Monday, August 03, 2015

Socks, socks, and more socks...

I think something must have snapped earlier this spring... Somehow I managed to convince myself that it would be a good idea to sign up for Tour de Sock. You know, the sock knitting competition where you crank out six pairs of socks, one pair about every ten days. Except since it's a competition, you try to knit a pair in about a day or two. If you want to score any points, that is. (And I do, of course.)

Before the start of the tour, I thought I should knit a warm-up pair because it had been a while since I'd knitted socks in a lace pattern. I also wanted to try adding beads because the odds were there was going to be at least one pair on the tour with beads. I chose Stardust by Adrienne Fong:

On Ravelry
Yarn: Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn
Beads: size 6/0
Needle: 2.5 mm
Hook: 1 mm
Construction: traditional top down, small cables continue at the side of the heel; beads throughout the lace pattern
Thoughts: ok pattern, but I rather enjoyed using beads!

Then I thought I should also try a sock with an unconventional construction, such as a different way of making gusset increases and a heel. Enter Love and Liquor by General Hogbuffer:

On Ravelry
Yarn: Regia Angora Merino, two balls
Needle: 2.5 mm
Construction: toe up, gusset increases at the top, cables wrap around the back to make up the heel
Thoughts: fun pattern to knit, but the fit is not good for my wider than wide feet.

By then I felt like I was properly warmed up and could start the first stage of TdS. The race started with a beautiful twisted cable sock Virrat by TiiQ.

On Ravelry
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Heritage 150
Needle: 2.75 mm
Construction: toe up; gusset increases in the bottom; interesting heel
Thoughts: beautiful sock with an interesting, well thought-out yet no-fuss pattern. Love it!

At this point of the race I was very excited, although a little disappointed that the start times did not coincide with when it would be convenient for me to knit for 12 hours straight. Oh well, there would be stages that start on a weekend morning, right? The next stage got me even more excited with a pattern called Far into the Forest by Kirsten Hall. This was exactly the kind of thing I signed up for!

On Ravelry
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Heritage 150
Needle: 2.5 mm
Construction: toe up; gusset increases on the sides; all kinds of interesting things going on all the time!
Thoughts: Love the socks! This pattern was highly detailed and required a lot of attention to detail the whole time.

At this point I was a little bothered by the fact that the minimum size was quite small, but to place well on the race I would have to knit the minimum. They are quite tight on my feet. Hmph.

Next pattern was called Touring Bubbles. Neither the stitch pattern nor the look of the sock got me excited. But that's ok, I didn't expect every pattern to be perfectly to my liking!

On Ravelry
Yarn: SweetGeorgia Yarns Tough Love (a sponsor yarn that gave me an extra point)
Needle: 2.5 mm
Construction: Top down, nothing exciting.
Thoughts: meh... but the yarn was nice!

Then I started to run into even more timing issues. During the next two stages I traveled back home and although I had lots of time at airports, the leisurely weekend knitting I'd been looking forward to was gone. The next pattern, called From a Distance was knitted mostly at airports and on airplanes. I guess that's somehow fitting...

On Ravelry
Yarn: Malabrigo sock
Needle: 2.5 mm
Construction: Top down with beads, provisional cast-on
Thoughts: Love the socks! however, pattern left something to be desired...

I enjoyed making these and I think they look very nice. On one airplane, as we were deboarding, a British gentleman who had sat next to me commented that he and his wife were "quite impressed" with my knitting skills and that they had never seen anything quite like it! :) However, as the grumblings in the Ravelry group discussions reflected, it appeared that the pattern was not very carefully put together and could have been improved with a bit more attention to detail. But I liked the end result regardless. So thumbs up for stage four!

The next stage left me disappointed. I saw the pattern (Ophidia) and thought "do I really have to knit these?" I did not care for how the sock looked at all. Oh, well, I would knit them and next round would be something more exciting, for sure.

On Ravelry
Yarn: Novita Pikkusisko
Needle: 2.5 mm
Construction: Top down, intarsia contrast stitch, gusset at the back of the leg
Thoughts: ugh...

Right off the bat I ran into issues with yarn. I was traveling, so I had to rely on whatever I had with me. I started the first sock with Malabrigo sock and size M, but it was turning out so small I would never be able to get the sock on my foot. And it was Sunday, and no yarn shops were open. Boo! At the local supermarket I was able to find one yarn that was a suitable weight (a little heavier than Malabrigo). However, it was nasty to knit with, rough and splitty. Also, to get socks that would fit me, I'd have to knit size L, which would preclude me from placing in the stage. I felt defeated, and instead decided to knit  the minimum size, S. The end result was so small that my 11-year-old could hardly get the socks on his feet (which are not big by any means). Some racers were able to get grown-up sized socks out of the smallest size, but I think their gauge must have been quite a bit looser than mine, which was the same as the specs in the pattern. However, it wasn't all negative--two positive things about this pattern were the interesting gusset at the back of the leg, which did cause a very tight fit around the heel, and the contrast stitch, which I'm sure I will use again in something else.

As it turned out, this ended up being my final round of the race. The last stage included a pattern that had a "seam" at the back that to me looked like a mistake or the result of bad planning. I would have liked to fix it by modifying the design a little, but such modifications were not allowed in the race. I decided that five pairs of socks were enough for me this time.