Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sox But Were Afraid to Ask

Now and forever, my ideal Irishman: Peter O'Toole. At any age. I don't even care if he can't knit and is allergic to wool. He is PETER O'TOOLE. (And was there ever a more romantic and glorious scene than this one from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA: golden glorious Peter O'Toole racing across the vast desert with gorgeous smoldering (be still my heart) Omar Sharif. Both of them on screen at the same time. It simply doesn't get any better.

That, of course, was just a cheap and shameless ploy to get your attention. Somehow I didn't think that this would have the same effect. That peculiar striped thing to your right is in personal Hall of Knitting Fame because it represents my first successful attempt at mastering the mystery of double points.

I had myself tied up in nasty little knots over double points. I was convinced my hands wouldn't be able to manipulate four (or five) needles. I worried about ladders. I wasn't even at all convinced I understood exactly why going round and round produced stockinette but hey, I didn't have to understand it in order to do it, right?

The double points were sitting on the table in the family room. I had a skein of something ugly next to me. (I always keep a skein of something ugly next to me. It's my knitting version of the "it's okay to write crap nobody's gonna see the first draft" way of thinking. If I try something with crap yarn it's clear to even my fevered brain that THIS ISN'T THE REAL THING. You can make all the mistakes you want. You're not committed to continuing.)

So I cast on. (I broke into a sweat. I really did.) I made sure the stitches weren't twisted. (I wasn't quite sure what a twisted stitch would look like but I gave it my best shot.) And then I started to knit. Leaping between needles was a bit of a Cirque du Soleil triumph but I did it. Yes, I had laddering. (Yes, I learned how to avoid that later on.) Yes, I dropped a needle here and there. (Yes, I had a few hot flashes.) But suddenly a miracle happened and I saw a tube forming. I was knitting in a circle. There were no seams! I almost leaped off the couch in my excitement. I made my husband admire the Whatever It Was.

After a couple of inches I started to wonder, "So what's all this talk about turning a heel? Why don't I just turn an imaginary heel right here and see how it feels?" So I did. I ignored proportion and the proper # of stitches and just plopped that heel in the middle of nowhere and son of a gun if a 3D heel didn't appear!

Clearly I was invincible. So I knitted some more after the heel (didn't know about gussets or flaps at that point) and decided I would try decreasing for a toe. Lo and behold a toe began to take shape. Now I wasn't quite ready to try Kitchener so I 3-needled it and voila! A really hideous looking ugly yarn protosock was born!

That sock is a triumph, knitters! I was convinced I couldn't do it, positive I would fail. I threw roadblocks in front of my progress every step of the way. (I mean, look at that yarn? That could have stopped Elizabeth Zimmerman in her tracks.) But I did it! I had to trick myself in order to manage that, but I did it just the same.

Which is my way of saying, maybe we should start a sock project here at RTY. The sock bug seems to have bitten a few of us so maybe we could decide on either a pattern we'll all use (I'm thinking Spiral) or we'll each choose our own and start together, help each other, and see what we end up with. Socks for toddlers are easy and small and there are many hospitals out there who would welcome them.

And I'm not limiting it to just the RTY bloggers. Readers, we want you too! Tell me what you think, PLEASE! After publishing that awful sock photo I need some reassurance. (I finished my book and have too much time on my hands. Beware!)

Besides, Liam thinks it's a great idea.



Blogger Jean Brashear said...

BB, I'm game! I can't start until 10/1, though...but I can always be later than everyone else, if everyone wants to begin earlier.

It's so nice to see Liam again, but I have a new contender--CLIVE OWEN!!!! I was in the grocery yesterday and saw his face on the cover of GQ or something and had a Shazaam! moment that Liam and Pierce (and okay, Peter) and Sean have a brother hunk we haven't yet discussed.

Because, of course, knitting and writing are fun enough to chat about, but the Hunk Wars were beginning to calm, and we can't have that, can we?!?!!? ;)

1:23 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Would you love me more if I told you I've met Omar Sharif?

Sadly, I never met Peter o'Toole.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Laura Gallagher said...

Sure, you should be doing socks. Take a look at the Sock Wars page!

2:12 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Socks are great! I must admit that I like the 2 circ method better than the 5 dpns, though. I have an annoying habit of dropping my working needle when I use dpns.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Jean: 10/1 sounds great! And so where's the photo of Mr. Owen, huh?? (And did I detect just a teensy bit of condescension re Peter?)

