Oh what a week I'm having. There are two crafty deadlines, school work that has stepped up a notch or 15 recently, and then I was called in for a full day of jury duty yesterday. Despite the fact that waiting in the jury room all morning was really, really boring and that I'm now going to be playing catch-up all week, the experience was actually kind of interesting in the end. I know, I'm totally batshit crazy.
But in the meantime, I'm really psyched to be able to share a design preview with you all and talk about process. When Elinor announced the Socks Revived Design Contest a few weeks ago, it seemed like a great opportunity to work up a chart I'd been toying with and make it into an actual knitted object. The chart began as a reworking of a particular design in this book, which I recently discovered we have in our university library.
I modified the chart to make it fit my gauge and stitch count for a pair of fair isle socks, cast on and went with it. My first attempt looked pretty great from the front:
so you'll just have to take my word for it when I say that the back of this sock is a disaster. I tried to break up a large chart of overlapping repeats by putting a bunch of vertical stripes down the back of the leg. While this is a nice way to break up the visual "jump" that you encounter with colorwork in the round, and offers an easy way to adjust size, it looked crappy and it was an awkward width when it came time for a heel flap. Rrrrrrip!
I futzed with the chart more, and by this time it had been so futzed with that it can be described as being loosely inspired by what I originally saw in the Anatolian Knitting Designs book, made it fit my stitch count, and after trying 900 different and ridiculously complicated heels, I decided what I like best, and what fits my foot best, is a good, sturdy heel flap with gussets:
This will be the heel in the final pattern. I love it because it's worked with the background color held double-stranded so the fabric is a pretty close match to the feel of the rest of the sock. And I have heels of steel, apparently, and will felt and wear through almost anything, so I'll take all the extra sturdiness I can get.
The problem with the sock you see in that picture, however, is that the toe is heinous:
It pained me so to even take that picture, and then to post it on the internet?! I assure you I ripped that sucker out long ago. That ugly, square, floppy, weirdly bendy toe is long gone. I was trying to continue the lines from the chart and ended up with some really long floats in which my toes would always be getting caught, and then there's the ugliness factor. Yuck. I decided the best thing to do was just to continue the chart as I had been working it and maintain that design as best I could while decreasing on the edges of the sock. And I'm quite pleased with the result:
And what you see there is, with a few details tweaked, what the final design will look like. As per the rules of Elinor's contest there will be more than one size, which has been my main challenge given the large, unwieldy chart. In the end I decided the best way to deal with that would be to do what a lot of designers do to make fair isle mitten patterns with multiple sizes: change the gauge. The orange and white socks are designed for my feet, and as a result, they're kind of big, and I like sturdy yarn so I'm using pretty heavy sock yarns (more on yarn details when I unveil the final product). I'm currently working up a smaller version using more lightweight yarns and so far as I can tell it's working well, and it's helping me work the rough edges out of the pattern. Now if I can just finish it all in time to publish by Friday!