Toe-ectomy (or a tale of knitterly denial and remorse)

Well, having finished the green socks and then wearing them around yesterday, I decided they were definitely too big.

At first I contemplated just giving Dad a bonus pair of socks as they would probably fit him but then I wondered if he would actually wear two tone green socks. Plus said socks were knitted for me because I need more nice warm handknitted socks.

So, being a virgo, I went and did some investigating on Rav about other people’s experiences knitting these socks. At first I thought the heel was too big (ie I needed to wrap a diff number of wraps next time or something) but then someone had mentioned that they got that problem when the foot was too long on their sock. Sure enough, when I pulled the sock forward so the heel fit nicely on my foot, the foot itself was suddenly revealed to be about an inch or more too long on both feet.

*HEADDESK* Don’t ask me how I got a foot that much too long. A combination of swatching row gauge instead of using the toe plus somehow managing to think that round a 10.2 inch foot up to 10.5 made sense (rather than rounding down to 10, if not 9.5 as a sensible person who knows stuff like negative ease is required for socks (WHICH I DO) would do). Le sigh. Maths skills and logic were apparently taking the day off when I was setting up the socks.

Also, because of the construction of these socks, you can’t really judge the fit until you’ve finished the heel and at that point I was in knitterly denial about the fit and just kept blithely on (next pair, there will be a life line before the heel and frogging if the same thing happens). Knitterly denial is a wonderful thing. Granted I wanted them as house socks but I didn’t need house canoes.

Anyway, too long socks were the problem. As I knitted them toe up, it wasn’t as if they were going to unravel nicely from the toe. But I was trying them on (still vaguely hopeful the problem would disappear like magic…knitterly denial again), I suddenly thought, well, Mel, if you threaded a lifeline through the row that hits your little toe where the toe would usually finish and snipped a stitch and then unravelled the toe, you could just start again from there and knit a top down style toe back on from that point.

And then I had to go have a fit of the vapours at the thought of CUTTING knitting. Scary stuff. But when I consulted with Melissa, the knitting guru, she seemed to think it was a perfectly sensible plan. And suggested just threading the circ back through rather than a lifeline. I will note that she has been knitting many more years than me and knows what she’s doing with stuff like picking up stitches rather than winging it with much internet assistance like I do. But with confirmation that my plan wasn’t complete lunacy, I had no excuse to back out and try plan B (which may have involved hot water and a tumble dryer).

So, I steeled my knitterly nerve and decided to try a toe-ectomy on one of the socks. With the cunning fallback plan of knowing that Melissa was coming to visit next week and could probably save my butt if I stuffed it up too badly. So I tried the sock on, worked out where my litte toe hit, reloaded the stitches, checked that I had 30 on each needle (my number after finishing the original toe ie I was starting at a point before I’d started the increase rounds for the sock), then snipped a single stitch below the reloaded row and started to unravel.

Which looked like this.

And then turned into this. Eeek! Toe-ectomy. (sorry blurry pic, was overcome with the vapours again)

I invite you to look closely at the bit I removed…see how much there is with straight sides after the curved bit…that’s how much too long the sock was. Just to prove my knitterly denial.

At which point I had either just invented socks for pedicures or those weird toeless boots that are around this season or I had to carry on and re-knit the toe…okay, a more patient knitter than I might have skeined and washed the frogged yarn to unkink it at this stage but I figured waiting for it to dry might make me lose my nerve, so I skipped that bit. Given I have only attempted kitchener stitch twice in my life and didn’t think I wanted to add that into the experience, I decided to kind of reverse engineer the star toe I’d just knitted for my new pair of socks, so that I could finish by just threading the tail through the last six stitches and pulling the toe tight. And lo and behold, it worked. I had a sock that now fits reasonably, if still a little wide given my assumed drift in stitch and row gauge. But definitely now wearable without vast pouches of excess fabric at my heel which were just going to remind me of my knitting fail every time I wore them.

So then I turned around and did it again on the other sock. Knitterly redemption! And lessons learned (plus now the cutting my knitting bit I have to do in the new pair of socks is far less scary).

A final pic of new improved green socks. Go me. I’m hoping the new socks are less traumatic.



The second devil sock is about a third done. I can’t always knit too long on a sock project as between mucho typing and teeny needles, I get sore hands. So I started a couple of thick needle projects. A nice snuggly shawl for me and a conversion of shawl project to cowl project for friend’s well overdue birthday present (yarn didn’t want to play nice with the lace). All this signals the usual May/June onset of knitting urge frenzy. I spun far more than knitted between October and April (as overdue present and devil socks will attest to) but, just like last year, as the weather gets chillier, my need to KNIT ALL THE THINGS suddenly gets out of control.

Which is not good when I’m on deadline and also because I have to limit my needle time to keep shoulder and hands happy. Still, progress is being made. I even had a small victory today in frogging. Now, I was taught the basics by my Mum when I was a small thing. The basics being casting on in one way, knit, purl, probably some sort of increasing and possibly k2tog decreases. That’s about it. Back then, if I dropped a stitch or something, Mum fixed it for me.

Since taking knitting up again, I’ve been expanding my repertoire and learning from books and YouTube (all hail YouTube) and websites. I’ve picked up a lot of stuff, I can knit socks and lace and things but still sometimes feel like I don’t know what I’m doing with basics like picking up stitches for heel flaps (I avoid this mostly as I prefer toe up) and yes, while I can pick up a dropped stitch, if I notice a mistake too far back, I’ve tended towards the “must rip out many rows to get to error and cry if you don’t have a life line” school of repairs. I am not a gun knitter when it comes to such things (or anything really). Trust me, my sil is a gun knitter, my Mum is pretty good and my grandmothers both knit like the wind. Me, I muddle through.

But today I was knitting away on the cowl on the train (which I don’t often do as most of my projects require too much referring to patterns) and noticed I had purled two stitches that should have been knit about three rows down, two thirds of the way along a row. At first I thought “Frak” followed by “no, lifeline, noooooooooo”.Then I thought “pull yourself together, self, it’s just two stitched, just drop them down and fix them”. Which I proceeded to do. On the train, no crochet hook, just needles. Dropped ’em down, figured out which way made a knit stitch and fixed them. Go me!

Not a big achievement but a small step to understanding this whole sticks and strings thing a bit better. Now I just need to con said sil into showing me some of the other stuff and I’ll be set.