FO: Mermaid Pomatomus Socks

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.

Handknit socks from the Pomatomus pattern by Cookie A, in variegated blue yarn, modeled on feet

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.

Handknit sock in progress, showing the Pomatomus pattern's cuff and first few lace repeats on DPNs

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.

Handknit Pomatomus socks, modeled on parallel feet facing forward

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.

Handknit Pomatomus socks modeled on feet, standing slightly on tip-toe and viewed from behind to show heel detail

I loved the impact of the twisted stitches on the heels flowing out of the lace and the fit of the ribbed heel flap.

Handknit Pomatomus socks modeled on feet, viewed from above

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.

Detail view of handknit Pomatomus socks, showing toes with coordinating yarn striped in

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.

Detail of handknit Pomatomus sock on sock blocker, showing toe

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?

Detail view of handknit Pomatomus socks on sock blockers, showing lace pattern in SweetGeorgia Mermaid yarn

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.

Handknit Pomatomus socks, side-by-side on sock blockers

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.

Handknit Pomatomus socks, modeled on feet, with one stepping in front of the other

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?

FO: Walking through a Vineyard Socks

Before I get to the socks, I want to note that I have a lot of other things I’d like to talk about, and I’m planning some wordier posts soon. I’m in a bit of a logjam with my classes, some personal things, and the all of this going on, probably much like everyone else. So let’s start with the socks, and I will chip away at the rest as I can.

I also need to add a note of caution: throughout my site, I have links to pattern and project pages on Ravelry without individual seizure warnings. I generally label Ravelry links separately from other links already, but please, please proceed with caution before following any links to Ravelry until they get their redesign issues sorted out for accessibility.

Walking through a Vineyard Socks, shown on feet outdoors to demonstrate the stitch pattern as worn.

Pattern: Walking through a Vineyard by Dots Dabbles, a pattern available for free on Ravelry (Project page)
Size: Women’s size 9.5 (US), made using size L from the pattern
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal, fingering weight, 75% Merino wool / 25% nylon in Mountain Pass
Needles: Size 1.5 (2.5 mm) DPNs
Modifications: I added additional stitches to the ribbing and lengthened it slightly. I also added length to the toes, as described below

Started: May 29, 2020
Finished: June 26, 2020

Socks flat on blockers

As I mentioned on Instagram, when I first started knitting, the idea of so many twisted stitches and cable crossings seemed impossible to me at the fine gauge needed for socks. I figured socks like these would take a year or more, if I could ever get through them. I’m delighted to see how much I’ve grown as a knitter since then, as well as what a joy these deceptively complex little twists and crossings were.

Socks on feet, with toes pointed together

As I’ve been doing with most top-down socks lately, I started with a greater diameter of stitches and lengthened the ribbing to give a stretchier, more accommodating cuff for wide calves. I worked 24 rows of ribbing and decreased the extra stitches evenly spaced in the 23rd round.

Detail view of twisted stitch pattern and cabling

The twisted stitch pattern was rhythmic and intuitive. The symmetry and enjoyable flow of more complicated rows, then more “restful” rows kept my momentum going, and the length of the chart repeat was just right to easily track. I love the way this yarn looks in twisted stitches and cables, and I have been incredibly happy with every project I’ve worked in the Stroll Tonal line.

Round heel, with decreases centered on the sole

The round heel is an elegant detail that allows the columns of cables to continue from the leg into the foot uninterrupted. I worked a similar style of heel on a pair of toe-up colorwork socks that we haven’t talked about yet (soon!) and continue to be impressed with how comfortable the fit is on the ball of the heel. As diehard a short-row-heel lover as I’ve been, I may have found a new favorite gusset-heel style.

Detail of gusset and heel flat on sock blocker

The way the sock makes room to cup the heel ensures the cable patterning fits perfectly across the instep and snugs into the arches without distorting the pattern. It also de-emphasizes the stitches picked up along the heel flap, which is the area that still causes me the most insecurity in top-down socks, somehow, after all these years.

Toes of socks on feet, with detail of cable patterning

The pattern gives the option for a plain or a patterned toe, and I’m glad I went with more patterning. I just love the cable transitions and the way that design detail, combined with the green color, give these socks a Celtic feel. I added additional rows in the toe decreases, which resulted in a few plain rows at the very tip.

These socks were an absolute joy to knit, and I’m thrilled with the finished result. I’d give this pattern my highest possible recommendation, and if you are hesitant that they are too complicated, I assure you, the clarity of the instructions and detailed charts will carry you through.

FO: Melisandre Socks

I’ve been trying to think of the best way to catch up on the backlog of projects I haven’t posted about here (or in some cases, anywhere) and have landed on the idea of a “Flashback FO.”

I knit these socks for the September 2018 Sock Knitters Anonymous challenge, with the theme of Fandom. As Game of Thrones had not yet started its 8th season, I was all excited about making some Red Witch energy socks to wear while watching the final episodes.

