Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Plaid driving me mad?

IMG_0876 Okay, I’ve alluded to a new project and here it is.  I’ve decided to knit Lorilee Beltman’s Thistle and Forest Plaid Socks.  I took a class from her at Sock Summit (the 2011 one) and learned this nifty method of doing colorwork with vertical strands.  This design has some regular stranded colorwork, too – but it was the vertical climbing strands that really caught my attention.

Based on my experience with the abandoned Bohus-Style Knee Highs (remember? I mixed two types of solid yarns and got mixed results), I acquired a bit more yarn so that all FIVE colors could be from the same yarn line.  I used the Simply Sock Yarn Solids from Simply Socks Yarn Company.  The toes, heels, and cuffs will be in Chocolate, and the main color will be Mocha:


The stripes will be in Green, Brick, and Deep Sea:IMG_0879

Okay, yarn obtained and wound.  Then I read the pattern really, really closely.  I discovered that while two sizes are listed, they are “cheater sizes” – and by that, I mean that you get a different size by changing your gauge, mostly, rather than your stitch count.  To get the women’s size, you need to get 8 stitches/inch.  I believe my “loose knitter” status is already well-documented, so it won’t surprise you that I NEVER get 8 st/in, even with my trusty 2.0 mm needles.  Hmmm.  Lorilee says that the circumference is hard to adjust and she discourages it.  But the CO number is 72.  72!  This is a number I abandoned years ago, so I am wary.  But after some consideration, I decided to go ahead and knit 72.  I don’t think the vertical stripes will affect stretchiness, but the horizontal ones will pull in the fabric a little.  And worst case scenario, I can give the socks to someone else if they turn out man-sized.  (I might know a really nice male knitter who is sock-worthy.)

This is a toe-up pattern with eye-of-partridge stitch on the toe tip, for extra strength.  Neat!  I cast on and increase to 72, then knit 15 rounds straight.  Here is what that toe looks like:IMG_0881 See how the eye-of-partridge bit looks kind of checkerboard-y compared to the regular stockinette above it?

I begin the vertical climbing strands.  After an ingenious but somewhat tedious setup (which involves 6 strands of yarn 8 feet long each, with their tails wisely pulled through to the front so you don’t accidentally knit them), my vertical climbers start climbing:IMG_0894


But then I face the truth: this sock is going to be WAY TOO BIG.  How much too big?  Just look it it compared to another recently knit sock that fits my foot well:IMG_0892

I decide this is silly and that of course I can adjust the CO number.  I think about going down to 60 (cra-cra?!) but settle on good ole’ 64.  I rip the whole thing back and start again, congratulating myself that I have faced the music so bravely and done the right thing.  My vertical climbing strands don’t have the exact same distance between each one of them, but I don’t mind – plaids aren’t always like that – and I knit on.  I’m pleased as punch with myself – until I get to the first horizontal stripe.

Oh.  Now I get it.IMG_0893

Do you see what isn’t right here?  When the horizontal green strand intersects with the vertical climbers, it should still go Green-Mocha-Green-Mocha-Green-Mocha all the way across.  It does this just fine when it intersects with the green climber, but it gets off when it hits the red climber (and also blue).  Take a closer look:


That just isn’t right.  I know how to fix it now.  I can either take the sock back to 60 stitches and have perfectly spaced out vertical climbing strands, or I can stick with 64 stitches and have the verticals not QUITE evenly spaced.  I’ll have S1 try on what I have now before making that final determination and ripping back.

But there will be some ripping.  A rip-roarin’ good time!

And that’s what I’ve been up to.  It’s making me a little crazy, but in a good way.


  1. I love everything about this -- the colors, the pattern, the toe, and especially your intense attention to detail combined with a willingness to pattern-tweak.

    I don't think the not-quite-line up 64 would bug me too much, but I think 60 might work. With all the different strands being interwoven, I'm surprised the 72 didn't pull in more. It may be presumptuous and arrogant of me to dare hope that I'm the male knitter referenced earlier. If not me, I'm sure he's quite sad that he won't be getting a pair of awesome plaid socks.

    However, he (and I) now have a great idea, and inspiration, for some kick-ass new socks!

  2. Eye-of-partridge on the toe? What genius!