Random Ravelings

Thoughts on knitting, yarn, writing, and life, as the mood strikes me.

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Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I've been knitting socks lately. Actually, I've been knitting socks for several years, but in the last two months or so, I've finished three pairs and am in the middle of the fourth. So, what's going on?

Well, I finally decided to try toe-up socks. And bamboo double pointed needles. And something just clicked. So to speak.

I bought the bamboo needles because I was getting ready to attend a conference in Spearfish, South Dakota in the beginning of June, which was going to require traveling by plane, with a couple of lengthy layovers between flights. Knitting is a great way to pass the time, but I didn't want to try and get a set of size 0 metal double-points past the security screeners. While knitting needles are usually being allowed these days, I figured metal double-points, sharp, pointy needles that might really be able to do some damage, just might get someone's attention. Hence, the switch to bamboo needles. I bought a couple of set of Clover bamboo needles in size 0 and size 2 (my LYS didn't have any size 1's that day).

I also was interested in doing something different in sock knitting, something other than my standard top-down, mostly stockinette, mostly striped yarns, socks. So, I looked through my books, mostly the Charlene Schurch sock book (Sensational Knitted Socks), and also the article by Ann Budd in the latest Interweave Knits magazine ("Working Socks from the Toe Up", Summer 2007, p24). The Schurch book includes a variety of toes and heels and stitch patterns for the sock itself, a treasure trove of material I'm still working with. The Ann Budd article described a toe that I realized was essentially the same as the toe I usually work from the cuff down, though worked from the toe up of course, and that was it.

A day or two before the trip, I cast on for the toe up socks and started the first one. Between a long layover at the Minneapolis/St Paul airport on the way out, knitting through a couple of plenary sessions during the conference and some down time in the evenings, I finished one sock and started the second, then was able to work on the second during another really long layover in Minneapolis, and finished the second sock less than two weeks after starting the first one. That may be a new record for me. The first pair of toe-up socks are here.

The yarn is by Opal, in a color called "Lollipop", out of my stash, not sure when I bought it.

Then I started the second pair while on a short trip to Cherokee, North Carolina with some friends. Also toe-up, with the same toe, but where I'd used a short-row heel in the first pair, I tried the "forethought" heel from Charlene Schurch's book in the second pair, and then used Wendy's feather and fan pattern on the ankle. Finished those in less than two weeks, promptly breaking the previous record for finishing a single pair of socks.

Yarn is by Regia, also out of my stash.

Then, last week, I started another pair. Same toe, but I wanted to try out one of the ribbing patterns from Schurch's book. I had one false start (tried another toe, didn't care for it, came out too wide), and have the first sock of that pair almost done. Yarn is KnitPicks "Essentials" in burgundy. No pictures yet.

I really like the bamboo needles. While I worried at first about breaking the needles, that hasn't happened (yet). They're noticably lighter than my usually Inox metal needles, which makes them easier to knit with. They're also not quite as slick and that combined with the lighter weight means the needles don't tend to slide out of the stitches quite as easily. While they don't seem to be quite as pointy, I was still able to execute all of the necessary K2Tog (knit 2 together) and other increases and decreases.

And what I like about the toe-up socks, is that you can really try them on as you're knitting. Also, I feel like I have more control over the fit, and it's much easier to do a loose bind-off than a loose cast-on, thus eliminating the problems of a tight cast-on round at the top of the cuff.

So, consider me a convert. Woohoo!


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