When I was a new knitter way back in 2006, I started keeping an aspirational list of “Someday Projects.” These were the ones that seemed too complicated, too technically daunting, or just too intimidating to even consider before a lot more projects and years of learning. Even though I’ve knit many, many pairs of socks, I still kept these socks in the aspiration-only section of my queue until one day I got my hands on the absolute perfect yarn for them and realized I was totally ready.
Pattern: Pomatomus by Cookie A, available for free from Knitty winter 2005 (Ravelry Project page)
Size: Women’s size 9.5 (US)
Yarn: SweetGeorgia Yarns Tough Love Sock, fingering weight, 80% Merino wool / 20% nylon in Mermaid; I used every last inch of the 115g skein (425.4 yards / 389 meters) plus a few yard of Knit Picks Stroll in Mermaid
Needles: Size 1 (2.25 mm) DPNs
Modifications: Widened and lengthened for fit, as described below
Started: September 5, 2019
Finished: September 21, 2019
So the truth is, I had actually started this pattern once before, back in 2008, when I was still a bit iffy on socks overall, and I felt overwhelmed trying to carry yarn-overs across DPNs or manage a lace pattern that moved. That attempt was quickly set aside, and after working similarly complicated, shifting lace patterns, I was determined to make it work this time. I made it a little harder and more yarn-consuming on myself than I needed to by going down a needle size and working the pattern over 84 stitches for the leg, instead of the 72 stitches the pattern calls for. I preferred the way the yarn looked at this gauge, and I liked the smaller scale of eyelets and the way the lace stretched.
I had won this gorgeous yarn as a Sock Knitters Anonymous (Ravelry link) prize, and I was so thrilled by the way the colors danced and shimmered in the lace pattern. I also really enjoyed the harmony of a sea-inspired pattern (Pomatomus being the genus for bluefish) with a yarn named Mermaid. It all just came together exactly the way I hoped it would.
To get the fit I wanted around a wider calf, I started with 84 stitches on the ribbing and continued at this width for most of the leg. I also added a chart repeat to lengthen the leg, which I usually do for top-down socks so they hit at a comfortable point and don’t slouch or fall down. I reduced to 72 stitches as I approached the heel by omitting yarn-overs over one lace section for half a repeat, and the transition went so smoothly I can’t even remember or see in these photos exactly how I did it. It was important to me that I preserve the way the pattern flowed into the heels and stay continuous from the leg into the foot, so I worked these decreases in the repeats at the sides above the ankles, where they could kind of melt into the gussets.
I loved the impact of the twisted stitches on the heels flowing out of the lace and the fit of the ribbed heel flap.
The rest of the gusset and foot was worked according to the pattern, and I especially appreciated the way the designer transitioned the lace through the instep chart so it flowed from the leg perfectly.
As I approached the toe on the second sock, I realized I was short on yarn due to the modifications I’d made to stitch count, gauge, and the way the allover ribbing design ate up so much yardage. I was initially planning on just knitting a contrast toe with a solid-colored coordinating yarn from my stash (also named Mermaid, as it happens) but when I saw the two yarns next to each other, I felt they were so, so close in tone and value that I could get away with striping them together to kind of blend the two. I think the contrast between the ribbed lace and plain stockinette also helped me get away with a tidy visual transition.
I frogged back both toes to this point and blended in the contrast yarn. I’m really pleased with how well that strategy worked out, and I feel in some small way this maybe justifies my habit of buying so many similarly-colored yarns to have this kind of option?
This lace pattern worked so beautifully with this yarn that I literally can’t stop looking at these socks when I wear them (or take them out just to admire them). My father was so impressed with the cleverness of the lace and its resemblance to fish scales and waves that he asked for a pair of his own for Christmas (“yeah, even with the holes, that’s fine!”). I’m not only thrilled with the way these socks came out, but also super happy I have learned enough about knitting along the way to get the exact fabric quality and size/fit I wanted, as well as the know-how to overcome running out of yarn without compromising the overall effect.
The thing I love so much about knitting is that for the most part, it’s just different combinations of two stitches, knitting and purling, plus yarn-overs. Yes, it gets fiddly and can be tricky with decreases, lace, shaping, construction, sizing, and so on, but in the end, it’s fundamentally always built of things I already know how to do. I love projects like these socks, which are confidence-building, useful learning experiences, beautiful to look at, and great inspiration to tackle the patterns I’ve been keeping on my Someday list.
Because if I keep at it, put one foot in front of the other, continue challenging myself and just doing it, Someday has to come one day, right?