Friday, November 23, 2007

Second Sock Syndrome? Pshaw!

Sure, I've heard about the dreaded second sock syndrome, the boredom-fueled procrastination over knitting the second sock of a pair. For many, it seems, once the thrill of discovery and accomplishment of trying an interesting new pattern has been exhausted with the first sock, the prospect of making another holds no charm. It becomes a chore to get through sooner or later (often much later). Perfectly natural.

But that's not me. I'm not so anxious to be immediately on to the next new thing. In me, there's still a trace of the two-year-old, exhilarated after a little swing through the air in my Dad's strong hands, shouting "do it again! do it again!"

I rather like knitting the second sock, working my way again through the pattern that I've already done once. I like watching the first sock's identical mate gradually appear. I don't mind the need to occasionally "read" the stitches, examining them closely to be able to duplicate first sock in every detail. I like knowing that I can master what's lurking around the next bend. Difficult patches? Dimly lit pictures? Errata? Misleading explanations? Ha! They've met their match. They hold no terrors for me. I will wave my knitting needles in their general direction!

If anything, it's the grafting that puts me off just a little. And what gets me past that minor bit of drudgery to close up the toe of the first sock is the strong desire to get those last two needles free so I can cast on for the second one! I could sneak the needles out early by threading the live stitches awaiting grafting onto a stitch holder or waste yarn to await their moment, but I choose to regard that as cheating. Eat the vegetables first, then have dessert. It doesn't take so long, after all. Then, the minute the fiddly work with the tapestry needle is done, the cuff of sock number two is immediately underway.

Mind you, I'm not saying I never mess up on the second sock. The danger for me lies in over-confidence. Eager and certain I know what I'm doing, I breeze ahead -- without remembering to look often enough at the instructions. This is when I'm liable to get ahead of myself and miss one of those oh-so-intricate adjustments that a detail-minded designer like Nancy Bush is apt to make in her patterns (must shape the ankle just so). Or I may do something utterly silly like picking up the gussets along the heel flap without first turning the heel! No matter, a little backing up, a little re-knitting, and I'm safely on my way again.

Interestingly, the sophomore-oops phenomenon extends for me to other arenas as well. In cooking, the first time through a new recipe usually works fine. It's when I've made that dish a time or two already and think I have it licked that I'm more likely to run into trouble. I'll just glance at the recipe and skip merrily ahead a step or two, only to realize I've missed the stage when I was supposed to add a key ingredient. Oops.

All of which is to say, the second of the Gentleman's Fancy socks is now coming along quite nicely. :)


Mary said...

Another way to put it -- "pride goeth before the fall", i.e., I've done this once before without mistakes, therefore I must be a Master, and need not look at the pattern/recipe/instructions again.

(Or, so I hear...). ;-)

Beate said...

H Cathy.
First: thank you for commenting on my blog.. not many do. I guess you have to out there a while to get readers.
Second: You do socks like me. Right away I start second sock and cant really wait till I´m done.
I like your colors on the fibers.
I did spin as a girl with my father. That is something I would like to try again. So cool to make your own yarn..
Also I like your fall pic. I love the colors of fall and I love the when the air get´s alittl crispy.