Monday, October 30, 2006

C'mon over to Dublin Bay

Plain ol' stockinette?

We wrap up this month's edition of Socktoberfest with pair #2, off the needles, washed, blocked, and fully initiated on the feet all day yesterday! As a second act, I decided to try a different technique with a different sock yarn - the popular cuff-down Dublin Bays a'la the oft-lauded Koigu.

I think not!

The pattern
This is a nice, simple, easy to remember pattern that is very well-written with crystal clear instructions every step of the way. And they're quick! I finished one sock last weekend, the second over Friday and Saturday night.

It's also a great pattern for variegated yarns that have a high level of contrast, like this Koigu. The many shades of pinks, purples, and greys might obscure a fancier stitch pattern. But with Dublin Bay, you have mostly stockinette to show that color off, and a groovy little lace panel down the sides to keep it interesting.

I have to say, while I like the idea of going toe up in theory, in the future I will be much more inclined to knit my socks cuff down. Granted, toe-ups do have their advantages - you can try them on as you go, customize the fit, and make sure you don't run out of yarn on the second sock. But now that I've tried both methods, it seems like cuff down can meet those needs as well.

Once you have a handle on your gauge, you'll know how many stitches to cast on and what length to knit, making it just as easy (IMO) to get a custom fit. And you can in fact try them on as you go - just don't do it with wooden needles (see needle section below).

Not only that, I much prefer the look of decreases vs. increases. It's tighter, it's neater (my increases are less than invisible), and I personally don't mind grafting the toes, the kitch and I get along just fine.

The one big advantage to going toe up would be the yarn shortage issue. It is a little tense when you start seeing that center-pull ball collapse into itself as you knit down the foot, but you can eyeball it fairly well and determine whether or not you're going to find yourself a toe short. Besides, once you start sliding down that slippery slope known as sock yarn stashing, you'll very likely have a complementary color you can use for the toes if need be! Knitting each sock from a different skein makes it easier to make that call, so I may re-wind my single skein yarns into two until I have a few more pairs under the sticks.

And can I just declare my undying love for the heel flap? I have tutorials and instructions for short row heels in my binder, but damn if I'm ever going to use them. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the heel flap. First, it's Eye of the Partridge! Second, it's just so damn purty. Third, it has a great, huggy fit.

The mods
I was itchin' to try the Koigu (naturally, on the one pattern that calls for Lorna's Laces), so I swatched, then adjusted the pattern down to 64 inches to match my gauge. I also skipped the last two decrease rows and kitchenered it together with 12 stitches on each of the remaining needles rather than 10 for a less pointy toe. And I used a set of 5 dpns, as I find using 4 a tad awkward.

If I ever knit these again (and I'm sure I will) I plan to add a couple of plain stockinette rounds after the last lace repeat to give it a little more space from the heel.

Speaking of heels...
Remember how the heel on the
Twisted Georgetown socks gave me pause? Now I know why. On these cuff downs, you have a nice, wide square flap that covers the heel. Then, when you do the turn, you create a triangle of sorts, with the point at the back bottom of the heel, widening as you travel down the foot.

On the TG socks, it was the opposite. The flap was at the bottom, with the turn at the ankle, pointing down and widening up the leg. Take note of the gussets as well - on the Dubs above, you can see it forms more of an isosceles triangle as opposed to...whatever kind of triangle has three sides of equal distance (I hated geometery) on the TGs below.

See the difference? Now the TG heels definitely win for simplicity (no pick ups, gusset formed while working in the round) and their unique, inventive design. But with their nice, wide heel flaps and gusset shaping, Dublin Bay is the hands down winner for fit and appearance.

Another bid to Grumperina - I used her pretty way of picking up gusset stitches, literally picking up the front loop of the slipped stitches and knitting them through the back to give them a nice little twist. Not only does this tighten 'em up, it also meshes extraordinarily well with the Eye of the Partridge pattern.

Now about that Koigu...
Koigu. It's quite the popular stuff. Will it be blasphemous for me to say I just thought it was...okay?

