Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sandra's Spiral Socks: just the facts, ma'am

I'm surprised knitting teachers don't start novice socknitters off with spiral socks. They are, to my mind (and hands), the easiest thing on the planet. No complicated heel turns. No worries about sizing. And you can drift down into a round toe and avoid Kitchenering altogether if that is your desire. (I never had a problem with Kitchener. Okay, so maybe I have to lock myself away when I do it but I do that anyway when I'm working so what's the big deal?)

That's one of the Magic Looped spiral socks I made for Sandra's birthday. The scan has a slightly greenish hue that's inaccurate but you get the idea. I only wish I could find the photo of the two completed socks but it's lost in the bowels of my scary laptop.

I'm a simple soul and since this was my first spiral sock I was entranced as the spiral began to slant its way around the growing body of the sock. I loved watching the striping unfold. I thoroughly adored the springiness of the wool, the stretchiness of the pattern. Let's face it, self-striping, self-patterning yarns were made for people like me who practically stand up and cheer when they see the brown coming to an end and a nice blue patch looming on the horizon.

So here are some details: the pattern is After Bertha from Socks Socks Socks and I am dimwitted enough to have found the process to be absolutely fascinating. The fact that I lucked into exactly the right yarn for it didn't hurt matters either: Regia 4 Fadig in Cacao, a beautiful blend of medium cocoa and that pure slightly earthy blue that works so surprisingly well with cocoas and pure browns.Stats: 66 stitches; Addi Turbos #1US; worked 3K3P pattern that takes a step over every fourth row. Couldn't be simpler. I did a round toe (embarrassingly simple but very pleasing aesthetically), wove in the ends, and I was done.

Here comes the mushy part: as I said, they were a birthday present for Sandra and once again I'm reminded of how deep the connection is whenever I make something for someone I love. I'm probably the least Zen-like woman you'll ever meet but there is a mindfulness to the process when you're knitting something for someone you love, a focus of concentration that eludes me far too often in real (read: non-knitting) life. The recipient is on my mind with every stitch along the way and the process turns into something much more than knit 3 purl 3.

End mushy part.



Blogger Fran Baker said...

Neat! I can tell right now I'm going to have to give those a try. Thanks for the Christmas-gift idea, Barbara. Something different from the hat, scarf, mitten routine.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Jean Brashear said...

So if I want to try these after I finish the next purse (pictures coming soon!), you'll hold my hand, BB?

I don't even know what Kitchenering is (she says, unrepentantly...okay, my face is actually bright red) so I have no context for understanding that these are easy, but, trusting you as I do, I'll take your word for it.

Do these fit sort of like tube socks, in the sense of not having a true heel?

Okay, I think I've used up my daily quota of stupid questions...

12:51 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Stupid questions? There ARE no stupid questions, Jean. You know that! Now I've only been really knitting socks for a year now (I did Broad Ripples in June 2005 on Magic Loop and that broke it free for me) so I'm not an expert which means (you know it's coming) "If I can do it, you can do it."

First thing I recommend is that you do some heavy Googling on "Magic Loop" "knitting socks" and anything else appropriate tothe subject. I'm going to compile a list of great web tutorials for you. That's how I learned. Trial and error and the Glories of the Web. That and great advice from a LYS owner who said, "Tighten the second stitch and you won't have ladders." Truer words were never spoken.

And yes it will all make sense soon.

And double yes think tube socks.

The Yahoo! group called Socknitters has the greatest compendium of information on the subject I've ever seen. I recommend you join it if only for access to the many files and free patterns.

And there's that: have you looked at the # of free knitting patterns available on line? It's staggering. I've filled two 4" loose leaf binders with print-outs. "about.com" has a fabulous knitting reference section. Knit Picks posts free patterns. (Say that 3 times real fast . . . ) So does Elann. And you must must must visit knitty.com -- more great technical advice, free patterns, smart talk than you can shake a double point at.

Now I'll shut up!!

1:03 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

I LOVE those socks, Barbara! Like Jean, I think maybe even I could knit them--no heel-turning, no kitchenering (Jean, I'm clueless about what that means too.) I'm trying to think of a Christmas gift to knit for my much-loved mother-in-law who has hooked tons of gorgeous rugs for my household. She's not really the hand-knit-wearing type: she goes for either scruffy tee-shirts or Hermes scarves with no happy medium in between. But socks everyone wears so those are a definite possibility, esp. such fabulous ones!

5:13 PM  
Blogger Jean Brashear said...

Thank you, Barbara! Only a year...I'm totally in awe.

Please never shut up. You're my hero!

6:41 PM  
Blogger LauraP said...

I made spiral socks once from a different pattern - didn't like how they felt, and they kept sliding down. Probably I did something wrong -it was my first sock attempt. My disappointment inspired me to attempt heels for a better fit.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Laura, I did 4" of cuff in a tighter gauge. I wonder if that made a difference. Sandra, if you're out there: do the socks stay up okay?

8:14 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

A PS to my comment: Laura, do you remember what your spirals looked like at rest? If I recall correctly, Sandra's are maybe 2" diameter, maybe 3". But the stretch factor is considerable.

8:16 PM  

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