A little frogging never hurt anyone

Warmth and durability: two very good things. When it comes to socks for my grandma, I want them to be warm (knit from at least sport weight yarn) and durable. Warm because my grandma is, you know, typical grandmother age and her footsies get cold, and durable because she doesn’t take off stuff I make for her: even if I made hot pink socks with blue pom-poms she wouldn’t take them off; in fact, she would proudly show them to anyone who cared to look. For sock yarn, durability usually comes in the form of 20-25% nylon content, and that just doesn’t exist in sport or worsted weight wool good for socks. Improvisation begins, and you know I’m a fan of that :).

Nothing exciting happened until I got past the slip-stitch flap heel on my grandmother’s newest socks, so I won’t bore you with details.

Once I was ready to work on the sole of the sock, I decided to follow the instructions for the padded footlet in the latest issue of Interweave Knits. It’s a clever concept – the entire sock sole is knit with doubled yarn. Some rounds every stitch is made with doubled yarn, and other rounds are worked with a single strand, with every other stitch being slipped. Does this sound fussy to you? It is. That’s a good way to describe this pattern – fussy.

Fussy doesn’t mean impossible, so I knit a few rounds following the pattern, and hated the result. I’m already working with DK-weight yarn on tiny (US 1.5) needles, and doubling the yarn caused the end product to be stiff like cardboard. Yuck. Also, the sole became way too wide and the sock too big overall. So I ripped until the sock heel. I would be willing to give the padded sole a try if I work with thinner yarn – I think I would be much happier with the results.

Then I decided I would use nylon reinforcement thread for the sole. I didn’t want the reinforcement yarn to obscure the pretty pattern on top of the foot, so I held the two together only during the sole stitches. Ha! Yes, you’re thinking the right thing – two ends to weave in for every round: one at the first sole stitch where I attach the nylon thread, and one at the last sole stitch where I drop it. It’s a bit slow to knit this way, even though I wove in ends as I went, but just like the fussy padded footlet, I would have continued if the method worked for me. It didn’t. The nylon reinforcement made the sole very inflexible and not stretchy: the sock no longer hugged the foot. I can only imagine how much more yucky it would be if I used the reinforcement on all the stitches lower than the heel, so at least my thinking in using it on only some of the stitches was in the right direction. Anyway, I wasn’t happy, so I ripped it.

Ripping socks is so painless, don’t you agree? I have absolutely no mental hang up about it, I just do it, I don’t think twice.

What’s next? I’m going to use something that I know will work :). I will knit socks in total peace without changing anything, and then once I’m all done, I will weave in reinforcement thread into the sole from the wrong side. I did it in my grandma’s last pair of socks, and the inside looked like this:

Here’s the obligatory picture of the sock-in-progress:

P.S. I tell you a little secret, you all come a little closer: I figured out how to re-work the sleeve shaping of my Fibo! And when I say that, I mean, were I to allow myself to take out the graph paper and the pattern right now, I know the Maths I’d need to do. But I’m keeping myself away for just a little bit longer :).


16 thoughts on “A little frogging never hurt anyone

  1. Bea

    That reinforced sole looks really cool. 🙂 What you described also sounds like something I saw in the Handspun Handknit book — there’s a pair of mittens in there that are reinforced by weaving a yarn in after the knitting is finished. In case you might want to take a look…

  2. paula

    Pretty socks! Nothing but the best for Grandma. 🙂

    I agree about ripping socks. Somehow, even though the stitch count is higher, it doesn’t seem like such a big tragedy.

  3. Barb

    I think the sock photographs QUITE well–absolutely beautiful!

    And Wild & Wooly is quickly becoming *my* LYS-even though it is 1/2 hour away-I bought [blush] 15 & 19 skeins of DB wool/cotton for maybe sweaters, along with some sock yarn. That sale was just too tempting!

  4. Tara

    So you’re just teasing yourself with the Fibo re-write? Well, whatever works for you girlie. 🙂 Your socks look great, and I’m very glad they are causing you NO STRESS. Yay!

  5. Stephanie

    Well of course you’ve worked out the Fibo sleeve. It’s just your nature to work it out in your mind until you come up with a solution. I’m glad you’re staying away from the scary protractor for another few days, but I can’t wait to hear what the solution is. Grandma’s sock is beautiful and I’ll have to try that reinforced foot stuff one of these days.

  6. Jenn

    I’m shocked and dismayed that you figured out the sleeve! Pah-lese! You’re a knitting goddess. Of course you would figure it out.

    The Grandma sock is GORGEOUS! I love it. I so need to knit up that pattern.

  7. Rebekah

    The socks are quite lovely. I’m actually afraid to knit for my grandmother, I’m afraid that when I’m done, she’ll be gone. Don’t ask me why it’s a wierd psychological thing with me, but my remaining grandmother is also in fairly poor health and pushing mid-90’s. I wish I would have knitted years ago, so I could have given both my grandmothers gifts, they both would have appreciated and loved them. Okay I’m tearing up I’m going to stop writing. Thanks for sharing the story of the grandmother socks.

  8. Lynette

    Hiya! Wanted to say hello and tell you I’ve found your combo knitting information very helpful and inspired me to try it out.

    As a new sock knitter I found it strangely easy, psychologically, to rip out part of my first sock. I kept telling myself it was practice. Because practice makes perfect (right??)

  9. Shannon

    If you’re looking for a heavier weight wool with nylon content – happy trails would be perfect. You can order from woolywest.com (Nancy Bush’s store). I just finished a pair for my own grandma!

  10. Meg

    That’s brilliant, that weaving of reinforcement in the sole!! Gorgeous socks, too. Hope your Grandma is well – “last socks” gives me a pang because I’ve lost both my Grannies in the past year & a half.

  11. Debi

    You sock is lovely and I’m sure your grandma will just love it but to save yourself some stress for next time, Regia, Opal, and Fortissima all come in sportweight and all have nylon content for durability and wear.

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