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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

'Bout Time For A New Post

Sorry 'bout that. I thought it was still Mardi Gras!

But seriously, I have been so busy I have not had time to update. This one will be quick.

What have I been doing? Trying to knit 2 socks at the same time on circular knitting needles.

Non-knitters won't know what I'm talking about, nor will they likely care. But anyone who has ever knit (or contemplated knitting) a pair of socks will have at least an inkling.

Apparently there has been a quiet movement afoot (pun definitely intended) in the world of sock knitters. Apparently many knitters find double pointed needles, the usual means of knitting socks, mittens or other small, tubular, seamless items, difficult to work with. Apparently many knitters find it bothersome, once they have completed the first sock or mitten, to have to turn around and knit another one to match. Apparently this has become quite a big deal. Or maybe they are just looking for new worlds to conquer, Alexander the Great notwithstanding.

For your enjoyment, here is an illustration from Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. It is by John Tenniel, the quintessential Alice illustrator, and purportedly shows a sheep knitting on multiple needles. Throughout the chapter, the sheep continues to add more and more needles causing Alice to ponder how she can knit with so many. From Chapter V, Wool and Water.

At any rate, a number of books, articles and websites have sprung up on the topic of knitting small tubular seamless items on circular needles rather than on a set of 4 or 5 double pointed needles. One faction prefers the use of two circular needles while another advocates the use of a single long needle and the employment of the "magic loop".

I really can't say much about these techniques in any way that would allow you to envision them. There are a number of web sites that have excellent pictures and good instructions (although better than pictures, which only speak a thousand words, is a real live person showing you how. Suddenly, few words are needed). Try googling "socks circular needles" for the web sites that show this technique if you're interested or otherwise have too much time.

The upshot is I have tried knitting small tubes with one and with two circular needles and I favor the two needle method. Not that I have any real problem with the set of double pointed needles, unless maybe minor irritation at having to knit a second sock. The trouble seems to be that the second is not exactly identical to the first, perhaps having a few extra stitches or a few missing rows. I guess there's something about striving for exactness (let's not say perfection) that prompts such efforts.

I now have a pair of experimental socks hanging from my pair of circular needles. I have been working on them about a week and have knitted about 3 inches on each one. I can see already that it's going to take a bit longer to knit two socks than it would to knit one at a time. It may even take longer to knit two socks at once than it would to knit two socks one at a time. But even I can see that once those buggers are finished, they will be finished and I won't have to go back and knit a mate for an orphan sock - they'll be born as twins. I can wear them home!

Quotable quotes; In the category Honey, hand me that long skinny thing there.

"A #6 aluminum needle has been known to furnish an excellent emergency shearpin for an outboard motor." Elizabeth Zimmerman, Knitter/Author Extraordinaire

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