Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Sock Situation

I do not consider myself a particularly opinionated knitter, but when sock knitting fever hit me with a vengeance last year, I began to develop some decided preferences.

I quickly discovered that I much prefer using magic loop, and that I like a firm, snug sock. My default needle is a US1, and would eat dirt before knitting another pair of socks with a size 0. I have a decided preference for toe-up socks. I am not sensitive to scratchiness in sock yarn. I find equal enjoyment wearing both my Regia socks and my Koigus. I like to knit solid socks, patterned yarn, variegated yarn and stripey yarn. I do not expect fuzz-less socks, but I do expect for my socks to wear well. Holes upset me, darning stymies me.

And as I learned all these things, I began to develop this inner Voice of Experience, my inner sock knitter. This voice of experience began to inform all my decisions about sock making.

"I know that pattern calls for US2s, but you prefer a tighter sock. Shouldn't you just knit with your US1?" she reminded, so I knit at a tighter gauge.

"Remember how much you like toe-ups!" the Voice said, so I knitted most of my socks from the toe up, rejecting Nancy Bush and Cookie A patterns to knit yet another toe up Widdershin.

But the VOE began to get a little more insistent, a little more dictatorial about making socks.

"You hated knitting those socks with Trekking," she chided, so I passed up some great sock yarn.

"Sundara's yarn doesn't have any nylon! It'll wear out! It'll pill, " VOE insisted, so my Sundara yarn languished unknit in my stash.

Eventually, like all opinionated voices, this one really started to bug me, and it was time to defy that voice and assert myself again as a sock knitter open to all the possibilities. Monkey seemed like the perfect pattern to try.

Pattern: Monkey, by Cookie A., from Knitty Winter 2006
Needles: US 2 for cuffs, and US 1 for foot
Yarn: Sundara Sock Yarn, hydrangea, one of the 2006 Petals Collection colorways

The VOE had a lot to say about these socks. "You're going to wear a hole in these socks and you know you will never ever darn them."

"They'll be for light wear, then," I said, calmly, and kept knitting, enjoying the feel of Sundara's purple-ish yarn of unmatched beauty.

"You like a snug cuff on socks! The cuff of US2s will be too loose!" it reminded me. I had to acknowledge that VOE was right. I explained to her that I had to choose between fit and appearance. I started these socks on US1s, but the pattern stretched unattractively around my calves. Although the cuff is not quite as snug as I prefer, the pattern looked better on my legs at a larger gauge, and Cookie's pattern is worth showing off.

The VOE grudgingly agreed, and complimented my beautiful new socks.

So the VOE and I are learning how to peacefully co-exist. I can acknowledge her while doing my own thing. I can let her inform my choices, but can will not allow her to limit my possibilities.

But man, the Voice of Experience is just starving for more yarn. She has consumed so much that the sock yarn stash has truly reached a dire level.

I wonder if there's gonna be any good sock yarn at this Sheep Thing in Maryland this weekend...


Dave said...

Ah, there's nothing like a good debate ... with yourself. :-)

Love those socks -- great colour, wonderful pattern, and despite your inner voice, they do look like they fit perfectly!

Ashley said...

Good for you, asserting yourself like that, because your socks are lovely! Take that, VOE!

FWIW, I was really unhappy with my Sundara socks on first washing--the yarn fuzzed up somethin' awful. But I am happy to report that a few washes later they settled down and are wearing very well--and I've been wearing them for over a year now.

Carol said...

I hear Seroquel is really good for getting rid of those voices. ;)

I would love to troll for sock yarn with you on Saturday...

Annie said...

Those socks are fantastic! I always tell my VOE "Thanks for sharing" and do whatever I feel like. Which sometimes is not so good! :-)

Anonymous said...

Having just finished my own pair, I am a tad biased, I think that pattern is awesome and it produces are really gorgeous sock. Yours look fabulous. Tell that VOE to mind her own business... The VOS (Voice of Spontaneity) is much more fun...sometimes.

Christie said...

It's good that you and VOE have some to a peaceful agreement...almost to agree to disagree. :)

...and the socks look great!

Wendy Stackhouse said...

I don't worry about nylon content, just do short row heels, i.e., easy to replace rather than darning. They also work equally well in both directions...

I have been knitting on 1's and 0's for quite a while but during Sock Madness did two pairs on 2's and was SO happy to have them go faster, now I'm on a sportweight kick. I'll go back, though.

Have fun!

LaurieM said...

Lovely lavender socks. Every one needs some truly cushy socks for wearing around the house and to bed.

I also do not like the way 100% merino wears. So I'm branching out to try some new handpainted yarns. Apple Laine is a wool/silk/mohair/nylon blend Schafer Anne is a wool/mohair/nylon blend. I've heard that they will matt, but I haven't knit them up yet, so I can't say for myself.

iSeL said...

Darn VOE, what do you know? Look at those beautiful socks!

I am so jealous. I will freaking stay up all night studying until the MDSW if I see even the slightest chance of getting away with it.

Have fun!

Madge said...

Oh, I bet there will be a skein or two of sock yarn for you at the show. *grin* Have a fantabulous time at MS&W! (or whatever the heck it's called)

And your Monkeys? Sweet.

eyeknit said...

No, no! Troll for sock yarn with me on Saturday! Your Monkeys are fabulous. As you know, I've been working on nurturing and struggling with my own sock VOE this past year or so. It's amazing the things I now take for granted about sock fit that mystified me before. You were absolutely right about the Widdershins...I'm using my lastest STR club silkie yarn for a simple Widdershins-ish sock. I can't even tell you how in love with it I am. Hope to see you Sat!

Anonymous said...

"she's got legs, she knows how to use them..."

MDS&W won't know what hit 'em when you and ann start cruisin...

rock on!

anne marie in philly

Anonymous said...

I'm a definite magic loop toe up girl too! Love the monkeys!

diana said...

Your socks are beautiful - "Hydrangea" is the perfect name for that color and the pattern suits it perfectly too!

I'm skipping MS&W this year - please post your fabulous purchases and let me live vicariously through you!!

Ann said...

I'm up for trolling for sock yarn! I must, must try a toe-up pattern. I'm quite intimidated by the magic loop, but I will try that this year as well.

Your monkeys are gorgeous and your VOE is quite experienced and risk adverse, good thing you mediate her well!

knittingphilistine said...

So CUTE!! And I concur on all of your astute perceptions apropos sock yarns. I have recently come to EXPECT sock yarn to have nylon in it. It's just smart. Socks get a whole lot of wear and tear quickly, so why not fortify? I heart nylon.

LOVE those socks!!

JenniferB said...

Lol, no, no sock yarn at all that that Sheep Thing in Maryland this weekend. ;) Cheeky.

Love those socks!

Anonymous said...

Your socks look fantastic!!

I just finished my first monkey sock! I'm loving the pattern. I did the same as you - the ribbing on 2s - although I actually did the first two repeats on 2s as well. I wore the sock around a bit yesterday and it stayed up just fine. Hope yours does too.

I'm already way into the second sock. This could easily become my new jaywalker. Uh oh. ;-)