Harajuku Madness

Have you ever watched “American Idol”?  Little Grump and I are big fans, but it seems that every season there’s at least one contestant that engages in what we call vocal gymnastics.  The singer takes a great deal of effort to include every single thing that they can possibly do regardless of whether it makes sense or sounds good.

As I joined in on the first round of this year’s Sock Madness, I couldn’t help but think about “American Idol”.  The first pattern is called “Simple Side to Side Socks”, and like the singers, the designer seemed to want to show just how much certain things could be used in one pattern.

Now, I know the idea of the first round of Sock Madness is to eliminate the weak and uncommitted.  It’s supposed to work like the basketball tournament.  The weak must GO!  I get that.  But I think it’s kind of silly when designers go to insane lengths to create patterns to drive the knitters nuts!

Think I’m exaggerating?  Let’s do a little math, shall we?

The pattern starts with an 80 stitch provisional cast-on, which means that, at some point, the knitter has to recover those 80 stitches and put them on the needles.

The pattern then requires that the knitter pick up 68 stitches for the cuff, another 68 for the toes, and another 68 for the heels.

Altogether, that comes to 284 stitches picked up for each sock!  That’s a whole bunch of stitches.

Then there’s the grafts.  There’s one the width of the cast-on (80*2 stitches), 24 stitches for the toe, 24 for the heel, and, because the tubular bind-off is used, another 68 stitches on the cuff.  That’s 276 grafted stitches for each sock!

Crazy.  Just crazy!

Still, I signed up for Sock Madness, so I gave it the old college try.  My progress was hampered by work projects and other life stuff, so I didn’t make it into the second round.  I finished the socks though, so I consider it a moral victory, if nothing else.

For this project, I chose Urban Gypz’s Harajuku Girl colorway that I’d stashed a while back.  It is a bit bright (understatement of the year!), but the colors are fabulous!  From the second Little Grump saw the colors, she claimed the socks as hers.  It was a good thing, because the socks wouldn’t fit onto my big fat feet!

Little Grump loves them though.

Finished - SM Round 1 (finally)

She loves them so much that she wanted to wear them to school the next day.  Alas, it’s now 80 degrees, and wool, no matter how brightly colored, does not work in 80 degree weather!

I don’t know how many people will knit this pattern after Sock Madness.  Most people that I know are more like Elizabeth Zimmerman, who went out of her way to avoid seams if possible.  Besides, the sideways knitting doesn’t make for an especially stretchy sock.  Most of the people who knitted this pattern complained that it was REALLY tight (or wouldn’t fit at all).  Because of all of the grafts, there are multiple weak points that are just ideal for failure, especially in a sock where one must do some convincing to get the sock to go on at all.  Life is way too short and there are too many other patterns out there to chance knitting a sock that won’t fit or might develop holes in short order.

I could be wrong, but I doubt it.  I know that I won’t be knitting these again soon!

2 thoughts on “Harajuku Madness

  1. Karen

    I can understand her wanting to wear them (I just want them!)- they came of fabulous(but when don’t your projects}!

  2. Batty

    The insane vocal gymnastics are one of the reasons I don’t watch American Idol. “Showing off” to outdo other contestants is such a big deal that singers take a song and sing every note to within an inch of its life, frequently hitting every other note on the way there. It sounds like they’re howling — and it’s even worse when they don’t actually manage to hit the note they were looking for. I guess they just lost it somewhere along the way, forgot where they were going…

    Anyhow, I hear you on the sock pattern. I’ve also seen shawl patterns that are written to be “challenging” — just like the video game that’s written so you have to save/reload every couple of seconds to make it through. Some people enjoy this style of play, but it’s not for me.

    The socks came out really beautiful, well worth the effort. But I can see why you’re not crazy about knitting them again.

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