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A breath of different air [Jul. 6th, 2012|12:49 am]
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No, it's still hot as blazes in central Texas, with the leaves falling off the drought-stricken trees...not that kind of air.  Brief change of pace, a breather, here in the Journal.

Another pair of socks is off the needles and on my very happy feet.  This is RedTwo, the second pair of red socks, and number four of the sock family, finished in late afternoon of July (not June!) 6. 

  
RedTwo-finished094  RedTwo-finished096

Pattern refinements continue, and these fit the best so far.   Yarn is Ella rae Classic, 100% wool, worsted weight, knitted on size 5 US, at 6 1/2 stitches/inch and 8 rows/inch.  They were just off the needles when I took these pictures--not washed, not blocked.  The asymmetric toe shaping gives my long and upturning big toe plenty of room, without extra knitting wadded up in front of my little toe.

July 8...Added some under cut--comments on commercial heavy wool socks & comparison pix.


My problems with commercial socks began some years back when a) I began to have swollen ankles & feet while traveling (later, all the time) and b) commercial socks began using more, and fiercer, elastic, with ever tighter (and smaller) ankles/legs.    The kind of socks I'd been buying before were no longer available. 

Because I have long feet (for a woman) I'd never been able to buy "fits all women" socks.  Hiking socks from some companies came in small (supposedly fit all women), medium, large, and extra large.  I had to buy men's sizes (and the ribbed part was often then too long for me, making the unstretchy tops even more uncomfortable.  Having a deep groove in my leg, the marks of ribbing all the way down, and more swollen feet...isn't healthy.

I tried laboriously cutting all the elastic threads in these socks with embroidery scissors--and that helped some--but the very top, the "cast on" of the ribbing, was just flat too small.  The gusset space--from heel to the leg-foot angle of instep--was too small, making getting my foot into the sock at all a struggle.  And the thick toe seam--with a bulgy bit at either end so that one "knot" always dug into my big toe...also not good.  I started wearing these commercial socks inside out, so at least something cushioned my toes from the abrasion and pressure of the seam.

Here are some comparison pictures I took this morning.

socks_whole-comparison099
Slightly worn commercial ragg-wool sock v. hand-knit completed early-mid June

Notice that except for the length of ribbing, all parts of this sock are smaller, especially the space from heel angling to top  of foot--these socks were so tight over the instep it was hard to bend my foot. 
socks_side-by-side-whole-comp098
Same two socks, showing how much smaller, and narrower, commercial sock is.

socks_toe-comparison101
The inside of commercial sock, and inside of latest red sock just pulled from foot.
Notice the thick seam, with its harsh knobbed "ear" at the end, on commercial sock.  That seam hit my big toe just below the toenail on top, and then pressed the knob into the side of it.  After hours on my feet, I'd have a purplish mark just below the toenail and on the side of the big toe both.  Compare to smooth, seamless inside of toe of hand-knit.  Also look at the shape.  My toes had to push hard at the end of the commercial sock--they were always somewhat compressed.  In the hand-knit, the longer toes have enough room without stretching the sock (the wear pattern on the first hand-knit ones, worn several times a week since the end of March, compared to the wear pattern on older commercial socks, shows that.)   No toe compression.  Better ventilation, too. 

Thinner commercial socks had similar problems, though men's dress socks did have flatter toe seams.  Women's socks were always too short from heel to toe (so the heels had to slide down under my heel); men's socks the length of my feet were always too narrow, and elasticized so strongly they cut in and made circulation and swelling worse. 

I was able to wear hand-knits for all of A-Kon and it made a huge difference to my feet--and thus to my mobility and my mood.  Painful feet just do not make happy campers.  With four pairs of hand-knits,  and my own "sock towel" to roll them in for drying (they would stain a hotel's white towel slightly) I'm now almost ready for longer trips and conventions.  Could probably make it, in fact, but I want a few more pair to allow for emergencies (and the inevitable wearing-out of these.)

I've just pulled all the old wool socks out of the sock drawer...they're going away.   RedTwo is soaking in its first wash.   The other three are now inhabiting the sock drawer. 

And now, those who aren't knitters and have wondered why spend the money and time to make my own, you know why.  Happy feet.  It's all about happy feet (and the ability to walk farther with less misery.)

.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: galeni
2012-07-06 06:34 am (UTC)

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Wow. And nice ribbing, too.
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-07-06 01:14 pm (UTC)

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The ribbing was the first thing to improve, since after the first pair I knew I had to cast on a multiple of four to make it work out smoothly. The ribbing on RedOne had to overcome that ignorance, and also the ignorance of a smoother way to correct having the wrong number of stitches to start with.

