Sunday, May 8, 2011

Why I Like Toe-Up Socks. Or, A Lesson in Yarn Substitution.

This. This is why I like toe-up socks. When you start at the toe and work your way up, you can just stop when you run out of yarn. With a cuff-down sock, if you run out of yarn, you're kinda screwed. You have to get more yarn and it isn't always possible to get more of the same dye lot, or even the same color. In the case of this poor sock, I happened to have some Kollage Luscious left over from the Lotus socks, so I was able to finish the toes of both socks, but just barely. At least I had done these two at a time, so I had a matched pair with pink toes. It would really have sucked to have one all-green sock and one with 2 inches of pink on the foot.

Of course, all this could have been avoided if I had bought a second skein of yarn (but at >$20/skein, not bloody likely). Or purchased a yarn with more yardage. Or used it with a pattern with fewer stitches around. And this is where we begin to think a little harder about substituting yarn. See, the pattern recommended two balls of Regia 4-ply at 229 yards each. I used one skein of Kollage Luscious at 345 yards. Did you do the math? Had I used the recommended yarn, or something a little more like it, I'd have had more than 100 yards more yarn to work with - that's 50 yards per sock! I totally would have made it. I really should read that stuff more closely.

Another way I could have avoided this situation was to have chosen a different pattern. The Vacation In The Mountains pattern has a 78-stitch round. Many of the socks I've made until now have been of the 64-stitch variety. With the gauge I knit, that's a pretty comfortable sock. I have thick calves, so if the number of stitches goes up, I'm alright with that as well. Once I started reading the pattern, I was a little worried about the number of stitches in the round, not because I thought I'd run out of yarn, but because I thought they might be too loose. As it turned out, they're not especially loose because there are so many twisted and traveling stitches. A k2, p2 rib would have been ridiculously loose, but this was a nice, comfy leg.

So, what have we learned? First, pay attention to the pattern. This was a good one, with all the information I needed. I ignored it at my peril. Second, pay attention to yardage. I usually have yarn left over after a pair of socks. Not this time. Also my fault. And lastly, think about whether the pattern might work toe-up. I might have stopped the cuff with half a chart repeat, rather than doing a full one. As it is, I have a friend who is perfectly happy to have a pair of green socks with a pink toe, so all is well with the world.

One last thing: it's Mothers' Day here in the US, so I want to wish all you mothers a happy day. I hope your kids are doing nice things for you in thanks for all you do for them. My own Mom lives a 4-hour drive from me, so I won't be seeing her today, but I'm calling her directly. This photo of a Mama Robin feeding her chicks is the best I could get of the nest since the babies hatched. The quality isn't all that great, but I think it was appropriate for today. Until next time, then.

1 comment:

  1. I love the pics you post of your socks. Socks are so much fun. I will have to start taking your advice and begin with the toe!