Sunday, September 28, 2008

Showing Jane My Sock

One of the first things that occurred to me when I started learning to knit was that if I could knit, I could make things that fit me perfectly. How many times do you think that has actually happened?

So far, zilch.

It isn't all that strange that I have taken to knitting shawls and long floppy hats. There is no fitting there. As much as I have tried, my sweaters are lumpy and loose with sleeves to make any greater ape happy, mittens are too tight, socks are too short. So here I was, roughly 3 years into my knitting odyssey when I began to understand just how far short I had fallen from my goal of knitting stuff that fits, and it comes to me - now that I understand construction of a sock, I should start working on fit. Duh!, you say, but this is a revelation for me, believe it or not.

I decided to build my perfect sock. Mostly because I have knit more (single-shhh!) socks than any other garment, and secondly because poor fit is most frustrating to me in a sock. I have had quite a few sock failures (mohair, need I say more?) but most of my stash consists of sock yarns, so I needed a plan. It started like this.

First, I needed to decide what I wanted out of a sock; a plain old everyday kind of sock. Yarn: Opal, because it wears like friggin iron. Also because I own 90 bajillion skeins of it, Rainforests, Hundertwassers, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Apparently I am a complete whore for trick color effects, and have really questionable taste. Pattern: This was tricksy. I first contemplated what I currently wear everyday. It's Hanes cotton crew socks, machine made with a short row heel and toe, and ribbing from the ankle up. There must be a reason I wear them everyday, so I thought about it, and decided that the close fit and the ribbed cuff (which I often but not always turned down) were the items I wanted to keep. Check. Cotton I don't care much for, and the heel and toe are far outclassed and surpassed by some really superior techniques I have learned, so that was all jettisonned.

Next I thought back on all the socks I'd made before and thought about the techniques. Toe up socks were out, I haven't found a toe increase I like. Top down toes decrease smoothly, and now that I can kitchener moderately better than a baboon on acid, they are an ever viable option. Top down it is. Cuff has to be relatively short, but long enough to turn down, and no fancy Monkey or lace stitches. Two by two ribbing is the most elastic and would keep the socks snug. In one pair of socks I made the ribbing was extended over the instep and I really liked the extra cushiness under lacings, so that's in. So, heel and gusset were all that was left to choose.

Now I love a flap heel beyond all reason, but I hate the heel stitch. For some reason all those columns of slipped stitches begin to get rangey and loose, and the overall effect to me is kind of slidey, weak and unsecure. Not wanting to lose the cushion effect of the heel stitch heel, I settled on an Eye of Partridge heel, coupled with a garter edging for ease in picking up the gusset stitches. No more fumbling about the start and end of the gusset, wondering what I was picking up. I have decided to rename this combination the Eye of Keith Partridge heel. Why?

I think I love you.

This may be the only heel I ever use again. No sagging, no slippy feeling, plenty of cushion, my stitches do not grow in ever fattening columns. And best of all?

I actually wrote a diary entry that said oh, David, you will be mineI was able to incorporate the great crush of my preteen years into the most perfect sock imaginable! How much do I rock, exactly?

So now, all that was left was to knit the thing. That's when I found out that this is only going to be my perfect pattern for Opal socks. That yarn is tiny, folks, and I being the loose knitter I am, ended up having to go down to size 00 needles to get the fabric I wanted, making this a 72 stitch sock. While our heads are reeling with the implications of that, lets have another David Cassidy moment.

and oh, how I love you soOh, yeah.

So 72 stitches on 00 dpns. Top down. 2x2 rib for 72 rows down to a heel flap done in eye of Keith Partridge. Continue ribbing on instep as you decrease gussets and throughout foot of sock down to toe, where you gracefully decrease down to 20 stitches and kitchener the toe like a baboon on very weak acid (I'm getting better at this all the time). That, folks, is the sock I'd make.

I love this sockAnd, indeed, I did make, out of Opal Rainforest, Owl colorway. Which actually looks more like it should be called smores to me.

Which makes this pattern all the more perfect to me, because not only have I managed to include the love of my life (c.1970)
I won't share you with anyone elseBut one of my favorite foods from the time period as well. Life is good, my friends, life is good.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yes, thank you, I should like a bit of cheese with my whine.

I have had quite a few gear shifts in my life as of late. First was actually not mine, but Claudia's. After her husband died, I didn't know what to say or write, and truthfully that's where most of the non blogging came from. What could I possible write that could have any meaning after that? I spend many nights clinging to my poor husband so hard I don't think he slept at all.

But time passed and I relaxed, and got things back into perspective. So it was all good. My husband even decided to finally get the physical I'd been after him about for years to help me feel better. And he proved to be in excellent physical shape until the stress test. Which he failed so badly that doctors came in and stopped the tests and began asking him if he had had heart attacks in the past. What the f*#&? So then came the nuclear stress test, and after a couple of weeks of freaking the hell out (as you can imagine, but this is just me, mind you - he was cool as a cucumber) we find out the first test was wrong. Thank you, and who will be paying the bills on both the botched test and the unnecessary one? Oh, that would be me. But you know I'd pay anything for him to be ok, so I really don't mind.

OK, so that's most of the summer, but it's back to business as usual. And I am still loving my job, so that's good, even though I can't work right now. Oh, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Wow, way ahead of myself, let me go back before this, I am remiss in not mentioning that my Dad's surgery went well and he's fine. Thanks to everyone who sent good wishes and thoughts our way.

So back to the end of summer. Since 2005, not my fave time of year. Many of you know that hurricane Katrina destroyed my parents' house. They have been in the new house about a year now, it's very nice. I do have to say, though, that the evacuation for Gustav was stressful for us all, even though I loved having a visit from my folks. When they finally got power back and were able to return home everything got slowly back to normal. Until last Wednesday.

That's the first day the vertigo started. I didn't know how bad it would get then. By Friday I had to call in to work and call my husband to come home from his work and bring me to the doctor. Since then I have only left the house once when Happy Goth and Jennie were kind enough to pick me up and take me out for the afternoon. But I still do not have a consistent and reliable concept of where the floor and ceiling are at any given time and the only time I feel normal is when I am medicated to the nines and have been seated and unmoving for at least 10 or 15 minutes. Or laying in bed, again with the not moving. Then I feel as normal as anything, like I should just be able to get up and walk across the room like its nothing special at all.

Shows you what the hell I know. I need a sign to wear if I ever leave the house again that explains to everyone whose path I will inevitably stumble across that I am not, indeed, drunk. I also need to stop trying to knit. It only ends badly, and I am coming perilously close to finding out how many times I can frog Trekking before it is completely ruined. I am very amusing to watch, though.

I am also scared that this won't end. I need to return to work. I'm not good at being off. I am also not good at being sick. Grrrrr.

Now I'm going to have some cheese. I think I have earned it. When I feel better and can operate a computer with more than one window open at a time, I'll put links in this post and post some pictures of the knitting I have done over the summer. Trust me, you don't want to see what I've been working on recently; it looks like someone tried to teach a deranged monkey how to knit.