On our trip to NYC last weekend, I needed just the right knitting project. We’d spend most of the weekend toting around everything we needed on our backs, so it couldn’t be anything big. We were going to see several shows, so I needed something I could work on brainlessly in the dark. But, we had two long bus rides to get us there and back, so there had to be something interesting about it. My attempt at a solution was the Hat Heel sock from Knitty.
The hat heel sock is a unique bit of cleverness that appealed to me very much. Most socks are knit from the cuff down, or from the toe up, and each technique has its advantages and disadvantages. With the toe-up sock, you can be sure to use up all your yarn without any guesswork, as you just keep going up the leg until you’re out of yarn. But you have that awkward toe start, and it’s harder to get the foot the right length. With the cuff-down sock, the whole thing goes a bit faster, as you get through the interminable leg at the beginning, and the foot always seems shorter to me after I’ve done the leg. But it takes some serious guesswork to use up all your yarn, and I almost always end up with a bunch of leftovers.
The hat heel sock attempts to get the advantages of both techniques by knitting a sock from the heel out. Essentially, you knit a little hat for your heel, then little “earflaps” that become the gussets, and you pick up on either side of said earflaps to knit first a foot, then a leg. You get your perfect foot-fit of the top-down sock, while you get to use up all your yarn on the leg. You can get sort of the idea from this picture, which has the heel and gussets done and part of the foot finished:
This was perfect for this trip, I thought. I had a yarn I particularly loved (Zauberball Crazy in all my favorite babypoop/fall colors), so I wanted to use up every inch of it on a long pair of socks. The hat heel bit would be fiddly and entertaining for the bus ride, and I could spend the shows cruising on the foot and leg.
A good idea, bot not particularly well executed.
I spent the entire ride up to New York, about 3.5 hours, getting through about 3/4 of one hat heel. I totally failed to read the correct number of rows in one section, so I had to knit the hat bit twice, and by the time we sat down to our first show, I had only one of the wee earflaps done. I felt rather stupid sitting there during a very clever bit of theatre (The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s The Complete Works of Shakespeare in 90 Minutes or Less) splitting my attention with a fiddly sock, so I [mostly] refrained from knitting during that show.
Between subway rides, waiting for tickets at TKTS, and waiting for food in Chinatown, I picked up from the gusset for the foot and was finally cruising. We were late to our second show, and when we finally got to sit down, the large-ish music buff in front of us gave us such a glare at the noise we made in sitting as to make me fear he would garrotte me with my own circular if I pulled out my knitting, so I waited for intermission. Monteverdi’s Vespers, performed by the Boston Baroque choir in the 3rd largest cathedral in the world, along with figuring out musical puns in Latin, was enough to keep me entertained until intermission, when I could pull out my sock without compunction.
The sock got a late-night treat in a trip to the diner from Seinfeld, just reward for spending so much of its intended knitting time squirreled away in my backpack.
Sunday morning gave us time for a jaunt through Central park before church, where I toodled along the foot with the yarn trailing out of my backpack. Fjord was amused enough at this get-up that he dubbed it “Wool-Pak.”
A couple of subway rides brought us to church and our next show.
But when I tried it on… it was already ready for the toe decreases. That was rather shocking. I decreased for the toe while Zurg bought shoes –
– and we rushed into the theatre, and sat down… just in time for me to have to graft a toe. There would be no knitting during this performance.
Which is just fine, because who has attention for anything else while watching Avenue Q? I don’t know what I was thinking.
There was plenty of time after the show for picking up leg stitches and re-entering cruise mode while we walked around Times Square. While the guys stood transfixed staring at hi-def screens displaying Bud Lite ads –
The sock took in the sights, and I took pictures.
So that is the story of how, despite spending an entire weekend with this sock in my hand, it’s still not finished yet. And the story of how I reminded myself that I don’t have to be actively stitching to have a good time.
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