Friday, April 29, 2005

My first sock

I keep hearing from knitters how addictive sock knitting can be, but in my 23 years of knitting (gasp!) I've never tried knitting a sock. Truth be told, before my friend Lynne started knitting and regularly sharing her addictive enthusiasm for learning new knitting techniques, I was pretty content to just plod along, knitting stuff that didn't push the limits of my knitting knowledge.

I've been browsing lots of knitting blogs and so many feature socks prominently and rave about how fun sock knitting is (look at Sock it to me and tell me you aren't tempted) so last autumn when Elann had some sock yarn in appealing colors, I bought two balls. I did an excessive amount of research trying to find the ideal first pattern and the more I read, the more conflicted I became. I convinced myself that I had to try toe-up socks, then changed my mind and considered the two-socks-at-once method on two circulars (most of which are top-down patterns). I even Interlibrary Loaned the "bible" of the latter method, Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles, but when I started reading it and the web pages out there that detail the process step-by-step, I got overwhelmed. I don't think it is the method for me to start with, particularly since I'm still pretty dyslexic when it comes to remembering which is my left hand and which is my right.

So I finally went back to a pattern I had considered at the beginning--the sock pattern in Sally Melville's The Knitting Experience: The Purl Stitch. I'm not sure why I decided to trust Sally since I'm not a big fan of any of the other patterns in her two books; maybe it's because she sounded encouraging and enthusiastic (without being so thrilled that she sounds out of her mind). The one modification I did decide to make was to use Magic Loop (knit the sock on one long circular) rather than wrestle with double pointed needles. I've done fine with dpns in the past, but I learned how to do the magic loop last autumn and wanted an excuse to try it. Besides it gave me an excuse to buy my first Addi Turbo needle (which I bought locally at Flying Sheep). So here it is, a photo of the beginning of my first sock:


The top of my first sock, or maybe just a small wrist-warmer...

I'm thinking now that I may need to splurge and buy a new pair of shoes to properly exhibit these socks when I'm done.

6 comments:

Sarah said...

These socks are going to be very cool! Is that what you did last night when the kids were trucked out of the house?

freddyknits said...

Purty!

Kate said...

Yea, while the kids were gone I knit that much and graded about 35 comps. I'm working on the reading-while-knitting, but I gotta say, handwritten compositions require a lot of squinting to decipher bad handwriting...

Julie said...

What's the magic loop?

And how do you read while knitting?

Kate said...

Hey Julie--
Reading while knitting requires really horrific posture on my part. I developed the technique when I was working on my first Masters out at UC Davis and was so damn bored by some of the reading that I decided that knitting while reading would help keep me awake. Essentially I slouch on the couch with my knitting held way up under my chin and with whatever I'm reading propped against my knees so I crane my neck to peer over the knitting at the text. I made a couple of sweaters this way. A few people have suggested that I save my spine and use a cook-book holder to hold open the text while I sit normally and knit. I suppose one could do it this way, but I'm a lounger at heart and am willing to contort myself into a pretzel if it means I can do my work while lying down.

Magic Loop is a way to use a long circular needle to knit items of a much smaller circumference. Even finger puppets can be made on a 40 cm needle! I'm incompetent at describing the technique, (this web site does a much better job than I can: www.az.com/%7Eandrade/knit/mloop.html) but it can be learned in about 10 minutes. It can substantially cut down on the number of needles you need to buy--anything that requires double points can be done with magic loop and when a sweater pattern says you need one long and one short circular needle (in the same needle size) to make the body and the sleeves, you can ignore that and just use your long one with Magic Loop for the sleeves.

It does help if you have circulars with nice flexible cables, like Addi Turbos or Denise needles, but I learned the technique on some crappy needles with a stiff plastic cable and I was still able to get it to work.

Julie said...

Thanks, Kate. I bookmarked the site and I'll study it. I hadn't heard of the two-needle method either. Both look very interesting.

Knitting while reading probably isn't gonna happen for me, especially given your description. :) It took me three babies before I could nurse and read at the same time.