Pattern: Melisandre by Kimberly Pieper (Purrlescent), a pattern available for free on Ravelry. (Project page)
Size: Women’s size 9.5 (US)
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss, fingering weight, 70% Merino wool / 30% silk in Burgundy
Needles: Size 1 (2.25 mm) DPNs
Modifications: None

Started: September 14, 2018
Finished: October 25, 2018

I was drawn to these socks because the pattern is toe-up, which gave me confidence that I could manage the chart and the amount of yarn I had without worrying. The pattern was really clear and well-written, so it was a good way to get back into more complicated sock-knitting after several years of stockinette-only toe-up socks. I was nervous, even with trying them on, that they would end up too tight at the tops of the legs / beginning of my calves, so I went against my instinct to add an extra pattern repeat and kept the leg length as written.

I think if I had it to do again, I would probably go ahead and lengthen them more and figure out calf-shaping if needed, especially because the pattern is so impactful and lovely in this yarn.

These socks kicked off a series of Game of Thrones-themed socks, all worked in Gloss yarn. I find Gloss slightly thicker than other sock yarns, but also slightly less elastic, so it makes delightfully squishy, decadent, but not always super-stretchy socks.

I love the subtle sheen the silk gives the yarn (living up to the Gloss name) and the cozy, soft warmth of Merino wool. These two skeins of Gloss were among the first yarn purchases I ever made, way back in 2006, and I’m glad I saved them for the perfect project to make the most of the rich autumnal color and decadent qualities of Gloss.

These socks also had one of the first toe-up heel flaps and gussets I’d ever knit, which was a great learning experience, even if it took me several tries to get the first one right (the secret was to… follow the pattern). I love the tidy little gussets and the way the patterning flows neatly from the heel flap into the leg. I was also pleasantly surprised by how comfortably they fit across the instep, as I had previously sworn by the fit of short-row heels only.

Overall, this was an excellent pattern, and I love it in this deep burgundy-red color. Highly recommended, and I think Melisandre would approve.

Related Projects:
– Eddard Socks
– Lyanna Socks

Spring Socks

One of the goals I’ve set for this year is knitting a pair of socks each month, usually as part of the Sock Knitters Anonymous challenges on Ravelry. I’ve also decided they would be part of the #FreeSocks2020 project, where the socks are knit with yarn I already have in my stash, from patterns available for free.

These are my Cuarzo Rosa socks, and between the pretty lace pattern and delicate pink heather color, they feel just perfect for spring. I cast these on for the April-May SKA challenge theme of “under-appreciated patterns,” where a design must have fewer than 15 projects on Ravelry to qualify. I am stunned that I was only the seventh person to cast on for this incredibly beautiful and enjoyable design.

Inspired by the lacy clusters of rose quartz crystals as they are found in nature, the pattern grows into rhythmic organic shapes that are nowhere near as difficult to knit as they may look. I always love that quality in lace.

I’m having a great time watching these socks develop and look forward to having a finished pair soon!

FO: Scrolls Socks

Amazingly, I finished another pair of socks this month! And it only took me ten years or so to get here…



The last time we talked about these socks was back in July 2008 (yikes), when I had cast them on for a lace socks challenge. I made a silly mistake in the pattern that would have meant I had to rip back three or four rows to fix it, and I was still a new enough knitter that such a task was entirely too daunting, so I did what any sensible person would do: put them in the bottom of my knitting basket for 10 years and pretended they didn’t exist.



Pattern: Scrolls Socks by Charlene Schurch, from her book More Sensational Knitted Socks. (Project page on Ravelry)
Size: Women’s size 9.5 (US)
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential (now called Stroll), fingering weight, 75% superwash Merino wool / 25% nylon in Coral
Needles: Size 1 (2.25 mm) DPNs (from the Susan Bates 7″ sock set)
Modifications: None, as the pattern creates custom socks

Started: July 14, 2008 (no, that’s not a typo)
Finished: August 19, 2018



Every August, the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry has a community KAL to finish in-progress WIPs, and I finally worked up the motivation to pick these socks back up again. Gosh, they just danced off the needles this time.



I was glad to revisit Charlene Schurch’s brilliant book, which I had initially purchased primarily for this pattern. This time I read the note about how despite being a fairly open 8-stitch repeat, scroll lace knit in the round has a tendency to be less stretchy than one might expect because of the way the pattern falls on a bias. Therefore, I followed the recommendation to increase from 64 stitches on the foot to 72 on the leg, resulting in a perfectly-fitting sock.



It was around the time when I started these socks that I discovered my favorite elements in sock-knitting, starting toe-up with a figure-8 cast-on and working a short-row heel.



As with my Catnip Socks, I worked several rows in stockinette stitch (half a repeat) on the back needles after turning the heel. I used these rows to absorb the 8 stitches I increased for the leg, and I think it all worked out quite nicely.



The scroll lace pattern is so intuitive I had it memorized by the first repeat, and it was great fun to work. I love when lace is so high-impact from such simple combinations of yarn-overs and decreases. It makes me feel terribly clever as a knitter. The saturated coral-orange color and lovely feel of the yarn made this project a pleasure through and through.



If I had known what a joy it would be to make these socks, I probably wouldn’t have waited ten years to finish them! But I’m delighted to get to wear them now and looking forward to the next pair.

 

Previous Entries with this Project:
2008 Knits in Review
Keeping Busy