I shall conquer the sock

Warning: this is probably in more detail than a non-knitter will be interested in, heck I'm not even sure if other knitters (successful sock knitters at least) will want to slog through this long post. 

I have now knit 4 heel flaps and turned 2 heels*.  I still don't have 1 sock to show for it.  Yet a number of my friends who started knitting after me have successfully knitted socks.  I'm sort of jealous.

Last May I went and bought my first skein of sock yarn and the LYS gave me a free pattern to go with it.  She assured me that the pattern would work with the yarn so I didn't bother with a gauge swatch.  Which might have been mistake #1 (but I figured, a sock will fit someone at some point).  I started the leg band ribbing in May, I turned my heel some time last summer as well, but it felt so weird and I was pretty sure that I did something wrong.  Then it sat waiting to be worked on during the fall, mistake #2.  Then I borrowed the size 2 dpns for another project in December, mistake #3.  So when I picked up the sock for the UFO Challenge I ripped out the heel and heel flap because I couldn't figure out how to pick-up the live stitches on the heel.

But the real downfall was the pattern.  And my inability to read the pattern.

I re-knit the heel, and turned the heel with no problem.  I started to pick-up the gusset stitches.  This is where the pattern failed me.


The photo on the left is my 6 picked gusset stitches.  The photo on the right is the rest of the heel flap.  Why is this the patterns fault?  It told me to knit the heel flap until it was 2" long.  The pattern was written for everything from a child's shoe size 3 to an adult large foot.  The pattern never actually mentions gauge.  After a quick email to knitter friends I discover that 1) many sock patterns specify a number of rows to knit for the heel flap (my google searches did not confirm this) and 2) it is roughly twice the number of stitches that you must pick-up for the gusset.  

So, frustrated I pull out my stitches and procede to make the Training Sock from Knitty.  Other than a bit of laddering at the leg I had zero problems knitting this sock.  Zero.  The number of stitches at the side of the heel flap was exactly the number of stitches I need to pick up for the gussets.

Back to the original sock, why is this my fault?  I messed up reading the heel instructions, I did *S1 purlwise, K1* across the right side rows and then *S1 purlwise, P1* across the wrong side rows.  The pattern actually says to S1 purlwise, purl remaining sts on the row for wrongside rows.  Doh.  It also explains why I don't remembering having this issue last summer when I picked up the gusset stitches.  Re-reading the Sock chapter in Knitting Rules helped me figure this out.  I noticed that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee mentioned three types of heel flaps, I didn't knit any of them.  So I looked at my pattern again and discovered it pretty much described the eye of the partridge heel.  No wonder the stitches were so snug and hard to knit.  No wonder it took SO many rows to get to 2".

But I figured this out after I knit 16 rows of heel flap #3. Which you might notice (photo below) is nowhere near 2" inches the pattern suggested.  It is also not square which both Elizabeth Zimmerman (according to my Knitting Without Tears book) and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee say it should be.  I'm glad I left in that life-line at the top edge of the heel, it made ripping out heel flap #3 slightly less painful.  And I have a feeling that the 4th heelflap will be much easier to knit and everything will be downhill from here.

*So 5 heelflaps and 3 turned heels for one pair of socks, not counting the training sock and hoping for no more obstacles ahead

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April 3, 2007. Tags: , , . Thoughts.

One Comment

  1. Kristine replied:

    Since I've only done one pair so far, I was very interested to read all the way through your post because I'm still learning all the differences in the types of sock patterns! :DWhen I did my heel flap, I ended up with more rows than I should have to pick up stitches on, so I decided to compensate by going ahead and picking them all up, and then the next time around, I knitting some of them together (k2tog, ssk) until I had how many I was supposed to have. That seemed to work out good because I didn't end up with big holes like I think I would have if I had stuck with the fixed number they said!

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