THE Wendy: Isn't it enough you almost took me out with familial foot sizes? This one knocked me off the sofa. Literally. I'm typing this from the floor. WHERE did you meet him? Was he incredibly charming and gracious and sexy as all hell??? Did he ask you to be his bridge partner? I really don't think it's fair that the Gods Of All Good Things have poured a whole bucket of great stuff on your: fabulous knitting talent, great writing ability, The KOARC, LUCY!!, and now this. It's too much. There's nothing left to go around.

BTW, not to get on your nerves or anything, but I stood next to Peter O'Toole years ago at the Somerset County Court House in Somerville. He was involved in a custody case over his son Lorcan and I happened to be there trying to weasel out of jury duty. He was probably in his late 50s or early 60s, painfully thin, some might say wasted (the lad's had himself a life), but I swear to you a golden light followed him wherever he went. He was gracious, composed, friendly even to the press. I still haven't recovered. (Does anyone love MY FAVORITE YEAR half as much as I do?)

And Laura, I'm off to check out the Sock Wars! Thanks!

2:25 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Nicole, I'm a Magic Loop girl. Like the 2 circs, it eliminates the #*@(!-I-dropped-a-needle problem and I also find it's easier on my hands. In fact, I use circs for flat knitting now too and it's made a huge difference re hand and arm pain.

Anyone out there do the two socks on 1 circ trick? I swear that's better than anything David Blaine's come up with.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

I played bridge against Omar. My partner and I won. And sadly, he acted like an asshat. Heh.

I loved "My Favorite Year!"

2:53 PM  
Blogger AuntieAnn said...

Magic Loop, I'm a recent convert! I am anxiously awaiting arrival of the 40" circs I ordered in all sorts of sizes. I haven't done 2-at-a-time socks on one circ yet, though. I'm not sure I'm ready for that.

And since we're dropping celebrity names, my uncle once met Einstein at Princeton.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

THE Wendy, I was kidding with the bridge comment. Who knew you actually played the game against him--although from your comments it sounds like he truly is the lousy loser I'd heard he was. Damn. Some men should just stand there and look good. No conversation, please. Thank you.

Auntieann, I live a few miles away from Princeton. (My LYS is in Princeton.) A friend and I made the obligatory trek to Einstein's house--goosebump time. I love Einstein's Theory of Fashion: white shirts, black trousers. (Or whatever his colors were.) Every day. Every year. That way your brain can move onto bigger and better things.

Like yarn. . .

3:04 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Who cares what Liam thinks? But I'm game for socks on 10/1. I've never tried them nor had an ambition to but you all have convinced me that it's almost a religious experience.

I saw Peter O'Toole on Broadway in some play I can't remember the name of. He was so drunk that he could barely stand up. However, he didn't miss a line. I adored him in MY FAVORITE YEAR--what a great movie!

Jean, Clive ain't bad!

3:16 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

I envy you, Nancy. I read that he's sober now. I only wish that translated into work that I could enjoy.

And now I give you further proof of my slightly off-kilter taste in men: I would rather run off with Mark Linn Baker (from MY FAVORITE YEAR and that sitcom with Bronson Pinchot, title escapes me) than Brad Pitt or another more age-appropriate choice. Any day of the week.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Fran Baker said...

Sock Day - 10/1. Suits me. Now I'm going to have to check out the Sock Wars site.

4:14 PM  
Blogger wavybrains said...

I'd love to do a sock-a-long. Hey why not make it a book and sock along? Like posting the finished socks and the book that inspired them? That way people could do the pattern of their choice and you could do it as your Oct. or Nov. contest to boot :) :P

5:21 PM  
Blogger Jamie Denton said...

Sock wars site. Deadline. Sock wars site. Deadline.

Well hell, ya'll know where I'm headed, right? ::snicker::

Okay, I'll be brave. Count me for a 10/1 start date on the socks. Oy!

7:16 PM  
Blogger Terese Ramin said...

I'm not afraid to ask about sox, I'm afraid of knitting them. LOL!! The few times I've tried have been a disaster - and then there's the wearing them...they never feel comfy, you can always feel every stitch/row and...

But some of the patterns are so cute, I'd really like to get over my "phobia" and try again - if I could only figure out toe-socks on two circular needles... *grin*

7:17 PM  
Blogger Jamie Denton said...

OMGosh, I wish I were braver and I'd join in on the blood bath. Sock wars sounds like it'd be a blast!

7:19 PM  
Blogger Jamie Denton said...

