Knitting by Blind Faith

Two at a Time Socks
Monday, October 6, 2008, 6:05 am
Filed under: Knitting

Well, I know I haven’t blogged for a while. Work has kept me busier than usual. We’ve had a higher volume of calls for a longer period of time than was customary in the past for back-to-school. I’m also involved in updating all of our documentation for all of our products. It’s a lot to juggle, and basically, when I get home at night, I don’t want to come near a computer after having to use one and think about them all day long. I don’t even check my e-mail. Is that bad, or what?

Of course, I’m very grateful to have a job, so I’m not really complaining. Busyness equals job security, in my opinion, and it’s nice to be in demand.

Since I don’t much feel like talking to anyone when I get home–just ask my husband–I tend to bury myself in books and knitting. I finished the 9 to 5 Socks (on Ravelry)–I know, I need to post pictures–and started my first toe-ups, not just one, but two.

Two weeks ago, I spent the entire weekend researching and swatching short rows, trying out various techniques to find one that worked for me. (I also read two books in their entirety and started a third while I was swatching, about 24 hours worth of reading.) My favorite technique until this weekend was the yarn over technique. The girls at Knit Night and I agreed that it looked the nicest. This technique is illustrated in the Express Lane socks on Ravelry.

I decided to use the yarn over technique and started the socks. When I actually got to the heel this weekend, don’t ask me why, but I did another search on short rows. I don’t remember what I was looking for exactly, but I came across Charisa’s video on YouTube. I ran off to try it. I discovered yesterday, after completing the heels, that I was two stitches short on the back of the leg. I watched the video again to see where I went wrong (thank goodness she is descriptive!), and discovered I had forgotten to pick up a stitch at the end of each row to compensate for the final decreases. I also forgot to slip stitches when turning during the initial short rowing. This meant the heels had to come out.

I prefer tinking to frogging, but when I tried this, my yarns got so hopelessly tangled that I had to frog both socks so that I could have the yarn ends free to undue the tangles.

Now, I think of myself as a practical process knitter. This means that I don’t just knit for knitting’s sake. If I’m going to invest the money and the time in a project, I have already decided its use for me or someone else before I start. I’m not one to purchase yarn and have it speak to me later about what it wants to be (well, except for that sock yarn last weekend, but it was sooooo pretty, and it’s going to be socks!). I have great respect for knitters who can just let go and do this–they get so much out of touring yarn shops that I’m envious–but I am not one of them. Too much to keep track of. (This is the practical/project side to my knitting style.)

On the other hand, once I start a project, I don’t mind enjoying the journey and seeing where it leads (the process part). I don’t like imposing deadlines on myself–much to the consternation of my LYS, who would love to see me buy yarn more often–and if I have to frog, who cares? The project will get done eventually, and by now I’ve committed the entire pattern to memory, which just makes it that much more fun to knit up again. I started an afghan when I went to get Joy last year, and it’s still on the needles. But every once in a while, I pick it up and knit a few rows. I’ll have it done by the time she’s ready to retire! (Hey, that’s actually kind of cool. It would represent our journey together.)

Okay, I’m digressing. You probably are wondering what has me up so early. Well, here’s the dilemma. I have a chance to redo these socks, and I can’t decide whether I want to do them one or two at a time. The obvious pro for doing them both at once is that they will be finished at the same time. Also, since I started knitting them that way originally, there is a part of me that feels that the project should be carried through to completion, and this is how they should be knit.

However, I’m not sure that I really enjoy knitting two socks at once. Although it was not difficult to keep the yarn untangled as I knit, once I practiced and developed a rhythm (yesterday doesn’t count! I was tinking, not knitting!), I did find it fiddly on the magic loop. I found it cumbersome having to constantly: drop one strand of yarn, get it out of the way, ready to knit on the other side of the round, and laying it over the needle properly to prevent an accidental yarn over; then pick up the other strand, making sure there were no unintentional wraps on the cable; then turn the work, repeat on the other side of the round; then turn again in the opposite direction to keep the strands of yarn from twisting around each other… This just doesn’t appeal to me. It could be because I need more practice or time.

On the other hand, if I only knit one at a time, I don’t have to worry about whether the yarns are twisted if I want to pull out the sock and knit a quick round here and there, which is the big appeal of knitting socks, and I never have to drop the yarn when I turn my work. I can just keep it threaded through my fingers and hold it and the work in my left hand while I arrange the needles with my right. This also prevents those accidental yarn overs around the cable.

Another pro for one at a time: Second Sock Syndrome is not a problem for me. If I am knitting from someone else’s pattern and have to modify it, then the second sock is that much easier because the work has already been done. (For example, I had to knit with size 0 AND reduce the stitch count from 72 to 60 on the 9 to 5 Socks to get them to fit. Since the heel integrated the pattern from the leg, some math was involved, and it was nice to knit the second sock, having figured out the calculations on the first.) I find it exhilarating, another sign I am a process knitter.

So, what do I do? Do I see the project through and say, “Look, I knit these at the same time.”? I may or may not do it again, but at least I did it once. Or do I just knit one at a time and enjoy it? After all, we only have one life to live. Maybe I should save two socks at once for when I knit them for God. At least I’ll have all eternity to finish them, and I’m sure He’d love my first pair.

But maybe the reward is in overcoming the struggle. That’s worth a lot in and of itself.

I suppose I’d better decide something soon, or there will be no sock knitting going on in my house!

Well, since I’m up, Joy and I are going for a walk. Poor girl got a bath last night. Peace needed one, so I figured that since the bathroom floor was a mess already, why not? Consequently, Joy had to sleep in her crate and was not happy with me. I have some making up to do.

2 Comments so far
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Glad to hear from you!!! I have the same issue with 2 at a time right now. I get slowed down switching yarn all the time. I felt that way about Magic Loop in general too, but with a second pair of socks Magic Loop goes quickly now too. So I’m going to try 2 at a time a second time and see if I can’t pick up speed. Not sure that helps you make your decision, but…have a super day!

Comment by leah

Interesting reading. I look forward to seeing which direction you choose. I cannot imagine keeping so much detailed information in my head per project as you do! I admire your skill and perseverance

See you Thursday.

Comment by Chosen

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