Thursday, March 13, 2008

That Fabled First Pair of Socks

So maybe the real reason I started this blog was because of socks. I've knit some scarves, some dishcloths, some coasters, a hat, and a stuffed heart that looked like an amoeba. Clearly, my ability at something that isn't rectangular kind of sucks.

About a month ago, I decided that I Was Going To Make Socks. I went down to my local yarn store, Stitchy Women (I'll write a post about them later), asked the lady for forgiving yarn and needle size suggestions. She steered me in the direction of Plymouth Encore Colorspun Worsted and size 5 wooden DPNs because I told her I knit loosely.

This yarn had the possibility of becoming That Yarn You Bought That You Don't Do Anything With, or That Yarn That You Finally Make Something Out Of Because It's Been Sitting In The Shopping Bag For Six Months But It Wasn't A Pair Of Socks And You're Kind Of Disappointed About It.

(The yarn in question, by the way.)

So a few weeks ago I ordered two books: the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules! and Ann Budd's Getting Started Knitting Socks. I trusted my fellow knitters when these books were suggested. I even paid real shipping on them when they came out to be under $25. (Yes, I could have bought something else knitting-related, but you start with stitch markers and end up with a $40 blocking board and you know it.)

Of course, by the time I got them, it was spring break and the only thing I'd brought with me to knit was a poncho. A poncho made out of Lion Brand Trellis on big honking needles. Garter stitch for four feet. I think my rationale was that I was going to work on my thesis over the break. Clearly I was an idiot, because I didn't. I should have brought the yarn and DPNs.

Even though I've been back at school for a few days, I haven't had the time to look for them. In some fit of organization which apparently only lasted five minutes, I'd put them away somewhere -- away from the other 18 places I keep my stash. Kind of hard to make socks if you can't find the ingredients.

Of course, they ended up being right behind me, literally. I found them in the file cabinet behind my desk chair. They were within fiber-inhaling distance all along.

So I started them last night. I even did something Very Important And Rare.

I swatched.

Since I've basically made rectangular items and items that don't mind if you don't swatch (seriously, if I can't get one tiny stuffed heart out of 158 yards of Lion Brand Wool, I shouldn't be a knitter), I have never actually swatched before. I didn't want to swatch, but both the Yarn Harlot and Ann Budd gently dissuaded me. Okay, maybe the Yarn Harlot was a little more hyper about it, but I swatched. I swatched and it was Okay.

(Just because I swatched doesn't mean I swatched four inches of stockinette like Ann Budd suggested. Ann, so far I like you, but I don't like you that much.)

I found out that I got 6 stitches to the inch, a stitch above what the yarn suggested. Apparently I don't knit as loosely in the round. But whatever, because Ann had a pattern for it. I dutifully measured my foot and promptly couldn't figure out whether I should make the child large or adult small. I went for the small, but with my luck this sock will fit on Bigfoot when I'm done with it, so oh well.

I will say that Ann's visual directions for the cast-ons (Long-tail and Old Norwegian) weren't too helpful. In fact, I went to several other websites. The one on Knitty helped, but then I couldn't replicate it. So I found the one from KnittingHelp on YouTube.

Success! I began casting on my 48 stitches and started working in K2P2 ribbing.

Which was all fine and dandy, until I realized somehow I'd managed to tangle the yarn around a needle, and it was now a closed tube. Since I'd already made a yarn ball, it wasn't going to fit through a bunch of tiny DPNs to untangle itself. I tried, though. I tore out feet of yarn from both directions. I don't know why I did it, but really I do. I didn't want to frog. It had taken me this long to get it started, and I didn't want to frog.

But I did frog, and rewound the entire darn ball of yarn. I even began to cast on again, but by then it was like, two in the morning and I knew that I would stay up until I'd done five inches of ribbing and that's a bad idea when you have school in the morning.

In the meantime, I've lost my stitch marker. Oh well. You know, I think "oh well" is going to be my motto here. I have hairbands. I don't have a lot of hair. Hairbands can be stitch markers, damnit.

While I have an hour where I'm proctoring an exam later, I'm not going to bring the sock. The sock is not conducive to making sure people don't cheat. Besides, I still need to work on that thesis.

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