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28 January 2008

FO: Monkey Socks

Can you believe it? I'm blogging a finished knitting project!

I've had this yarn with me since late last spring. I loved the orange colorway, and I enjoyed knitting with Trekking sock yarn before, so I bought it without a moment's hesitation. Then I got busy with the move to New Hampshire. And I didn't really have a pattern I wanted to use. And I got sidetracked by other projects. So the ball of yarn was tossed in the back of the one knitting/sewing drawer I have here.

Over Christmas break, I had a hankering to start a sock project. Perhaps because I had put the KnitPicks sock sampler on my Christmas list. (I won't post a link because they've discontinued it, but it was an assortment of sock yarns, enough to make 6 pairs, that you could get in warm colors, cool colors, or neutrals. I said on my list I'd be happy with either the oranges/reds or blues/greens, but not the browns/blacks.) I was the one thing I was absolutely positive I'd be getting, seeing as it was a quick and easy gift to get. Surprise of surprises, I didn't get it (no worries, I got lots of other cool stuff!). But because I had expected it, I still had the sock-making urge. I pulled out the ball of Trekking, downloaded the Monkey Sock pattern that was all the rage a year ago ('cause I'm about 13 months behind the times, on average), and started knitting while the rest of the family was busy adventuring in WoW.

Now in the past, I have found that my hand-knit socks are a bit on the loose side. They always ended up too long. This time, I decided I'd make them on the short side, to take the yarn "give" into account. That part worked like a charm. From now on, I won't make a pair bigger than size medium, even though I have a size 9 foot, and Impera has a size 8.5.

Something else I learned, though, is that some projects are made to be completed with circular needles. I'm a dpn* gal when it comes to tubes like socks and mittens. When I walked into my local yarn shop in Iowa a few years ago and said I was interested in learning to knit socks, the owner brought me over to the double-point rack, handed me the Patons Pull Up Your Socks! booklet, and told me to follow the directions word for word, even if it doesn't seem to make sense! I had no idea what she meant until I got to the turning the heel section of a pattern. (If you've ever made socks, you'll know what she meant, too.)

Back to the Monkeys: In many rows, the pattern repeat begins with purls. I remember reading in a Nancy Bush sock book (yes, I read it, but found all the patterns too scary to look at, so I returned the book to the library, post-haste!) that one should never begin a needle with a purl stitch, as we have a tendency to knit purl stitches looser. I stored that fact away, and realized the wisdom of her words when knitting these socks. You can definitely tell where those loose, first-stitch purls are. I would take a picture, but it seems that Impera** must have worn those socks today, as I can't find them in her room.***

Darn flash is way too bright!

For most of the sock, I couldn't switch where the needles began because if it wasn't at a purl stitch, it would be at a yarn-over, which seemed particularly scary to me. (I could very easily see me consistently dropping a stitch when that stitch isn't a real stitch but just a half-loop of yarn. Because sock knitting is supposed to be a multi-tasking endeavor for me -- done while listening to a podcast, or chatting with family -- I couldn't imagine enjoying it for very long if I was constantly dropping stitches and having to count, over and over again.)

In the end, I'm glad I got the Monkeys out of my system. But I don't think I'll make this pattern again. It's OK, but I don't feel like buying a bunch of small circulars, and this pattern really isn't appropriate for knitting in the round with dpns.

And once again, I made a lace pattern with variegated yarn. I wonder how many times I have to tell myself that variegated yarn ends up hiding the lace pattern? I'm hoping three times is the charm. But lace patterns are so fun to knit up. And variegated yarns always catch my eye. We'll just have to see, I suppose. I am an official old dog at this point, you know.

Official specs: Monkey socks from knitty winter 2006, knit with Trekking XXL, color 38.

*double-pointed needles
**Yes, I gave them to Impera. I'll explain why tomorrow.
***Although I realize that with the MOUNTAINS of clothes and random items strewn one-foot thick about her room, it may just be that they are hidden too well for me to find.