Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sock Insomnia

Four nights in the past week, I've lain awake thinking about toe up socks. It's pathological. But I've felt close to a breakthrough on a new perfect sock pattern, one that incorporates all the best ideas, requires minimal pre-planning, and carries a clever elegance for a dash of intellectual delight that will keep me faithful to it for years to come.

Oh, and while I don't mind devoting lots of mental energy to construction and technique, I don't think I should have to work very hard to make it fit. What I'd really like is to find a way to knit fantastically fitting socks just by knowing the recipient's shoe size.

I was thinking that the answer might be some sort of mash-up between Widdershins and Queen Kahuna, with maybe a few dashes of Charlene Schurch, Nancy Bush, and Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. I expected to draw on the work done by Mel and Tallguy: Mel's work makes the Widdershins instructions more generic than the original, while Tallguy is working out a version that relies more on percentages.

(Mel, I love your adaptation. I just have this feeling that for larger feet, you'd want more gusset increases and that the heel turning instructions would somehow vary depending on gauge and foot size).

There's a chance that someone beat me to it. It seems that K2Karen has been on the same quest I have, following pretty much the same guides. She does the same toe that I do, and she's worked out a chart for adapting the Widdershins heel to different sizes. When I tried it, my sock came out shorter than I expected, the heel somewhat blockier, but I still think there's potential there.

I goofed on the heel flap, but I was so tired of reworking this sock (I've frogged and reknit the heel six times already, trying to make different sets of instructions work), that I tossed it aside and picked up another pair in progress. This one follows Schurch's idea to knit a heel flap for the sole of the foot. Good but not great. I'm generally pleased with these, but this will not be my preferred sock construction method going forward.

2 comments:

Mel said...

I'm sure that my version doesn't account for every eventuality, but I think that to some extent it's going to come down to experience and intuition. If you consider two feet of the same size - one with a wide heel and high instep vs. one with narrow heel and low instep - you can see that one may need more gusset increases than the other, or fewer stitches worked on the heel flap, or a combination of the two. I think I also mentioned that working a much heavier yarn would probably require doing fewer short rows on the heel turn. Perhaps a chart of shoe size vs. yarn gauge, à la Charlene Schurch, would be useful, but I'm happy to leave that to someone else.

Cat said...

You are amazing. I can't wait to be enlightened by all of your research once you come to a conclusion.

We need to get together again soon!