Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Personal Sock Club... Fail!

Sometimes it's good to have knitting goals and timelines. In 2009 and 2010 I devised my personal sock club, where each two months or so I rediscovered some sock yarn I already possessed and knitted it up into socks. Across those two years I completed more than a dozen pairs of socks - usually within or just beyond the time limit I'd set myself. This year's sock club has had a variation - a group of people voted upon and chose the patterns for the year. Even though they weren't patterns I would normally choose, I managed the first two pairs of socks for the year. But the third pair of socks - Leyburn - completely defeated me.


They were my first ever pair of toe-up socks, and my second ever short-row heel - and I hadn't enjoyed the first one. I'd decided at the beginning of the year I'd knit each of the patterns chosen and that I'd knit each of them exactly as written, hoping I might learn some new techniques and nudge myself out of my rather unadventurous approach to sock knitting.

However, the Leyburns proved to be a bit of a challenge. They've made me ask myself what is reasonable to expect from a free knitting pattern. If you buy a pattern you expect it to be at least accurate and clear. If it is also well presented and easy to follow you consider it praiseworthy. I'm not sure if you can have the same expectations for free patterns. I can imagine some adventurous knitter trying out their new ideas for a sock (or a scarf or a cardigan, etc), having it admired by friends or acquaintances, and being urged to 'just make a note of what you've done so we can have a go at it'. And then the pattern gets noted on Ravelry or other internet sites and used by others.

Then some of the others - me, in this particular case - have problems with the pattern... it's not detailed enough, it's not clear why I have to do things in a particular way, or it tells me to 'use your favourite short-row heel' when this is the first time I've knitted a toe-up short-row heel and I don't know enough to have a 'favourite'. With the benefit of hindsight, this was clearly a mismatching of pattern and knitter.

Added to which, this is the knitting I took on holidays with me. At the very time when I needed knitting that was unproblematic and could be picked up and put down easily, I was searching the internet for examples of short-row heels and trying to work out how to incorporate them into the overall pattern (I think this took three attempts and three unravellings). With hindsight, clearly a mismatching of project and location.

So, I don't want to blame the pattern-writer. It was a free pattern, which I think is an invitation to knit at your own risk. I should have been much more careful to prepare myself for the challenges of the pattern and should have realised these socks weren't a good holiday project. But even so, I did not enjoy knitting them. I've abandoned them for the moment. I will have no socks finished for the May-June project for sock club. I have to declare a 'Fail'.

So I've moved on to the next pattern chosen by the group for the sock club - Nancy Bush's Fox Faces.

Fox faces

I've heaved a huge sigh of relief. Nancy Bush - a guarantee of a clearly written pattern. Top-down - my preference. Dutch heels - love them. Round toes - yippee. I'm not using the yarn I drew randomly for this project as it seemed a bit short of the yardage required, so am substituting yarn that was a prize from MissFee's blog anniversary - Angel Yarn in Denim Mix colour. It seems as if one departure from the rules I set for myself has licensed me to make others.

I'll report in on progress at the end of August when they're - hopefully - done.


missfee said...

PHEW - a bit like reading a book and getting a few chapters in and trying to persist - sometimes it is better to put it down and start another one.

love the combo for the next socks - I am tempted to knit these now but then would I be breaking my 'rules'

jp said...

I must admit life is too short to sit through a bad movie, read a book I hate (or that bores me a much bigger crime!) and also it is way to short to knit something you are not enjoying.

Break the rules!
Love the yarn + pattern combination.

Anonymous said...

i really admired your attitude to this 'club', that you would do the patterns regardless of how you felt about it. as you know, i 'faied' in this way right from the get go, so i dont think you should give yourself too much of a hard time! im with jody, life is too short to knit socks we dont like, and i didnt really like any of these. and i do think, even if a pattern is free, it should at least be clear! im glad youve moved on to nancy, you cant go wrong, and the colour is gorgeous! enjoy :)

Lynne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynne said...

Oh dear! I hope you enjoy the July/August socks much more!

Bells said...

how frustrating to have had that experience on holidays. I'd have been so annoyed and probably would have undone them and just knit something plain, just to have something to work on.

I'm afraid I've bowed out of the club. I wasn't enamoured with the choices for the second half of the year and felt I was neglecting the sock books I own that have so many great patterns in them.

But that blue is just lovely. And bless nancy Bush.

Yarna said...

I love toe up socks but "use your favourite short row heel" flummoxed me, too. And I thought it was a cop out by the pattern designer. But you're right - perhaps we should expect to get what we pay for!

Rose Red said...

I'm so glad I gave this pattern a miss! I don't have a favourite short row heel! I don't like them at all!

And isn't breaking the rules (when it really doesn't matter) fun?!

Susan Luni said...

I knit Leyburn socks so long ago I don't remember that the pattern was a problem. However, every time I wash and block the socks I know there is something wrong with them. The funny thing about your post is that my socks look just like yours! The leg is so much wider than the foot. It looks so strange that I always try to fix it by blocking after I wash them. Also, I thought I left out short rows in the heel, but again, it looks just like yours!
The only thing that saved my Leyburns is that the pattern looks great in the yarn I chose. Even so, I don't wear them often because they fit funny.
All to say that you made the right decision, to move on.

1funkyknitwit said...

heh heh.. funny and enjoyable post Lyn.
This is not a fail in my book but rather a realization that knitting time is valuable time and you must knit what you want. If part of this involves frogging something that doesn't work in you knitting schedule then so be it - you can make your own rules :D
I'm so glad your next knit is with Nancy as you two are so well acquainted ;D