I finished these orange socks the other day, and my feet are so very happy!
Pattern: Bella Catena Italiana by Terry L. Ross (here on Ravelry)
Size: lady’s size 9 with 9-inch foot circumference and 9.5-inch foot length
Yarn: Mondial Extrafine 8-ply DK weight*, color 804 Orange dye lot #57, 100% Extrafine Merino; I used almost 2 skeins, totaling approximately 91 grams/3.168 oz or 347.5 yards/318 meters.
Needles: Knit Picks 6″ nickel-plated double-pointed needles, set of 5 size 2 (2.75 mm)
Modifications: Worked toe-up, with short row heel, 1×1 ribbing and stretchy bind-off
Started: September 8, 2008
Finished: September 26, 2008
* This yarn is listed as DK weight in Ravelry, but I found it to be straight up fingering weight.
I don’t think I’ve ever knit a pair of socks as quickly as these, for which I suspect I have my new train commuting time to thank.
It is also immensely soothing to have reached the point in sock knitting where I can work them by habit: cast on 12 stitches with figure-8, increase the toes, work the pattern stitch up to a set point on my foot, use the equations I’ve memorized to work the short-row heel, and coast on up the leg to finish with ribbing and a stretchy bind-off.
I think the ease of this process makes toe-up sock knitting vastly more enjoyable than cuff-down, as the trickier structural parts (which in my preferred short-row heel method are really quite easy) get out of the way early and allow for a nice expanse of the fun stitching which drew me to the particular pattern in the first place. I don’t have to worry about running out of yarn, picking up stitches, gusset and toe shaping, or Kitchener (which oddly, I don’t mind at all). I should be careful to avoid proselytizing, but I suspect I am a full-on toe-up devotee and at this point I struggle to imagine knitting a sock any other way.
As for this particular pattern, I absolutely love it. The lace is fun, intuitive, and a really big impact for simple maneuvering. The name means “beautiful Italian chain,” and I found myself driven to continue in the 4-row repeats, striving to add one more link – okay and maybe another – before I reached my train or subway stop.
I could have made the legs longer, as I actually had a good deal of yarn leftover, but I am happy with where they hit on my legs. The lace is stretchy, but not overly so, and the fit is really comfortable without being loose or snug.
The length of the foot is exactly right and the toes and heel feel fantastic. Actually, it doesn’t feel like I am wearing socks (apart from the warmth and coziness), which I guess is a pretty high compliment.
The yarn is absolutely exquisite. It is incredibly soft and decadent to touch. I think it is more customarily used for fine-gauge tops or accessories, which I imagine would give it an insanely lovely drape and feel. It has a nice spin to it, though, which makes it plump and resilient, and this is part of why I was confident that it would hold up to being socks just as well.
The color is a nice kind of orange, saturated without being garish and subtle without being muted. I knit these socks as part of the Sock Knitters Anonymous orange socks challenge for September, and I later added them to the Solid Socks group’s September pool as well. (By the way, the Solid Socks group is really lovely, and I just discovered they are doing monthly color KALs in solid and semi-solid sock yarns all year.) Seeing so many orange socks all over Ravelry has me thinking more and more about colors, and I am happy to come out of the experience as much in love with orange as ever.
I would definitely recommend this pattern for beginning and experienced sock knitters alike, as the lace is easy, quickly memorized, yet consistently enjoyable. I had such a great time knitting these socks that I have renewed my resolution to knit 12 pairs this year. We’ll talk more about that soon though.