Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Nothing but the truth

This is the true color of the lake today: grey.
Arctic Summer: rain, wind and temperature 8 degrees.
So this is another good day to look down at the feet and the socks.

These are the second socks in the series "Socks for the Bennet sisters" for the KAL Knit the Classics. Yarn Regia Cotton with 2 mm needles. Nice? Look closer. See, there is extra fabric around the toes. Not so nice any more.

The truth can sometimes hurt. And be humiliating. And embarrassing. I don't know how many pairs of socks I have knit and yet the shape is not perfect. What can I say to defend myself? Could I blame the patterns? Really I could not. How the pattern writer was supposed to know that...

I'm a short person.

Not THAT short but on the short side any way. This means that my legs are short as well. Which again leads into the fact that the shaping; ankle, calf, fullest part of the calf, all this happens in the short of 41 cm's (just above 16") - in comparison to my daughter who has 50 cm's of space for the above shaping.

I have a big, BIG heel.

And that my bony feet, altogether some 24 cm's (little less than 10"), end up

in a toe that is HUGE, a real killer.

And she stands there all by herself always being the first and the only one who gets hit by the chairs or corners or vacuum cleaners. (At the very moment the left killer toe is black, to be honest, very dark purple, because she got under the vacuum cleaner yesterday, but only her.)

I should add this knowledge to the patterns and end up doing something like this:

If I'm making little anklets, like with 10 cm (4") cuffs I should do already some shaping along the way from the cast-on edge to the ankles. My circumference of the leg is bigger 10 cm's above the ankle compared to the circumference of the ankle. This I actually did in the Embossed Leaves Socks. I cast on 72 stitches and came down to 64 stitches while at the ankles. This shaping is necessary, otherwise I would cut off my circulation or have loose sock ankles, I don't want either of them.

The big heel. The heel flap has to be LONG to acommodate all of her. And the turning only at the very bottom. To be on the safer side maybe I should consider making what Nancy Bush calls a German Heel where you take additional stitches from the instep. I bet there would be enough room.

I have extra stuffing placed above the ankles and there is nothing but a row of bones at the feet. My gussets should not stop close to the heel but I should keep decreasing until reaching the actual toe shaping which should again be very, very long. I stress this. (Luckily I'm not the only one.)To give some additional space for the killer I should place the toe decreases on a longer stretch that is to have more rows between the decreasing.

This is what I should do. And it means that I have to study the patterns closer and find ways to transfer the alterations in a clever way. This is rocking my sock world. Like the wind outside is rocking the lonely hammock.

PS. The blogger did not want to upload the picture of the hammock. But the hammock is out there being wet by the rain and torn by the wind.


  1. Hi! I'm happy to be first today! Those are just beautiful socks. I see the problem at the toes. I think I would stop the pattern just before the toe decreases and have a plain stockinette toe to make it easier to adjust for my toe shape. My toes are a bit weird and I juggle the decreases a bit. I like Nancy Bush's French toe. I think its so great that we can make socks that fit our own special feet, and not someone elses. I do not like store bought socks anymore!

  2. I wonder if, in the case of socks like these with patterning down to the toe, you could change to smaller needles at that area, making it smaller and tighter there? I suppose that could be done at various areas of the sock, going from smaller to larger needles depending on the desired fit.

  3. To know your own problem areas is the ultimate way to look good! Good luck with the special shaping of your socks.

  4. Beautiful drawings today! I love your sense of humor :-) I empathise with wanting the customizations as my second toe is tallest on my feet. That is why I liked the spiral toe decrease you showed us a couple of months ago.
    The pattern still looks so pretty. Which sister do you have in mind next?

  5. The pattern on those socks is just lovely. I have also found that stitch patterns that go diagonally mess with how the sock fits my foot. I love how they look, so maybe I'll try knitting from the toe up so that I can check it sooner.

