A Game of Yarn Chicken

Every knitter gets there eventually — pulled into a game of yarn chicken, wherein the amount of remaining yarn and the amount of project yet to be finished are too close to call. I played recently when I had this much yarn left just as I was about to start the toe of a second sock.

The knitter becomes both participant and commentator in this game, continuing to knit and psyching themselves up for the homestretch — muttering thinking “if I knit faster/slower, maybe the yarn will last longer” or strategizing how to modify the pattern (“three-quarter sleeves might be nice”) or running through one’s stash for a hidden ball or scrap that will pull the project over the finish line.

Now I know that you toe-up sock knitters are thinking, perhaps a tad smugly (justifiably), that this stressful endeavor doesn’t happen to you. You start at the toe and end at the cuff, so the sock ends when the yarn ends. But it happens to me and not just with socks. A few months ago, poor planning led me to start a hat with too little yarn. The poor thing is still in a project bag, which is where it’ll stay until the sting of failure eases enough for me to rip it all out.

Assessing the situation in the photo above, I estimated that I most likely had enough yarn to finish the toe. All good? Not quite, dear reader. Turns out that I’d started this sock incorrectly, diving right into the leg pattern without a ribbed cuff.

It was clear as day that the small bit of yarn I had remaining was woefully insufficient for a toe and a cuff. I decided to save the remaining yarn for the cuff and find something else to use for the toe, which, most of the time, is in a shoe.

Next step: consult the stash for a sock yarn (goodness knows I’ve got plenty) that might come close to matching this Zauberball. The pinks in this ball of unknown origin seemed like they might blend nicely.

Sure enough, it did.

close up of multicolored knit sock toe

The remaining Zauberball was enough for a slightly shorter cuff. Last night, I plopped them into the sink for my usual full immersion bath before blocking. As you can see, a bit of color leached into the water.

Now that the pair is drying side by side, I can see that Sock #2 is a bit smaller all around than its mate. I must have been subconsciously playing yarn chicken before I realized there was a game. I like to think of it as my version of Spring Training.

I hope you and yours stay healthy and well, today and every day.

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