Friday, July 27, 2012

A Tragedy of Errors

Confession time: This story makes me look like an idiot.

Back around my birthday, I took a field trip to Simply Socks Yarn Company. It's a lovely place, and I bought a lot of yarn, including this:

I am trying to buy more semisolid sock yarn because I find I want to do fancy patterns that tend to get lost on busy, variegated yarn. Lola's Thistle colorway is a lovely purple.

Fast forward to vacation a few weeks ago. We spent seven or eight hours in the car to get to Tennessee, and so I started on a pattern I'd had my eye on: 'Olina Socks.

There were problems from the beginning. I don't do toe-up socks much, and trying to watch a youtube video on Judy's magic cast on on my phone while riding in a car is not ideal. At one point I threw the yarn into the back of the car in a fit of rage while yelling, "For fuck's sake!"

Luckily, Andrew is not an easily startled driver.

It's difficult to know whether something is hard because it's a new skill or because YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING VERY WRONG AND SHOULD REEVALUATE.  I'll let you guess which one this was.

I did eventually figure out the cast on, but there was nothing easy about the sock. I blamed toe-upness. I find decreasing millions of times easier than increasing, and toe-up socks are full of increasing.  The pattern is very intricate, and I had a horrible time getting the stitches to move properly.

The fabric was so dense. Why was it so dense?

Ah, I'm using square needles. That must be it.

I ignored the voice that said, "That doesn't make sense. Square needles shouldn't make a difference."

I kept going, and eventually got this:

Gorgeous, right?

Okay, so I could see the errors, but nobody else would. They'd be on my feet. Who would be looking closely enough to see where I miscrossed cables? No one. Plunge ahead.

My hope was to get these finished before the Olympics started. I have knitting plans for the Olympics, and those plans do not include these socks.

After I finished knitting for the day yesterday evening, I was startled to see that there wasn't much yarn left.* How could that be? There was no way I was going to get the second sock finished.

I got that sinking feeling in my stomach.  There had to be a way. I had fought hard for these socks. They were so dense that my shoulder sometimes hurt when I finished knitting from the strain of moving the stitches.** My index finger may be permanently dented from the thousands of times I've used it to shove the pointy needle through a cable.  There had to be a way to finish this.

I went to Simply Sock Yarn's website. She was on vacation, which I knew from reading her blog. Fine. I could wait.  I'd just make sure she still had it. I went to the Schaefer section of the website.

Crap. Lola wasn't even listed as a yarn line she carried, let alone getting the thistle color.

Okay, go to the stash section of Ravelry. Nope, no one had any they were willing to trade or sell.

Okay, go to eBay. Nope.

Then something horrible happened. I looked at the main Ravelry page for the yarn and found this:


I went to bed at this point, mad at the world for discontinuing yarn I needed, mad at Schaefer for putting 280 yards into a stupid skein, mad at Simply Socks for tricking me into buying a skein that wasn't big enough for a pair of socks.

Of course, none of that is rational. It didn't stop me from feeling it though.

Then the story get even worse. This morning, with fresh eyes and a slightly more reasonable attitude, I went back to Ravelry's page on the yarn.

Do you see what weight is listed?

I had been trying to knit socks out of worsted weight yarn. For the uninitiated, the yarn weights go like this (from lightest to heaviest):

super bulky

Most often, fingering weight is used to knit socks. I was trying to use a yarn that is much, much heavier than normal sock yarn. I was knitting it on the small needles I normally use, and that of course is why my fabric was so dense, why the cables were so difficult, why my shoulder hurt and my hands hurt and my fingers hurt. That's why my square needles were actually bending out of shape from the strain.

It is possible to knit socks out of heavy yarn, and that's why Simply Socks carried a few skeins of heavier weights. To use worsted weight, you use bigger needles, and you have less stitches per round. You're making thick socks that you intend to wear with winter boots or around the house with slippers. In other words, you do everything differently with heavy yarn like this.

I've made many, many pairs of socks. I'm stunned by the number of mistakes I made that allowed me to get this far in the process: not looking at the tag and seeing that there were only 280 yards, not looking up the yarn to see what weight it is, not reevaluating when I saw the fabric was denser than normal, not reevaluating when I saw that my needles and my body were saying something was wrong, not reevaluating when I noticed that there didn't seem to be enough yarn left to get through a second sock.

I'll frog them soon, and I'll probably reknit this beautiful pattern. I'll try to use this as a learning experience and be more careful about looking up the specs for a yarn before I use it.

It's just yarn (and time, so much time). Nobody cares. Nobody was hurt my my mistakes. It's no big deal.


*Okay, so I had a suspicion this might happens days before. I had just ignored that feeling and kept going. Yes, I am embarrassed by that.

**Yes, I am embarrassed by that, too.


  1. Oh, that sucks.... They're really lovely. You toiled hard for those socks. I wish there could have been a happier ending.

  2. It'll be OK... I know, it's painful, but time will heal your aches. It IS crazy that such a beginner type mistake can catch us... I know: It was the color!! BTW, the sock in your picture looks gorgeous, and I gasped at that beautiful pattern, and reminded myself that I want to knit every sock in some books... Really, some of them can be so similar that you could pair two different patterns, with the same yarn... don't you think? Good luck! The next ones are going to be SO much easier!! :)

  3. If I were to be giggling right now it would only be from 100% commiseration. Why do we never listen to that voice? That voice just gets louder and louder! Except instead of listening to it, we get more and more cranky about ignoring it! ::shifty eyes:: Er, at least that's what I've read on the Interwebs. Wouldn't know from personal experience. ::koffkoff::

  4. Oh RATS! My first thought when I saw "Worsted" was "oh no!!" I hate that you went through so much time/pain and to have to frog! I have a pair that I may frog two entire socks. I BLOCKED one of them and now they don't fit the same size foot - nevermind that neither one really fits anyone and one is totally stretched out. What was I thinking?!? ugh! I sooo feel your pain! sadly, that probably doesn't help.