  6. Yes, I am going to have to implement some modifications to my sock knitting as well. Some calf measuring is in order, since I find that when I knit on #1US, generally the top of the cuff is a bit tight. I also haven't decided what my favorite toe is, but perhaps I need to look at the entry that Marie N. referenced for spiral toe decreases - I'm not familiar with that technique.

  7. Your drawings, as usually, are spectacular!! As for sock shaping, I never follow patterns. I do what my legs, ankles and feet demand. I have narrow heels and ankles, and my big toe grows straight up. Therefore, I make anatomically correct socks, a Left sock and a Right sock. I do nearly all the decreasing on the little toe side of the foot. No, my socks do not wear out faster because they are always worn on the same foot--I have comparisons to prove this. In addition, I do a short row under the ball of the foot for additional fabric on the sole at that point. If necessary, I also decrease in the middle of the rows by the toes, to eliminate excess fabric on top. It all works out, but wouldn't translate to anyone else's feet.

  8. Sue J19:18

    It's a problem partly because it's cotton stretch to it like woolie yarn!
    I've been reading in lots of blogs that people are screwing up.
    knitting 2 backs to a sweater, yarn harlot knit a neckhole in the armhole of a sweater......must be the planets! HA!

  9. Thanks so much for the great info in the post and also to all your wonderful commentators. I have learned alot from todays blog.
    Your socks are beautiful and so are your drawings. I'm sorry your lake is grey today...hopefully it will get nice soon. We had a horendous thunderstorm last night in Pennsylvania.

  10. I feel your pain! I've knit one of these (pictures coming) and I had to do 72 stitches for the cast on and decrease to about 66 or so for the foot (the extras went on the bottom). The toe fits me pretty good but it's a really short toe. I played around with changing it too but couldn't come up with any ideas. And the heel instructions are the worst!

    well anyway, just some sympathy for you.

  11. Oh, I can't tell you how happy you made me today! I am having sock problems as well- to the point that I havne't picked up my knititng in a few days. It is very comforting to know that I am not the only one. Well, perhaps I can now pick up, go back and then continue again....

  12. Mary Jo00:51

    Life is a learning curve...there's the fun. Thanks for your honesty. In the same vein, I'd like to add that I am just knitting my first ever pair of socks, and I'm so scared of turning the heel that I've hidden them. Yes really, how crazy is that?

  13. Anonymous03:31

    If you look at the feet in the Renaissance pictures, the beautiful women had long, pointy toes, and the second toe often juts past the first toe. Their heels are high and long and pointy. These were considered the most gorgeous feet a woman could have. Look at this link: WebObjects.dll/CollectionPublisher.woa/wa/
    largeImage?workNumber=NG651& collectionPublisherSection=work or this link:
    arte2/Botticelli_Nacimiento.jpg (you may have to go back and take the spaces out of these addresses to make them work)
    Adjusting sock patterns for these kinds of feet isn’t that hard. Some ideas: 1) Make the heel tab longer, then (2) decrease the gusset stitches to a total of fewer stitches than the leg tube. (3) Also, perhaps make the gusset decrease at a steeper angle than usual, so instead of decreasing every round, decrease in 2 out of 3 rounds—this gets rid of the extra foot stitches faster. (4) Also, perhaps start the toes 1/3 further back and make the first few decreases every second row, then switch to every third row, so that you can get than long, pointy, thin end for your big toe. (5) An alternative to # (2)(decreasing the gusset stitches to fewer than the leg tube stitches) is this: Work the sole of the sock in sock stitch (on an odd number of sts, every other row, * K1, sl 1* repeating from * to *, ending with K1.) If you keep the bottom 1/2 of the foot stitches in this sock stitch, your sock sole will be far more durable, and this stitch draws up the extra fabric, because it is narrower than regular stockinette stitch, (has a tighter stitch gauge). If you work at it, you can actually carry the sock stitch down the heel tab, around the heel turning, and right on down the sole of the foot to the beginning of the toe decrease. I always do this, and the sock last much longer. Good luck to you, and be more gentle with yourself—you are fine just the way you were made, big toe and all.

