I found this purple Wildfoote in the stash. I saw the $4.50 price sticker and thought, “wow, what a bargain,” until I checked the current price of Wildfoote and found it is only $5.50 now. So I looked up when I bought it: April of 2002. Granted, a $1 increase is a significant percent when something’s only $4.50 to begin with but this still seems like a deal. Hooray for Brown Sheep Company! I’ve been using their yarns for years. My first sweater was BSC Lamb’s Pride Superwash because, on my college student’s budget, I couldn’t afford the Colinette and Noro yarns the shop owner kept showing me, but I knew then, only 3 projects into my knitting life, that I didn’t want to use K-Mart’s finest stiff early-90s acrylic for the sweater, either. Brown Sheep and Cascade yarns have been my knitting staples since I learned to knit.

So I originally thought of these as the $9 bargain socks, but after being stuck in a seemingly endless loop of re-sizing and re-knitting sections of them off and on since early September my brain thinks of them as the eternal socks. Two months on such a tiny project, ick! By my reckoning I made 4.5 socks to result in only two finished ones.

After getting disgusted and letting them languish a few weeks, I buckled down and worked on them last week, and here they are:

Socks_2007Nov17_PurpleArrowheadLace

Pattern: own
Stitch pattern: Little Arrowhead Lace from Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, modified so there are 2 purl stitches between repeats
Yarn: Brown Sheep Company Wildfoote, 75% washable wool, 25% nylon, color SY-17 (Purple Splendor)
Needles: size 1 bamboo double-points
Size: women’s 9.5

So what was the big holdup with these? I have made many pairs (50+) of simple 2×2 ribbed socks so I am familiar with sock construction. That confidence in experience is exactly what caused this project to stretch out for such a long time. How does the saying go? “Pride goeth before a fall”?

I didn’t swatch, just cast on and went for it. I added the 2 purl stitches between repeats of the Arrowhead pattern so the socks would have some give, but even this did not allow the original cuff to stretch enough to go on. Foolishly, I did not try the first sock on until I was ready to make the heel (and I make 8″ cuffs, so that’s a lot of knitting). Tried it on, didn’t go on. Said “grrr,” ripped it out, and cast on again with one more pattern repeat.

This cuff fit, so I made it long enough, then calculated the heel and made the stitches flow beautifully from the lace pattern into the knit 1, slip 1 heel flap. I stopped and worked sock #2 down to its heel, too, so they would match. Then I worked one sock all the way down to the toe. Tried it on, and found the toe too long (by about 2″ – that lace pattern really stretches lengthwise!), the lace repeat across the top of my foot (originally 4 repeats) far too wide, causing a very baggy fit, and the heel a, um, tad snug.

I set this one aside so I could have it for reference and went back to the other sock and worked it all the way to the toe, this time with only 3 lace repeats across the top of the foot, then did the same with the reference sock. Can you see what I did wrong here? A sane person would have tried one on BEFORE doing all that work to both socks. Well, I triumphantly tried them both on again, and found the snug heels were now unbearable. I could feel the socks straining at that point, plus I had a little dent at the back of each ankle when I took the socks off, clearly a sign of heel denial at the first try-on. “Grrr” again. I unraveled both back up to the cuffs, re-did the heels with more stitches (less beautiful to my eye, but no one else is going to notice), and re-knit the feet.

I had to remind myself: “I like knitting, I like knitting” while working on these yet some more. But they look really pretty and were a great lesson in lace sock design.

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