I have knit Andrew several hats and scarves. He is terribly well accessorized with knitwear in the winter. I have not made him a sweater because he doesn't particularly like sweaters. I have not knit him socks because he's shown no interest in them.
That's always been fine with me. I know lots of people who want handknit socks, so it's not like I'm unable to knit them because Andrew doesn't want them.
Or, I should say, Andrew didn't want them.
Recently he's bought a few pair of socks that are thick and warm instead of plain cotton ones. One evening he tells me that he thinks he would like a pair of knit socks.
I don't have to tell you I had him on Ravelry surfing patterns faster than you can say, "men's unisex sock top down fingering weight."
He found a few he liked, and out of those I chose the Kalajoki socks. Visually interesting, but not feminine. The pattern is mirrored, so each sock will be a little different to knit. The pattern is made by purl stitches, so there are no holes to detract from the sock's warmth. Perfect.
Andrew found yarn he liked (Socks that Rock lightweight in The Skein with No Name colorway, which isn't available for sale yet because it's part of the 2010 sock club), and I cast on.
The first sock went like lightning, even with forcing Andrew to try it on in various stages (and usually with needles intact) and making up the decreases on the leg as I went. The first sock on his foot, Andrew deemed it a success. I smugly cast on for the second sock.
We all know this story isn't going to have a happy ending, right? Everybody prepared?
I've knit the entire leg and the heel flap before I think to compare the first sock to the second sock.*
Huh. The second sock is significantly longer than the first. Turns out, I knit through the end of the chart instead of stopping at row 23 as I did on the first sock. To make matters worse, I had a row counter from the first sock that still clearly displayed 23. I knit past the row anyway.
I knit the heel flap again and the neverending gusset and soldier down the foot until I'm ready to start the toe. Suddenly, I realize that these socks should have mirrored patterns on them. The wavy line is on the right side of the top of the right foot and should be at the left side of the top of the left foot.
Clearly, that was not the case. I had been knitting so blissfully that I didn't bother to read the pattern, which very clearly said how to arrange the stitches at the heel flap to get the pattern in the correct spot.**
I ripped the entire foot, the gussett, the heel, and that &*$)% heel flap.
After a tense moment with the sock and the ballwinder, I was back at it, knitting the heel flap for the third time.
After knitting for a bit and not trusting myself to see the obvious, I stop and say to Andrew, "Okay, left wavy on the left side. Right wavy on the right side. This is correct, right?" Andrew looks at the socks and says, "Doesn't the picture show the pattern going all the way to the end of the toe?"
I said, --well, what I said isn't important. Never mind. Let's just say that the pattern does not indicate that the pattern continues onto the toe. I'm confident of this. I am also confident that 688 other people have knit this sock and posted on Ravelry, and they all seemed to intuitively know that the pattern continues onto the toe.***
Over the next few days, I plan on finishing the second sock and redoing the toe on the first.
I've always thought the Sweater Curse**** was a ridiculous superstition that only served to highlight the already-existing flaws in a relationship, but these socks... There seems to be something malevolent about knitting for your favorite person. It's a mystery to me, but one for which I have newfound respect.
*Yes, I know. Rookie mistake.
**I agree. It seems strange that I would think that doing the same thing twice would somehow magically produce different results. Still, I did.
***Okay, maybe it's not intuition. Maybe it's looking at the picture on the pattern. No matter.
****Some knitters/crocheters say that the gift of a handmade sweater will inevitably doom a relationship. You'll be left regretting the hours and money you spent on said labor of love.