Wednesday, March 03, 2010

SideWinders Discussion

Today I want to talk about the SideWinders Sock Pattern by Nona of nonaKnits

A while back I got turned off of the whole making socks thing.  Tiny needles, tiny yarn, same 'ol construction and it took forever to make a sock.  Meh.  For me, worsted weight yarn + bigger needles = quicker project, mainly with sweaters, which I needed, so that was a total win.

This pattern does have some of the things I don't like: tiny needles and tiny yarn.  But the cool thing about it is the construction.  This pattern is done flat, not in the round.  There are no dpns or two circs to deal with.  It very much reminds me of the Baby Surprise Jacket that EZ created.  It looks very weird as you are knitting it, but when it comes together,  you just have to say, Wow!

To be upfront, let me state that I have not finished the pair socks.  One sock is complete and the other is on the needles.  This post is both my notes to myself and to get your input on the changes that I want to make on these socks.

The completed sock above is done on US Size 1 needles in Malabrigo Sock Yarn in the Stonechat colorway.
When reading about how other people did this, I found that most were talking about how fast the pattern was to complete.  I was shaking my head in confusion because mine were not moving quickly off the needles.  Then I went back and checked.  Most people are using thicker fingering yarn and US Size 2 needles.  So, I've totally been doing this to myself by picking smaller yarn and needles.   That's okay, I'm still getting gauge. 

The pattern is well done.  When it was published, it was done serially with one section of the pattern being shown a day.  During the Olympics I tried to challenge myself to getting one section done a night and it was great fun doing it that way.  It didn't work, thanks to life and children interruptions, but I did try.

Each line of the pattern is broken down thusly:  Cuff, Leg, Heel, Foot, Toe.  I used a different color stitch marker for each section so that I could better remember the stitch patterns in that section.

Cuff:  Done in a Garter Rib
The cuff is probably the most difficult for me out of the whole pattern.  Evidently, remembering which row comes next, even though it written down in front of me, is too much of a mental challenge.  It looks fine from this view, but trust me, it's not.  It doesn't bother me enough to go fix it though.

Leg:  Has calf shaping:

There are three times that you must stop and put in some short rows to shape the calves.  You can see the shaping up above pretty well.  Probably the simplest short row technique that I've done in any pattern.

One odd thing about the leg section though, is that the back of the leg is done in garter stitch while the rest is in stockinette.  I would like to know why the author did it that way.  I'm curious.  The garter did an excellent job hiding all the grafting.  Ewww!  there's that word, "grafting".  More about that bad word in a minute.  On my next set of socks, not this pair, I would like to do the whole thing in garter stitch, just for fun.  But would the bottom of the foot catch on too much stuff? 

Heels:  Done only with increase and decrease stitches:

Notice anything different about the two sides of the same heel?  One is done with increases and the other with decreases.  This is my first issue with this sock pattern.  They look completely different.  Also, one side has major holes, especially when the fabric is stretched to accommodate a foot.  I am not a fan of the M1 increase.  I don't like the look of holes in my fabric.  I am considering using a kfb or pfb increase in the second sock.  I might even use Techknitter's invisible increase.  I haven't decided.  What do you think?  The two sides would still be different, but at least one side wouldn't have large holes in it.

Toe:  Look how pretty the top looks:

I love the look of the toe section in the top of the foot.  Look how clean and pretty that is!

But the bottom? 
Not so much.

In the toe part, the author has you use a slip stitch edge.  In a perfect world, each of those edge stitches would be exactly the same size and quality.  Not in my world.  Just look how awful that turned out.  On the second sock, I am omitting the slip stitch edge altogether.  When it comes time to graft the two sides together, I plan on using the Bickford Seaming Method.  I love it for making almost invisible seams.

Grafting:  Now comes the dirty word.  By the end of this pattern, if you haven't conquered grafting, you never will.  There is a section of seemingly never ending grafting.  You will learn it, learn it well, and never be fearful of grafting again.  There's nothing like repetition as a teaching tool.  I got to where I was saying "In down, Off needle, Out up, Now the other side!"  Tedious, but if you embrace the whole thing in a zen kind of moment, it's not too bad.

In summation:

I'm loving the pattern.  I love weird construction.  These are also, by far, the best fitting sock (soon I can say socks here in this sentence) that I own.  I have a very, very narrow foot. Most socks slide all around on my foot and slip at the heel.  Not these babies.  Nona breaks down the pattern into narrow, normal and wide and I absolutely love that.  I just paid attention to gauge and shoe size and now I'm a happy camper knitter.

One complaint that I have seen from most people is that it's too tight at the top of the foot while putting it on.  I found that if you point your toe the entire time you are putting the sock on, it's not bad at all.  If I put it on without that toe pointed though, yeah, there's no give at all.  Some people are adding a few stitches in that section to combat that.  I'm leaving it alone, I'm not messing with the perfect fit that I've gotten. 

What changes would I make?  I'm still going to change the increase section and I really want to do leg in garter stitch.  My Dad requested some socks and he may get the next pair like that.  I am also going to do the different toe graft on the second sock and I'll let you know how it goes. Other than that?  I wouldn't change a thing.