Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Unofficial Harry Potter Knits Review: Dragon's Egg Socks

I can't remember exactly when I technically began this project, but I can tell you that it took me roughly 3ish months to finally get the yarn spun for this project. As many of you know, I'm usually a busy person, so getting 500+ yards of a 2-ply lace weight yarn finished in a timely manner isn't feasible. But it's done. You can read about my troubles getting the gauge correct here.

I had been dreaming of these socks for a while, basically since I first saw them in July 2013 while visiting the States. I usually tend to buy knitting magazines when I know that I'll make at least 10-15% of the projects. That brings the price per pattern into the 'reasonable' range. The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine contained about 6-7 projects I really wanted to work on, which came down to about 40% of the patterns in the magazine. The Dragon Egg socks probably would have been my first project if I already had the right yarn and yardage. It turned out to be my second project from this magazine (the Gray Lady cloak being my first), but I'll talk about that other project later. I'm warming up to it.

First, I'll say that what really got me interested in these socks was the fact that they were unisex. I may look very girly, but I'm not super big into girly things like lace (let's not talk about the lace cloak). The pattern had texture and interesting combinations of stitch patterns, but they weren't overtly feminine--a good thing in a unisex sock! The stitches also seemed like they would hold up to my kind of wear and tear. The directions were easy to follow, the stitches themselves weren't anything new, and it seemed like this was a great pattern to use to break away from the standard stockinette stitch or ribbed socks. And I was right.

Now, let's talk about bobbles. Apparently, not all bobbles look good with certain yarn/needle combos. My bobbles look funny. I've understood the concept of how to make bobbles for a while now, but this was actually the first time I have made bobbles. I'm not really a fan of them. In fact, in combination with the first chart, the dragon's egg chart, I think they look awful. I almost wish I could just knit my second sock without the dragon's egg chart. The sock bulges at that point and makes the sock look strange. I know I haven't blocked it yet, but I can't imagine it will smooth out too much...but wool can be amazing. We'll see after they're both washed and blocked.

The heel is probably one of my favorite sections of this sock. That's boring, I know. It's a slip stitch heel so it's more durable that a stockinette heel, and because of the slipping of stitches, it has less elasticity than a ribbed heel. I'm convinced that I won't have droopy heel syndrome with these socks, and I'm fairly certain that these heels will last forever. I'm still that obnoxious kid who never unties her shoes before taking them off; a durable heel is key for me.

Last, let's focus on the top-side (Quidditch) pattern after the heel is finished. Remember how I said these are unisex socks? Well, it would probably be better to call these 'socks for the average male foot and for the above average female foot.' Okay, so it also gives the dimensions in the pattern. For the smallest size (ie, the woman's size), knit the Quidditch pattern until the sole length measures 8 inches, or 2 inches smaller than the actual size of the foot. I don't have very large feet (in fact they've shrunk after so much martial arts training and long distance running), so my sock needs to be at 7 inches by the time I begin the decreases for the toe shaping. The Quidditch pattern is (in)conveniently 2 inches long for the whole repeat. Well, poo. My short foot means that I'll have to cut the Quidditch pattern short and in an awkward spot. In the end, I decided to just start knitting the whole rest of the foot in stockinette and decrease when it got to 7 inches. The model has a nice finish where the pattern transitions into toe, but mine has this strange extra bit of nothingness. I guess it looks okay, but now I doubt my decision to just stop the pattern. Perhaps I could have made up something? I'll think about that if I make these again.

Overall, I really liked this pattern. I was never confused for a moment during any of the written or charted instructions. I've made only a couple of pairs of socks, so I'd say that this could easily be a great sock pattern for anyone in my boat. However, I would change a couple of things. I would definitely make these socks again without the dragon egg chart, but I would also add another repeat of the Quidditch chart to keep it at the longer length. I would also devise a truncated version of the Quidditch chart for the last repeat near the toe...perhaps I'd make mini broomsticks or mini snitches. Or something less intricate.

Now, before you tell me I should make both socks and wash/block them before I write a review, I wanted to say that this is the point which makes or breaks a pair of socks. I want to make the second one, but I have serious doubts about my first sock. It looks nice when I try the sock on, but will the dragon egg chart get saggy on my calf? Now is the time to make decisions about whether to make the second one and see how well it turns out after washing and blocking, or to take the first one apart and start over with something you might like better. I'm hesitant, but I'm confident that wool keeps it's shape well while being worn all day. I'm going to make sock #2 just like sock #1. And if I don't like how they wear after actually putting some mileage on them, I'll ask the internet how to remove the cast on edge of a sock and replace it with something else. Because I thought of it, it must exist, right? That's the law of internet information.