Sock Genetics

I told M yesterday after blogging that I had forgotten to take pictures of the single Braided Cable Sock before packing it up to ship. He didn’t say anything, got his box knife, slit open the box and then said, “You should have pictures and blog about it.” I see. This led me to thinking, which led me to science geeking–be glad you only know me virtually. So I present to you today a lesson in Sock Genetics.

First we must examine our specimen overall in isolation (Figure 1):
Braided Cable Sock
Figure 1: The Specimen Sock in Isolation.

Well, the background is a bit lurid and distorts the colors, and the camera angle makes the foot look very long, but we can still ascertain that this sock is comprised of a ribbed cuff, a braided cable with a garter-type rib, a garter-edged heel flap of some sort and a non-standard looking toe. From whence came this combination?

Looking through my hand knit sock drawer, I think I can deduce the parents of this sock as shown in Figure 2:
Cable Genetics
Figure 2: The Specimen Sock (center) with its two potential parent socks on each side.
On the left, we can see a braided cable sock with a ribbed cuff and a single knit stitch rib between braids. On the right, although harder to see, is a simple rope cable but a garter rib identical to our specimen sock. These data strongly suggest that these two socks are the parents of our specimen. However, our specimen seems to have evolved a more pleasing ribbed cuff that flows into the cable pattern more nicely than the grey parent (1×1 rib), and is perhaps less clunky than the pink parent.

Heel flaps can be very distinctive. Figure 3 compares the three heel flaps:
Heel Flap Genetics
Figure 3: Heel flap comparisons among the specimen socks and its proposed parent socks.
All three socks have a garter edge to their heel flaps; it makes for a very nice transition to the gusset (see below). The grey sock has a simple slipped stitch heel flap–very functional. The pink sock breaks back into the rib from the cuff, but does again look somewhat clunky. Our specimen also returns to the rib, suggesting that this is a dominant genetic trait in a Mendelian manner.

Here in Figure 4, we can see how well the garter edge to the heel flap transitions to the gusset. In this scientist’s humble opinion, it is a most desirable trait. We also note, that this photo, even with its strange black hole at the bottom, does represent the sock colors most accurately.
Gusset BCS
Figure 4: A shameless show-off of a nice heel flap-instep-gusset design and execution.

Finally, the toe is often a distinguishing trait among socks. Figure 5 compares the pink and specimen socks. The grey sock has cabling until the toe and has a standard, grafted toe (data not shown).
Toe Genetics
Figure 5: Toe comparison between the specimen sock and the pink sock, a potential parent sock.

Both the pink sock and our specimen sock return to ribbing for the final part of the sock foot (above the top of the ball of the foot), clearly evolved for comfort to its wearer when the wearer is shod. It should be noted that a comfortable sock is more often worn, and being worn is generally considered the goal of a sock. Considering the sock toes, the pink sock clearly exhibits a standard, grafted toe as does the grey parent sock. Intriguingly, our specimen sock appears to have an entirely different toe! This may be due to a recessive allele present in each parent. Let’s try to get a closer examination in Figure 6:
Star Toe of 3 Points
Figure 6: A single point of a Star Toe of 3 Points.

A Star Toe of 3 Points! A Nancy Bush recessive trait. My, this sock might have what it takes to go places. Each parent must have a gene for the Star Toe of 3 Points, but it is masked by the more dominant Standard Toe gene. Our specimen sock must have inherited the ST3P gene from each parent, like some human children with blue eyes can have parents with brown eyes. Well, I wasn’t expecting that.

Clearly our data indicate that we have found the parents to our Specimen Sock.  We hope that our findings are of use to the reader and sock knitter, and may help to explain, in some small part, the socks running out in the wild.

Sock Stuff

I finished knitting the sock for my pal! I wrote the pattern (and checked it twice)! I made stitch markers! I boxed it all up! I forgot to photograph it! I could cut through the mailing label and the packing tape, unwrap things, but I need to think about that. I had such a feeling of it all being done except for the trip to the post office. Won’t my pal take a picture? I’m such a goof!

Thank you to everyone who left such heartwarming comments to my last post! I’m taking things day by day, bit by bit. My hormone medication and my own hormones hate each other and seem to be in competition to see which can make me more depressed. My doc changed my hormone formulation, so we’ll see in November how that works. To my readers under 40: try not to turn 40 but stay alive. The ovaries go rogue after 40.

In the meantime, I have been trying to finish my Minimalist Cardigan, but I can no longer knit the two row pattern repeat of moss stitch reliably. I keep switching to seed stitch. AAAARRRGGGH! After I do that two rows in a row (yes, it’s a sad state of affairs here at chez Molecular Knitting), I fix everything but then knit on something else. I may never finish this last front. But I want the sweater! Here is the left front after 2 weeks since casting on:
Minimalist Cardi

Due to the aforementioned moss stitch fiasco, I have been knitting socks for myself. I even have a pair in the second sock stage. Granted they are only a garter rib, but that’s boring to knit, and I am on the second sock. The yarn is Fleece Artist Merino in Hercules (although it is very dark for Hercules).
Hercules Garter Rib Sock Progress

