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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sock Experiments

It has been a whirlwind these final days before the Christmas holidays! Besides the kids being home from school and all the Christmas preparations, some design submissions and proposals were due, and of course my software consulting business had some deadlines too.

Now it is time to sit back, relax and play around with ideas that have been patiently waiting their turn to be put in yarn.

completed sock experiments

One such "project" are my ideas for socks. I am not really a handmade sock wearer (I wonder why, actually, with all those great sock patterns everywhere?) but the cold weather lately has peaked my interest in some thicker yarn (worsted) socks for home wearing.

The first step was to get educated about sock knitting. So off I went to the library and came home with a couple of interesting looking books. I did not realize all the different ways you can construct a sock!

The traditional top-down approach, then we've got a toe-up, and flat. And all the options for heel and toe constructions! My work was cut out for me. Neat, something new to learn and to expand my horizon.

It was quite a learning experience. Not so much that the knitting instructions were difficult or the sock construction was a mystery. No, pretty much all the instructions are for sock yarn and here I was with worsted yarn. I sure learned a lot about sizing and what patterns work and don't work. For example,
  • I needed to knit with smaller needles than the yarn tag calls for to get a denser fabric or else the socks were very "airy" and not very warm
  • Smaller stitch repeats are necessary because of the thicker yarn else you end up with only 2 or 3 pattern repeats
  • Variegated worsted yarns pool colors in not so advantageous designs as worsted yarns are designed for larger stretches and not for a small tubes
My sock experiments are not over yet (as quite a few unfinished sock projects littering my work area can tell you) but slowly I am developing some favorites. For example, I definitely like the toe-up approach. It just makes a lot of sense - you can easily try them on as you go and you won't have to worry as much about running out of yarn before you are done.

As I get closer to my perfect sock (and some patterns to write), you will find me wearing miss-matched socks around the house as they go through their wear test. Who said they always have to match?

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