Monday, April 9, 2012

Sock knitting without fear!

For those who don't know, I am one of the moderators for the second largest sock knitting group on raverly. I instigated a (more or less) hostile takeover of the group, since the former moderators stopped moderating (or posting, or visiting ravelry). There was a kerfuffle where someone asked a question, and then was rude to everyone who answered.

I had been frustrated with the group for a long time. There wasn't any organization, the only content was new sock knitters asking for help, and there wasn't anything happening for experienced sock knitters. I was planning on leaving the group, but once I saw that the rudeness incident was getting out of hand, I made a post to take over as admin, and then the powers that be upgraded me.

From there I gathered a team of moderators, double checked that they knew the rules and knew how to moderate, and from there it has been a lot of fun to watch the group grow, regulars come around, and new people join. Occasionally there are disagreements, but they are minor in comparison to what made me conclude the group needed ownership. Mostly it is because the regulars are really chatty (and so am I).

Which brings me to the point of this post. For all of the things I have seen from new sock knitters, or sock knitters trying new things, I am surprised at how much fear there is in sock knitting.

Generally socks are knit in the round. There are many tools you can use to knit in the round, magic loop with one long circular, double point needles, two circulars, knitting machines. Any pattern written for one tool can totally be used for another. Sometimes it might mean including or omitting markers.

Heels come in a wide variety, and not all heels are going to fit your foot, as written, or in general. In many socks this is the area where it is tough to get perfect. Flap and gusset heels can have holes at the joins, and there is that whole trouble with picking up stitches. Short-row heels can be shallow, have holes at every decrease on one side or both sides. After-thought heels can be ambiguous to place and require breaking the yarn. That said, each type of heel does has advantages, and it is worth while to learn how to do all of the types for both toe-up and cuff-down construction. Yes, you can do a flap and gusset toe-up! As with many things, practice will help eliminate some of the concerns about messiness, and placement. At some point you will know the exact dimensions of your foot, and where a heel needs to be placed, how many stitches it takes for each part, and which type fits you the best. It will come. I promise.

Know Thyself! There are many levels of understanding. What is your leg length, and foot length? With these 2 measurements you can conquer any typical sock. What is your leg circumference (measured below ankle bone), your foot circumference (at the widest point)? With these 2 measurements you can modify any given stitch count, given your gauge, and your favorite value of negative ease. It might take some tricksy-ness to get the hang of modifying patterns to fit in your favorite stitch count, but remember, your mods just need to fit into the 10%-20% range for negative ease, (9, 15, or 21)% isn't going to be a deal breaker. For more specialized socks you may want to know more measurements, like your calf for knee socks. Not all patterns can be easily modified, however by trying to knit many sorts of sock you get a feel for what are better changes for a given type.

If it is wrong, rip it out. With shawls or sweaters, sometimes the yarn is fuzzy, or thin, or nearly underspun. But socks are made of tight twist wool that can survive many trips to the frog pond. If the heel doesn't fit, or the length is wrong, or the yarn is too loud for the pattern, it is better to start over, than to find a way to make it work. In the end a few hours wasted is better than having something that didn't work right. I still wear my first pair of socks.

Oftentimes people forget that knitters choice is very easy to implement with socks. You can substitute freely with cuffs, legs, heels, insteps, and toes. It is very rare that a pattern can not be modified to include a part that better fits your foot. Or better suits keeping your interest in the pattern. I wouldn't go so far as to say willfully disobey every pattern, but when something seems wrong, or boring, or messy, do something to fix it.

In short. Do not be afraid!

I don't have any knitting pictures today. I am on row 31 of Diantha #4, and it is looking good that I will finish the 5th one before April 30th, which means I qualify 4 shawls for the Susanna IC crescent KAL. Yea! Nothing else is on the needles. I made a place holder project for the Imagine It KAL, but since the yarn hasn't landed, I can't cast on. And I won't cast on until I freaking knit the last bridesmaid shawl. The cardigan will be freaking gorgeous, and I am doing the cable edging variation.

On the fractal front . . .
Mothership was my nearly late entry for the apophysis challenge
And progression of dreams was more conceptual, I did three renders, with tweaked gradient settings, and then combined them in photoshop. While it is probably totally doable in apo with extreme chaos skills, I'm pretty happy with the result. At some point I will get around to doing something similar with the white background versions.
That's all for now.

Take care guys,

Molly : )

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