Originally uploaded by fireflowerknits
So, the knitting. I did decide to cast on something new. Here you can see the results. Just the first few inches of a sock. I have tried several new things on this sock. First, believe it or not, this is my very first top down sock. I have always knit socks toe-up with short-row heels and toes, and I have knit a total of five pairs of socks in my knitting career. So, I have set out to learn some new things. I cast on with a twisted German cast-on, which I figured out from this video. The twisted German cast-on is a variation of the long tail cast on which is supposed to be stretchier and thus better for socks and mittens. So far as I can tell at this point, it is fairly stretchy, but the first few rounds were quite fiddly on the teeny tiny needles. I had serious doubts about the proposition while holding my breath on those first few rounds, but now it is growing on me. I am knitting on 7″ Clover bamboo needles in size 0. They are tiny and bendy, but much to my relief, they are not really sharp enough to puncture me. I had a traumatic experience once with a size 11 steel crochet hook (1.1mm) , and I am wary of being punctured. My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time of this incident (and removed that tiny steel hook from my knee) is even more wary and does not like to be near me if I am working with small hooks or needles. It is not surprising that I am not a fan of super-sharp tips on small knitting needles.
I like the yarn, so far, I think. It is KnitPicks Essential Tweed in Plum. It is a soft superwash merino blend, and the fabric on my 2mm needles seems just right for socks. These socks are going to take a long time, I think, but I don’t mind terribly. I am using a pretty stitch pattern called Corded Rib from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks. The pattern is a bit fiddly, requiring decreases and yarn overs on alternate rounds, but the effect is worth while, and in a four row repeat I do feel the progress more than in a standard 2×2 rib.
I am still working on the shawl, though at the moment I need to wind another of the 440 yard hanks into a ball. This requires finding time when my 10 month old son is sleeping or occupied with his papa, or disaster will likely ensue. The little guy is into everything and he loves to pull on my yarn and knitting. In fact, I have just now finished sorting out my stitches on the sock after he pulled one of the needles right out. I think things are sorted out anyway, I may yet have to make some small fixes on the next round. I can just see him getting the hank of yarn in a disastrous tangle while I am trying to wind it. I don’t have a swift or ball winder. I generally wind by hand using a kitchen chair to hold the hank. It works fairly well, but is slow. I may do the winding tonight after sending Bear and the kiddos out on a walk to pick up some odds and ends from our local grocery store.
Alternating between the shawl and the sock seems to work fairly well to alleviate the tedium of working the long rounds of the shawl, but the sock is not so compelling as to totally lure me away from shawl knitting. In fact, knitting the shawl on 5.5 mm circular needles is a pleasant break from the 2mm dpns for the sock. We’ll just have to see how it all turns out. I do have a lingering doubt about my ability to persevere through two socks knit on these tiny needles. My goal is to get through it for at least one pair, try out a gusset heel and a kitchener stitched toe, and then decide from there whether I prefer smaller or somewhat larger needles, toe-up or top-down, gusset or short-row heel.
I have accumulated quite a collection of links to detailed technical information for different sock-knitting techniques. I have a fantasy of eventually trying every method ever thought up for knitting socks, and then coming up with my very own perfect sock pattern template. At the very least, my explorations should put a bit of variety into my sock knitting. I love my few pairs of handknitted socks. They are especially nice to have in the Oregon winters when my husband loves to be out in the wet and cold. Wool socks are warm even when wet. My current favorites are made from red Philosopher’s Wool I got from Web*sters, knitted in a simple ribbed pattern on size 3 (3.25mm) birch dpns. They seem to be nearly indestructible, they are amazingly warm, and they keep out the wet very nicely. They will need to be darned before the cold season this year, as I didn’t think to reinforce the heels at the time I knitted them, and they are getting a bit thin where my heel rubs them against my the inside of my Doc Martens. My winter shoes of choice are Doc Marten Twinstrap Mary Janes, and while sturdy and charming, they are hard on socks. All of my other boot socks are thoroughly fuzzed and pilled where the straps of the Mary Janes rub against the top of my feet when I walk. The Philosopher’s Wool seems to stand up much better. I don’t think these socks will be visiting the inside of my Docs though, they are really designed to go with my dressier black Merrell Mary Janes which are a bit closer fitting and much softer leather than my Docs.