Yet another pair of socks? Until a couple of years ago, I had no idea there could be so many different ways to knit a pair of socks; in fact, it wasn’t until 2008 that I even considered hand knitted socks, but that’s another story. It seems that every day I discover yet another method of sock knitting. Some of the patterns are terrible, either that or the designer has very weird feet. Some of the patterns are ok, but need a bit of tweaking and occasionally, I strike upon a pattern that works beautifully, even if the finished article is not to my liking.
Socks from homespun yarn are more difficult to make using any sock pattern! The slightest deviation from gauge in the yarn can and does, make a huge difference to the size and shape of the sock. Just because the pattern specifies a gauge of yarn, it doesn’t mean that you absolutely have to use that gauge. For instance, if the pattern specifies 28 stitches/four inch and your yarn is slightly bulkier, then you can make fewer stitches to achieve the same result. A bit of advice from someone who frequently fails to heed her own: make a test swatch with your yarn before starting on the actual item. Four inches square is quick and easy to knit and unravel, considerably quicker than knitting half a sock and then rewinding it and starting again. From your 4×4 test swatch, you should be able to calculate how many more or fewer stitches you need to make to achieve the size you desire. In thecase of one of my early attempts, the pattern stated 56 stitches per round at the widest section. The sock was 8 inches around and I achieved 26 stitches across the four inch test piece instead of the desired 28. To match the pattern, I left out four stitches and I was happy. Once I started knitting though, the sock was still slightly too loose, because of my small foot, so I had to start again and take out another four stitches.
Likewise, never be fooled into thinking that your 2.5mm needles will do just as well as the 2.25mm set that you don’t have. A difference of 0.25mm in needle size will produce a very different sock. Believe me! I have wasted my time trying, before realizing that I had the right set of needles all along!
For every four stitches, 0.25mm adds an extra 1mm to the width and length. Twenty stitches and you have an additional 5mm in your sock. If you want to be pernickety, you are gaining slightly more that 0.25mm per stitch; it’s more like 0.37mm, due to the fact that the stitch is circular and the 0.25mm is from the diameter of the needle. In a quick testpiece, the true gain was more like 8mm over twenty stitches. Be warned, shortcuts make for lousy socks!
I learned another lesson a long, long time ago, believing that by knitting tighter stitches, it would work out the same, but all I achieved was sore hands, a broken needle and still the wrong sized garment.
There really aren’t many shortcuts in this game. Making a test run on a four inch width can save you a lot of time; even better if you knit your swatch in the round; many knitters produce a looser purl stitch which balances against the tighter plain stitch; without the balancing purl, knitting in the round is often tighter.
I could probably save myself a lot of time if read this blog once in a while! Anyway, here’s the latest sock:
Never having made an afterthought heel, I decided to try one in my quest to produce a sock that will last forever. I didn’t find the desired afterthought, but I encountered Cat Bordhi and her Padded Sweet Tomato heel, which is the weirdest heel I ever saw, but strangely, it fits nicely and is very comfortable. I doubt that it is going to last forever, so back to my quest to knit a sock, whose heel can be replaced, over and over again!