Sunday, 2 September 2012

Knitting gymnastics: Tribute socks

I'm at the stage where I need a knitting challenge. I've made socks before but only plain vanilla stocking stitch ones (admittedly some with some fair isle and colour-work). So I thought it was time to stretch my skills by making a complicated pair of lace-work socks in a sock weight yarn. And I've loved these Tribute socks since I first saw the pattern on Knitty.

Why socks in particular as a knitting challenge? I tend to spend a little bit of time hanging around on Ravelry and I knew that with the Olympic Games in London on the horizon (Yes I know its over now, It hadn't begun when I contemplated making these socks), it was time for the Ravelympics to start and a perfect excuse to try to complete an achievable knitting challenge in a fixed period of time. The idea is you sign up for a team (skipped this bit actually, wasn't sure who to compete for and you needed to do it heaps of time in advance and I'm a last minute sort of girl). Then you cast on a project whilst watching the opening ceremony and then knit whilst watching the games coverage and hopefully complete the project in time for the closing ceremony. Then you post your finished object to the finish line for its event and collect your (virtual) medal. (I also didn't do this as I had skipped the signing up for a team. Also I cheated slightly starting these socks just before the Olympics). There are a number of events you could compete in. My personal favourites were Synchronised Stash Busting, Sock Put (which is the event I went for) and WIPS Wrestling (that's Work In Progress Wrestling). I did complete the socks though one evening whilst watching Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics.

Then the US Olympic committee (USOC) sent a very tactless letter to Ravelry ordering it to cease and desist from using the term Ravelympics and it looked like the whole thing would explode in a mess of legal red tape. So after an almighty amount of internet outrage from the knitting community, a slight name change - the Ravellenic games went ahead. For a summary of the whole incident read this nice article from the Washington Post.

I want to share an interesting encounter I had when knitting these socks in public. So, I'm on the train going home from a craft show with my mum and my Aunty. I get out my socks on the way home knowing I'm nearly at the point where I get to turn the heel on the first sock. I'm knitting away discussing the sock with my travelling companions when a young artsy looking guy sits down across the aisle and takes some knitting out of his bag. I look across and he's knitting in the round too. It's another sock. Then I have a closer look. He's knitting two socks - one inside the other on a single set of needles. We start chatting and it turns out he has no pattern and is winging it as he goes and it's only the second thing he's even knitted.... Trumped by a novice knitter! Anyway we have a fascinating chat for half an hour about the merits of YouTube videos for learning to knit, the online knitting community, the best blogs and short row heels (which is what he is attempting) vs. dutch heels (which is what I am knitting). I feel we in a silent conspiracy against the whole train carriage. Knitters everywhere speak the same language regardless.
Does my foot look fat in this
This is the process of measuring the foot length. You can see the pattern continues down over the top of the foot but the heel and the underside of the foot are plain.
Pattern: Tribute by Brenda Patipa from Knitty Magazine. Even better it's a free pattern.
Method:  Top down lace socks.
Needles: Set of 4 2.75 mm double pointed needles (dpns)
Yarn: Up-cycled 3 or 4 ply multi-ply pure wool in cream. This has been kicking around in the stash for a very long time as a collection of previously knitted, unravelled and re-rolled balls. It was in that nice 'crinkle-cut' sort of state. After a discussion with my Aunty we suspect it is Patons Azalea from the 1960s or 70s.
Pattern modifications: I like my socks long so I did 4 and a half pattern (chart) repeats to the ankle. The original pattern has 2 and a half pattern (chart) repeats.
Pattern Errata: When turning the heel after the picking up from the sides of the heel flaps you end up with one stitch more than the pattern specifies on the heel flap itself. I simply added an extra Knit 2 together at the beginning of the next round which lined up with the existing heel shaping and provided the correct number of stitches to work the foot pattern. See also the authors pattern notes here on Ravelry (though I didn't find this till after I had made my socks).
Total Cost: Free! (and the stash is - 5 odd balls of yarn)

The outfit shot. This is how I envisaged them being worn. As decorative socks over tights with short boots.

Look at those awesome heels. I do admit I sneaked up behind a certain person sleeping on the couch to take this photo!

Footnote: Friday it was freezing so I wore these socks and short boots over fairly slim legged trousers. On the way home from work, I stopped at the supermarket to get stuff for tea and cat food so the cat would stop expressing its displeasure in the lack of food by randomly attempting to take a chunk out of people's calf muscles. I was at the self serve check out when the girl on duty came up to me and said "I just want to ask where did you get your socks? They're awesome" and I turned and said "I made them". Cue giant bubble of happiness. Such random moments of appreciation make your day. These socks make me proud to have made them.

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