Compared to my current high water mark, Lorna's Laces:

  • It's soft, more so after a cold dunk in the Euculan, but not quite as strokeable.
  • While the dye didn't come off on my hands while knitting, it did bleed a fair amount in the wash, leaving me with a sink full of pinky purple water and slightly faded-looking socks.
  • It has more of a twisty texture, and there were a few points where it was unevenly spun. Not noticeable in the final product, but notable nonetheless. (Four n's in one sentence, we're a go for alliteration!)
  • It's a tad weightier than LL, which isn't necessarily good or bad, just worth a mention.
  • And finally, I prefer the smooth, luscious colorways of LL over the more stippley Koigu.

Yardage wise, I had a little tiny ball left after each skein, probably enough to do the toes on a future pair.

The sticks
I started out using a set of Lantern Moon dpns on these socks and encountered an unfortunate problem with the finish. It was rough and snaggy on at least two of the needles, and seemed to be wearing off the tip of another after just a few rounds of the cuff. Clearly a faulty set. So I headed out to my lys and came home with a set of
Chia Goo needles.

Chia Goos are ultra light bamboo dpns with super pointy tips. Two big benefits brought down by one big drawback - they laser inscribe their brand name and size on the needles. Which in turn snags like a bitch on the yarn. *sigh* Do they not have actual knitters test these things out before they put them on the market? Naturally, since they're laser inscribed, filing them down doesn't do squat, so I fashioned a quick fix with some clear nail polish. Kind of a pita, but effective enough.

At 6", they're an inch shorter than Lantern Moons, which makes them less wieldy but tends to slip out of the end stitches if you forget to center the needle. This gave me a couple of momentary heart attacks, so 7" are a better match for me.

Did I mention that they're light? Toothpick light. Can break if you look at it funny light. Snap one in half after an hour light - especially if you try the sock on halfway down the leg. So for a sock and a half, I ended up using a combination of 3 Chia Goos and 2 Lantern Moons (and a partriiiiidge in a heel flap! Bahahahahaha!).

Size wise, I really, really like the way these knitted up on the smaller needles and will be defaulting to 0s or 1s from now on. The 1s were also strangely easier on the hands than the 2s. Probably because I loosened my death grip out of fear of snapping another needle.

If Lantern Moon ever responds to my email and hopefully replaces this defective set, I'll probably keep them and the Chia Goos for traveling purposes. But I won't be turning to either brand for my regular sock knitting.

Fit or phat?
Both! The heel and foot of these are a spot on match, and the height is perfect. They are a tad pouchy around the ankles, though. For my next pair, I may try a few tricks to see if I can snug it up down there, maybe some decreasing, some ribbing or perhaps a taller heel flap.

Other than that, I love these socks! They were a quick yet interesting knit, resulting in a pair of cute, comfy, colorful socks that made more than one coworker jealous. Plus, t
here's something about handknitted socks that makes one feel so happy and content. As cpurl says, they're like sweatpants for your feet!

Dublin Bays a'la Koigu
Pattern: Dublin Bay Socks
Yarn: Koigu PPPM in #219
Needles: Lantern Moon and Chia Goo size 1 dpns
Mods: Subbed the yarn, used a set of 5 needles instead of 4, adjusted stitches down to 64, skipped the last two toe rows
Lesson learned: I heart the heel flap! And cuff down can be a custom fit, too.


Blogger Zonda said...

Nice job on your socks!! Thanks for explaining Grumperina's hint better! I was picking up the front stitch, just didn't realize to knit in the back of it!

Enjoy them! I just love handmade socks now...gotta get crackin on mine!

3:43 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

I agree - top down all the way. It's just more . . . socklike. As for Koigu, I like it. But I've yet to make 2 socks (from the same dyelot!) that are actually anywhere near the same color!

5:15 AM  
Blogger Kucki said...

You could also try going down a needle size for the ankle area.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Thea said...

the fun of comments on my stuff is that I get to visit other peoples' stuff... Great socks!

10:58 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home