Monday, April 18, 2011

Sizing woes

There's a well-known editor who has publicly proclaimed that all sock patterns "ought to" be offered in a range of sizes, as if anyone (like me) who has ever published a sock pattern in only one size should be publicly flogged with a handful of Addi Turbos. And I'm absolutely in favor of offering as many sizes as is possible. But when I say "possible," I mean provided that re-sizing does not compromise the integrity of the design. Sometimes the math simply doesn't allow a complex sock pattern to be re-sized without significantly changing the sock's appearance. If we insist that a sock pattern shouldn't be published without three or more size options, then we run the risk of (a) banishing many very beautiful, complex sock patterns, and (b) promoting dishonesty in sock sizing.

Let me explain what I mean by "dishonesty in sock sizing." Once, in my pre-professional-designing days, I bought a sock pattern by a very well-known designer. The pattern was written for three sizes (64, 72, and 80 stitches around the leg), and I started knitting the medium size. When I got to the transition from ribbing from the leg, the knits and purls of the 2x2 ribbed cuff did not flow smoothly into the knits and purls of the more-complicated leg design, like the pattern photo showed.

As I tried to figure out what was going on,I discovered that the sample sock photographed was the small size. And I realized that in order to size up the pattern from 64 stitches while preserving the symmetry, the designer had to add 4 stitches of ribbing on each side of the centered motif on the front of the leg, and likewise 4 stitches of ribbing on each side of the centered motif on the back of the leg. That's 16 stitches added in total. And in fact, that is how the pattern was written for the large size. But the designer included the in-between size even though it was impossible for the ribbing and leg to line up (IMO a very important feature of the design). The medium size simply wasn't as attractive as the other two sizes.

The moral of this story is that I just don't feel it's right to pretend a pattern is graded for sizes that look significantly different from the sock shown in the photo.


Corinne said...

And I believe that you are totally right!

Marcia said...

That's just sloppiness, especially if it's a well-known designer. They should have testing done for ALL sizes before the pattern is published.

Marcia said...

That's just sloppiness! ALL sizes should be test-knitted before a pattern is published.