Best foot forward

Pattern: Coupling
Yarn: vanCalcar Acres SuperStrong Sock Yarn (100% wool), Sage Heather
Needles: U.S. 2 (2.75 mm) double-pointed, aluminum

It’s actually been a few weeks since these came off the needles. And truth be told, the ends still need to be woven in. But look at them. They Are Socks. They look like real socks. They look like the socks in pictures of socks! And considering everything I learned to produce them, I am darn well going to be inordinately proud of them.

I started these socks while on vacation in Missouri. Actually I cast on — my first provisional cast-on, using the invisible method — before we left on the trip, thinking that I could probably negotiate the complicated twists and turns better on the couch than in a moving car. In quiet evenings at the cabin I completed the short-row toe (my first short-row toe) and started on the foot — only to lose my way through the lace chart (my first lace, my first chart). I couldn’t see the way out, so I frogged the whole thing and swatched the lace chart one and a half repeats; although I screwed up on the swatch before reaching the intended two repeats, I felt confident enough to unravel the swatch, rewind the yarn, and redo the whole thing from provisional cast-on through the toe and on up the foot.

Did I mention that these are my first adult socks? And my first toe-up socks?

There were a couple more firsts still to come. I didn’t divide my skein in two before I did the first sock of the pair, and I got worried that I didn’t have enough to do as many pattern repeats up the leg as were called for, so I made an anklet. The twisted-rib cuff was my first experience knitting through the back loop. When it came time to finish the cuff I was blissfully unaware that there might be problems with stretchiness, and I did a standard bind-off. I learned my lesson when the opening wouldn’t fit over my insole. Lesson learned, I thought, and I undid the bind-off, spit-spliced the yarn where I’d broken it, and bound off as loosely as I possibly could. Nope — still couldn’t get it over the heel.

At this point I decided to google for some advice, and found that toe-up socks typically require special techniques to get a stretchy enough cuff at the end. I had already started sock two, so I had to wait until I finished them (since I only had one ball of yarn) and bound off (correctly, I hoped) before going back to redo the bind-off on sock one.

In the meantime I joined Ravelry and read some advice on the Up With Toes group about bind-offs. I decided to try Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind-off; I didn’t mind getting out the darning needle to finish, especially since I had just done a couple of dishclothes that had to be grafted at the end. The sewn bind-off worked wonders, although I still tended to pull it too tight, something I realized halfway through the first attempt. Another undo of the bind-off on sock one, another spit-splice, and I finished that one with the sewn bind-off as well.

And here’s the result. Actual Socks. I couldn’t bring myself to model them in the 100-degree heat we’ve been having since I finished them, but it’s time to reveal them to the world. I’m just in love with the result. There’s something mystical about the way they become foot-shaped when worn, just as if every curve of the instep, heel and ankle were individually calculated. Just as if you need do nothing but keep the stitches coming off the needles, and something that looks exactly like a woman’s foot emerges. Truly, I’m just flabbergasted by the fact that these pictures of the socks on my feet look suspiciously like those gorgeous shots of handknit socks made and worn by Actual Sock Knitters.

Failure, Fiasco, or Secret Success?: No secrets here. Full-blown success all the way.

Explore posts in the same categories: Knitting

5 Comments on “Best foot forward”

  1. Cathy-Cate Says:

    Wonderful socks — they look awesome! Persistence pays off!

  2. I’m very proud of you. As a burgeoning sock knitter whose early tries haven’t met as much success, I’m also quite impressed. Maybe I really will *ugh* unravel that whole sock I finished but made too big.

  3. maureen Says:

    I’m seriously impressed with your ability to tackle a project that involves multiple firsts: toe-up socks, lace, back loops, short rows…and they are beautiful!!!! I have no idea how you find time to master so many things.

  4. Deb Says:

    Beautiful work, and so many firsts!

    (And apologies about the initial rating of Mellow. No idea how it slipped through edits. It was fixed as soon as it was discovered, but there was no intention of leading anyone down the garden path.)

  5. […] I settled on ‘Vog On from this summer’s Knitty. (Hey, they did me right for the vital freshman sock. And look — the designer who created that pattern actually complimented me on my finished […]

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