Jean - Clive Owen! Oh yes, I'm in love! Wonder what size his feet are?

Ahem! For socks, ladies. Socks.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Hey Barbara, I'd run away with Stephen Rea. Just sayin'.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

THE Wendy: Stephen Rea. I can see that. I'd run away with Robert Shaw. Yes, I know he's dead. Doesn't matter. It's a fantasy. Especially SWASHBUCKLER Robert Shaw. Hell, even JAWS Robert Shaw. And speaking of JAWS (one of my guilty pleasure favorites) Roy Scheider ain't half-bad. And I'll admit to a certain fondness for Richard Dreyfuss. I love his voice. I love his smartass-iness.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Wavybrains, you just might be onto something!!

9:12 PM  
Blogger Jean Brashear said...

OMG, THE Wendy! Omar Sharif!!!! Bummer on the bad attitude, though--glad you whipped him.

BB, how on earth could I ever condescend to you on your choices when you write such faboo heroes who are doubtless inspired by some of these same choices?

I tried to cut the GQ cover from the site so I could post it, cigar. Maybe I'll go back to the grocery and get a copy, then use my handy cameraphone...though it probably won't do Clive justice. He's not actually always gorgeous, but there's this smoldering quality about him that just...well, yum.

Sort of like Daniel Day Lewis, another hottie who isn't all that great-looking but just...well, yum.

Is there a theme here, do we think?;)

I'm torn, BB--the spiral sounds easy, but how will I ever get over my fears if I don't have to do a heel and a toe?

Decisions, decisions...Clive or Daniel or Liam or Pierce...toes and heels or spirals...

Jean, who should be thinking about that #$%& scene she lost today when The Blue Screen of Death zapped the laptop she was working on ==8-0

9:48 PM  
Blogger LauraP said...

Jean - If I can figure out the heel and toe, anybody can

10:32 PM  
Blogger Jean Brashear said...

LOL, Laura--so you'll hold my hand through the process?

BB, is the Magic Loop the thing you do with a long circular needle? Not that I know diddly about I'll definitely be in the slow class, but I'm eager to learn!

Can't you do heel and toe socks that way, too, or is it only the spirals?

11:01 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Jean, scroll down to the Ugly Black Fixation Socks post beneath this one. Those are Magic Looped and have a fully-fashioned gusset and heel with a round toe. Knit to size.

If you're thinking of Magic Loop, I highly recommend you purchase the Magic Loop booklet from (I think) Fiber Trends. I believe has it, among other places. It's about $7 and is probably the best investment I've ever made. Cat Bordhi wrote (among other things) a book on socks with 2 circs. It's the same principle as Magic Loop (1 circ) but I find the extra needle cumbersome. It's all about what makes you happy and what gives you the result you're looking for.

One thing though. I'm no expert but from experience I hope you'll try to learn as many different methods as you can. Magic Loop. 2 circs. 4 dpns. 5 dpns. Straights. The more you know the more you can vary your process and protect your hands, arms, and shoulders from stress. Especially when you're doing long excruciating rows of stockinette on straights; you'll bless being able to switch between English and continental w/a little combination thrown in for good measure. It's a life saver.

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

I'm in on socks--although 10/1 might not see me as anything other than a walking zombie. (I'm expecting my first child supposedly 9/21.) But socks are fun! I figure that if they had 8-year-old little girls making socks for the whole family "way back when," I can do it. After all, I'm smarter than an 8-year-old. I hope. ;)

10:04 AM  
Blogger Jean Brashear said...

Cathy, congrats on your upcoming baby! (And yes, you will be too sleep-deprived to knit. Nap when the baby does--it's the only way to survive! Of course, you can only do that with the first one...after that, the older ones want your attention while the baby's napping.)

Maybe you should get a jump on us and start now, then feel smug while I'm struggling to prove that I'm as smart as an 8-year-old. ;)

BB, thanks for the info. I'll order that. I have to wear wrist braces to write and to knit because I really should probably take a year off from either, but...not gonna happen! I'm not afraid of dpns, though I used to be--I have to do that to turn the bottom of these purses into a circular. But that's only 2dpns, not FIVE--eeeeeek!!!!

Deeeeep breaths, Jean. Ommmmmmm....

12:36 PM  
Blogger Fran Baker said...

A first baby ... congratulations, Cathy! You'll have to let us know what you have, boy or girl.

Mrs. Sean Connery (now the proud owner of THE Wendy's knitting book)

7:25 PM  

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