Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Christmas Socks (a Tale of Woe), Part 2: Many a Slip, or, Frogging Builds Character

Welcome back to our stirring saga of will over wool,
in which Mrs. M - who has never yet completed a Second Sock -
undertakes to make not one, but a Pair, of Christmas-gift Socks.

When last seen, our heroine had, after several false starts, managed to design and produce several inches of acceptable sock leg. Filled with a quiet determination, she was well on her way to completing the colourwork portion of Sock One.


After what seems days (but is probably only an hour or three) of intense labour, Leg One is at last complete. Flushed with success, poised on the brink of The Heel, our heroine turns to the Internet for advice and counsel.

O inestimable Internet! Friend of ignorant knitters, well of woolly knowledge, inexhaustible source of advice and delight: what would we do without you? Eagerly does our heroine plumb your depths, searching out the deep mysteries of heels, weighing the relative merits of flap and short row, German and half-handkerchief, eye-of-partridge and slip stitch.

After much pondering, our Intrepid Knitter - having, with tolerable success, completed one German heel in her lifetime - decides to go with what she knows. The German heel is selected. But the flap - ah, the flap. In her quest for knowledge, our heroine has gathered that a loosely-spun 100% wool yarn is not the sturdiest choice for a pair of socks; something must be done to strengthen the heel area. Consulting once again the collected wisdom of the online knitting community, she decides on an eye-of partridge flap.

In addition to its delightfully exotic-sounding name, the eye-of-partridge flap possesses a lovely textured appearance, made by combining slipped and regular stitches in a 4-row repeat. Nothing could be simpler. After a few hiccups - accidentally slipping stitches on both purl and knit rows (ribbit), losing track of the repeat (ribbit), and waffling over how many rows are needed - our heroine at last produces a Heel Flap worthy of the name:

Onward she knits, and soon beholds with joy an actual Turned Heel:

In no time at all, she has picked up and knit the necessary stitches to continue down the sock:

The Gusset now calls with siren voice. Our heroine has rosy visions of pushing onwards to finish Sock One, but in a rare display of crafting self-control, she places Sock One on a stitch holder and proceeds instead to cast on for Sock Two. "If I knit the second leg now," she reasons to herself, "I stand a better chance of matching tension to the first leg. And I'll get all that fiddly colourwork out of the way."

Whether through the soundness of her reasoning or divine intervention, the leg of Sock Two does indeed go much more smoothly - apart from two trifling errors in the colourwork, one on the very first row and one on the very last (discovered, of course, when it was too late to do anything about it). But let us ignore these small stings and focus instead on the positive: our heroine has reached the second heel flap. Sunshine fills her knitting heart, and lights up the work-in-progress:

Meanwhile, Christmas has come. Our heroine has missed her deadline; she must now lay aside her knitting and take up the burden of hostess-ship for a time.

When the guests are gone, she looks to her needles and eagerly proceeds to The Gusset, which - after a slight contretemps caused by working the wrong decreases on the wrong sides of the heel (ribbit) - soon bursts forth in all its glory of compound angles and cunning joinery:

Sock Two, with gusset complete, is now placed on a holder while our heroine returns to Sock One. (She wants to do the other gusset while the process is fresh in her memory.)

Before you can say "baa", she has worked gusset and foot...

...has decreased for the toe...

...and has smoothly grafted said toe with the help of another Wisconsin blogger (thank you Techknitter!).

Our Intrepid Knitter has finished a sock; her Second First Sock, to be precise.

A quiet happiness fills her heart. Patience and Perseverance have Paid Off. All the mistakes, the frogging and re-working, are as receding ripples on the sea of memory. Sock One is complete.

With fresh courage, our heroine turns to Sock Two. Just a foot and a toe - a few hours' work - and this Tale of Woe will turn into a Song of Triumph. The longed-for happy ending is nearly in sight.

Or so she thinks.

To be continued....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


  1. Ah I sense an issue popping up because the Knitting Faeries never, ever let sock two go smoothly, best of luck on the finish my friend.

  2. I am impressed! Well done!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  3. Oh to knit! I wish I could but for some reason it just doesn't work with me, maybe because my Mum taught me and she is left handed??! I'll stick to the crochet hook :) x

  4. Not only a pair of socks but ones with a kitty design!? You're my hero! My one and only pair of knitted socks sits buried in my sock basket. After all that work, wearing them was like walking on a bed of needles or hot coals... my sensitive feet can only be happy in soft cotton store-bought socks of very fine weave. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  5. I envy your courage and determination. And I mean in knitting socks! Looking good, those socks! Happy New Year and keep knitting! Linda@Wetcreek Blog

  6. I'm so impressed with your fortitude and use of internet, still don't understand a single thing about knitting, but love the sock.

  7. Such beautiful works of art and I loved the reading of the great story of knitting them. You are very talents in more ways than one. :-). I've knit lots of socks but none for myself. My kids always snatch them up before I wear them! Congrats on the wonderful socks.

  8. Cheering you on your sock saga to success, Sue!!! I have great admiration for your artistry and great confidence in your ability. xx

  9. I think they are awesome. I am so proud of you for plugging away forward. If your error in color work is small, you can always duplicate stitch it with the yarn in question to either cover it up, or add the color work stitch back. I am so excited for you. So much fun! Yay! 2016, the year of knit! :) Wishing you a most lovely day sweet friend. :)

  10. I can relate to every step of your tale, there's something quite mystical about sock making, I have at this point in time completed the grand total of 4 pairs of socks one pair were even man socks and every single sock has had dropped stitches and has been frogged and redone several times. I have yet to complete a perfect sock and mine were all plain simple knitting nothing like your very fancy impressive patterned ones I'm so impressed. :) xx

  11. Fan very tastic!!! How brilliant is that!! Well done you!! Looking forward to seeing them together and on your feet, but I am sure that you are looking forward to that even more! xx

  12. I sense a disaster, please prove me wrong!

  13. Fantastic! Loved reading this post. And oh yes...congratulations about the sock too :) :)I wonder if I will ever dare to knit a sock in this lifetime.
    Happy New Year, have a fantastic year ahead.

  14. Turning out SO beautifully! I know you can do it! I know that second sock will be finished soon!

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