Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Things I've Learned

One day into my Charade socks and I've already had to frog and rethink and sort some things out.
  • I found knitting with 5 needles just plain ridiculous -- not that I have experience with this at all, but 30 minutes of struggling and two mistakes later, I decided 4 needles *might* be easier. I frogged (because of the mistakes), cast on over 3 needles, and started again. I haven't looked ahead at the pattern to see if I'll have to make adjustments later on but I'm sure I can work that part out when I get to it (says Scarlett). So far the 4 needles do seem much less cumbersome than 5.
  • I knit continental and as far as I can tell, there's no good way to hold the extra needles. Again, I have no experience with this, but I looked on the internet and tried various ways of holding the needles and I'm just not getting it. Both hands are somewhat active -- the left hand index finger moves down and then up when I purl, and the right hand does most of the other work -- and so far what has worked for me is to just let the extra two needles drop behind my work and knit as if I'm only using two needles.*
  • It seems critical (to me) to hold the two non-working needles behind the two working needles. Again, there may be other ways to do this, but I'm not getting it if there is.
  • Knitting with fingerling yarn for a first sock project probably wasn't the best idea. Add to that that I have to drop down a couple of needle sizes to get gauge, which means I'm working with tiny needles. Add to that the yarn I chose splits easily. I'm tempted to set it all aside, go pick up a heavier yarn, and start a new pair of socks... but I'm also very stubborn and determined to see this through. The socks will probably be a great learning experience -- i.e., a total disaster.
  • One other thing I've decided is that instead of doing a twisted rib for the cuff, I'm just doing a 2x2 rib. The twisted rib wasn't difficult at all but with the fine yarn that splits easily, the smaller needles, and the fact that this is a first-socks project, I decided to take the easy way out for the cuffs.
Plugging away!

*if anyone knows a better way, please help me out! Please, please, please!


Added, Wednesday afternoon: some success! Ignoring the non-working needles is working fine (with bamboo needles the stitches aren't trying to slip off) and I have three rows done and it's already starting to feel smoother.

On with the show.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Charade socks

pattern: Charade by Sandra Park
yarn: Brown Sheep Company's Wildfoote
color: Forget Me Not
fiber: 75% washable wool, 25% nylon
needles: Plymouth Bamboo US 1*

My first socks. I looked at a lot of patterns trying to find one that had everything I was looking for in a first-socks pattern. Two rose to the top; Charade won out. I had hoped to do short-row heels instead of flaps (because flaps seem intimidating) but after looking at so many patterns I decided that flaps wouldn't be so difficult and it would be good experience for me to learn how to do it both ways.

I didn't want a totally plain (stockinette) sock but I didn't want a difficult pattern, either, since this is my first sock.

I cast on over 4 needles instead of 3 because both of the top two patterns I picked called for that.

I hope I know what I'm doing!

*I knit loosely and usually have to go down 2 needles sizes to get gauge, so larger needles would probably work for those who don't knit so loosely.

PS. I love that it's so easy to use flickr to look up what others have done with various patterns. I appreciate clear, concise directions but I'm also a very visual person. Seeing examples of this sock inspired me and will help as I progress. Thanks to all who have gone before me and who share their work and expertise! Knitters are the best!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

socks. gulp.

Last spring I fell victim to sock mania. Not that I've ever knit any, but I saw cute ones all over the internet, and the great yarns in the shops, and before I knew it I was thinking, "Socks! my next project! and I'll learn new skills!" and with that justification, I started buying sock yarn.

So now I have all this sock yarn. The other day I was looking at it while searching for yarn for a WIP and suddenly realized I really wasn't all that interested in knitting socks. Those tiny needles, and so many at once, and oh, gosh, doing the heel and stuff... just sounded like something I didn't care about tackling. But I do have all this yarn so I left out one ball out and dutifully picked up needles to knit a swatch. If it turns out I really don't like doing socks, I can figure out some other use for my sock yarn.

So I swatched. And yes, the needles are tiny, and there are some new techniques staring me in the face -- but the yarn is so darned cute! and the stitches are so small! I think I'm hooked all over again. (Well, given that last night I was thinking of sock swatches and patterns as I fell asleep, I'd say I
am hooked all over again).

An aside: I love seeing close-up photos of my work because it helps me see where my knitting needs improvement, which is just about everywhere at this point, but the good news is that at least I'm better than I was even a few months ago.

So, as soon as I find a good, basic sock with short rows for the heels (I like short rows), I'll be off and running! Wish me luck...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

qu'est-ce que c'est ? (what is this?)

I went to a barn sale recently and came away with, among other things, a handful of knitting needles and crochet hooks that were bundled in a bag -- all for $2.

Some of the needles are bent and probably not much use, and I don't think I'll ever use a crochet hook as small as some of the ones I brought home, but I figured if I got one good set of needles, I'd come out ahead. Well, I got several good needles and hooks, including some dpn's in small sizes, and, not pictured because they're already in use, a set of English knitting needles the exact size I've been looking for and an old set of Susan Bates knitting needles that are also a size I was looking for. I'm a happy camper over this purchase!

However, I have some questions...

1. What are the pokey things for? I can see them for sewing (turning corners of collars, for example) but couldn't figure out their use in knitting/crocheting.

2. Why do some of the crochet hooks have this clippy thing on the end? Was this a pre-nerd-pen-in-pocket-protector kind of thing? I'm thinking not but I can't figure out what else the clip would be for.

3. And, along the same lines, why do these pokey things have clippy things on the end?

4. Finally, what about the crochet hooks with the bend in the shaft? What is that for?

Oh -- if you know better names for any of these items than "pokey thing," etc., please feel free to educate me.

I did a couple of searches but wasn't getting anywhere... I'm hoping someone out there can help me. It's more out of curiosity than anything else... inquiring minds and all that.

Many thanks!