Dixie Peach: The New

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The New

So it's been nearly twenty-four hours since Germany was knocked out of the World Cup. It's time to savor the good memories and the pride we felt and look forward to the team growing and maturing and becoming even better. On with a new chapter in the story of the German national team.

And as I wrote on Monday, I gave myself a new challenge. I sometimes have the problem of staying with the familiar and easy and I forget what a thrill I get out of learning something new. I see something that I think will be a difficult challenge for me and if it's not completely necessary for me to accomplish I put it off, many times never to begin.

Last week I bought this book because I'm always wanting to learn new tips to make my knitting better. I haven't yet read it cover to cover (the chapter on sweaters may be fabulous but I am not interested in knitting a sweater right now - mostly because I dislike to wear them) but the chapter on socks caught me. It's actually the reason I bought the book. Anyone who has read my previous posts on knitting knows I whine over not being able to knit socks. Virtually all of my friends who knit knit socks and love knitting them and I was beginning to convince myself that I'd never be able to join their ranks. Knitting with double pointed needles intimidated me. It seemed too complicated and while I know that you still just knit with two needles at a time, the other needles don't just disappear when you're not using them. Holding a bunch of pointy metal spikes seemed beyond my skill and coordination. Friends suggested knitting socks on two circular needles and while I imagine it's easier, I never really understood the directions so I never started.

So while out walking on Monday I thought "Little children who can barely read have learned to knit socks. Why are you afraid to try this? What's the worst that can happen? Bodily injury? Death? Just get some needles and sock yarn and try it. The worst that will happen is that you really never get it and you give up. You'll be no worse off for the experience.".

So I walked into Karstadt, picked out some sock yarn that I thought would be pretty, picked up a package of 3mm double pointed needles and went home. I'd been reading and re-reading the tips in the book about knitting socks and I thought that the best thing to do is not get ahead of myself. Cast on at at least figure out how to knit with this handful of sticks.

Being impatient I didn't bother swatching. I figured that my first sock would probably suck anyway and I'd frog it so why not just practice and then if I get it, do it again properly. I cast on and divided my stitches among three needles and started.

The first round was awful. Awkward and frustrating. About that time my MIL walked in and I told her what I was up doing. She's not a fan of knitting socks - she's more of a sweater person - but she suggested that I use all five needles because she finds a square to be easier to handle than a triangle. I'd messed up by then anyway so I cast on again and divided my stitches onto four needles and after the terrible first round things really did get better. There were still moments where it felt like I had too much going on in my hands but I soon got the hang of being able to hold it all without dropping anything or stabbing a hole in my palm.

And here are the results as of this afternoon:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The cuff is finished and as of right now I'm about an inch away from having the leg finished. It's just a simple, straightforward sock - no lace, no scallops, no patterned stitches - and so far I have to say I'm enjoying it very much. It's likely not nearly the quality an experienced sock knitter can accomplish but so far there don't seem to be any really glaring errors. I did make one error - I've knit so much lace lately that I did a yarn over without thinking about it and didn't notice it until I was back to that needle - so I decreased a stitch in the middle of that row and all seems to be okay.

Of course knitting the leg of a sock doesn't get me home free. There are still a lot more complex things I'm going to have to do before I can say I've knitted a sock. I still have to knit the heel flap and then - gasp! - I have to turn the heel. I've read and reread the directions and so far I call myself understanding them but putting the knowledge to a practical test will be the only way I'll know for sure. I've never knit anything where I have to pick up stitches - never even did it for practice - and so I reckon I'll be learning on the fly. Same with grafting the toe. Never tried the Kitchener stitch but there are lots of websites that give directions and photos and I'll make good use of them when it's time to close the toe.

And of all goes well, I get to do it again.

Okay, here's the paragraph where you non-knitters can tune out if you wish.

