2020 30-Day Minimalism Challenge

Friday, January 20, 2023

Knitting socks...

I've been knitting socks!  Well, actually yesterday I finally started knitting socks. As in plural.  As in TAAT ( Two-At-A-Time for the uninitiated).  I only finally determined I needed to knit TAAT after several days of trying to knit the toe of just one sock.  I knew if I didn't knit two socks at the same time, I was in serious peril of never knitting the second one.

Let me back up a bit, though.  

Can I just say...   Sock knitters make knitting socks look so easy.  While I can see that sock knitting can become easy, it's quite the thing to bend one's mind around the first time.  At least it is for me.  Exasperated many times after frogging and starting over, I wasn't willing to give up too easily, though.  Once I'd knitted myself to mental exhaustion (sometimes physical exhaustion) I would just put it down, take a deep breath and say, "I'll try this again tomorrow".   Staying calm became my discipline every day.

Don't get me wrong.  Attempting sock knitting isn't the only thing I've done all week, but I have tried to pick up my yarn and needles each day and give it a go again.  On Monday (I think), then Tuesday, Wednesday...  It did get easier, and finally late on Wednesday night I had produced this:

The first successful toe of my (almost) first sock

Now, the toe itself I knitted on 40-inch circular needles and I'm happy to say I have the Magic Loop method down.  What a great invention!  I think I even have more or less mastered casting on for a seam free start to knitting socks toe-up, and knitting "Lynne Ashton's Seam-free rounded toe" (through the help of this video).

Being pretty happy with my first completed toe, I decided I wanted to start a second sock right away (so both socks would be knit with the same tension - and believe me, I had tension).    So... to free up the 40-in circulars, I transferred the completed toe to my 9-inch circulars (as pictured above).  Ack!  That was a mistake.    

Again, videos of people knitting on 9-inch circulars make it look so easy.  It was all I could do to knit two or three rounds before I knew I just couldn't possibly knit a whole sock with these tiny things.  I'm not giving up the idea that I might be able to manage these small needles sometime in the future, but I do not have the strength or stamina in my hands to do this right now.  Also, I think it has something to do with how I knit.  I knit continental style (flicking the working yarn over the working needle from the left hand).  Normally, I've knit pretty quickly this way, but after watching several videos I noticed that I hold my left index finger tall and very free from the needle, where others hold their index finger close to the needle and use it to flick yarn.  I flick the yarn onto the working needle with my second finger.  Which, when knitting with these little needles, puts quite the strain on the second finger.   On normal size needles, and thicker yarn this isn't an issue for me, but I was certainly having my issues on these. 

So now I had a problem.  I thought about knitting a new toe on the 40-inch circulars then try to transfer the first toe back onto the 40-in circulars to start knitting TAAT, but I could imagine several ways that could end in disaster, so finally I decided I should go to bed and consider the next day that my best option was probably to just start over.  

Again.

So I did.  

And after watching videos of socks knitted two-at-a-time, magic-loop-style, and after a couple of knitting sessions on Thursday I finally have accomplished this:



For non-knitters, that's two sock toes there.  So yes, I'm knitting socks!  Plural!

It feels like an accomplishment, but it's not without its woes.  I can now tell these are going to be too big for my feet.  The dilemma I face right now is to rip them out again and start over, or keep knitting these and hope that I can give them to someone who would like them (possibly hubs, though I'm not sure he'd be into wool socks, or one of my sons).  

And as if all that wasn't angst enough, if I keep knitting I'm going to have to decide on what heel to give these socks, and then actually knit them.  Of course, I knew from the beginning I'd have to knit a heel, but now it's become more and more real.  I'm curious if anyone has recommendations.  While I'd love to hear what your favorite heel is, I'm much more interested at the moment in opinions about what may be the easiest "first heels" to knit.  At the moment, I'm considering making a reinforced heel flap.  I'm trying to quietly hang on to confidence that I can do this with the help of online YouTube tutors, but I'm also trying not to think about it too much.  

And, of course, then after a lot more easy in-the-round knitting I'll have to learn how to do a stretchy bind-off at the top.  I'm open to suggestions for that too.  I want it to look neat, and not easily stretch out of shape.

So there you have it.  This is about the most interesting thing I've done all week.  No complaints.  Life is calm right now and I'm glad to have the winter to be a little slower, a little quieter, to think about all the things we'll do once the weather turns warm again.  I know these short cold days are going to change to wonderful warm long days soon enough.  As long as winter doesn't go on forever, and especially with the mild weather we're having in January (so far), I'm rather enjoying this quiet season.  



Thank you for stopping by!


20 comments:

  1. Well done you, on embarking on socks. I knit a lot of them, but I don't like circulars,so I use dpns in bamboo, perfect for sliding but not skidding stitches.. i do a short row heel as well as toe, works fine. And I use that Jeny's Super Stretchy bind off which looks very nice, not sloppy.
    Anyway, good for you whatever you decide on.

