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Second Sock Semi-Success

April 20, 2007

Only a little over a month after finishing my first sock, I’ve managed to finish my second one. I’m happy to report that this new sock, unlike its predecessor, is not a huge, floppy, unwearable monstrosity. Though I have not yet tested this theory, I believe I could put this new sock on my foot and then fit my foot into a regular shoe. It is not a perfect sock, but it is a lot farther down the path to excellence than my previous effort.

The first key to my near-success: I did a gauge swatch. I did not do it in the round because I figured I could compare the monster sock with the swatch to determine how much my tension varied between knitting in the round and knitting flat. I did not do 4 inches square for all the needles sizes I was considering because I was impatient to get to the real knitting. I did not wash and block the swatch because, hello, impatient. Based on the swatch, I decided on size US 1, down from the US 3 I used for the monster sock.

The other key: The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd, which Lil had recommended to me. I measured my gauge and measured my foot and the book told me how many stitches to cast on and what to do each step of the way after that. (I don’t remember who recommended copying pages in the book and using a highlighter to mark the numbers for the relevant gauge/size but whomever that was, I thank her because that made it much easier to follow.) I also kept the printout I’d made of Silver’s Sock Class close at hand so I could refer to the pictures when I couldn’t remember how to do a particular step.

The most important thing I learned: I need to make a smaller size. The handy book keys off foot circumference; since my feet are wider than average, using that measurement as the basis for everything else leads to a sock that’s too big at the ankle and too long overall. The custom socks I won from Jenipurr fit great and she had only my foot length to work from. It’s a bit discouraging that I had my actual feet right there and still didn’t manage to make a sock that really fits. As it was, I had to alter the toe decreases quite a bit, leaving out a lot of rounds and grafting with more than double the number of stitches left than the book called for.

Since one sock that almost sorta kinda fits and one sock that’s a giant mess do not a pair make, last night I took a deep breath and turned the monster sock back into a ball of yarn. Now I have to decide if I want to knit another sock just like the one that doesn’t quite fit so I have a matching pair or try making a better sock, in which case I’ll then have to decide whether I can live with the differences. I don’t relish the idea of ripping out a whole sock for a second time, but maybe I’ll be fine with it if I manage to make the sock of my dreams this next time.

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