Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Knitting: Mosaic Madness

Ah, they joys of learning something new...

I have looked at a lot of colour work socks and have wanted to try them, but stranded colour work is a bit intimidating to me, so I decided to try a mosaic pattern instead.  Enter the Ugly Duckling Sock pattern.  Designed by Karn Aida to "...make use of variegated yarns that are too busy, too vibrant, or just plain ugly."  Rather than carrying a bunch of yarn at the back of the work, this pattern works by alternating two rows of each colour of yarn, and slipping stitches to achieve the pattern.

I looked at this pattern and saw that she was already using a 2.75mm needle, so I figured I was good because that is what I use anyway for my socks. And I was confident that since my Eastern Crossed Knitting was never a problem in any other sock pattern, it wouldn't be a problem in this one either. A sock is a sock, right?

So I dyed some nice dark brown yarn to use with my Fiery Sunset yarn that I had skillet dyed a while back.  
Chocolate Brown
Fiery Sunset
I cast on my stitches and got to work knitting the sock. The colours looked great together, and picking up the stitch pattern was quite easy. It was just a case of remembering when to slip and when to knit.
The first two rows of the mosaic pattern
I kept happily knitting the sock, adding in my standard heel flap and gusset (she says you can use whatever heel and toe you like, and I like this heel). On the first sock I realized after about one and half pattern repeats past the gusset join that I had to treat the first stitch on the needle after the patterned top of the foot as part of the pattern, and had to slip it for two row, knit it on the alternating two rows. Otherwise, the pattern on the left (in the picture above) would not have it's nice brown stripe up the side.   No problem....just a little tweak, nothing major. 

I was determined to get this sock done in time to count it as that week's sock in a challenge I was doing, so I cast on Good Friday, and was done Saturday night. My first mosaic sock!
Yay! It's a mosaic sock!
Then I tried the sock on... or should I say I attempted to try the sock on.  It would not go over my heel. And I don't mean the heel didn't fit... I mean that nice, pretty patterned leg, between the cuff and the heel, decided it did not want to go over my heel. It took a lot of work to finally get it on, and I think I may have cut off my circulation while I was trying, but I was determined to get it on. 

That night, as I was trying to fall asleep, something was bothering me, so I got up and took a really close look at the sock. Had I missed something?  Turns out I did... I counted 8 full repeats on the top of the foot, but then part of my brain starting poking me, saying "but you worked your heel over 32 sts....how does that work?" I always work my heel over half the stitches on my needle... if I cast on 68 sts like I was supposed to, shouldn't the foot have been 34 sts? And wouldn't that mean a partial pattern on the top of the foot?  

Sure enough, after counting, I confirmed that I had only cast on 62 sts... I meant to cast on 24/20/24, but I am so used to casting on 20/20/20, that on my last needle, I only cast on 20 sts. And because mosaic work does not stretch as much, this 4 sts could make a big difference. 

So I begrudgingly finished the second sock. 
My first ever pair of mosaic socks

I don't mind giving socks away, so that wasn't the problem. The problem was my first attempt had not worked out the way I had hoped.  But I finished the second sock, and when I posted that it was going to have to be given away to someone with smaller feet than me, one of my Ravelry friends raised her digital hand, and the socks jumped on a plane.

For the next pair, I had a plan. I was going to use more of my brown yarn, and use the leftovers from my Pink Lemonade yarn, and these were going to be for me! 

I had been doing some online research and talking to some awesome Ravelry members about my style of knitting, and how twisting the stitches can impact the stretchiness of the sock, so I decided that not only was I going to cast on the right number of stitches this time, but I was going to make a very concerted effort not to twist my stitches. I was going to be an Eastern Knitter, but was going to drop the Crossed part for this pair of sock. 

Trying to change your knitting style takes a lot of concentration, and I felt like I was just learning to knit. I had to really think about every stitch I was making, and it was taking quite a lot of time. I was happy that I was picking it up, but when working the heel and the toe, something didn't feel quite right. It felt like they were too big, but I wasn't sure.  I decided to keep knitting.  The first sock took me 4 days to complete.  

