May 8, 2007

Look Ma, Two Hands!

Have you seen the latest Sock Madness Pattern? Go on, click this link, you gotta check it out! It's another pattern from sock designer extraodinaire Tina. The same Tina who designed the Mad Color Weave socks.

This anklet sock is knit using the Fair Isle technique of stranding yarn. But the pattern itself is not a traditional Fair Isle. Instead, it was inspired by Batik fabric from Indonesia. It's stunningly beautiful.

One way of knitting stranded color patterns is to hold one color in each hand. So one hand knits Continental (picks the yarn) while the other hand knits English (throws the yarn). (video tutorial here, scroll down) This is what I've been trying to do. It is my first time stranding and (basically) my first time knitting Continental.

Can I just tell you what a challenge it has been for me to be this coordinated? It's enough of a struggle to knit with two hands, but I've got to keep my place in the pattern, too?!? I have to laugh at myself because I'm concentrating and focusing so hard, but still likely to screw up. It feels like craft day at the asylum.

Therefore, I felt very proud (special, if you will) upon completing the patterned ankle cuff. Flushed with success, I proceeded to completely mangle the one-color, completely straightforward, totally reasonable, short row heel. Not only do I not know what I did wrong, but I didn't catch it until the very end of the heel turn.

See how it's veering off to one side?

I thought I was ending the heel turn because I had only one un-worked stitch on one side. Imagine my chagrin to find, like, seven un-worked stitches on the other side!

I'm telling you, craft day at the asylum.

I'm not sure if this egregious disservice to the short row heel was just one mistake early on, which compounded along the way. Or, if it was several mistakes which stacked up. Either way, it was time for Bruce the Frog to help out.

By the way, I was totally tickled by how you guys stepped up to give Frog naming suggestions when I asked. I'm very lucky you're willing to humor me when I'm being a goofball. And you came through with many, fantastic suggestions. They were all so funny, I couldn't possibly chose a favorite. So I went the democratic route, and used the name which received the most votes. (Thanks Kellie and Ali!)

And heeeeerrrreeeee's BRUCE!

Before I let Bruce have at it, I had the sense to insert needles (one size down) into the row before the heel start.

Then Bruce went to town, while Sadie "supervised". I guess she's heard frog legs are a delicacy.

I paid more attention on my second heel attempt and it all worked out.

The heel incident behind me, I'm happy to report that the rest of the sock went as well as can be expected for a first time attempt at Fair Isle.

Top of the sock.

It's a different pattern on the sole. How cool is that?

These socks are all about "assertive beginner-ness", to borrow a phrase from Margaret. They are puckery in some places and baggy in others. Ladders and bulges right on top of each other, which I never would have anticipated but makes sense upon reflection. I can painfully see all their flaws and I'd be lying if I said I don't mind them. But I also see their beauty. I look at them and I see the fun I had making them. I also see room for improvement (a lot of room) and I look forward to making that progress.

Maybe I'll even see progress on the second one.