Can you tell I’m excited? I have been knitting these socks for nearly a month, which seems like a crazy long time for a pair of socks, but I am nonetheless pleased with the results. (I should perhaps add that I have not owned “lacy socks” since I was a very little girl, at which time their wearing was restricted to when I was also wearing a “party dress.” This history makes these socks feel very everyday fancy and fun.)
These strike me as the perfect kind of socks for Spring because the lace means they’ll breathe well and the merino wool they’re made from means they’re actually still quite warm. Also, as the weather gets warmer (it’s 16C in Toronto today!) I will return to wearing skirts and dresses and thus be able to show off my fancy work.
The pattern is, as you can see from the title of this post, called Almondine, and it’s from the book Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd (the pattern is designed by Anne Hanson) – once I’ve knit a few more projects, I’ll write a little review of this book, but so far I quite like it. When I bought this book back in January, it was for two main reasons. First, I pretty much always have cold feet, so knitting socks seemed like an obvious way to keep myself busy and productive; after knitting a few pairs of basic socks, though, I decided I needed to spice things up, hence a book of patterns. Secondly, I wanted to expand my repertoire of knitting techniques, and it seemed to me that the repetitive nature of sock knitting would be a good place to do so. Thus, I have been making an effort to try new things. For example: I learned how to do the long-tail cast-on for these socks, which were also my first lace-work project. I also forced myself to concentrate on Kitchener stitch, which I had tried before but never felt very confident about.
Anyway, here are all the details:
Pattern: Almondine by Anne Henderson
Wool: Indigodragonfly Merino sock in colourway My Boyfriend had a Bicentennial (Buffy) – this colourway has almost a dozen gorgeous, subtle variations of purples and reds and pinks (my favourite of which was the cranberry-tinted mid tone) and I loved working with it. It isn’t a soft yarn, but it is smooth and even and perfect for socks.
Needles: Clover bamboo dpn in 2.75 mm
Modifications is getting its own line, because it includes things I learned about my own knitting strengths and weakness, as least insofar as they relate to knitting lace.
First, I suppose, it that once I figured out the logic of lace (the relationship between where a stitch is added to where one is decreased), the pattern became simple enough that I could put away the chart.
Second, that swatches are really important when you’re doing anything new. Maybe this should be point one, but whatever. I swatched this with 30 stitches on toothpick-thin 2.25 mm needles (as recommended) and ended up with a little tube that fit snugly around my thumb. Clearly, this was much too small, so I went up a needle size and delightfully found myself exactly on gauge. Imagine if I hadn’t swatched!
Third, when it comes to moving between needles, some connections are better than others. Knit to knit, fine. Purl to purl, fine. Purl to knit, fine. Knit to purl, loose and ugly. Because of this, I ended up with ladders along the “seam” of needles one and two all the way up the foot of my socks. In this pattern, it’s actually not noticeable when I wear them, but I know it’s there and I am annoyed. I have ravelled my solution to this.
Fourth, lace is really impressive. I knit these socks at home, on airplanes, in a bar, and at home, and everyone who saw them (knitters and non-knitters alike) thought them quite fancy. As a knitter, this is very satisfying and makes me want to knit nothing by lace in public (lesson: I am a little vain).
I will now, I suppose, learn lesson number 5, which is about blocking (something else I’ve never done). More on that once it has been (I hope) successfully accomplished.