I am trying to knit up sock yarn that I’ve already wound into a ball, so I got out this Cherry Tree Hill in Log Cabin (?) and decided to do an uneven cable (4 by 2 instead of 3 by 3). Barbara Walker refers to this as an ancient or archaic cable, but I wonder why she thinks the early developers of the cable would first choose to cross stitches unevenly. Wouldn’t you think to do a 2 by 2 or a 3 by 3 cross first–all nice and symmetrical? Anyway, I like how the uneven cross makes the cables look fat. There are 6 cables going around this sock and they alternate with left vs right cross (and the round I cross them on). The tiki mug approves. Tiki mugs come from a warm climate and appreciate a cozy hand knit when the weather turns cool. Here he is all snuggled up to take a little nap. I guess I won’t be knitting on this sock today.
Archaic Cabled Sock

I have also finished a pair of socks for my MIL for Christmas, but I can’t get them to photograph well. That should teach me to knit a subtle knit-purl pattern in a blue-grey semi-solid yarn. I am inordinately pleased with how I modified the pattern on each sock, so I’d really like to get a decent photo. I shall refer to my photography books and see if they can help me. I do have 3 FOs to post. I shall try to post more often.

In the meantime,
Happy Knitting!

Cable Sock

I know I haven’t been blogging much lately. Things in the mind here at Molecular Knitting have been a bit bleak this autumn. I didn’t even knit for about a week. But explanations would be dull, so let’s leave it at that. Wing a good thought my way when you have a spare moment. I do have a deadline knit that, although it is causing me a great deal of anxiety, is probably a good thing as I have a responsibility to get it done. Someone wants a single sock with directions and yarn for its mate. I’ve made up my own design. I’m worried that the sock is too small, although I can get it on my own foot, and the receiver’s foot is a little smaller than mine. M and Elsie (who actually knits and has knit for over 20 years) tell me not to worry. Looking on the brightest side I am capable of these days, I figure that if the sock does end up too small, it is a good sprucey-green color for Christmas (the color is called Prosperity), and could be used as a small stocking for gift giving. In addition, the Fearless Fibers superwash merino comes in such a large skein (550 yd), that there will be enough yarn for an entirely different pair of socks. But if it goes on my foot, it should also fit on a smaller foot.

Fearless Fibers Cable Sock 102107

And a close up of the stitch detail but with the colors far too blue:
Cable Sock 102107

I hope this sock ends up satisfactory to the recipient who wanted cables and/or texture stitches, a solid or monochromatic yarn, and a cool color. Now I just need to finish it up and write up the directions and send it off. Then I need to convince myself that the Minimalist Cardigan will fit if I finish the last front and seam it up.  I have no actual facts that it won’t fit; I just seem to have lost my optimism.

Been busy.

Things have really been hopping here at Molecular Knitting. Mostly it’s work, work, work. Good work, but tiring. Work that makes me sick of a computer by the time I get home and could blog. So it’s been a bit since I’ve posted, and I am very behind in reading all of your blogs. I hope to catch up on that this week, and I apologize for being such a bad blogger and commenter. And I’ve lost some of your comments somewhere in my email account, so I apologize for not responding to everyone. I did read every comment, and I always like to hear from you!

But what have I been doing? Well, I helped M make over 40 pounds of sausage for starters (don’t click on link if you don’t like pictures of lots of ground meat, although you do get to see M too).

I bought a new red handbag. I always carry a red bag during the day.
New Handbag.JPG

I bought a frame, but I still need a mat for a print I bought in Wisconsin this past summer. I have a thing for grapes.
Grape Print.JPG

M and I spent a day in Napa Valley. We had dinner at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Very yummy! Before dinner we went here and there, including Artesa Winery, which is our favorite winery. Artesa is owned by the Cordorniu family from Spain, who have been making wines since 1551. They’ve gotten good at it. Really good. Below is one of the views from their winery. The hills in the foreground are part of the Carneros region which divides the base of Napa Valley from Sonoma Valley. It receives breezes from San Francisco and San Pablo Bays, creating the perfect climate for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.
View from Artesa Winery.JPG

I have also been knitting. The delicato mitts are done. I plan to blog about them at the Fingerless Mitts for Fall blog, so I won’t go into detail here. The yarn is Schaefer Anne in silver sage. I am ambivalent about Schaefer Anne; it’s soft and pretty. It’s also very fine for sock weight and I found it split easily and wasn’t all that elastic. But I like the mitts more for the pattern from Anne of Knitspot than the yarn.
Delicato Mitts.JPG

I finished the right front of the Minimalist Cardi and am almost to the sleeve cap of the second sleeve. Then just the left front to go! It’s pinned to the back of my beautiful but threadbare red chenille couch, which has gotten quite a superiority complex since receiving fame as the couch-o-meter. It did not like the pins.
Minimalist Cardi Sleeve 2.JPG

And Kiri is coming along nicely.
Kiri 100207.JPG

There is sock knitting going on too, but they were all upstairs and I was too lazy to get them. So, I have been busy, but often in a wooly, snuggly sort of way. Now, I need to go weave in the ends on the blocked VLT scarf with Clarence Border. I thought I was done until I saw them dangling.

Happy Knitting!