This is a Best of post.
First, the yarn: the all-mighty Jitterbug from Colinette. A gift from Joan. I would never have known what a great yarn this is, if not for her. It's good to have friends who help you develop a fine taste for yarn. And who make the decision for you. (Remember my hyperventilating last year over Koigu and Habu Textiles at Stitches Midwest?) Colorway 85.
The needles: size 1 40" circular. Nickel plated tip. From KnitPicks. Why did I wait so long to try their needles? Awesome, pointy tips. Not a bad cable, though a little bit twisty on the first go-round. And the price? Less than a fancy-schmancy coffee drink at Starbucks at the airport. Complete madness - when did Frappucinos begin to compete with gasoline for sticker-shock value? If I could take all of my Addi Turbos and Skacel needles, sell them, and turn the money into KnitPicks needles, I'd have enough for much, much yarn. Does Craig's List take postings on knitting needles?
And the pattern: Baby Cable Rib Socks, from Sensational Knitted Socks. Designer: Charlene Schurch. All of the gratification of cabling without the angst of using a cable needle. Or, more to the point, without having to peer over the bifocals at the pattern to see if the cryptic coding for a cable means that you take the three stitches off and hold them behind the needle and work the next three and then pull the needle to the front to knit those stitches off, or are you supposed to slide the stitches onto the cable needle (or double point, my preferred instrument) and hold it in front, work the next three, then knit the three off the spare needle? With this pattern, you work three rows of just plain vanilla knit stitch. One the fourth row, you knit two stitches together, then slide the needle between the two stitches and reknit the second stitch. The only demanding part is figuring out whether it's time for that row or not. And if you miss it, you can just catch up on the next row. If someone is going to look that closely at your socks to see if you cabled evenly all the way down the leg to the toe, you have other more important issues to consider.
Gauge: 30 stitches and 43 rows to 4 inches, or 7.5 stitches/inch. The best thing that I can say about gauge is that with each pair of socks that I knit, I'm gaining a tiny bit of back history to save and refer back to in the future, so that I won't be starting every pair seven or eight times until I get the right mix of tight-enough-to-stay-up but loose-enough-to-go-over-the heel.
Stitches cast on: 56. (It seems like an odd number, but that's what worked. And I thought knitting socks was not about fit.)
Amount of yarn in the skein: Fine. Good. Unnecessary fussing to mourn the yardage in this skein. I worked a 6 inch leg and a foot that measures about 8 1/2 inches long, and had some yarn left over. Next time I'll add about 10 rows to the leg and waffle on the toe with a different yarn if I run out. See above regarding missed cabling opportunities.
And my favorite: the toe. Joan's Favorite Toe. (A different Joan than the giver of the yarn. Or else she's hiding her light under a Niagra Falls bushel basket.) Also my favorite toe. Just right for my kind of feet, and a bit like a mantra as you work it: decrease and work 3 rows even, one time. Decrease and work 2 rows even, two times. Decrease and work 1 row even, three times. Decrease every tow until you have 16 stitches left total. Kitchener stitch the ends. (Really guys, more unnecessary fussing. Just observe the triumph you feel when you work that last stitch and you have a finished object, no more seaming called for.)