28 December 2010

Sock-cess!

Day 1I knitted socks! On two circulars! Two at a time!

I finally finished the last of my commitments to others at midnight the Sunday before Christmas. I finally was free to make something for me, which in this case, was a pair of knitted socks for My Lizard. I'd never knitted socks before, and I'd always been intimidated by a picture in a 1950s or so book given me by my grandmother when I was about 12. I guess back then, heel flaps were how people made socks. I didn't think I could make such socks with comfortable heels; I was afraid the ridges where I would pick up stitches would wear blisters on the feet of those for whom I knitted. So I never tried.

At midnight the Sunday before Christmas, I had only six days to get that final Christmas present done. The Lizard knew I might be late. He knew I was chicken, but that I wanted to give it a try anyway. I didn't have time to look for a pattern on my slow dial-up internet connection, so I winged it.

I cast on 16 stitches, split them in half on a circular needle, looped the starting stitch through the ending stitch and just started knitting, adding one stitch at each end of the two halves each round. When I hit 30 stitches on each needle, it seemed big enough, so I stopped shaping the toe and began knitting the tube that would be the foot. I worked for one hour and then went to bed. After all, I had to leave for work in about six hours...

Day 2I worked on the sock again during my commute to and from work. Monday night before Christmas, I asked The Lizard if I could try the mouse ear-looking sock on his foot to make sure I had the size right. You should have seen his eyes light up!

Like a role reversal of Prince Charming trying the glass slipper on Cinderella, I carefully pulled the needle-laden sock tip up over his toes, and the sock tip was about six stitches too big for his foot. Dang!

"That's okay," The Lizard said. "I'll wear them. Don't worry about it. I love the color. I love the feel."

He had picked the color. I'd bought four skeins of what I thought might qualify as manly colorways, and he picked a fifth, one with some gorgeous bits of turquoise buried in chocolately man tones. So that's what I'm using. If he likes it, by golly, it will be socks!

Day 3When I went to bed that night, I tossed and turned, wondering what I should do. I really didn't want his socks to be too big. I wanted them to fit. I also had gained enough confidence to muster the courage to try two socks at a time. I had been taking notes of what I was doing so I could make the second sock match, but working both at the same time would not only make the socks go faster (in theory), but the chances of sizing being identical would be far higher.

Dark and early Tuesday morning, I ripped out the sock and wound the skein into two nearly equal-sized balls before heading for the train for my morning commute. I cast on 20 stitches for each sock this time because I thought the first attempt was a little too rounded. I shaped the toes into 26 stitches instead of 30 on each half of each sock, which was decreased by eight stitches instead of six from the first try, hopefully making the new socks a little snug.

By the time I got to work, I had two tiny toes on two circular needles. They didn't look like socks at that point, but two toe shapings were growing at the same time and at the same rate. I deliberately started the socks one color apart because The Lizard said he would like them fraternal instead of identical twins. (He'd admired all the lacy crocheted socks I made all year long and apparently had grown attached to the mismatched concept.) I also thought that might make it easier to keep the right strands with the right socks as I worked.

Day 4I had a meeting Tuesday night and didn't get to work on the socks again until my commute on Wednesday, now just three days from Christmas. The Lizard was able to try them on that night, and holy moly, they fit!!!

The socks nearly doubled in size during my short commute on Thursday, and by Christmas Eve, I was almost to the point I'd been dreading all these years. It was almost time to turn the heels.

I'd decided, after studying the construction of my own cycling socks, that I wanted to try shaping the heel the same way, which I think is called short rows. We had a four-hour drive on Christmas Day, and two of those hours were enough daylight to knit away.

Working on the stitches only on the back half of each sock on just one circular needle, I worked back and forth instead of in the round, slipping one additional stitch on each side until I got down to eight stitches on each heel, then I worked back and forth picking back up one stitch on each end of each heel until all the stitches were back in service. Two more rows around, and I could see what I'd done. The heels were poochy, just like they were supposed to be!

Christmas DayI shaped the heels!!! I couldn't wait until we arrived at our destination so The Lizard could try the socks on again. It worked! I shaped heels! I shaped heels! I turned my first heels on my first try, without a pattern, and it worked!

I had one more hour of daylight during our drive home on Boxing Day, and I got to within an inch of finishing the calf ribbing. After unloading the car, eating dinner and getting settled, I finished the socks at midnight, and The Lizard wasted no time getting his feet inside them!

His smile and his warm tootsies are the second-best elements of this Christmas for me. He loves them! He loves my first pair of knitted socks!

My stitches aren't all uniform, and the socks are not perfect, but I learned so much, and the process was so enjoyable. Yes, I will make more socks. Lots more socks. Lots more knitted socks! With turned heels!

Now I've taken on yet another deadline project, but this one doesn't involve socks. My dear friend Shonna has a cousin expecting a baby in a couple of weeks. Shonna had begun crocheting a baby blanket but now is unable to finish due to complications resulting from ovarian cancer. I volunteered to finish the project.

The actual day of Christmas may have passed, but the giving continues. May we all keep the spirit of Christmas going throughout the coming year!

finished Christmas socks

14 comments :

  1. I LOVE the socks!!! I have crocheted one pair of socks but i have never knitted a pair I want to but like you have always been afraid of the heel I am glad you conquered your fears and headed for the heel (get it ... its like headed for the hill but i said heel instead... ok maybe it wasnt as funny as i thought at first... lol)

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  2. Wow, these are fantastic. Great work. Someday I must try, you are inspiring me!

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  3. YAY! Congrats on your first knitted socks! I have yet to try 2 at a time. It looks like you used short-rows for these socks, right?

    Yay for an appreciative recipient. =]

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  4. Beautiful...the socks and the ad for the socks with the gorgeous tree in the background! You're terrific! Happy New Year, Deborah!

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  5. I love it! I'd like to learn more about it, but I don't have skills...Have a wonderful New Year! kisses from Sao Paulo, Brazil!

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  6. Not only did you reach another goal but Lizard saw all of the effort put forth for him too and loved the socks and you for it. Nothing could be finer.

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  7. I love those socks! Congrats on your success the first time making them! You are such a kind and caring person - and its good to help others.

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  8. The socks look fantastic. I would love to have some comfortable wool socks. I wear Crocs year around because they are comfortable, easy to slip on, and give me some extra stability. I see that you sell some of your crafts, would you consider knitting a pair of socks for me?

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  9. Yay! That's Awesome! Love the colors too!

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  10. Very cool knitting two at a time! So if they are a little large they will still fit if they shrink from washing. Gave me a great idea for how to pas time on the drive to visit my kids. I have yarn and crochet hooks and it's cold enough h this year to warrant making something warm :)Happy WW and upcoming New Year!

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  11. M has knit me a few amazing scarves. These socks are way cool.

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  12. Love the socks. I wished I was more than a beginner knitter. Maybe someday....

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  13. I love socks, too! I've always, always got some on needles...whether for my son or me. I'm not as brave as you to go toe up, though!
    You did such a splendid knit on them and they look so comfortable on The Lizard's feet!
    Deb, I had been knitting for years and years when I told myself...Self, if you can knit a pair of socks...you can knit anything! ;)

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  14. Beautiful socks ... you are amazing and just plain ROCK! I have put off knitting regular socks on tiny needles because something about them just intimidates me. Maybe in 2011!

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