Excited that the sock was finished, and knowing that it definitely was stretchier, at least in some spots, I tried it on. This was going to be my very own pair of Pink Lemonade Mosaic Socks!
My first Pink Lemonade Mosaic Sock!
The good news was I could get the patterned part over my heel, even if it was a little snug, it still went over.  The bad news... the heel flap was too long, you can see that the cuff come up over the top of the foot form, and the toe was not as snug as it usually is.  So I had the right number of stitches, I had not twisted my stitches, and I still had a sock that didn't fit.  It took me three days to finish the second sock.

Then it was time for pair #3.  This time I was going to use the right number of stitches, and I was going to go back to knitting the way I always did, with my pretty twisted stitches.  I really do like the way they look, and prefer them over the look of the untwisted stitch. Plus, I find that when I twist my stitches, the dot in the middle of the squares looks more centred.

I figured if 68 sts untwisted was too big, and 64 stitches twisted was too small, then 68 stitches twisted should be just right.  This time I used the pink and grey yarn from my How To - Immersion Dyeing (Part Two - Multiple Colours, Twisted Skein) post, and the green from my It's not easy being green... post. The combination reminded of some of the flowers from my back yard, so I called these my "Impatiens Garden Mosaic Socks.

I cast on the right number of stitches, decided to stick with 32 sts for the heel to keep full patterns across the top of the foot, and happily knit away, working on what was sure to be MY mosaic socks.  As I got close to the heel, I tested the stretch in the pattern, but I have had so much trouble gauging it before that I couldn't quite tell.  As the sock got close to the toe, I tried it on... it didn't want to go over my heel.  Same issue as the first pair... I couldn't believe it! I had cast on the correct number of stitches, but it still wasn't fitting???  I finished the sock anyway.

My pretty garden inspired socks
It took a lot of tugging, pulling, swearing, praying and crying, but I managed to get the sock on my foot. Other than the fact that the patterning on the leg did not want to go over my damn heel, the sock seemed to fit fine.   I wore it for about 10 minutes, and then struggled to take it off.

And then I turned to a couple of groups in Ravelry for some suggestions that didn't involve setting the sock on fire and vowing never to knit mosaic again. I am determined that I am going to make this work eventually. At which point I will either never knit mosaic again, or I will have conquered the pattern and will be able to make them for anyone I want.

One of the suggestions was to increase the needle size, and another to add more stitches. It occurs to me after reading those that any other time I had read about colour work, they said to go up a needle size.   I was a bit concerned about the sole of the foot, because I like the way it feels on the 2.75mm needles. After taking to a few people, it seems that knitting just the pattern on bigger needles and the stockinette stitch on my regular needles may be the way to go, if I decide to go the "bigger needle" route.

The other option is to add more stitches. Maybe one more column of the pattern will be enough for them to go over my heel? Or would I need two?  My worry with that is I don't want the heel flap and turned heel to be too big. Working them over 32 sts is almost too much, but I could work it so the heel is done on 32 sts and the top of the foot on 40.

I did notice this morning, when I went to put it on again to test exactly where it was not fitting, that it was a little easier to get it on. Still a bit of a struggle, but not as much as last night, so I am hopeful that maybe washing and blocking it might help.

I am sure I will change my mind at least a dozen times before I actually cast on the next pair. I wanted to start the new pair last night, but hubby said I should finish the other sock, just to get it over with. And that is probably a good idea, because I could really wind up with Second Sock Syndrome on this one. Or, I could decide to just tear the first one apart and start over, if I was able to figure out the sizing for the next one. And while I don't mind frogging something, I am sure there is someone out there that these ones are meant for. I think my cousin has skinnier feet than me, so maybe they will fit her.

It will take me a few more days to finish the second sock of this pair. It is hard to knit quickly when I know the sock meant for me is no longer going to fit, but I am going to try to hold on to the notion that the quick I finish it, the quicker I can start my next pair. 

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear your sock does not fit but it sure is pretty...love those colors together!