Love at First Sight
The minute I saw this pattern, I knew I had to knit it. It reminded me of another Cookie A pattern, my beloved Pomatomus socks with it’s twisted stitches and flowing ridges, which was fun to knit and produced perfect fitting, beautiful socks. I was a goner for this pattern.
Pattern: Marlene by Cookie A
Yarn: Madelinetosh Sock in colorway “Wood Violet”
Notes: Like any love story, things didn’t always go smoothly. Maybe the fact that we weathered the tough patches together and are still together means this is one that will last?
One problem was the gauge – the pattern calls for sport weight sock yarn knit with a gauge of 24 stitches to 4 inches. Well, ok. But then the patterns has you cast on 68 stitches for the cuff – my standard sock with fingering weight yarn casts on 64 stitches! This seems backwards to me – shouldn’t I be casting on fewer stitches with sport weight yarn? There was some discussion on Ravelry that the twisted stitches cause the fabric to pull in a lot, but I remain puzzled.
Now, I have to admit, I have several major gauge issues – math for one thing (math of any kind mostly completely bamboozles me), understanding the basic principals of gauge (it just keeps slipping out of my grasp….) and the fact that I am the absolute loosest knitter ever, apparently. And finally, I have long skinny feet and long, skinny ankles (sadly, this trend stops with my ankles) so I need a narrow fit.
I’ve kind of cobbled together my own rules for gauge and one of them is, when knitting socks, cast on 64 stitches, give or take a couple of stitches, in fingering weight yarn. So, for Marlene, I followed the pattern as written, but used fingering weight yarn. Somehow, it worked – the socks are a nearly perfect fit.
Another problem was the stitch pattern. It took me For. ev. er. to get a handle on it. I’m not sure why – most people on Ravelry indicated that they had no problem catching on – but I struggled and counted and tinked for ages over the chart. This did not make for a good travel project and it – obviously – made progress agonizingly slow. Then, finally, as I finished the leg of the first sock, the veil lifted and Aha! – all became clear. And easier and – again, obviously – fun. And much faster.
I also wasn’t real thrilled with the way the pattern was written. This is absolutely no reflection on the designer, but rather simply a fact of life for patterns published in magazines (I’ve read that the best patterns are usually found in PDFs that you download since there are few if any space constraints) There was a single chart (two, one for the leg and one for the instep would have been better) and it was a skimpy chart at that – you had to remember to add stitches before and after the given chart, depending on what part of the pattern you were on. The written instructions were curt and sometimes slightly mysterious; some of the chart symbols were explained on a different page in the magazine and the pictured sock, which showed twisted stitches running to the tip of the toe, were written with a stockinette toe. The errata for this detail simply said “shape the toe can be worked continuation of the ribbing as shown”. A couple of hints on how to do this while decreasing would have been nice; as it is I made it up as I went along and it seems to be fine.
Despite all the trials and tribulations, I stuck with these socks (although we were “on a break” for awhile!) and I’m glad I did. I still love the look of the pattern, the way it flows into the heel and toe. The yarn is absolutely and completely divine; the color is sublime. The socks look lovely and unique and they fit well. True love is taking the bad as well as the good – must be true love.