Behold, my first finished object of 2008. It's arrived much sooner than it might have, had I taken down Christmas decorations, written thank-you notes, and done any number of other useful things on my to-do list. On the other hand, it's awfully nice to have a new handknit for myself, so I'm not going to second- guess it!
I made these from the Feather and Fan sock pattern in the Socks Socks Socks book. The yarn is Socks That Rock Lightweight in the January One colorway. It took less than one skein. After knitting the socks with US size 2 needles to get the 7 1/2 stitch-per-inch gauge, I still have about 23 grams of yarn left over, proving once again that women's socks take much less yarn than men's.
These socks were pretty much a romp to knit, especially sock two, once all the decisions and adaptations had been made. The feather and fan lace pattern was fascinating in what it did to the hand-dyed colors.
Where the feather and fan works its magic, the colors look dark and humid and tropical. They remind me somehow of the paintings of Martin Heade, a 19th century American artist, of hummingbirds and orchids in the rainforest. On the sole of the foot, however, where it's plain stockinette, there's no mystery. It's just a perfectly straightforward stripe, albeit in a sophisticated colorway. It amazes me that a mere stitch pattern makes such a difference.
The pattern is a nice one, suits this yarn well, and is clearly written. I like the scalloped garter-stitched top edge. It also has a couple of other entertaining features. It uses a Dutch heel turning, basically square instead of triangular, and the heel flap is ribbed, something I hadn't seen before. I like the way the ribbed heel flap looks and feels on the foot. I did make a couple of small modifications. One was to lighten the purled ridge detail where the foot meets the ankle. (You may be able to just make it out in the picture above. It goes across just above the heel flap, and up and over the instep.) I changed the double ridge called for, which I thought looked a little heavy, to a single ridge. In this strongly colored and patterned yarn, you almost don't notice it at all, but I still think it adds a little zest in comparison to having a smooth sweep of feather and fan all the way down the cuff onto the foot.
The other change was in the toe shaping. As written, the pattern tells you to begin the toe two inches short of the desired length, but then the actual toe shaping adds three inches. The decreases are specified for once every four rows, in a toe style that's normally decreased every two. Then at the end it goes lickety-split, with decreases in each of the last few rows. Well, every four rows is most unusual. I think it's most likely a typo, although the XRX publishing page has no reported errata for this pattern.
I changed it to every three rows until the aforementioned fast finish to get a two-inch-long toe. That worked out reasonably well, though it's still just a bit roomy and could probably stretch without a problem to fit a women's large. If I were to knit these for a medium size again, I'd be inclined to knit them at a slightly tighter gauge.
On the whole, I'm very pleased with my new socks. I'll enjoy wearing them. They make me happy just to look at. And with the merino wool, there's not even a hint of a prickle!