Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mistakes were made.

Don't you love that passive verb statement--mistakes were made--which so neatly sidesteps accountability? Well, sometimes, if you're not a political weasel, it can actually be a helpful explanation of what went wrong and how it was righted. Possibly we are put on earth to learn from our errors...um... possibly.....

Gentle knitters, my mistake was believing that a boutique brand of self-proclaimed 4-ply sock yarn (60% baby alpaca and 40% soy silk) would be durable. It's a very pricey yarn (I won't name it, because I believe that the novice manufacturer's mistake may simply be attributed to lack of fiber-spinning experience) at $30/skein for 200 yards, and I discovered that I needed two skeins to make a pair of socks because one skein only produced one full sock and a half sock--and these socks weren't very high up the leg, either.

The short story is that I made the socks, wore them maybe three times, and the toes ripped!! I darned the toes several times, and the darning didn't hold because the toe fibers were so stressed and thin.

Sixty dollars, my friends. Think about that. (Full disclosure: this yarn was a gift from the producer.) Moreover, I discovered that the yarn has a felty tendency, so that the mock-cable pattern I knitted became nearly indiscernible after the first washing (by hand, in cold water) and the inside of the sock gathered long, loose strands of matted fibers, producing a kind of thrummed lining, which wasn't actually all that bad. Unfortunately the thrumming didn't make it down to the toes and strengthen them.

The idea of performing surgery entered my consciousness. I've seen fearless knitters cut steeks, and I reasoned that I could take scissors to these socks and delete the toes; the yarn wouldn't be likely to ravel because it was so fibery-felty. And that's what I did. I had nothing to lose, as the socks were toast unless a radical step was taken.

So here's the good news: I was able to pick up live loops very easily, and reknit the toes in a nylon-reinforced yarn--specifically a remnant of Noro's beautiful-kooky Silk Garden Sock, which is 40% lamb's wool, 25% silk, 25% nylon, and 10% kid mohair. (Strengthening fibers are bolded.)

Moral of story:  NEVER knit the toe of a sock (and maybe the heel, too) in an unreinforced yarn.

Caveat emptor. Live and learn. Over to you.


  1. Thank you, Maaa-gret. It's so disturbing to think that all the knitting work we put into a project can be bamboozled by inferior yarn. I'm thrilled I was able to salvage these socks, and I'm going to try the same method for some socks I've made that shrank a bit.

  2. If you ask me, the post surgery socks are much nicer! I love a colorblock toe.

  3. Thanks, Gale. With your affirmation, I think I'm now a convert to Noro toes!

  4. Well Jeez, those pink Noro toes elevate those socks to new heights in the eyeball department. Makes ya want pink toes on all of your footwear, huh? Kudos for the scissor action; Cowgirl knitting is a great character trait to have.

  5. Selma, thank you for the terrific article in the current Interweave Knits. Next trip to NYC I'll definitely check out as many of these shops as I can. This is my 1st visit to your blog and I'll be back.
    If you ever get to Virginia, be sure to check out Fibre Space in Alexandria and the wonderful shops in Staunton.

  6. Eugenia, thank you so much. That article required three trips to the Big Apple, and was amazing fun to research and write. Let me know what you think when you visit any of the shops.