20 November 2006

Peacock Sock Emergency

I regret to tell you all that the peacock socks have reached a state of emergency.

I'm out of yarn. What you see is what I got. I'm not sure how this little problem managed to sneak up on me like this, but I think the cause may be those pretty eye-of-partridge heel flaps. They seem to take twice as many rows to reach squareness as other stitch patterns. This is no doubt why it's so firm and sturdy, but it also means that it takes a lot of yarn. Then, since this was my first foray into heel flap socks, I took the Harlot at her word when she said to just pick up one stitch for every 'V' on the flap and that would be the perfect amount for the gusset. I really did slip the first stitch of every row, but I still ended up picking up 36 sts on each side (on a 72-st sock). Now, I did see fairly quickly that this looked like way more stitches than a "normal" sock, and that it was taking way too long to get back to the baseline number of stitches at the rate of 2 decreases every other row. But I tried the first one on Hubbster's foot at this stage and discovered that while the "widest part of the foot" that I had been measuring (where the toe-knuckles are) is wide, the part of the foot in front of the ankle - the highest part of the foot - is actually well over a half-inch bigger around still. Probably because poor Hubbster has flat feet. (Honestly, I never imagined I'd know his feet quite this well.) So, the huge, odd gusset actually fits him marvellously well, and he says it's better than any sock he's ever put on. Although a slightly smaller gusset - say, halfway between normal and this one - would probably work just as well, this one is already knitted, now on both socks, so I'd really hate to frog and re-do it because of the yarn shortage.

Another option would be to frog the ribbing on the legs, and use that yarn. I am missing 30 rows plus the toe, and the ribbing is 20 rows on each sock, so that's probably about the right amount. Then I could just rip the last 4 or 5 rows of the remaining legs and knit them back up in 1x1 rib to finish it off. But I think this would seriously diminish the beauty and comfort of the socks - this is not the right colorway or pattern for anklets!

I could, of course, hunt down another skein of the yarn, which is Cherry Tree Hill Supersock merino. Two problems with that - 1, I'm not sure of the colorway or its current availability, and 2, if I'm going to spend real money, I've got a huge list of things I want, and I'd rather get something new and different and have these socks done already.

Or, I could finish it with another yarn entirely, and when Hubbster wears them in shoes no one will notice. Hubbster gamely declares that he is totally fine with this plan. But what yarn? The whole point would be not to spend money. The cheapest option I could find online was Paton's Kroy (in plain navy blue) for $4.50, but shipping was $6 (!!). I do have a plain brown yarn in the stash that would probably get the same gauge or close enough and not clash. But it's alpaca, and much fuzzier/hairier than the Supersock.

I cannot resolve this dilemma, not even after tossing and turning for an hour last night. Help me! Log your verdict in this poll:

How should I finish the peacock sock?
Buy another skein of matching yarn.
Unravel the ribbing and make ankle socks.
Frog and re-knit the feet with smaller gussets.
Finish with a matching Kroy yarn
Finish with the miscellaneous brown alpaca.
Stick it in the closet and cry.

View Results

In the meantime, I am continuing with the first pair of Widdershins. Did I mention that I have vowed to never, EVER, ever ever ever knit socks from the top down again???!! I have. Except maybe for EZ's moccasin socks, and even those I prefer to start just above the ankle with a provisional cast-on and then finish two at a time on one magic loop. I get better chances of having two legs of equal height that way, plus it makes the boring part a little more adventurous.

I also worked out some of my angst by whipping up these suckers in one evening:

Fuzzy feet, in orange alpaca, inspired by Aija's. It occured to me that since I'll be felting in suburban comfort over the holidays anyway (when I felt the in-laws' new clogs while we're visiting them), I might as well felt a few other things. I figure I might have time to do one or two more of these before we go. We can never have too many tapochki in this house.

P.S. I'm behind on my email. I know. I will catch up...eventually.


ZhiWen said...

Hi! I found your blog through the Cast-On podcast where your wonderful essay was featured.

