, and everyone skimps on it anyway (and no, I'm not going to say "swatch" -- my theory is that socks are swatch sized and good for swatching out pattern stitches in and of themselves)... Read the pattern first! Then, unless you're participating in Sock Madness and need to follow the pattern to the letter, merge the pattern with your own basic sock mechanics, and you're set to go.

Note tags, or "We Don't Need No Stinking Pattern!" When I'm working with my "own basic sock mechanics" style socks, I use little note tags pinned to the pattern (or knitted right in, more often than not) to make sure I can duplicate my steps. Then I can tape all the little tags to a sheet of paper and, Voila!, instant pattern! When I'm following a "someone else's" pattern, I pin the next step (i.e., 'knit straight to 4"' or 'gusset to 16 sts') for convenience. This can also double as a guide to where the beginning of a round begins, if needed, and it comes in mighty handy when you're trying to pick up where you left off when you get back to this WIP that became preempted by that really luscious colorway, you know, the one that took backseat to that super soft what was that stuff, btw?; that got dropped for the latest round of Sock Madness...

Along the lines of knitting markers in, I most often simply take a scrap of contrasting yarn and knit it along with the stitch I'm trying to mark or slip a loop of contrasting yarn over the stitch. When I'm done, it can be cut or just pulls right out. When I want to add a note, I can tie it on and not worry about losing it. And not that I ever need to frog my work, because I'd never make a mistake you know (@grimace), but if I .were. to frog, the markers would still be where they need to be. And all this has the added bonus of totally perplexing even other sock knitters when they try to figure out why your socks are growing all those circus colored fringes all over the place.


(I am aware that neither of the sample pictures are of socks, but I have surprisingly few in-progress sock pictures. For some reason, I seem to finish them and snip/pluck the fringes before photo-ing... Note to self...)

Most top down socks have about the same number of rows in the heel flap as there are stitches across. Set a marker (here I like to use a more traditional marker, often an animal shaped one, because it pleases the three year old in me, often, particularly, a little silver dolphin that used to be a lone dangly earring once upon a... [is this a run-on parenthetical yet?])... Umm-where-was-I?... Set a marker at the beginning and move it over by two stitches: when the "dolphin swims" all the way across, you're done, no counting.

Wedge toes generally start decreasing for toes at the beginning of the little toe -- which on me happens to be same as from heel of my hand to tip of the middle finger. Speaking of which, measure your body parts! I can measure from 1 inch to 8 inches with one hand and its digits alone (thumb to first joint, 1"; tip of thumb to second joint, 2"; width across hand at knuckles, 3", base of thumb to tip of index finger, 4"; and so on...). Good because, despite having eleventy-million cutesy tape measures, I never have one when I need it...

Do we go on three or count to three and then go? -- Keep track of all the minor decisions you make along the way. Toe decreases: do you decrease every other row to half the number of stitches, then knit one more plain, or do you decrease every other row to half and then begin every row decreases right away? You bind of at half of that number of stitches, but what if half is an odd number? Do you close the toe at half plus one, half minus one (which would have you knit an additional row than half plus one), or do you fudge and decrease in the middle of the last row to end with that odd number? In the grand scheme of things, these are probably insignificant details, but in the toe scheme of things, you might tell the difference, especially if you do it differently between the two socks. Don't assume you'll remember... (These are also, you'll already have guessed, great places for those little scraps of confetti papers you've been knitting in since the first paragraph, yes?)

I'm sure there's more I've forgotten to stutter about -- they'll just have to go into another blogday. But in the meantime, feel free to stucker-sticker me with a large "Kick Me" Post It (aren't Post Its the most wonderful knitting tool?) on my back if you catch me forgetting to not forget any of the above -- this was supposed to be my forever reminder...........