Yesterday was the start of my journey into the world of sock-making with Jen. I should probably start off by saying two things. First, this was all my idea. Second, a "cankle" is defined as: the absence of a defined ankle on a person - whereby the calf of the leg merges directly into the foot. The calf appears to replace the ankle - hence the term "cankle."
"We can do this, Jen", I said to my sister, who's not always as keen in taking on these projects as I am. "Let's prove to ourselves that we can knit socks." Besides, we've heard that if you can do a knit stitch and you can do a purl stitch then you can basically make just about anything. That, plus the nice lady at the fancy yarn store advised me to just do whatever the pattern asks you to do, no matter how strange it might seem, and it will all work out fine in the end.
First step was to measure our ankles to determine what pattern size to use. Jen came in at a tidy 8 inches, and me? 9-1/2 inches! Could that possibly be right? I measured again. Yep, definitely 9-1/2 inches. I know my ankles have never been my best feature but 9-1/2 inches?! I believe a flush of embarrassment crept up my face as we looked at the pattern and discovered that the largest size was for a 9" ankle. Luckily logic kicked in that something was amiss here and a third measurement determined that (a) I don't use a tape measure very well and (b) my ankles are only 8-1/2 inches around. Phew! For the rest of the day there were lots of "cankle" jokes tossed in my direction. And we laughed...and laughed.
With the pattern size finally settled we cast on our 56 stitches, divided them onto four needles and that's where the adventure really started - for me anyway. Everything seemed to go rather smoothly for Jen. An apparently important first step was to "wrap" the first stitch in order to produce a smooth upper edge on the sock. Hmmm...okay. Jen mastered this easily. I wrapped the wrong stitch, resulting in a weird bunched-up knot. No smoothness going on there. I quickly realized that my best escape from this situation was to simply start over. I unraveled, cast on again, divided stitches onto four needles. Jen waited patiently. I got the first stitch wrapped into relative smoothness. Yes! We were ready to really roll now.
Next step in the process - knit 1, purl 1 until the sock cuff measures 8 inches. No problem. Easy. We can do this. But...the wool is thin, all those needles dangle and are hard to manage in the beginning and they make an incessant "clink clink clinking" as you work. Twice Jen forgot to use her empty needle to knit with and had to backtrack but that seemed to be the extent of her troubles. I, on the other hand? It wasn't long before I'd somehow managed to create two extra stitches. Not to mention the fact that when you're laughing and talking a lot, it's quite easy for "knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, purl 1" to become "knit 1, purl 1, purl 1, knit 1" or some other equally wrong variation of those stitches. At least for me, that is. And that's definitely not a good thing when what you're looking to create is a ribbed sock cuff.
I believe it was at this point that Jen looked at me in all seriousness and said, "Do you want to quit? I'm fine with quitting, you know". If you've been a reader of Jen's blog for any length of time, you probably know by now that she's the first to admit that she has no problem giving up on projects. And she's fine with that. But no way, I could not allow it to happen, not this early in. We forged ahead.
The needles became easier to manage, they didn't seem to clink as much or maybe we just got used to the sound of them. I found a way to "lose" my two extra stitches by knitting stitches together (nobody'll notice, right?) and our sock cuffs began to really take shape. Jen plugged away, effortlessly it seemed, no mistakes at all, a nice even cuff in the works. Mine on the other hand appeared misshapen somehow, irregular in size and really wide. No matter. My big socks might pool around my cankles but at least I'd be able to say, "I made these", with pride. We laughed some more. And we kept on knitting. Jen flawlessly. Effortlessly. And me? Well, basically okay...until this...
"What is that? How did this happen?" I said. "Let me see!" said Jen. "No, I can't show you!" I answered, as I sat there howling with laughter. What IS that loopy thing, you ask? A few moments of analysis led us to the conclusion that at some point (most likely while I was laughing hysterically about my droopy socks pooling around my cankles), I completely skipped knitting the stitches on one needle and dragged that tail of yarn across to the next needle. What to do, what to do? Robert suggested that I use it as a sort of bootstrap - a "sockstrap" we could call it - which would aid me in pulling up my socks. Clever, I had to admit and we all laughed again. Lots. But, after a few minutes of reflection I realized that my best escape from this situtation was...ya, you guessed it - to just start over again.
So, I unraveled and Jen knit on - knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, purl 1. Flawlessly. Effortlessly it seemed. She was amazed at how calm I was considering I'd just spent the better part of six hours knitting, only to end up with this...
...my accomplishment of the day - a ball of wool with some of it now wrapped around the outside. Oh, and four empty needles.
I did learn three valuable things however -
1. I am definitelly a much more patient person as I age.
2. They say that laughter is good for the soul and if that's the case then I'm going to keep knitting socks because I haven't laughed so much or so hard in a long, long time.
3. Our families need not worry that they'll all be receiving "lovely" hand-knit socks for Christmas. There's no way that'll ever happen!
And now, I've got work to do. I need to have a sock cuff finished by tomorrow. I'm going back to Jen's place to knit socks! Wish me luck. ;-)
Until next time...