Hmm.. those heel flaps look very big indeed. How about another skein of not-too-clashing sock yarn in which you could do the heels and the toes? That would mean you'd have to frog the finished sock as well, I guess.. sorry, can't think of anything else :(

Here's another explanation of the EOP:

I usually calculate thus (in brackets are the examples):
* total amount stitches for the leg (60)
* total stitches for the heel flap (HALF of 60 = 30)
* length of heel flap (count the chain stitches on either side of the heel flap, you should have about HALF of the heel flap stitches = 15 chain sts)
* then turn the heel with your favourite method.

I hope this helps a a bit :)

Laura said...

hi kate! having little experience with heel flap & gusset socks, i can offer you little in the way of explanation about the cause of the yarn shortage. but i can understand your pain. and your eagerness to be done with this project and move on.

i voted for use a matching kroy yarn. is there no LYS in NYC that carries the more pedestrian (excuse the pun) sock yarns? $6 for shipping does seem steep.

Marianne said...

Just so you know, I went with the Kroy option, I wouldn't want to frog anything on those socks, and if your sweet Hubbster doesn't mind, after all, it's not like you're not going to knit him more socks,eh? Kate, if I lived anywhere near you I'd say..get your arse over and grab a ball of sock yarn out of the stash, I'm pretty sure I'd have something...at least a solid coloured something that would go alright...seriously, if we know anything at all about your darling Hubbster and knitting.....he will be happy with these because you made them for him, they feel fantastic on his feet, it was your first go with a different heel that took up more of the yarn, he'll understand that, and you *know* he's going to look forward to the next pair...there was a time (and I guess still it) when a woman ran out of one yarn, oh well, pick up another and be glad you had it.

Marianne said...

Kate, I was going to drop that comment in the can but DH accidentally shut my browser down, ack, forget the Kroy, that's way too much for postage, no kidding, I have some washable sock yarns, I have a Lanett navy, Knitpicks Dusk, also their cocoa, seriously, if one of these might work for you...email me, it's on my profile...and I'll get it to you asap. Otherwise, the rest of the comment stays.

Marianne said...

Damn, can you tell, I am seriously ADD...love those fuzzy feetsies....

historicstitcher said...

My vote isn't in the poll: frog the ribbing, finish the toes with the same yarn, and use something totally different to re-do the tops of both socks and make them match with a wide stripe of a solid yarn on the cuff. You can put a couple rows of the frogged yarn on the bind-off edge of the cuff to finish and make it look like you meant it to be that way.

Depends on your tolerance for looking at them. No, no one will see the half-sock in a different yarn, but you will when he comes home and takes his shoes off. Can you deal with it? If yes, then finish with another yarn. If it will bug you (it would bug me to no end!) then frog and re-finish.

aija said...

Hi! Would you like some CTH Supersock to finish it? I have a bunch of an endlot I bought from ebay... its orange/grey/reddish, won't match but if you're going to go with another yarn entirely-- may as well be cth :) LMK your addy & I can drop it in the mail today (pic here-- http://www.flickr.com/photos/sockpr0n/107781690 ) It'll be my thanksgiving week good knitting deed :)

cookie said...

Oh no! Did I screw you over by sending you a small skein? Let me see if I have any more of that somewhere. I originally had three skeins - one for me (already knit into socks), one for Kristi (already knit into socks), and one for the contest. I'll see if Kristi or I have leftovers.

Susan said...

Kate, I have some KnitPicks essential sock yarn in a nicely boring Navy if you'd like it to finish off the sock??????????????

(ahem, which is why I didn't vote in your poll, because you didn't include a final option of 'none of the above'!)


Bliss said...

How about frogging the toe of the first sock, using that yarn on the second sock, then using a different yarn for the toes of both socks? That way they would match. (Sure, no one would see them when he's wearing shoes, but YOU WOULD KNOW.)

Kimmer said...

Kate, if it were me I'd frog the first sock back to the heel flap, and then only pick up half as many stitches as you picked up. When I work heel flaps, I pick up half as many stitches on each side as I worked for the flap, plus 1. Example: The socks I'm working on now have 36 stitches for the heel flap, so I pick up 19 stitches on each side of the flap, 1 in each "V" plus 1 to prevent a hole at the top of the flap. I also knit the same number of rows as stitches. So my heel flaps aren't perfectly square; they're close enough. By ripping and using half as many stitches you may have enough yarn to finish both socks this way. Of course, this is what *I* would do, and not everyone is as persnickety about things as I am. I once ripped the entire back of a sweater because there was just something that didn't look right about it to me.