  14. Anonymous05:03

    CORRECTION TO COMMENT 13: I should have said "instead of decreasing every OTHER (ie: every second) round..." for the gusset, instead of what I did say, which was "instead of decreasing every round...."

  15. Those socks are so pretty, even if they are a bit long. I have that same problem from being short and having small fat feet.

  16. I seem to remember that your foot shape is common here in the north. My "husband" has sisters with feet like yours. (His would be too, if not for the bunyons!) I would like to add my vote for doing all the decreases on the outside of the foot until nearly the very end. Not only are you concentrating the decreases to match your foot more accurately, but doing them only on one side means using twice as many rows to get your number of stitches down to what you need. In other words, a longer toe section, which I think you need.

    Assuming that your basic toe is a wedge toe (decrease 1 st each side, top and bottom of foot, 1 or 2 in from the edge, every other round):

    Allow for a couple of rounds right at the end decreasing 2 on each side every round, then calculate how many more stitches you need to reduce and figure how many rows (reducing 2 each time, every other round) that will take.

    Count out that many rows on the sole of your foot, which is probably in plain stockinette, and measure the length of these. This is how many cm short of full length you need to be when you start decreasing.

    Elizabeth in Norway

  17. Ellen in Conn14:18

    Lene, What does Arctic Finland look like, besides your lake? Is it warm enough to swim in your lake? Is there farming of any kind - fruit, animals, vegetables? I would like to know more about your summer kitchen. My grandmother in Rhode Island, USA, had a gas-fired cookstove under her grape arbor in the summer, and they ate at a picnic table.

    Thank you for everything, and best wishes to you and all your family

  18. oh, those socks are SO pretty!

    well, today i learned many things in comments! first, i am not the only one with such pointy feet! and second, their shape may actually come from my (partially) northern european background; while my mother is italian, my father is norwegian, and he had the pointy feet too. in fact, i believe, all my siblngs have them!

    persnickety knitter offers a set of instructions for anatomically correct sock toes that might work for you. my own solution is very easy and very form fitting:

    when i am ready to start the toes shaping, i decrease at the usual 4 points every three rows 2 times, then every 2nd row until 7 stitches remain on the first needle, 14sts on needle 2 and 7 sts on needles 3. then i begin to decrease every row until 8 total sts remain (so the toes shape looks like the roof of a barn). i cut the yarn and draw the end through those sts to shut it, secure the end and pull it through to the inside to weave in. that's it! no kichener stitch, not flat area across the toe. just all pointy! you can adjust the numbers to suit your own foot; it is easy to rip back this toe to reshape if necessary. in fact, i believe this shaping may have originated in northern europe; i can't remember where i learned it (probably elizabeth zimmermann).
    good luck!

  19. I always have to modify my sock patterns similarily, to my small size Amer. 4, and square toes. I love your socks, they'll have to be my next choice.(Always enjoy your drawings!, if only you could include an audio for pronunciation purposes, I could really learn some Finnish, Chuckle... :))

  20. Darlin', your socks are BEAUTIFUL! i see the toes thing, and i'd try janet's idea first .. smaller needles ? Your "Learn Some Finnish" cartoons are WONderful! Your whole blog is WONderful! Cheers! ~Linda in Virginia

  21. Yup, you already see the problems and know the solutions. So just go and do them!

    I agree that you need to do a longer heel flap. I do that too. I don't follow the directions exactly, because it doesn't fit MY foot! Same with the toes-- I would also do a right and left foot; decrease on the little toe side first, and then do a couple on the other side near the end. And if you want, you could do TWO plain rounds before doing the decrease round. These things you will have to work out yourself, sorry. Each foot is different, and that is why we knit our own socks!!

    Great work, though. Love the patterns. And the pics are pretty good too!