Thursday, February 01, 2007

Oasis Socks

I know many knitters can juggle multiple projects at one time and in many cases even thrive on it. I'm not one of those knitters. If I have too many projects in progress at any given time, I'm destined never to finish any of them. Perhaps it's because I enjoy the beginning of a project most, when I'm just getting a taste of how the finished product will look. Or perhaps it's because I tend to stray from patterns or not use a pattern at all, which - when combined with my lack of good notes when knitting - makes it difficult to pick up a project after a hiatus. Whatever the reason, I know my weakness and so I try to stick with one larger product and one or two smaller projects on the needles at any given moment.

The larger project I've been working on for what now feels like an eternity is the Faux Russian Stole from Meg Swanson's A Gathering of Lace. I won't bore you with another photo, since it looks pretty much the same as last time, except a wee bit longer. Progress on this project has definitely reached my least favorite part. It's that point where the excitement of the early part is gone, good progress has been made, but the end seems a million miles away and not getting any closer despite continuing efforts.

The truth is my "continuing efforts" have not been all they should be, to say the least. I do love the pattern and it's not difficult at all, but it is painstaking. The center motif is 81 stitches by 96 rows, so there's no way to cast the book aside and roll forward falling into the blissful rhythm of knitting-on-a-roll. The chart must be referenced continually and stitches counted frequently.

I've now finished 3.5 of the 5.5 chart repeats that the pattern requires. (I may actually have to go to 6 repeats since I used a smaller needle than recommended, but I'm not going to think about that right now.) I've reached the stage where I become a math machine. With each mini milestone in the pattern, I beginning calculating. "I've finished 3.5 repeats out of 5.5. That means I'm 63.63% of the way through the pattern, excluding the edging." These are the kind of thoughts that go through my head.

Then there's the bargaining. "I can only watch Top Chef tonight if I work on the shawl while I watch." Or perhaps ... "I don't have to clean the bathroom until later if I complete 10 rows right now."

When I reach this stage in a project, the only solution is to give it a rest and allow myself to knit something small and quick to give me that sense of satisfaction and reminder that it is actually possible to complete something! I started a pair of dark brown socks with a textured rib a week or two ago, but I ended up ripping those back as the pattern just didn't show up enough with the dark yarn. I also realized when I started those socks that what I really needed was a small project that takes absolutely no thought whatsoever. Enter the Oasis Socks.

I think of them as my Oasis Socks because they call out to me and lure me in like a mirage in the vast desert of endless, eye-strained, chart-following, intensely-focused lace shawl knitting. They are the simplest socks imaginable with a 2X2 ribbed cuff and stockinet body. If there were a power outage, I could probably have knit them in the dark.

For the Oasis Socks, I used my FF Classic Merino Wool Sock in Sand and Sun. I haven't knit with the Classic Merino Sock Yarn in a while and had forgotten how much I love it.

I know most of you are diehard fans of my Superwash Merino Sock Yarn, but I must admit that I actually like the classic merino better. Yes, the socks must handwashed, but that's not such a big deal. The yarn itself is just a tad heavier than the Superwash. The superwash has 550 yards to 4 ounces while the Classic Merino has 410. For me, it's a perfect knit on US #2 needles. I think my knitting is quicker with this yarn than any other I've used. It's just a perfect weight for me and the knitting flows effortlessly. The knit fabric itself is also absolutely wonderful. Look at the perfect little stitches, so neat and straight and lovely.

The knit fabric is in a way even softer than the Superwash, although at the same time it's also a bit sturdier. It's soft in a different way than the Superwash. The Superwash has more of a squishy and slightly silky feel, while the Classic Merino has a matte finish and more of a traditional wool softness. It feels softer in the finished knit form than it does in the skein.

I began the Oasis Socks on Friday and here it is six days later and they're done. Admittedly, they are short ankle socks (I used a partial skein of the Sand and Sun yarn and wanted to be sure I had enough to finish without breaking into another skein), but still six days from start to finish, while continuing to make some progress on the lace shawl and spending a great deal of time working is pretty good.

Without further ado, here they are! The colors in this photo are totally off, as the sun is not cooperating with me today, but you can get the idea. The actual colors of the sock are far more accurately represented in the photos of the yarn and stitch closeup above.

And now I'm faced with the decision of whether to bite the bullet and dive into the lace shawl again with renewed vigor or whether to allow myself another small project on the sticks as I continue to make slow progress on the shawl (which I do still love, by the way!).

Knit On!


Micki said...

Great socks! Plain stockinette socks are like therapy for me--they cure all sorts of ills.

anne said...

oh. i love the classic sock yarn too! i've been wondering if you will continue to carry it as i don't always see too much of it in the shop, but as long as we are talking about it—it definitely has my vote!

one of my students made a shawl from it and ever since i have had it in the back of my mind that some day i will do the same! it is the epitome of softness . . . so comforting.

Stacey said...

I'm a project monogomast too most of the time. I tend to concentrate on one thing and have a hard time making time for other projects! I hear you on the bargaining - my dishes from last night are still in the sink because I wanted to re-knit some of my sweater!

Liz said...

Although I purchase superwash wool for gifts, I agree that the merino wool is luscious. I much prefer working with it too! I have the same colorway, and seeing your socks made me put the yarn at the top of my knitting queue. I'm looking forward to seeing more color combinations. I think I just bought the last one that I didn't have! :-)

Lisa L said...

It took me 4 years to finish MY Faux Russian Stole! I was laughing when I read your ways of getting yourself to continue knitting on with it! But it will be so worth it! The socks look great too though!

LadyLungDoc said...

I'd say allow yourself one more small project, then nothing new until the end of the month.

Tandi said...

I can imagine the sun rarely ever cooperates where you are... Beautiful socks!