Sunday, March 20, 2011

Knitting Socks!

I've been bitten by the sock knitting bug. It all started innocently enough, I heard of the existence of the official Harry Potter Sock Yarn, drooled over it, and decided to buy some in late 2008/early 2009 (it was winter, but my memory is fuzzy after that). I made my first trip to a local yarn store to track it down. Though I'd been crocheting for years, I was just relearning knitting. I hadn't discovered Ravelry, knitting blogs, or anything much beyond what my mother taught me which tended toward the big box chain store yarns and Leisure Arts pamphlet patterns. (Note there is nothing wrong with either of those things, there is just a whole world of luxury yarns, natural fibers, and independant designers beyond them.)

Because I had to buy the Harry Potter yarn, I had to learn to knit socks. (At this point it didn't occur to me that I could use sock yarn for something else.) I remember standing in the local yarn store (a little shocked at how much it cost, but remember I'm used to big box store cheap prices for generic acryllic junk), and questioning carefully if one skein would be enough for a pair of socks. They reassured me it would. I took it home and immediately realized I would need to learn to knit in the round. So I made a hat. Other things in life happened. And a year later I was ready to start my socks.

Back I went to my big box store to look for a book or pamphlet for knitting socks. I found Toe-Up Techniques for Hand-Knit Socks by Janet Rehfeldt. Glancing through it, I realized toe up socks made an intrinsic sense to me, grabbed the right size needles and brought it home.

According to my Ravelry page, I started the socks on April 6, 2010. At first it was weird, but very quickly it was a lot of fun.

I finished the first sock in July 2010, but I bound off my regular way and managed to create an edge that would not stretch over my heel. So I put the socks in "time-out" for a while. In the meantime I had discovered a lot about knitting. In October I was travelling back down South for a friend's wedding and I took along the socks as a travelling project. I unpicked the knitting and redid the bind off until it was loose enough to work. I was so proud of myself I immediately took a photo in my friend's parents' kitchen and put it on twitter. A photo I can not find right now, but I know exists.

Started the second sock immediately but it languished as I completed other projects (mostly those baby blankets). But I'd been bitten by the sock knitting bug. I really wanted to join Rockin Sock Club so I made myself a deal. If I finished my socks by January 4th (when signups opened) then I got to join sock club. Then my superstitious/crazy/OCD side kicked in. Clearly if I had my socks done by the new year and were wearing them when I rang in the New Year I would have good knitting mojo all year long.

That would have been completely doable if I were capable of being a monogamous knitter and focusing on only one project. I'm not. Which is how I ended up knitting them on New Year's Eve at an Alaska Aces hockey game. (I have a photo of that somewhere). Then I tried a different type of bind off and it ended up (once again) still too tight (or my heel is too big). Quickly I unpicked the bind off and rebound off and I was wearing them by 11:35pm.

The astute of you will notice that I have ends not woven in. I didn't have my darning needle with me. The next day I wove in the ends, blocked them, and took a better photo.

I've learned a lot since those socks (including that using 5 instead of 4 DPNs will greatly reduce the ladders, that is to say 4 DPNs in the sock and one working needle). However I was really proud of how well I got the self striping yarn to match up even if I really hate how bad the ladders are. I used about half of the yarn on these socks (which are more like ankle socks). I didn't know how big to make them, how much yarn to use, so I stopped prematurely. (Now I know about weighing the yarn, as I have said I learned a lot.)

I've already started my next pair (which aren't the pair I got for my first Rockin Sock Club kit). And I've picked up a ton of other sock yarn (including some real splurges like malabrigo and some hand dyed yarn from some smaller dyers). I think I may have found my new love.

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