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January 11, 2007

Sock Number Two

Last night I finished the second of Mike's socks. For the most part, they are beautiful. I wish I had a digital camera so that I could post a picture, but they are various shades of blue in thick stripes. I don't know if I'll be able to wait until his birthday on March 18 to give them to him!

There are, however, a couple of problems. Sock Number One was, for the most part, a lovely sock. As I posted before, however, I accidentally did the toe decreases along the top and bottom of the sock, rather than along the sides. On Sock Number Two, I stuck to four double-pointed needles instead of five and managed to get the toe decreases in the right place. The problem with this sock, however, was that, in order to be extra-careful about getting the toe decreases in the right place, I refrained from doing my handy trick to eliminate ladders. What are ladders? Well, when you knit a tube on double-pointed needles, it is very hard to avoid getting a slight gap where the needles join up. On one round, it isn't noticeable, but when you have that little gap on round after round after round, it produces a row of little gaps, known as a ladder. In general, I avoid ladders by moving the needle break every row. For example, when I knit all the stitches on one dpn, I knit a few more from the next needle without changing my working needle. This trick does a fantastic job of eliminating ladders, and using five dpns instead of four also helps because it reduces the angle at which the needles join (they form a square rather than a triangle).

This trick, however, is what got me into trouble on Sock Number One. The pattern told me that, for the foot, I should use four dpns -- one to work with, one to hold the stitches for the top of the foot, and two to hold the stitches for the sole of the foot. But I said, "forget that -- I'll use five dpns, and split the stitches for the top of the foot up onto two separate needles." I used a stitch marker to keep track of the beginning of the round, conveniently located at the middle of the heel. My ladder-prevention trick also helps keep the stitch marker in place because I never finish a needle at the end of a round. Anyway, when I got to the toe decreases, had I been working with four dpns instead of five, it would have been obvious where the decreases go: at the end of the first needle, beginning and end of the second, and beginning of the third. It is also obvious which needle is which because needle two has twice as many stitches as the other two needles. On five dpns, the decreases go at the end of the first and third needles and the beginning of the second and fourth needles, all of which have the same number of stitches. So far so good. But at that point, my stitch marker slipped off and I lost track of which needle was which! It should have been pretty easy to tell which needle was which, given that needle one starts in the middle of the heel, but I guess I'm just not coordinated enough to tell where the middle of the heel IS!

So Sock Number One has the toes in the wrong place and Sock Number Two has the toes in the right place, but also has ladders. The other problem I ran into with Sock Number Two is that, when I picked up the stitches around the heel, I got some gaps on one side. I managed to avoid them on the other side by knitting into the back of the picked-up stitch and thereby twisting it, but when I got to the next side, I think I picked up the stitches twisted, so when I knit into the back it untwisted them!

I realize that this post probably makes less than zero sense to nonknitters, but suffice it to say that I still have a lot to learn about sock knitting!

Posted by eklanche at January 11, 2007 09:17 AM


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