Friday, 28 March 2014

Another Pair of Socks!

After the success of my first pair of socks, and still in search of some with a better fit and different techniques to learn for turning the heel, I chose the Desk Drawer Socks by Kimberlyn Fauson on Ravelry.  I was attracted by the description of a plain ('vanilla') sock for a 'stubby foot', featuring the 'easiest way to do a short row heel', and the picture showed socks in the same yarn that I was planning to work with (Drops Fabel), but in a different colourway.

I dithered somewhat when starting.  I did another two swatches, trying to adjust my tension and still got 32-36s/44-48r on 2.75mm needles. The ball band average gauge is 26s/32r on 2.5mm. Going up another needle size will make the fabric too loose.  I’m really not a very tight knitter, so I don’t understand it at all, but at least my gauge is closer to that on this pattern.
The pattern is for 60 stitches, so I was a bit worried about whether that would be wide enough for my chunky feet and ankles. I redid the stitches per inch calculation using my tension gauge to check how wide a sock (in theory) the number of stitches specified in the pattern would create.  In the end, I stuck with the number of stitches from the last pair of socks (72; 18 per dpn). I knew this would mean I would have to work a few more rows and decide how to deal with the extra stitches when doing the heel and toe, but my knitting confidence is growing, so in the end, I cast on and went for it.

10 rows of K2P2 rib, for the cuff.
40 rows stocking stitch before doing the heel. (I like my sock legs about 10cm - quite short, but then, so am I!)

The short row heel method described is quite easy, and pretty cool.  It involves leaving increasing numbers of slipped stitches at the start and end of rows which are then caught up in the work again by knitting/purling them with the running thread leading to the next slipped stitch.  I was fascinated by this.  You're lifting a running thread but not increasing.  You're knitting or purling two together, but not decreasing.  And the heel starts to take shape as you work back and forth. I found identifying the running thread after a slipped stitch difficult.  The purl side work was neat, but the knit side left holes, so I probably wasn't picking up correctly.

I also had to make a decision how many stitches to leave unknit either side and how many to work in the centre, which would be the heel width. The tutorial for this said it could be 'whatever you want' but I think there is probably more to it than that. The pattern had 9 unknit/slipped on each end and 12 in the middle.
I changed this to 11 unknit and 14 in the middle on my first sock, but this resulted in a flappy little wedge where the heel shaping was evidently a couple of rows too long with too few working stitches in the centre.  It wasn't a big enough problem to warrant frogging back, but not a good fit either.
I tweaked this on the second sock, leaving 10 either side and 16 in the centre, which was better, though still not perfect.

55 rows on the foot to the toe shaping.

I worked the three extra decrease rows (to take care of my six extra stitches) with some corresponding knit rows evenly into the toe shaping pattern. However, this resulted in 5 or 6 extra rows in the toe shaping (which I forgot to take off the foot length, oops!), so the socks are a little long, and the toes more pointed than the original.

Again, no washing and blocking, but straight on my feet, warm and comfortable, even if they are a little too big!

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