After some thought, I decided that my real obstacle was that I needed the right pattern to serve as my "go-to" sock pattern. Said pattern needed to be:
- easily knit two-at-a-time on two circular needles
- free of grafting/kitchener stitch
- simple enough for "auto-pilot" social knitting or knitting in the car, in waiting rooms, etc.
- interesting enough to hold my attention and keep me from abandoning the socks for a year at a time
So, I grabbed several balls of self-striping/self-patterning sock yarn from my stash and embarked on a search for "my" pattern.
First up were Summer Clog Socks:
- Biggest learning with this pattern? READ THE STINKING PATTERN ALL THE WAY THROUGH FIRST, DUMMY! Since they were toe-up, I had assumed that they would be free of Kitchener/grafting. No. Such. Luck. This pattern has you graft the back of the heel together. Meh.
- I picked up stitches and added the ribbed cuff around the top because they just felt too short to me.
- They came out a little too big (long), but I still wear them. IF I were to knit these again, I would make them a little bit shorter and would knit a few more rounds on the cuff. I might use a smaller needle instead, though.
- If you only have 50g of sock yarn instead of a big 100g ball, this pattern would be a good use of it.
The second pattern I tried was Super Simple Short Sock:
- These are actually top-down, but I thought I'd try them, just to see. I'm glad I did because it would actually be pretty easy to convince me to knit these again.
- I really like the heel construction on these. The only thing I'd like better would be if the heel flap were a few stitches wider.
- If I knit these again, I'd knit a few more rounds of ribbing at the top.
- I had a little trouble with knitting the heels as two-at-a-time on two circ's, but I'm not sure if that was an issue of PEBKAC* (or, rather, PEBNAC**) or just the nature of this type of heel. I hit a point where I had to just knit one heel, then the other. I would be willing to knit these again to see.
- Grafted toe. Blech.
- These took longer to knit than the first socks because I used US size 1 needles (2.25mm) instead of 1.5's, but I really like the fabric of these better, so the slower going was worthwhile in the end.
- Another good pattern for using 50g of sock yarn.
Currently on the needles, I have Lifestyle Toe-Up Socks - No Swatch Needed:
- No pictures yet, but I'm pleased so far.
- I did have to frog them and re-start them because I didn't cast-on enough stitches for the toes. Yes, I could have worn them as-is, but that little extra empty space at the tips would have bugged me to no end. Thanks to Mr. Murphy and his law, I ended over-compensating and increase probably one too many times for the foot, making them a smidge bigger around than I should have, but I'm not going to frog them again.
- This time, I'm using a 100g ball of yarn for taller socks. Sadly, due to user stupidity, I've had more trouble with getting myself tangled (largely a result of frogging and starting over). In the future, for taller socks, I think I would probably get two 50g balls and knit each sock from its own ball rather than knitting from both ends of one ball. Theoretically, this should enable me to knit "identical twin" socks rather than "fraternal twin" socks.
Using the self-striping/patterning yarn has been a HUGE help. Wanting to see what comes next is a great motivator to knit "just a few more rounds". When the socks don't seem to be progressing, I can count stripes to see how far I've come. These factors help maintain both my interest and the "potato chip knitting" factor.
* PEBKAC is a tech support acronym which stands for "Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair" - in other words, user error.
** PEBNAC, by extension, would stand for "Problem Exists Between Needles And Chair" - in other words, user/knitter error as well.