Wednesday, April 22, 2009

There Are Three Kinds of People - Those Who Can Do Math, and Those Who Can't

I have been trying to knit socks that fit my size 10 feet, using Cat Bordhi’s sock book, NEW PATHWAYS FOR SOCK KNITTERS. She is a dear lady and extraordinarily clever. I’ve been fortunate enough to take a class from her, in which we knitted the “Little Sky Sock”. I learned her new methods of increasing, her flexibility in the type of needles we could choose for the project (I’m a 5 dp kind of gal), and I grasped her method for wrapped & turned stitches, no problem. The little sock I made is cute - doesn’t have a mate yet, but it is cute and will fit *some* little body at some time. The problem came when I attempted to make a sock that would fit *me*.

The way the book is written is that there are master patterns in which one gets the general idea of the sock’s structure. Specifics relating to gauge and the individual recipient’s foot measurements are all on tables at the back of the book. It’s simple enough to refer to the back of the book for numbers of stitches & numbers of increases to use. I thought, again, what a clever idea, and I took the book into Office Max & had it spiral bound so that I could easily flip back and forth. (BTW, I came to the conclusion that if Cat were ever to need a nom de plume, I’d suggest “Paige Turner”.)

I chose to knit the Riverbed sock, which originates at the toe, increases & widens on the sole of the foot toward the heel, turns the heel, and in a very clever way, knits the heel flap in combination with eating up wing stitches. It’s a wonderful design. Really. Should one want to do any fancy lace or cables, well, the top of the foot has no complicating minutiae whatsoever. All the increases are on the bottom of the foot. Brilliant!

Here’s my problem. Each time I have made this sock (four so far, in various weights of yarn) I have had issues with the length. Always too long. Which totally sucks, because I don’t realize how long the sock will turn out to be until after the heel turn is done, at which point I have to rip back past all the increases to the toe. I decided to use up some of my leftover yarns & make a sample sock, again, following the tables in the back of the book, to determine exactly where my problem is. All the yarns I used are “sock weight yarn” & are very similar in thickness.

So here is the fruit of my labor. This sample sock is over 12” long. My foot is 10 3/8”. And the only thing that I can figure is that perhaps the numbers do not include the length of the heel turn & flap. Of my two friends that have tried this pattern, one seems to be able to execute it without any difficulty whatsoever. The other has exactly the same issues that I have. So who knows. The last time I became this frustrated with my knitting was when I began knitting lace. I do have to say that I have not *yet* thrown the sock into the driveway & run over it with the car, though. Yet.


Blogger Long Ridge Farm said...

Oh I so feel for you! And I can't help because I knit heel down, so far. Maybe there is a group on Ravelry that could help you with this toe up thing? There are lots of clever people out there. Don't give up!

10:44 AM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Ooof! I am knitting my first Riverbed sock. I hope I don't run into the same problem; haven't gotten past the arch yet. The only person I know who makes these doesn't really follow Bordhi's measurements, she just knows how long to knit before starting the increases. I'll double check the math and see if I can figure anything out.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Leigh said...

This is something I always worry over too. Lucy Neatby says to knit until the sock length is about 1 and 1/2 inches shorter than the foot you want it to fit. But then I've never tried this pattern. However, it looks like exactly what I need for the sock I'm doing now.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Tina T-P said...

Oh my, I have the same problem with hats - they either end up waaaayy too big or waaaayy too small! I'm about to embark on a baby sweater that the book says I can crochet in a weekend. We'll see...

I'm excited because I called Nancy B at the store last week and signed up for Judith's class next fall - I've got it on our vacation calendar and everything!

How are all your "little ones" - are they all out with the flock now? Hope your spring is going well. T.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Kay said...


I love your title. I used to have a T shirt that said that.

I have done a "formula sock for all sizes" which is toe up. It has tables to figure out how many increases to do in the gusset and how far before the foot length to start. I uses ratios to gauge, so it is supposed to work for any gauge and any sized foot (and you can use any stitch pattern and number of stitches.) It does have one stitch pattern provided, but you can use any. I'd be curious as to whether this would help you. It is on Ravelry as: (Formula Toe Up Sock For All Sizes)

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

7:18 AM  

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