But definitely, four pairs' worth of knitting has improved my feel--I'm now often aware immediately after a blunder that something went wrong, and can fix it immediately. (Not always--sometimes I have to fix it on the next row.)
[User Picture]From: gifted
2012-07-06 06:40 am (UTC)

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Looking cozy, and a definite improvement from the previous.
[User Picture]From: fair_witness
2012-07-06 11:25 am (UTC)

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Nice job! :)
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-07-06 01:36 pm (UTC)

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Thanks!
[User Picture]From: hugh_mannity
2012-07-06 12:55 pm (UTC)

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Lovely!

It's great seeing how your knitting skills increase with each pair!
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-07-06 01:36 pm (UTC)

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I'm glad the skills are improving, too (and figured that the only way to improve them was to keep knitting...) The rate of improvement isn't as fast now--at first I could tell that each individual sock had fewer errors as I went along, and now it's pair to pair comparison, not inch by inch. But the greatest thing (my feet insist) is that even the kludgy first pair feels good on my feet. Since the purpose of the exercise was to make the feet happy...even the "bad" socks were a success. I'm now remembering how much I liked knee socks when I could buy knee socks that fit. Hmmm...bet I could work out how to do those, too. But that's for later--our winters aren't that cold overall. For now, it's getting enough pairs of hand-knit socks that I can throw out all the non-fitting, uncomfortable, big-fat-seam-at-the-toe, leg-groove-producing commercial socks.

THEN I can play with other stuff, including (gasp!) cables.

Meanwhile, DenimOne (a medium-light blue) is down below the ribbing, and I'm still dithering over which color (a royal blue, another red, a lovely emerald green) will go on the needles just vacated by RedTwo. Since speed is an issue, with WorldCon looming at the end of August, and I have to squeeze knitting time from an otherwise busy schedule, I'm not going to make PurpleOne a priority--it's with the other yarn, and will require constant adjustment, since on the same needles it comes out to 7 or a hair more, not 6.5, st/inch. Figured it was better to let it be denser than to increase needle size, with no guarantee of hitting 6.5 there. So PurpleOne will be a backup project until after WorldCon, at least. It may get a needle's worth done a few times a week, but that's all.
[User Picture]From: keetara
2012-07-06 01:06 pm (UTC)

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Thank you! I never thought about changing up the short rowing at the toe. With the shape of my feet, a sharp taper from big toe to little, that may just be the answer to have socks fit better.
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-07-06 01:21 pm (UTC)

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I have that sharp taper, and also my second toe is just a tad longer than the big toe--which turns up at the end. That's always meant my long toes felt cramped in sock. It does take--still takes--trying on the sock every row, and that would be true with any change of yarn and gauge. The newest of the sock family, with a Superwash yarn by another brand, has a wildly different gauge, and it'll be an experiment all over again, on everything but the ribbing at the top.

With this yarn, I've got the pattern down to the toe decreases nailed, and part of them solidified.
From: (Anonymous)
2012-07-06 01:46 pm (UTC)

Practice does lead to perfection

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Looking better and better, though your earlier versions looked darn good to me. No pun intended on the darn.

Ed B
[User Picture]From: judith_dascoyne
2012-07-06 02:33 pm (UTC)

Writers Knitting

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It is the joy in the simple things. Socks that fit and hands stretched. I was talking to writer (knitting socks!) and she said that for her starting at the toe was easer and faster for her but that fitting the feet was the first consideration.
[User Picture]From: controuble
2012-07-06 04:14 pm (UTC)

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Do these fit nicely inside your fencing boots as well? I remember you telling us how important a really comfortable pair of boots is to a fencer.
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-07-06 04:35 pm (UTC)

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I haven't tried them with the bucket boots--which didn't really fit me that well (which is why I know how important it can be! Blisters!!)

The bucket boots belonged to someone else before me, with "sorta" the same size feet, and were worn in for his feet. I'm now going to try padding them in strategic places with scraps of the old socks, and then try the new socks, and see what happens. I would love to have had custom boots, but couldn't afford it. However, we haven't been able to get the group healthy enough, and economically able enough, to get together for a performance for several years. I can practice-fence in my hiking shoes, and there the new socks do just fine.
From: (Anonymous)
2012-07-06 07:26 pm (UTC)

Re-fit

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What is the possibility of finding a local cobbler who can fit a new sole to the boots that will fit your feet better?

Ed B
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-07-07 06:32 pm (UTC)

Re: Re-fit

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I don't know--I never even considered that possibility. Hmmmmm...