Sometimes, I think that non-knitters misunderstand what knitting is actually about. I think that they look at what we’re creating and honestly believe that we are going to always create perfect finished objects. That sweater we’re working on will always fit like a dream, the hat will be just the right amount of tightness, softness, and warmth, and the mittens will fit…well, like a glove. *Wink*
Anyone who believes that has probably never really created something by hand. You know what makes perfectly sized garments every time? Machines. Machines can make the same socks in the same size with the same tension over and over and over again. They will always fit the same way, always have the same thickness. That’s what a machine is for. When you make something by hand, you suddenly belong to the “good enough” school of thought. As in, “Shoot, I don’t have enough yarn to do full-length sleeves on this sweater…oh well, I guess I’ll do elbow length sleeves…yeah, that’ll be good enough!” As in, “Darn it, I made a huge mistake when I was reading the colour charts on this sweater, and now I have this wacky motif way down at the bottom edge…I guess I’ll just do it on the edge of the sleeves too, so that it looks like part of the design…that should be good enough!” We have to constantly reinvent, tinker, riff like we’re scatting on a jazz melody in order to get our projects to work for us. And sometimes, dear reader, we have to come up with that creative decision making only when the project is fully finished.
These socks are a perfect example of that. These are my Jaywalker socks, and I love them. I just love those colours, love that they look a little bit stripey but also a bit flash-y in certain spots. The yarn is Neighborhood Fiber Co Watershed, and I love the way it wears, the way it was to work with it.
The issue with these socks isn’t in the way they fit, or the way they wear, or they way they feel. They don’t do that obnoxious things that some socks do of falling down and pooling in your shoes. No, friends, the problem with these socks is putting them on. Many people before me have commented on the tightness of this stitch pattern. Because of the way the increases and decreases work and line up, they make for a very tight fabric, very non-stretchy. I had heard this before I cast on and started working on these socks, so I tried to be mindful as I was going. I tried on the first sock several times as I was making it, but it all seemed to be going well. The problem didn’t come until halfway down the foot part of the sock. What has been going on easily up to that point suddenly became overwhelmingly tight. Something about the combination of the stitch pattern, the non-stretchiness of the bamboo in the yarn, and the entire thing being joined into the 3D bend that is a sock suddenly made that tightness so obvious it wasn’t even funny. I had worried about casting on 76 stitches, about that being way too many, but suddenly, it didn’t seem like enough. For some reason, I completed both of the socks anyway without ripping back or changing it…I don’t remember why now, maybe I was just ready to be done.
In order to put the socks on, I have to do what I call ballerina toes – I have to point my foot down, perfectly straight, trying to make my heel vanish as much as is possible. I have to inch that fabric up and over my heel a little at a time until it can slip on all of the way. When I take them off, I do the process in reverse.
But here’s the thing…I love these socks. They fit like a dream once they’re on. They look fantastic with everything, and they’re usually at the top of the pile of socks that I wear after laundry day. Would I knit them differently if I had to do it over again? Totally. I would probably bump up to a size 2 needle. But would I ever rip them out or trash them or give them away for being difficult to put on? Never. These socks take me a full minute apiece to put on sometimes. Think about the absurdity of that statement – when is the last time that it took you that long to put on a pair of socks, let along a single one of them? But these socks are worth it. They’re a little extra struggle in the getting on, but once they’re on, they’re just heaven.
These are the mistakes that we love. These are the problems we have because we are not machines…but in my heart, I know that it makes me love these socks all the more. These weren’t created by a mindless, soul-less piece of metal. These were made by me, for me, out of yarn that I loved and petted and treasured. These were socks that I was excited to complete and now, they’re socks that I’m excited to wear. These are lovely, beautiful, durable, and imperfect – just the way a handknit item should be.