Saturday, September 24, 2011

One step forwards, backwards, forwards, backwards ...

Forwards and backwards describes this weeks progress quite well. I've been working on my Bubble sock, in my handspun from Vintage Purls sock pencil roving and I have had to frog and tweak a few times. That is just how it goes when you are not following a pattern, there is an element of risk and the price of that risk is sometimes the result isn't quite what you thought it would be.

Since the last post I have knit the lower leg of the sock three times, yes three.
First - I knit the leg of the sock continuing the pattern that I had established on the foot, the coin cable that I thought looked a little like streams of bubbles like one finds in an effervescent beverage. Going with that inspiration I wanted the bubbles to start separating and spacing out up the leg just as they would in a glass of fizzy drink. Now this plan was developing as I knit, rather than being fully formed before I started. I like that kind of design process, where the result isn't fully known before you start but it makes working slightly less linear.

So first I had to muck around working out how to form single 'bubbles'. After a few false starts I think I managed a rather nice round bubble, but I realized that the spontaneity of bubbles drifting upwards wasn't quite there. I had just thought I'd randomly work bubbles every now and again and that would work, but it didn't work. Turns out that I like things with a pattern and regular and find random hard to do. So I frogged the sock back to the top of the heel flap and started again with a new plan.

Setting out to chart irregularity seems like a complete oxymoron, but that is what I ended up doing. There were a few false starts with the chart, and I had to work out how to show the techniques - and in the end the chart reminded me a little of a diagram that I remember drawing in high school physics. Something to do with electricity maybe?

Then the moment of truth, I tried the sock on and discovered that all those little cable crosses to form the bubbles effectively reduced the stitch count to the point that the sock was a tight fit. Oh the sock fitted but not easily, and that didn't seem like a good thing for a sock I wanted to wear.

I had one of those moments when something really obvious suddenly becomes apparent. When I knit the individual bubbles I had to increase at the lower edge and decrease at the upper edge to stop the sock flaring as the cable cross compressed the knitting. The solution to the 'too tight' sock was to set up less stitches into the pattern repeat above the heel and increase for each bubble strand as I had for the individual bubbles.

One sock that fits nicely, or perhaps part of a sock - and a few more fiddly details to add into my chart. I had charted my effervescent bubbles over two columns of bubbles which worked out nicely into five repeats around 10 columns - but might have looked a tad 'regular'. With setting up with fewer stitches I now had 12 columns of bubbles, so I'm thinking a repeat over 3 or 4 columns might look more irregular than a repeat over 2. I'm off to play with my chart more - mostly so sock number two can be like sock number one.

There has been spinning, I've finished two bobbins, which now need plying - and not much other knitting at all. Winter seems to have returned - despite officially being three weeks into spring here, we have hail, ice like rain.
So I'm off to make a cuppa-tea, and find a ginger nut, and settle in with a pencil, knitting graph paper and see how irregular I can make a graph for effervescent bubbles.

na Stella


Cool City Stitcher said...

This is beautiful, and so unusual. Will you please tell us how you did the heel flap? It looks very different and interesting. (I'm always looking for something new to try, within my limitations..)

Knitting Linguist said...

Those are turning out beautifully! I like the regular irregularity of your bubbles. I'm also thinking back to my handspun socks, and thinking that they were a bit less elastic than ones I've knit from commercial yarn - do you think that's at play here, too, or is it all the cables? Stay warm!