Wow. I have had my butt kicked by a pair of socks. I'm working on a design project right now, with the ultimate goal of publication. A simple pair of socks, no problem. I'm good at socks. Have designed tons. I know the yarns well, I have various techniques in my repetoire. No problem, I thought.
I found a cool stitch pattern in an old, out of print, knitting book. A cool stitch pattern that would highlight the subtle striping in the chosen yarn. A simple but interesting repeat. Seemed ideal. It even had "rib" in the name. No problem. I've made plain socks, ribbed socks, cable socks, lace socks -- all sorts of socks. I am a sock goddess.
The sock goddess had her butt kicked.
What it came down to is that that the stitch pattern I chose simply wasn't stretchy enough. Yes, absolutely, it fit my leg very well. Too well. A perfect fit around the leg meant that the fabric didn't stretch enough to go over my heel. And if I added sttiches to the pattern repeat, the leg was too loose -- and I don't want slouch. Blocking didn't help -- it took out what little bounce-back there in the stich pattern. It drove me mad. I worked an entire leg of the sock in two different variations of the pattern, blocked, used foul language, changed needle sizes -- none of which helped me in the least.
Until this, I hadn't honestly spent much time considering the stretch factor in a sock fabric. Every stitch pattern, every fabric I created (ok, except for a couple of fair isle pairs dating back to my early colour experiments) naturally had enough stretch. Some socks were slouchier than others, but I'd never run into this problem before.
I ultimately found a substitute pattern that I'm happy with, so this story will have a happy ending. But it hasn't been a happy process, I have to say.