This may very well be the year – or at least, the season, depending on how long it lasts- of socks. I’ve got three pairs on needles at the moment: Aragorn, Be Mine, and a toe-up DK weight sock. Aragorn and Be Mine are lovely cabled patterns. The toe-up sock is part of a class at a LYS (okay, it’s an hour away but seriously, that’s the local-est yarn shop going at the moment.)
After doing several really large projects, I’m liking the smallness of socks. I appreciate the smaller needles, the finer yarn, and the manageability of the work. I can knit them anywhere, unlike big afghans that require lots of space. And best of all, I can try out new techniques without a huge time or cash commitment.
I found this pattern while lurking around Ravelry’s pattern database. It’s a gorgeous sock, but the thing that really drew me to it were all the new techniques I’d never tried before: tubular cast on, knitting a sock on one long circular needle, twisted stitch ribbing, and a gusset on top of the foot. And that’s all before you even get to the heel. L and I both cast on for it during the winter Olympics opening ceremonies with the vague notion of doing this as a Ravelympics event, but it worked out better as a vague KAL instead. We both have other projects we want to work on in addition to this one. Plus it’s nice not to feel obligated to knit something in an impossibly short amount of time. I think I like it more than she does, which is fine considering it was my ridiculous idea to begin with. She’s a good sport for playing – er, knitting- along.
Aragorn was not originally written in English. The translation is very good but there are a few subtleties that may have been lost along the way. Still, the pattern is not as difficult as I thought, and the directions are thorough enough that I’ve been able to figure it out without a lot of difficulty.
Be Mine is from 2-At-A-Time Socks and has been both a blast to knit as well as a pain in the butt. This is the first pair of socks I’ve done simultaneously on one cable needle. I like the technique, but it’s fussy. There are two balls of yarn connected to the project, which already feels precarious enough perched on a 40″ needle. Every time I pull it out of my bag or slide stitches around, I’m terrified the cable will get pulled out and stitches will go flying. Pros: My socks are basically identical, including tension. I’m likely to finish both of them at the same time instead of having one lone one languishing next to a ball of unknitted yarn for all eternity. Cons: feels slower going, I can only do one or two rounds (on both socks) at a sitting before getting bored/tired. And if I were to do socks again on one needle, I’d get a longer cable.
Toe Up Socks on Two Circulars
I like this technique a lot. Similar to magic loop in that you let the stitches for the side you’re not currently working rest on the cable, two circulars has got to be about the easiest circular knitting method I’ve tried. I had a 16″ needle in my circulars drawer and bought a 24″ at the shop. The cast-on is brilliantly simple and produces a seamless toe without any fuss at all. I tried a few different increases and decided that the lifted increase from Aragorn was my favorite: for a right-leaning increase, pick up the right leg of the stitch below your next stitch to be knitted. Knit it thru the back loop, then knit your next stitch and proceed from there. For a left-leaning increase, knit the stitch before the increase, then pick up the left leg of the stitch now two below the last knitted stitch. Place it on the left needle, knit thru the back loop, then proceed. It made a very snug and attractive increase. The bar increase also seemed to work. The instructor also suggested an “e” increase which I’ve never seen or tried, but I think it is akin to a twisted YO and in my mind would leave a little gap. Any increase near a toe, in my opinion, ought to be firm and snug or else you’re asking for disaster.
After finishing the increases and starting the foot, my right hand started to ache. I’ve come to the conclusion that the 16″ was workable but uncomfortably short. Later, I rooted through the circulars drawer again until I found another size 4 needle, which thankfully had a 24″ cable. Things were much better after that, and I sailed through the 50-odd rows of stockinette for the foot.
Our homework was to finish the foot so we can begin the heel in the next class. I finished the foot in about two days and decided to slip it onto another cable needle and cast on the second sock. There are about three pairs of increases done already and it’s coming along nicely. While I adore the other two cabled patterns, this is plain stockinette and gives me a chance to simply knit without having to really concentrate. It’s good teevee and social knitting, unlike following a chart, where I scowl and my tongue hangs out from all the mental gymnastics.
Of course, I mean that in a good way.