Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nanay's Apple Green Ankle Socks

These are my first completed pair of ADULT SIZE knitted socks using crochet thread. I posed them with Elmo and Moo to give you an idea of scale; they fit a woman's size 6-7.5 foot. This follows a basic sock pattern from Tita Ting, but which can be found free on the internet in different guises.

They were actually meant for Mimi, but in my knit-and-frog delirium over the last few weeks I was unable to finish them before she left for Hawaii. However, my mom took a shine to them, as the color evoked youth and gardens, the latter being her recurring source of creative happiness (much as mine is knitting).

One reason why I wasn't able to finish them in time was that:

1) Crochet cotton doesn't stretch very much, even with a tight 1x1 rib in the cuff. Sock yarn, which is a wool-nylon blend, has that elastic give. While I have some merino in stock, I really wouldn't use that for a first try. Besides, cotton is really cool on the feet here in Manila.

2) It was only last Saturday when I discussed my issues re reinforced heel flap mistakes and tight/loose cotton ribbing with my teacher Ines. The reinforced heel mistakes were easily corrected. Then Ines taught me the ff. solution to the ankle cuff:

Needles: US size 1 (2.0mm) and 2 (2.75mm) circular knitting needles (here I used Knitpicks)

Gauge: 32 sts across and 40 rows for 4x4" square for larger needles

Cast On: If sock body is for example a total of 30+30 = 60 st st around on size 2 circular needles/dpns, cast on 90 st on size 1 needles and distribute as for Magic Loop/Cat Bordhi 2-circ method or dpns.

Row 1: *K1, P2*, repeat * until end of 45 sts per circular needle. (For dpns, you divide the heel sts evenly as long as your Row 1 repeats per needle ends with the P2.)

Row 2: *K1, P2tog* repeat * until you have 30 sts left on each needle.

Row 3: *K1, P1* repeat * and knit other rows as for 1x1 rib until you have the desired cuff length.

Sock body: Switch to larger needles for the rest of the sock pattern.

I think what this does is to prevent the cast-on edge from being too tight, but allows the cuff to snugly fit the adult ankle. The technique provides even more give for finer gauge cotton, such as DMC Petra crochet cotton #8. Ines uses Petra for baby socks, which is finer than local brands and requires finer needles.

Et voila:

Obviously, I am the model, as my mother is off to a local Red Cross meeting, where she is a director. I wish there were more light in the photo, but it's the monsoon season... The humid-but-cool weather is a perfect reason to wear cotton! So happy with these. My feet are narrow and flat, but my mom's feet have a higher instep and are just a bit wider across the widest part of the toes, and they fit her quite well! She was a bit alarmed at the lack of elasticity in the cuff, but soon discovered that folding half the sock inside-out and putting the socks on by gently pulling them up the heel worked beautifully.

Material: Cannon crochet cotton size 8, in apple green (shade # MB767) at PhP 25/ball (mall) or just over PhP 21/ball (or PhP 260/box of 12 wholesale). I recommend that you buy 2 balls, and knit a complete sock from each ball so you don't have to make joins if you're not confident about weaving in joins invisibly. Actually you could make 2 socks from one ball, but for an adult women's size 6 your second sock will require a join from the second ball just about where you start decreasing for the toes. I did this, but I had to weave in ends on a side decrease so that I don't feel or see any "double thickness" running across the upper side or underneath. I think I did pretty well.

Care: Ines recommended a mild bath soap or laundry bar such as Perla. Turn socks inside out. Apply soap. Gently squeeze out suds as you handwash. Rinse well. DO NOT WRING. Roll socks in a towel to absorb excess water. Shape and let dry flat. DO NOT IRON.

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