aswim in knits

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Socks 101

I fniished the first of the Koigu socks!
Another view --

Yes, it is extremely boring. There is no fabulous stitch pattern, and no exciting twists or turns to keep you amused. In fact, that's why you haven't seen any progress pictures. Boooo-ring! But, I love the sock anyways! Since these are the first socks I've made for me, I thought I'd get good at making a simple sock before I move on to something more complex. I really want to learn how to get a truly well-fitting sock, since I hope to make many more pairs for me, and I want them to be perfect :)

Here's what I did:

- 2 skeins of KPPPM
- knit from the toe up on size 1 needles.
- Gauge: umm, around 8.5 sts/in, I think

Start with a short row toe from Wendy's Generic Toe-up Sock Pattern. I used the one with 30 sts cast on.

Knit until "the sock is almost long enough to fit your foot up to the front of the ankle". Use the Cybersocks' directions for how to turn a heel on a toe-up sock.

Keep knitting in stockinette until you have a small -- but not too small -- amount of yarn left. Increase to 64 sts, then knit 3 rounds. Increase to 68 sts, and knit 3 more rounds. Change to 2x2 rib. Rib until it looks like the right length for ribbing, and cast off, using the Cyberknitters' directions for EZ's sewn cast off.

- Gauge -- yech! I started these socks several times, and I'm still not sure that I got the right gauge. I was aiming for 8 sts/in, but got more like 8.5. Yet, I was swatching with the same yarn and needles and got 8sts/in. I think I must just knit tighter as I get going...
- The length of the socks is perfect. They are a bit tight, but not uncomfortably so. If I used the same yarn and needles again, I'd use 4 more sts to start with. But, since the KPPPM is 100% merino wool, they are stretching to fit.
- I have big calves. So, I added 8 sts at the top of the sock. I probably could have gotten away with 4, but due to the above mentioned gauge issues, I played it safe and went with 8. Also, I was afraid that the cast-off would not fit around my heels at 60sts. However, the sewn cast off really is stretchy! Again, I probably would have been safe with only 4 extra sts, but the 8 extra is working okay.
- I didn't love the heel directions I used. The heel flap piece is worked over only 10 sts, and that seems too narrow for me. If I used this heel again, I would increase that # to 16 or so. I might also look for another set of directions for the toe-up Dutch heel.

Overall, a successful sock experience. I learned a lot, and got a relatively well-fitting sock. Since I insist on symmetry, the next sock will be knit to the exact same specs. But, I will make some changes for the next pair. More stitches around (if using the same gauge yarn) and a wider heel flap for sure. If I start with more sts, I might not need to increase for the calves. Also, if my gauge is not as tight, I think the fabric will stretch more to allow for the "over the heel" issue.

Anyone have any good ideas on how to get a reliable gauge measurement? I guess I might just have to swatch, then guess that I will go a bit tighter in the real piece, as that seems to be my pattern when knitting with wool, and accomodate for that, and remeasure as I go ... besides, I'm not the first knitter to say that gauge swatches lie.


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