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.


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!