Saturday, September 15, 2012

My First Socks

Just sitting around on my day off, contemplating the need for hand-made socks.

I put off knitting my first socks for the longest time – I’m four years into knitting, and this is my first pair. I’ve knit a beautiful full-length lace shawl, and figured out fitted sweaters with set-in sleeves, and I haven’t had the nerve to take on socks.

All the different parts of the sock – cuff, leg, heel, heel flap, gusset, instep, sole, and toe – scared me to death. How was I going to figure out how to knit all of that, and pull off a Kitchener stitch to sew the darn thing up, too? It made me think of my long-ago French boyfriend who insisted that I memorize all the different parts of the cow because he said Americans didn’t know shit about butchering meat. I thought socks would become the French butchery of knitting, and I tucked my tail beneath my legs, let out a MOOOOOOOO, and ran.

Two years ago, I knitted two pairs of cuffs with a gorgeous, midnight-navy Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga yarn called “Sooty Dancer” that cost me an arm and a leg. (Sadly, this gorgeous color is discontinued, and Sanguine Gryphon has split up, although still operational. It’s other half is now called Cephalopod Yarns, and I do recommend them, despite the fact that I swear their yarn requires a designated credit card.) I named them “Junk-in-the-Trunk” socks, stowed them in the trunk of my trusty wheels, and they stayed there for two whole years (you don’t want to know what else is in that trunk, so don’t ask).

Then I finally found a teacher I could afford – Mary, the owner of Two Rivers Yarns in Brunswick, MD, is offering private half hour classes for $15.00 a half hour – you won’t find a better price anywhere in the DC metropolitan area. In fact, I’m willing to bet she is one of the most affordable knitting teachers in the entire country. Now, I would have someone to help me when I got stuck. For the first time, I began to feel the necessary confidence to tackle socks.

So, the first thing I did was fish the rainbow-colored, total 1970’s Shalimar finger-weight out of stash and knit a second pair – notice that I knit top-down to the part where I turned the heel, and then I stopped. (Gemini, the sign of the twins, is on my natal MidHeaven, and it isn’t there for nothing, ladies.) Now, I would have two pairs to learn the round heel and the Kitchener stitch on (more fun and misery for all concerned, right?)

Two pairs of socks at once is the only way to go with a Gemini Midheaven...

The book I used is “Sock Knitting Master Class” by Ann Budd. It has a CD, and knitters these days swear by CD’s in the back of a knitting book. I wouldn’t know, because the CD player in my 10 year old, museum piece laptop is broken. When I upgrade to the modern world, I’ll let you know, dear readers.
The lace pattern I used is “Rose Ribs” (p. 81). It’s probably a great pattern. I don’t know how to knit it (never mind the gorgeous lace shawl I did figure out). I’ve done nothing but botch the lace, so to save face, I’ve started alternating the lace with sections of stocking-net.
My mostly orange "rainbow" sock on top of the "Rose Ribs" pattern. When finished, these socks may not be much good for anything other than wearing around Halloween. Knitting cheaply out of the stash has a way of leading to laughter AT you in the end. Or these could turn out really just don't know until your project is close to done.

Small sections of lace allow some air in. Random yarn-overs speak to my laziness – only an anal knitter would chart their first sock, and I’m a don’t-worry, be-happy knitter. When I was a total knitting beginner, I didn’t even know how to cover my screw-ups. Four years in, I’m still a sloppy knitter (I’ll never make the knitting guild), but now I know how to hide things. Mwahahahahahaha!

When someone asks me what my talent in knitting is, I always answer, “Color”. By that, I don’t mean knitting color blocks, or intarsia. I mean putting colors together. I don’t sit there with a color wheel, but I’ve always had an eye for color (you want colors for a Fair Isle fingerless mitt – try three pairs of your favorite skinny yarn in these colors – burgundy and lime green, teal and lavender, navy and off-white – you’ll see how pretty this combination is). Although I am the first one to admit that knitting technique matters, and anal knitters make the most beautiful items, I am better at blogging and color. Everybody’s got a talent!

NEXT UP: My Knitting Philosophy

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