Friday, February 01, 2013

On to the Dark Side...

OK, so you all know that I kind of like DPNs. I learned socks on them; I've finished hats on them. I did EIGHTEEN small Easter Eggs and 3 "chocolate" bunnies on DPNs.

And let's face it -- how cool is it to have FIVE needles in your hands and actually look like you know what you're doing, while not dropping stitches or stabbing yourself? Really, I work in higher ed. I'm surrounded by PhDs who are humbled. HUMBLED, I tell you - when they see me weilding my 5 DPNs on a sock or a hat.

It's really hard to humble your average PhD. Trust me on this.

So. Today, at my friend Joan's house, I was dragged, kicking and screaming, to the Dark Side. To the land of the Magic Loop. (sigh)

I was just minding my own business, sitting there with Spikette, the MinPin who was determined that since I smelled of Elkhound and dog treats, I was probably an "ok human" -- and I was ambushed!! I had directions coming from both of the knitters there, simultaneously, with one of them saying, "OK, take that yarn off those DPNs and put it on this circular." Wow -- mental overload. I started out with a size 3 (32" circular) bamboo, but when I got home, I transferred everything (and didn't drop a stitch, by the way!) onto the Kollage 40" - it does give me more room to manipulate.

I know it's just another notch in my needles as a knitter to be able to do this. And I know that 2/3 of my knitterly friends do Magic Loop for everything up to and probably including hats, sweaters, scarves and gloves. But I was the one who liked "old school." I was (and frankly - still am) the one who liked the challenge of doing a sock or the top of a hat without any "runners" (which are those "holes" or spaces you can get if you don't tighten up the first 2 stitches as you transition from needle to needle.

Behold. My sock on Magic Loop. It's done on size 3 Kollage square needle (40" circular) and in Cascade 200 Heathers, which is 100% Peruvian Highland Wool. The yarn band says "needle size 7 - 8" (US size, sorry).

But the book I'm using is "Knit Socks!" by Betsy Lee McCarthy (publisher is Storey Publishing), and it's the Starter Stockinette. Her theory is that if you go down several needle sizes, the sock is heftier and wears better. These little stinkers will be lovely! The yarn's hand is gorgeous, and the weight of the sock will do well since I wear a lot of shoes that can kindly be called "hiking boots." She states in her book, "I generally need a needle 3 to 5 sizes smaller than the size recommended ... for general knitting" and states that this provides a "long-lasting sock fabric." I'm cool with that.

Oh, and the colorway is 9454, which is a nice purple-y tweed with hints of tan, yellow and blue in it. Here's a close-up of what the yarn looks like. Double-click on the picture to see a detailed photo.  It's coming along great.

As for turning the heel, I also have "Sonda's Basic Sock on Magic Loop," a pattern copyrighted by my friend Sonda Lee, who died this past May of melanoma. She taught me the "Sonda's Basic Sock" on size 7 DPNs with the theory being that if you started out on "fairly large" DPNs, you could (a) manipulate them better; and (b) see more clearly the construction so that you made "3 pairs right away" - on a size 7, they do move along quickly - and you put all the pieces together in your head and hands. Muscle memory and brain memory. It works. And as she often said: "You're only knitting on 2 needles at a time, one stitch at a time -- and that's what you're doing whether it's a sock, a shawl or an afghan."

I would tell you where to get Sonda's pattern, except that you can't anymore. But if you want to see some of her designs, take a peek at the One Skein Wonders books, both "Luxury Yarns" and "Sock Yarns." Her designs are in there.

So I'll tell you how it goes.

If nothing else, because I'll be stretching my body in yoga teacher training, perhaps it's good that I'm also stretching my mind trying to anticipate turning a heel on a circular needle!

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