I do have a little concern. I'm doing this sock on four needles and the directions I have are for three but is that a big deal? The directions for the heel flap tell me to put half the stitches on one needle - can I keep them on two and just knit back and forth on the two needles to make the flap? And when it's time to turn the heel, is this going to be a problem because I'm not quite getting what I should do if my heel flap is on two needles? Should I make the heel on one needle, turn the heel and then finish the foot on three needles or even divide the stitches back on to four? If anyone has any suggestions or directions, let me know - email me if you want.

I have a feeling that if I can really do this - really knit a sock - then I'm going to be one of those obsessed sock knitters. There's not always a great choice of yarn available for me here but there always seems to be lots of really pretty sock yarns. And somehow I don't feel so bad bringing home a couple skeins of sock yarn for a project instead of ten skeins for something big.

If I'm going to have a new challege, it's a plus if it's an inexpensive one.


Blogger MPC said...

So keeping us all laughing wasn't enough of a challenge, huh? :-)

I think it's great that you decided to try something new!

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Robin said...

Brava for you! I've been tinkering with socks off and on for almost a year with no success. I get ladders, get frustrated, and quit. I'm thinking about taking a sock class this month at my LYS. They're going to cover dpns, Magic Loop, and socks on two circulars. I figure I can do at least one of those.

Although I've never gotten to a heel on my attempts, I've been told that turning the heel is the same technique as what I've been doing on the boobie scarves. If so, it's a little tricky, but once you get it, it's a cinch.

I'm surprised you have trouble finding a big selection of sock yarn. Seems like all the good sock yarns I find are either German or Italian.

Angie of fluidpudding gave me the prettiest sock yarn for my birthday last year. It's gorgeous autumn colors and my goal is to actually have them knit into socks by the time my next birthday rolls around.

3:51 AM  
Blogger Kirsti said...

Yay for socks - prepare to become addicted.

The easiest thing for the heel flap, as it's knit back and forth, is to keep your instep stitches on the 2 needles, and move all the stitches for the flap onto one needle. Do the flap and turn the heel on that one needle, pick up the one side gusset stitches on that same needle (needle 1). Knit round the instep stitches keeping them on two needles (needles 2 and 3), then finally use the 4th needle for the other side of the heel gusset and half your remaining heel flap stitches (e.g. if you ended up with 18 stitches after turning the heel, knit 9 from needle 1 onto needle 4 - that way your next round starts with needle 1 again)

This may sound confusing now, but will make sense when you get to it, honest!

And now you have to track down the amazing Opal sock yarn, which seems to be only available in Germany...

5:55 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

Kirsti's instructions for the heel are exactly what I do. The only thing I'd add is that you might want to put the stitches you're not using on to scrap yarn but that does mean picking them up again... ;-)

Welcome to the world of sock knitting - you have been assimilated! Mwhahahaha

6:28 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

I am totally and downright awestruck by you, dear Ms. Dixie! You rock!

6:29 AM  
Blogger zoe xx said...

At least you went out in a glorious way, and to a team who are potential winners. As far as I know, no Germans stood on any testicles and got sent off. Nor did you play in a mediocre manner and cry when you were beaten on the worst penalty shoot out ever. Nor, as far as I am aware, did you pay a Swedish robot the annual turnover of the whole of Trinidad and Tobago for the priviledge.

No, you may not have won, but then at least you're not En-ger-land.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Dixie said...

This! This, people, is why I adore Zoe! I love her to little tiny bits!

Did I write it wrong? I can get good sock yarn's regular yarn that isn't always so great.

I'm taking note of the heel flap instructions. I'm so intimidated by the prospect of it - not knitting it but turning it - that I'm thinking of giving up but I won't. I shall forge on!

Thanks for being my cheerleaders, y'all! I shall do this or die trying. Well...or pretend I'm dying anyway.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Jenijen said...

Okay. I'll give socks a try if I ever finish the blanket I'm making for my sister!

8:45 PM  
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3:53 AM  

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