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    1. Liz, as I was learning to master the magic loop, I was wondering if I would have preferred using DPNs. My only experience with them is when finishing off a knitted hat, so I do have some facility with them. But I had already invested in the circular needles so I felt I should stick with magic loop at least long enough to decide if I can do it. At first it was so confusing to me, but once I learned how to tell the front from the back of the socks (or needle 1 from needle 2), it became easy. I do wonder how knitting with a circular affects the sides of the socks. I sometimes see a "bump" or vertical ridge in people's work and I think it has something to do with the tightness of the stitches when switching needles. I wonder if DPNs eliminate or minimize the possibility of that happening? Going to go look up Jeny's Super Stretchy bind off! Thanks!

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  2. You've certainly accomplished more than I've ever done! I have never attempted knitting socks with circs, much less two at a time. I found a really great pattern that is very easy but it's knitted top down and I use it for all my socks and don't see myself ever changing because everyone loves them. It's the 'Wise Hilda's Basic Knitted Sock' by Kate Atherley (you should be able to google it) I follow her pattern with the exception of adding 12 rows of knit one, purl one to the top which helps them stay up. I did try a toe up sock once but couldn't get the hang of it, nor could I bind it off without it being too tight. (I just looked and here's the info for the link to her pattern.... http://kateatherley.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Atherley_Basic_Ribbed_Sock_v2019.pdf

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    1. Thank you for the url, Mary Anne. Those are nice looking socks and I have printed the pattern out. It prompted me to watch some videos of knitting from the cuff down, and I can see I need to give this method a try too! :)

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  3. It's been a while since I knitted socks, but I guess I have not been much of a fan of making them-I went to sweaters and shawls and mittens. Yours look very nice and there's nothing wrong with ripping out and starting over many times. It's the only way to learn sometimes.

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    1. Debra, we'll see how much a fan I really am of knitting socks once these are completed, but I think the greatest thing I'm gaining in learning to knit socks is that I can sort of imagine now how, say... raglan sleeves are made, and I'm starting to maybe? understand terms like "short rows", and kind of understand the different ways one knits into a stitch depending on whether it leans to the left or right (I hope I'm even using these terms correctly - I'm really just beginning to expand my knitting knowledge). I feel like I now have a bit better understanding how mittens (actually, the thumbs on mittens) are constructed. I'd love for socks to be so easy they become my "mindless" knitting and maybe begin to have the confidence to knit something like a sweater someday. That still seems very far away, but these things I'm learning right now give me a glimpse into how knitting a garment (even just a baby sweater) might feel possible to me someday. Maybe.

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  4. It is my opinion that anyone who understands how to knit is very smart and capable. And anyone who can knit socks (or just the toes, for starters) is quite amazing. Being able to knit something so thin as to be comfortable inside a shoe -- that's really a great skill.

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    1. Having a learning curve still ahead of me, I still see sock knitters as amazing. I hope it's not too lofty on my part to hope I can truly join their ranks someday. lol

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  5. Congratulations on getting the socks going. I find toe up tricky. I am very impressed with your determination. My favorite heel is Fish Lip kiss heel. It works for toe up or cuff down. Jenny's super stretchy bind off is a must for toe up socks. What size needle are you using? How many stitches will you have once toe increases are done?

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    1. Thank you for that input, Marsha. I am using size 1 needles. I am finished with the toe increases in the picture above, and I have a total of 68 stitches around. Honestly, the more I look at these I'm thinking they might even be too large around for my son. He may be here Thursday. I don't know whether to wait 'till he can try on what I've knit so far, or to just start over now - and maybe end up with a pair of socks for myself - which was my original intention for the first sock I ever knit.

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  6. Great you keep at it!
    Knitting socks is a mind boggling idea t o me.

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  7. I'm impressed! I knit a pair of socks years ago and did 1 at a time on double pointed needles. I need to try with a 40 in loop like you are...2 at a time is the best!

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    1. Martha, for years I've imagined knitting TAAT with a loop was only for genius knitters. Once I took the time to watch the process did I begin to understand how it was even possible. Actually doing it was easier than trying to understand only by watching it, though. The hardest part was keeping the front straight from the back, but once a Youtuber mentioned (with this particular cast on that I used) the "tail" is always on the right when you're starting on needle 1 (or the front), I was golden. Of course, that may not be the case with different cast-on's, but for this it works.

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  8. Well, Becki, suffice it to say I am not your target audience when it comes to today's subject matter, but it is a lesson in perseverance and not giving up -- something I always need a reminder of. Well done.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. I confess I haven't knit a stitch since publishing this post. I know in my heart I need to start over again and knit these smaller, but I'm dragging my feet on that. I need to do something else and come back to them - maybe in another week or so. I know from experience if enough time goes by it won't feel so painful to rip these out.

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  9. Very impressed! I once knitted a pair of socks and promised myself never ever again.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. LOL! I can understand, Amalia. I see this this going one of two ways if I manage to finish these. I will be so excited and pleased with myself I'll be on the hunt for yarn to start another pair. OR... I will be so sick of them I may be saying "never ever again" too.

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  10. Becki I so agree with you...some knitters do make it look so easy to knit socks. Actually I attempted to knit socks on teeny tiny circulars one year by watching Stefanie knit her socks. Marsha makes it look so easy too, I just don't have the grace for it lol! You're doing a great job!

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    1. Thank you, Rain. I think time will tell if I'm really cut out for this. I'm taking a break (for the sake of my hand). I hope when I get back to them I will find them easy to pick back up.

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