Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cassie-envy; or Another Shot in the Culture Wars

Cassie makes socks. they zoom from her needles. This is because a) she is cool and b) along with SockBug and Norma and thousands of others, she works hard and often and knits when some of us are having a little Meg Cabot festival* or are zoned-out on red wine beyond anything but garter stitch**.

NONETHELESS, I thought, hey, you _have_ Knitting on the Road, you also could make a pair of Conwy socks.

Well, yes, but I only make toe-up socks. Nancy Bush writes cuff-down patterns.

But in America we have choices. And you have in the past made cuff-down socks. You could again.

So after several years of playing happily in the garden of figure-8 cast-ons, I decided to make a cuff-down sock, or one hopes two, and I am on the second go of the first cuff and I really hate it. First, you cast on, okay, then 'join, being careful not to twist.' I didn't twist. But I managed to make the yarn be coming to the new row in a fancy spiral, affording it all kinds of chances to hang up. With a repeat of K, P, K2, p, K, P2, I messed up which is not unusual enough even to be irritating, but it was more inevitable because I was juggling this tiny strand of loops and trying to make sure I was not inadvertantly knitting into the wrong thing and not pulling on the join and... .

After about 13 rows, I was annoyed by the fudging and concerned by the prospect of more and ripped it out. This time I remembered one trick I had used: cast on and knit the first row of ribbing and then join the sucker, which at two rows has much more character. It's less likely to fall apart and much easier not to twist, and incidentally much easier to set up a patern and count it, which was why I had only one TINY fudging to make it come out perfectly and I am now knitting with hope. Perhaps in a few inches I'll get to 'with abandon.'

But why go through all that when you could just cast on some number of toe-stitches and increase and go through the difficult time when you may have to pull it out with FAR fewer stitches (and which are all knits, no counting and cursing?)? When you can establish a pattern and rhythm peacefully with a nice solid toe that you know will fit over your own tootsie (or that of your target, if you can get them to hold still)? When you have a stretch of foot where you can decide whether this number pattern-stitches is going to work or not, and several places to adjust the numbers when you go over the ankles to make sure the entire pattern-around counts out?

Maybe I'll make the second sock toe up, once I'm familiar with the pattern. But I would never suggest that a novice knitter start with a cuff-down sock. I know lots of you have done it and done well. The starting part gives me hives.

*I really like The Princess Diaries, particularly the earlier volumes; they are nothing like the films, of which the heroine makes fun in the books. Cabot's other YA series are fun, too.

** one lousy glass and my counting gets even more abstract than usual.


Beth S. said...

Picot edge.
Picot edge.
Picot edge.

It's like crack. One sock and you're hooked. You'll never go toe-up again. ;-)

But I also like your method. I used to do that all the time (knit a few rows back and forth, then seam up later) before I discovered... the picot edge. [Flourish of horns, light bursting through clouds, sweet mystery of life, etc.]


Norma said...

This is so funny. I feel the same way about toe-up socks as you do about cuff-down. Okay, this, then, is on the agenda next week: You teach me how the fuck to cast on for toe-ups. Deal?

Laurie said...

Well, I've managed to make monumental learning curves out of both Conwy, and picot edges. And this from someone who has never done a toeup sock. So I think I win. Oops. Make that lose. But I still perservere.

Rosemary said...

Picot hem, toe up, is my usual way. Right now, I'm doing Denmark from the top down. The top down thing is a whole lot easier in sport weight yarn than in fingering weight. But all socks, in all forms, are good.

Stephanie said...

I gotta tell you, It's vitally important that we are both here on the planet to balance each other out.
I CAN do toe-ups, but they give me the willies. For many of the same reasons you cite loving them.
See that? Ying and yang. Black and White. Wool and Cotton, Gin and ....Wait. I'm clearly taking this metaphor too far.

JoVE said...

I knit my conwy's toe up. They were fine. The pattern looks great upside-down. the main thing to know is that most of the sock is done on 60 stitches but it increases to 72 at the top for the calf. I just kept trying the first one on to work out where to start increasing.