Where are you going, my little one,
The socks were not for me. If they had been, once stalled, they
would have been tucked into a Ziploc bag, stored away with all my other
UFO’s. But these socks were a promise to a friend, and knitters keep
Where are you going my babe, my own?
Turn around and you're two,
Turn around and you're four,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.
- Malvina Reynolds
Usually when socks get stalled, it has to do with turning heels, and
kitchenering toes. Not these socks. Knitting them this summer as my
oldest daughter, Meera, a new college graduate, prepared to move to
distant city, these socks got stuck in a multitude of mindless
mistakes. Each stitch I touched and retouched, twined itself to
this hard, next step in motherhood when your child’s nearly adult wings
open and take flight.
Plain Janes, I had knit dozens of these top-down socks. In dark teal
yarn, two were started, one after another, each with their own set of
double pointed needles. This old sock knitters' trick of two at once,
usually is a failsafe method of keeping both socks consistent, and
preventing "second sock syndrome."* I cuffed one, then the other—both
with a knit 1, purl 1, rib. Confidently, I choose a simple
pattern stitch; a six row repeat- four rows of 2x2 rib, then two rows
knit. This gave the leg an interesting texture. It was a good beginning.
Then, two weeks before Meera left, she began moving her stuff out of
her apartment. As boxes and bundles appeared on our front porch,
I skipped heel gusset increases, and forgot the essential knit rows in
the pattern. And as our the hallways crowded with her sewing
machine, dressmaker’s form, books, and fabric galore, ladders–the too
loose stitches at the ending of needle caused by not pulling yarn tight
enough when moving from needle to needle—plagued the soles. The socks
and the house were a mess. By the time her futon bed and bookcases were
lugged back up to the room we will always call Meera's, the legs,
heels, gussets, and soles had been knit and re-knit. My needles sensed
each load she brought bringing us closer to her moving day. On the day
she set off, a heel was knit twice.
Letting go is never easy for a parent or a knitter. I couldn't keep
my daughter a child, shelter her forever. No matter how much I would
miss her being near, I wouldn't want to. And I couldn't hold on to the
socks either; stumbling about, knitting the same pair over and over.
Besides, I had a promise to keep.
The day after Meera left, still too soon for me to call and hear her
voice again, the socks and I, met at my knitting chair in the early
morning. A careful examination revealed an inconsistent gauge. One sock
was noticeably tighter, probably the one I favored that last week as
Meera popped in and out of the house with boxes and her move imminent.
What’s more there was sloppiness to the stitch definition. I gave this
thought. The needles I used were 0s--tooth pick-like slivers which I
found a bit to slight for my hands. The ball band’s sock pattern’s
gauge, the same as mine, was achieved by size 2s. Knitting a new swatch
on the larger needles matched the desired gauge. Pleased that the ball
band proved to such a reliable friend, I unraveled the socks for what I
hoped would be the last time, and after consulting its sock pattern,
and cast on the suggested 64 stitches. Working patiently, paying
attention, I shifted the socks out of neutral, moved them forward and
kept going. From cuff to toe.
Was the new pair perfect? No. A few minor imperfections. Like
forgetting to add the knit rows to the pattern stitch. This last time
around, I did not reknit. Instead I altered the pattern, knitting rest
of the sock as a rib. Like Meera, it was time to let them go too.
*Second sock syndrome: Finishing one sock and realizing, you have
to make another one. Exactly the same.
Moving Day Socks
(A variation on the "Basic Socks" pattern; click
here for the original pattern for reference.)
1 ball Sock-Ease (any color)
Size 2 (2.75 mm)
double-pointed needles (set of 5)
Large-Eye Blunt Needle
28 sts + 40 rows = 4 in. (10 cm) in St st (k every stitch in the round;
k on RS, p on WS when knitting back and forth). BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR
GAUGE. When you match the gauge in a pattern, your project will be the
size specified in the pattern and the materials specified in the
pattern will be sufficient. If it takes you fewer stitches and rows to
make a 4 in. [10 cm] square, try using a smaller size hook or needles;
if more stitches and rows, try a larger size hook or needles.
Pattern Stitch #1
Rnds 1-4: Knit 2, purl 2
Rnds 5, 6: Knit
Repeat rnds 1-6
Pattern Stitch #2
All rows: Knit 2, purl 2
SOCK (make 2)
Loosely cast on 64 sts. Divide sts evenly onto 4 double
Place marker and join, being careful not to twist sts.
Work in K1, p1 rib for 1 in. (2.5 cm).
Work in Pattern Stitch #1 until piece measures 6 in. (15 cm) from beg.
Place last 32 sts on a holder for instep.
Heel flap (worked
back and forth on 32 heel sts only)
Row 1: Sl 1, k across.
Row 2: Sl 1, p across.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until heel flap measures 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm), end
with a Row 2.
Row 1: K 19, ssk, k 1, turn.
Row 2: Sl 1, p 7, p2tog, p 1, turn.
Row 3: Sl 1, k 8, ssk, k 1, turn.
Row 4: Sl 1, p 9, p2tog, p 1, turn.
Row 5: Sl 1, k 10, ssk, k 1, turn.
Row 6: Sl 1, p 11, p2tog, p 1, turn.
Continue in this way, working 1 more st between dec until all 32 sts
have been worked, end with a WS row - 20 sts for heel.
Next Rnd: K across heel sts, with same needle, pick up and
k 19 sts along heel flap, with 2nd needle work across 16 sts of instep,
with 3rd needle, work across 16 sts of instep, with 4th needle pick up
and k 19 sts along heel flap, k across 10 heel sts - 90 sts. Beg of rnd
is at center of heel sts.
Rnd 1: Knit 29 stitches, work instep sts (the 32 stitches
on 2nd & 3rd needles) in Pattern Stitch #2, knit 29 stitches.
Rnd 2: K to last 3 sts on 1st needle, k2tog, k1; k across
instep sts; on 4th needle, k1, ssk, k to end of rnd.
Rep Rnds 1 and 2 until 64 sts rem.
Work even in pattern (k sts until instep; work instep sts in Pattern Stitch #2; k sts until marker) until foot measures 7 1/2 in. (19.3 cm), or 2 in.
(5 cm) less than desired total length.
Rnd 1: K to last 3 sts on 1st needle, k2tog, k1, on 2nd
needle k1, ssk, k to last 3 sts on 3rd needle, ssk, k1, on 4th needle,
k1, k2tog, k to end of rnd.
Rnd 2: Knit.
Rep Rnds 1 and 2 until 20 sts rem. Divide remaining sts onto 2 needles
and graft toe together.
Weave in ends.