Cotton knitting time!

I don’t typically knit with cotton just because I’ve been kind of lazy. It’s not that I dislike cotton. It’s just that cotton feels awkward to me for knitting. It’s not elastic, color changes are hard to accomplish effectively because it’s slippery…

I’ve decided to change my habits and force myself to enthusiastically knit with cotton and embrace Spring and Summer knits.

Spring is near and a very special person in my life — who also knits and crochets — has a birthday coming up. I’ve decided to make her a bunch of small stuff, pack it all up, and send it to her for her birthday. A care package from the American expat in Spain to that special person in the USA who deserves some love. My logic: A) it’s a Spring birthday and B) it would be a real bummer for her to receive a bunch of woolen wintery stuff and have to wait a long time to use it. The first cotton project I’ve casted on, which will be in her birthday care package, is a pair of socks. Yeah, I know, I’m on a sock kick. She’s not just getting cotton socks, though.

My planning process: A) will the colors run together? B) I need tight stitches so the fabric doesn’t sag when it’s laundered and dried C) an elastic stitch pattern is needed. Of course the cuff is ribbed, that’s elastic enough. And the main stitch pattern? I opted for seed stitch. It’s elastic and, when tightly knitted, resists the “sag” effect. For an even better effect I chose US size 0 double-pointed needles with sport weight yarn. A smaller gauge will create tighter stitches! I also allowed myself to cheat: my yarn of choice is 50/50 cotton-synthetic blend. The colors won’t run so I can use white and pink together, the fabric will still breathe, the sock will hold its shape better when laundered, and the yarn isn’t so difficult to work with.

So far I have one sock finished. I think it looks pretty good:

Even though I’m happy with my results I have discovered an issue in the process of making the first sock: knitting from the cuff downward means picking up and knitting around the heel. With wool this is not hard to do well. With cotton it has been rough going. I actually had to redo this phase twice. The problem with picking up stitches with a cotton yarn is the fact that cotton plies just don’t want to hold themselves together when the yarn is worked a second time. Picking up and knitting simply implies a second use of some yarn. It’s like knitting some of the stitches twice. The consequence is that picked up stitches around a gusset can look pretty or shitty in cotton, so I’ve learned! However, doing and redoing the pick up process has been educational for me and I’m glad I challenged myself:

It doesn’t look bad at all! However, on the other side of the heel I was not so fortunate. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get the same neatness after picking up and knitting:
It’s not terrible but it looks a little messy. I can, however, fix the white edge stitches by pulling on some legs (no pun intended) so it will look as great on this side as the other. I’ll do that later, when I have the pair finished entirely.
I’ve found that knitting at a tight gauge helps keep everything looking neat when joining in a new color for striping. The cuff has some very neat and crisp color transitions:
I am very pleased with the results I’m getting. When it’s time to weave in the ends (no, I still haven’t done that yet! I’m hiding them from view!) I’ll follow the directions in this video about weaving in cotton ends which looks pretty simple.

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