Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kitchener is a Bitchener...

Well, happily I knitted along on my sock. And the inevitable loomed in front of it all: KITCHENER stitch. So named after the smart-ass British general who decided that his soldiers needed a smoother finish on the toes of their socks. Well, excuse me, but it wasn't him knitting those socks. Thanks for the "great idea" dude.

I just can't do it. Period. At least tonight I can't do it. Children coming down into the room and throwing stupid questions and petty arguments at me didn't help a bit. After reading numerous tutorials on how to do this technique, not one of them missed the important point of not being interrupted while attempting! So, with that in mind, I decided to wait until the kids were in bed. Because if I don't, they're going to die.

The first tutorial I used had the yarn coming off the wrong end compared to where mine was located. That made things quite confusing. I also was using one of those tapestry needles with the bend in the end. Whose idea was this? Every single time I've used these needles, it's been annoying! I don't know what that bend is good for, other then to aim in the opposite direction than where I am headed. Stupid.

So now I'm chugging a Minute Maid Lite Lemonade, waiting for the kids to go "poof" into the night. Then I'll attempt this bitchener Kitchener stitch again. Don't worry, my attitude will be stellar. Promise.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

On Knitting Socks

Yes, I am finally knitting socks. It's been said that any knitter worth her salt simply must be able to knit socks. I am not sure if I agree, but hey, they will say anything to drive you to do something before which you'd normally have to smoke a joint to get the gumption to do!

I tried to knit socks over a year ago, and ended up casting on a total of three times, getting the stitches twisted on my DPN's every single time. I gave up. Of course, I should mention that I was sitting in a smelly Blazer in the middle of winter, trying like anything not to inhale as much exhaust as I knew I was. But that's beside the point.

I put that ball of sock yarn away, thinking that "another time will be better". Since then, I've taken a gander at sock patterns here and there, got the concept of sock shaping down in my brain, and still didn't think enough of it to pull that ball of sock yarn out again and give it another go. I don't know what prompted me to do so this time, but I had success!

Knitting a sock is a whole lot like building a house, I've decided. Shaping as you go, decreasing, short rows, changes in stich patterns for different areas of the sock; well, it all makes me feel very intelligent. When I turned my first heel and saw the little pocket it made, I was floored that I had done such a cool thing.

The teeny tiny size 1 needles should have put me off, at least a little. But I was actually excited. They feel delicate in my hands. This tiny yarn, when knit with these tiny needles, is actually dense and lush. There will be no other sock quite like this one...with the exception of the second sock, which in a perfect world should match it, in some way, shape, or form (but I'm not holding my breath).

So, I've come to see the vast appeal of sock knitting. I am understanding the incredible addiction that knitters feel for this nifty little project, and I am determined not to succomb to the obsession. A pair of socks here and there is fine. But carrying a pair-in-progress with me everywhere I go is a bit over the top. Or is it? They are the perfect portable project, if you don't mind showing off what it's like to knit with porcupine-like needles sticking out in every direction. Or if you don't mind odd looks and stares from people who actually realize that, yes, you ARE knitting a SOCK. I can read their minds. "Is this chick crazy? Why doesn't she just go to Wal-Mart and BUY her socks? She's crazier than a bag of hammers...."

Fact is, what do these people think we did before Hanes and Fruit of the Loom? I doubt they'd ever stopped to think about it. Knitting socks seems to be yet another way a person can link up to the past. Just like spinning, weaving, and a myriad of other seemingly dying arts (thankfully not so much anymore), knitting a sock takes me to a place in the past where a husband would wait patiently for his new pair of socks that his wife was knitting by the fireside. And that first time he pulled them on, he smiled. Because there was nothing like the feel of a new hand-knitted sock on his hairy 'ole pioneer foot. And there still isn't anything like that feeling. In this age of moisture-wicking socks and high-tech fabrics, we've lost that simple, heavenly feeling of the hand-knit sock. Such a shame.

My socks are a blend of wool, bamboo, and nylon. Still a far cry from the simple, scratchy wool that our fore-mothers knit with, but hey, that was a long time ago, and advances have to be made, right? But if you really want that simple, scratchy wool, you can still have it. You'd better have the 'ole pioneer foot to go with it, though.

So, here's to the humble, hand-knit sock. I'm going to love these. And I'm sure I'm going to join the ranks of all the other sock-knitters who have an obsession for these little architechtural wonders. I needed another hobby like a hole in the head. Thank goodness that it's still just.....knitting!