Sunday, September 27, 2009

I’m suddenly full of enthusiasm – too much to say to pack it all in, today. I attribute it to Kaffe’s wonderful sock yarn. Here’s the bedsock, as you see getting on very well with the task of knitting itself:

I did finish an oddball, as hoped – but then attached another from the same colorway, both no doubt left over from a pair of women’s socks which each use slightly less than 50 gr.

Well, yesterday I heard from Cynthia herself, Cynthia of Cynthia’s Formula which tells you what percentage of the Princess centre you’ve knit so far, and the answer always is, rather less than you expected; Cynthia who with Sue gave me the pattern and yarn for the Griswold stole. Yesterday, she pointed me to this invaluable link to Mean Girl’s pattern for arch-shaped (women’s) socks, available as a free download on Ravelry.

Cynthia says that she downloaded it a couple of years ago, and has used it since as her standard sock pattern. Mean Girl thanks Grumperina for the concept of arch-shaping. That’s a blog I used to read, and I think I’d better start again.

Tamar, your comment is very interesting, as ever. Could the idea be something EZ saw in Scandanavia, and later recalled? Have you looked at the basic Scandinavian books? I’ll do that today.

In any case, I think it’s a clear instance of what EZ famously called unvention – different knitters separately hitting on the same idea.

EZ’s is the oldest, of the ones we are considering. She knit the prototype for her daughter Meg in the 1960’s, but she never knit another pair, or wrote about it (because she knew that the idea was Scandinavian?) and Meg says that there is no reference to it in her mother’s notes. Meg published “Knitting” in 1999, with the “Stockings with Form-Fitted Arch” pattern included.

I had a real rabbit-in-headlights time yesterday, deciding which design to go forward with. I’ve settled for Oliver, because that pattern sets out to make a man’s sock on 72 stitches and that was what I was going to do anyway.

The basic idea is a pair of invisible increases running down the centre of the sole of the foot, a couple of stitches apart, and the corresponding decreases which start off fairly near by and are gradually forced outwards by the increases until they meet on the top of the foot.

Oliver and Mean Girl begin this process in the middle of the gusset decreases; you’ve got to keep your wits about you. The Zimmermann version only starts arch-shaping when the gusset is finished. (Yesterday, I thought they all did it that way.) Mean Girl and the Zimmermanns do the arch-shaping every other row throughout; Oliver is more sophisticated, with a slower rate of progress.

Mel, a man who knit the kilt hose you wore on your wedding day ought to be able to knock out a pair of arch-shaped socks from that information.

That leaves a discussion of Ted’s oddball collection for tomorrow, not to mention a picture of the finished Griswold, currently pinned to the dining-room floor. Ted, I remain seriously grateful to you for pointing out the similarity between the Oliver pattern and the Zimmermann one and thereby launching this whole train of thought.


  1. Funny that you should mention my kilt hose and Ted. On those I did the gusset decreases along the edge of the sole thanks to a discussion with Ted. I'm definitely interested in trying arch shaping, since I love a form-fitting sock, and I do believe I have the EZ version. I suppose I've never though of it that much because my feet really don't have arches - to the point of occasionally getting suction on smooth surfaces.

  2. Thanks for the link to the MeanGirl sock. I purchased Oliver, and have the EZ/Meg version. I may never get to them, since you mention one must keep one's wits about them. I hate to do that on socks. I want mindless knitting. I do have high arches, though, so it might be worth a try one of these days. I'll watch your progress instead.

  3. =Tamar6:06 PM

    I think EZ probably unvented it entirely herself. I only wondered because of some odd coincidences, and inventive knitters often think alike.

    A few years ago I was studying the Duke Barnim stockings (late 16th century), peering at the photographs (in Rutt? some book) with a magnifying glass, and I think I see something very like an arched sock pattern. I also worked out the 1655 sock pattern, which Rutt got wrong (but he put me on the track of it), and it has almost all the gusset decreases in the middle of the sole, which shapes the arch. I have no idea whether the Duke Barnim socks were found before EZ unvented the arch herself; she certainly did it before Rutt's book was in print.