Another idea I like is Bliss's suggestion of ripping the toe of the first sock and using a contrasting color for the toes. My SODs are like that, in opposite colors - one pink with purple heel and toe, the other purple with pink heel and toe. Nothing wrong with being a little creative :)

Anonymous said...

you live in Manhattan, right? take the j train out to Smileys forever and ever and buy some cheap sock yarn (you might want to buy some Lopi light while you're out there they also have some high end cottons, but most of their yarn is crap) reknit both feet to match so it doesn't look to odd, but if that funky gusset fits your your husband's funky feet, leave that. Happy thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

There's lots of good advice here so I won't add mine except to say that Zhiwen describes the way I do the heel flaps, except that I usually pick up one more stitch in the corner where a hole might form. If you slipped your first stitches correctly you should have half the number of chain stitches on the edges as rows. I just knit and count those chain sts occasionally until I have half the number of sts that are in my flap. I don't bother to count the rows as I'm knitting nor worry about whether the flap is actually square. They've always fit the intended foot!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate, good luck with solving this tricky situation! I went with the add some matching Kroy yarn, since I am lazy. :)

Kat with a K said...

Good luck! Oh, and hey, felting in suburban comfort over the holidays sounds like a marvelous idea. Why didn't I think of that? I'm going to be at my parents' house for a few days... hmm...

Ellen in Conn said...

This sock dilemma is why I love toe-up sox. I NEVER run out of yarn, and I never have too much. 50g equals one sock, and THAT'S IT.

Bridget said...

I'm with Ellen, re: toes-up; it also means you won't have knots in the foot. But that doesn't help you in the current situation. I vote for frogging the toe of the first sock and finishing both toes with something different, assuming Cookie and Kristi can't scare up enough for you to finish with. Bummer, there!

And I think you're right that the EOP heels did you in; it would be tough to pick up the right number of stitches with all those slipped stitches, I would think (having, of course, never done EOP heels). But at least you have a pattern that fits hubby well, now! You just have to remember to buy more yarn, when planning socks for him in the future.

yarnhottie said...

Would like to know if you have addresses to the companies in Russia I love the yarn but will never be able to go their. Is there any way for us to write and obtain Yarn direct from Russia. Please get back to me thanks. Loved your whole sight.
Write me at

Anonymous said...

I was browsing through various knitting sights and came across your blog. I was looking at the things you want to knit..I am surprised that one would include the knitting instructions(refering to the Marilyn sweater)as well. Does the respect of copyright not apply here?

Kate A. said...

Since I am unable to respond directly to the anonymous comment above for lack of an email address, I thought I might as well say it here: I did not scan and post a copyrighted pattern and never would. A glance at the URL for the Debbie Bliss "Marilyn" pattern linked to in my sidebar will show any interested parties that the scan of the pattern actually originates from the Interweave Press site. They made it available free online because the magazine issue in which it was originally released is out of print, never to return, and they have kindly decided to meet the strong continued demand for this particular pattern in this way.

A simple glance at the pattern itself or the website the file actually resides on presumably makes this quite clear to any conscientious reader, but I wanted to belabor the point here as I don't particularly appreciate the unwarranted and thoughtless accusation left by my anonymous commenter. I've seen much worse on blogs, of course, but that's precisely the point: this kind of thing is alwaysunacceptable and I refuse to ignore it. I took the trouble to find that link and include it in my sidebar after a previous reader saw the mention of the Marilyn pattern (without a link) and asked me where the pattern was available. I had to, in good conscience, tell that reader that I couldn't let her have a copy of my copyrighted pattern, and since the original IK issue was sold out, I suggested she check out Debbie Bliss' site or contact her directly for an alternative. It was only after this exchange that I discovered that Interweave had already solved the problem by making the pattern available via free PDF. Under these circumstances, I was happy to take the trouble to link to it for the benefit of other people like this first reader.

Can we all please remember to check our facts before we accuse anyone of any wrongdoing in any public forum, even (or especially) anonymously? Please?

Respect for copyright does apply here, as do good manners.