Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cuff Down Detours

I've been struggling off and on all year with a new sock design. The idea first came to me on Christmas: I noticed a picture frame that had a common decorative element I've always liked, and it occurred to me that if I cocked it slightly on the diagonal, I could easily render it in the traveling slipped stitch pattern that I favor in sock designs.

For months I charted and swatched, trying different variations of the idea. All of them were slightly "off," and for a while I thought the design wouldn't work on a sock. It was too big, traveled too quickly in its diagonal spiral to fit around a foot--I was dismayed to realize that it would probably work better on a hat.

Sneak peak
I persevered, and in late June, I saw a way forward, and pretty quickly knit up a really attractive sock, one of the best I've designed. My process is to knit one sock, making notes as I go, then start writing the pattern, making the second sock from these newly drafted instructions. This prototype pair often doesn't completely match, because I make design adjustments and improvements which make the second sock slightly "better."

And it was working. As much as I liked the first sock, the second was fantastic--until I got near the ankle. The changes I'd made to improve the design on the foot caused a problem when it got to the ankle. I couldn't solve it, and in frustration, I set the sock aside.

This morning the answer came to me: it's not a toe-up design. This sock will be so much easier to knit if constructed cuff-down.

I should have realized this earlier. In fact, I kind of did, but I was disappointed, and wanted to push through. It's possible to make this design toe up, and I can pretty easily do it myself, adjusting on the fly to make the design work on any sized foot. But that kind of improvisation doesn't fit in a written pattern. So cuff-down it is.

Back to the drawing board, which has accumulated quite a layer of dust while this design was in time out.

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