Have you ever had a project which took much longer than expected? Maybe it wound up as an unfinished object, or maybe the materials got recycled into something you did finish.
Or maybe you stuck with it, kept working on it in fits and starts, and finally got it done.
After Hurricane Sandy, knit designer the Tsarina of Tsocks created the Shark Week pattern. She made it available for a limited time, and sold it to raise money to help those affected by the hurricane.
I thought that the pattern would be a great birthday gift for my friend Cheshin. She once made a papier-maché shark for a Hallowe’en party, and made herself a chum bucket costume.
What I didn't count in was how challenging the pattern was. I've been knitting since I was a kid -- I've got forty years of experience doing this stuff, which always sounds strange to say. The only other artifice I've had skill in that long is reading. I figured if someone else could knit it, I could.
For a while it looked like that wasn't going to be true. These socks wound up taking three years to finish, working on and off between other projects.
Both socks are constructed, for the most part, using short rows which are attached to another colour block as you knit (think domino squares). There’s not a single seam in either sock, and the eyes are the only embroidery.
The grey parts are done in a herringbone stitch, with the wrong side facing out. It's bumpier than regular reverse stocking stitch, the better to imitate a shark's rough skin. You have to be careful to balance the increases and decreases which form the herringbone, especially when you're increasing or decreasing for shaping as well. These constraints alone made me have to rip out several centimetres, more than once.
Along the way, besides the shaping, there are gills to knit in with a different pattern stitch, and the bases of the fins. Missing the point to knit in gills or fin bases led to more ripping out.
The fins are picked up and knit in the round, in seed stitch, and also feature both decreases and short rows for shaping.
The white belly parts and beige foot parts weren't so bad. Maybe one ripping-out per section.
The pattern is wordy, as patterns tend to be these days, but is well-organised. The only thing that really annoyed me is that the picot pattern used to form the teeth on the shark swimming up the wearer's foot is referenced but not included, and it's not a standard stitch pattern I could just look up elsewhere. It took a few tries to find a picot that looked toothy and used up the stitches around the mouth/leg opening gracefully.
The last few parts to do were relatively easy, so the ending was a bit anticlimactic. Of course, now that these are done, I feel like making a pair for myself! Maybe after I get some more stash-busting accomplished.
Special thanks to Cheshin for modeling the finished socks and providing the photos!