July 10, 2009
After I finished my Slip Up Socks, I went into my yarn stash for another project and came out with the flydesigns Monarch I’d bought in Idaho this past winter, which I thought would be a good match for at least some of the patterns which had tempted me in Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn. After looking through the possibilities, I chose Potpourri Socks by Deb Barnhill, in part because I thought the wavy horizontal lines would be a nice change from the strong verticals in the last two pairs of socks I’ve made. The pattern was written to be worked top down, starting with a picot edge that confused me when I read through the directions (not surprising since I’d only done ribbing and rolltops before). I decided I’d do them toe up and figure out what to do for the edge later. The toe in the pattern also confused me, because it didn’t look like any toe I knew how to do. Rather than get frustrated trying to figure out how to do the pattern’s toe in reverse, I turned once again to Judy’s Magic Cast-On and the Queen Kahuna book to get started.
By the time I got through one pattern repeat above the toes, I was pretty discouraged. I’d chosen the smaller of the two needle sizes I’d swatched with because that seemed like it would work best fit-wise considering the number of stitches needed for the pattern; the farther along I got the more I became convinced that the yarn really wanted to be on a 2.75mm needle rather than the 2.5mm I was using. I was finding the double figure-8 stitch used on every seventh row very tedious to work, especially since this colorway was subtle enough that the extra detail wasn’t showing up that well anyway. After the second round with double figure-8s, I decided to frog it all (even the toes, since I’d decided they were too pointy).
I pondered finding another pattern for this yarn but hated to just give up, so I started over on the 2.75mm needles (making the toe so much less pointy that now I think I went just a bit too far the other wayâ€”I’ve got to remember if I do the first set of increases per Queen Kahuna things get a lot wider than they started very quickly indeed). Because the 34-stitch pattern repeat had seemed like it might be a bit big on even my wide feet using the smaller needles, I figured out where I could take out four stitches to avoid ending up with floppy socks. To solve the double figure-8s issue, I decided to purl those rows instead, which would be a lot easier and faster while still providing a contrast in texture as the original stitch did.
After that, things went pretty smoothly until I got to the first heel. The pattern called for an Eye of Partridge heel flap, which I’d never done before. I hosed it up big time on my first try and had to rip back (and took the heel cup out then too, as I’d decided it was too pointyâ€”I sense a theme here), but it went much better on my second try. The second heel proved to be even more of a problem than the first. I got most of the way through the heel cap and then ripped back because something seemed wrong; only after ripping did I discover I was short one stitch. I looked and looked and didn’t see a dropped one anywhere, so figured I must have missed a gusset increase somewhere. I just did an increase and moved on, except then somehow I couldn’t manage to short row down to the same number of stitches as I’d had on the other sock, then the heel cap part went awry and I ended up with a heel not in the center of the sock, so I ripped it back AGAIN. On my third try I got close enough to move on with my life. Now I can’t even tell which heel has the very late increase in it.
The cuffs, thank goodness, went smoothly. They went so well that I did three more pattern repeats than the pattern called for. Then it was time to decide what to do at the top. I really liked the look of the picot edge, so I decided to try that for the first time. I had no idea how to translate the pattern’s top down directions for my toe up socks, so of course I turned to my friend Google. Once I’d sorted out that there are two types of finishing techniques that get called “picot bind off” or “picot edging” (and that I wasn’t doing this kind, though it looks interesting and I might try it on a future project), I found this entry that showed me options for securing the loose edge; I chose the one that called for sewing, because I can do that already. Armed with that plan, I followed the pattern directions for knitting plain rows, then a row with yarnovers that would turn into the dips between the picot points, then more plain rows. When it came to the sewing part, it took me an inch or two to figure out which row to sew the edge to on the inside, so I had to rip out a little but once I got things lined up it was easy and I’m very happy with how it turned out.