Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Magic Loop!

Oh, Magic Loop, how I love thee. Most of the time, anyway. I have started trying, once again, to knit socks, despite my better instincts. It's not that I don't like socks, per se, or that I think handknit socks are pointless and time consuming. I like handknit socks. What I hate, most egregiously, are those damn tiny dps.

Now, you have to know a little about me. I am 6 feet tall, and I have exceedingly large bones. That is NOT a euphemistically kind way of saying that I am fat. I have really big hands, so big that a friend of mine (a friend, mind you) compared them to hams. And he was a man. I play the double bass, after trying the violin and cello and finding them way too delicate. So, hands, big. Is it any wonder that I feel like a giant trying to reassemble a broken birdhouse constructed of toothpicks when I attempt a sock?

Now, I have made a pair of socks. One pair, for my mama, from 6 strand Regia. Those were ok. The needles were large enough that I didn't feel like I would rather stab one of those tiny, pointy little needles in my eye rather than juggle those damn things in my hands for one more freaking round. And I made another sock, from the regular 4 strand Regia. See?
2 great iPhotos
The problem is this. I figured, in my early knitting days, that if I just used a slightly bigger needle than was called for, the number of cast on stitches would go down, and I wouldn't have to spend quite so much time making the thing. So what I made, basically, is a completely unwearable sock. The stitches are so loose that you feel like you have just slipped chain mail made of dog hair onto your foot. So this sock remains just this. A lone sock, never to have his trusty sock mate. Just imagine how lonely.

So what possessed me to start a Jaywalker sock on size 0 dps? I dunno. I guess I just got tired of reading, on other knitting blogs, how much they loved knitting socks. And I found some Regia in Germany that I liked the color of. So I cast on for the bigger size.

All those who have made Jaywalkers can spot the problem here immediately. The pattern calls for size 1 needles. I wanted to make wearable socks, this time, and was scared off by the larger needles, and figured my gauge would be a little larger anyway. So I used the 0s. No, I didn't swatch. If I swatched, there would be no story, and who wants that?

The first two inches were nightmarish, annoying, frustrating. And beautiful. I kept stopping every row or two to admire it. I showed my husband the two inches of sock with pride, and he dutifully agreed that it was the loveliest sock he had ever seen. I kept my weeping over the dps to myself. I never let on that each needle I traversed felt like a mountain scaled, only to fall back to the bottom again as I reached the next, a Sisyphean task. I cursed Continental style as being a method only useful for long stretches of ribbing on sweaters, and completely useless on dps for a sock.

That nagging voice at the back of my mind? The one that kept whispering that the sock looked awfully small, especially for such a large boned gal as I? I ignored it for as long as I could, finally succumbing to its seductive pull only after researching Magic Loop online. I could try this, I thought, but what size needle to buy? I had to check the size of the sock. I slipped it on some scrap yarn, and slipped it on my foot. It stopped right at my heel. It was never going to fit over it.

So, rather than add eight stitches to the cast on number, something that caused me to feel a little queasy, I decided to use the called for needle size, and try Magic Loop. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a way to knit socks on one long long circular needle, preferrably an Addi Turbo. Google it, there are plenty of online tutorials.

And I have to tell you, I love Magic Loop. It is so much faster than dps, so much easier, and once you have the hang, feels nearly the same as knitting flat.

Magic %$#@& Loop!

Then, the Incident. The Incident involved much cursing, crying, hyperventilating, and, eventually, the use of one of those tiny crochet hooks from Oma. You see, one bad thing about Magic Loop is, well, the Loop. The Loop likes to swallow your working yarn when you set your work down. The Loop is ever hungry. The Loop is a nemesis worthy of the capital letter. So last night, I picked up my second attempt at a sock, and tried to arrange it so I could start on the next round. Huh, that's funny, I thought. The yarn is looped around the Loop. So I juggled the Loop and the needle points around to free the working yarn. And somehow, it was now double looped. Hmmmmm, I thought, that's odd. I pushed the needles through the Loop, and straightened things out. Triple looped. Hysterical laughter started to rise from my belly, but I pushed it down. I can fix this, I thought. I have always been able to untangle xmas lights, rope, extension cords, I can certainly untangle one strand of yarn. I examined the loops carefully. I followed the path of the yarn with my needle points. I pushed them once more through the Loop. I straightened things out, sure everything would be okay. Quadruple looped. At this point, the panicked hyperventilating began. It only stopped when I realized I just had to knit to the other side of the sock, and slip the loops off the needle point. Oh ho ho, silly me, I thought, and merrily knit my way across. I discovered half way that I didn't have enough stitches between pattern stitches. There were seven rather than eight. Ruh Roh. I had dropped a stitch TWO ROWS BACK right at the increases. So then there was much cursing and use of the aforementioned crochet hook on the dropped stitch and the two others I dropped as I was trying to get everything back on the needles in the right order.

Exceedinly long story short, I am back on track. We'll just have to see if this sock ends up a bachelor, or one half of a commited relationship. Right now, I'm not even sure if he will ever be able to walk. Just gonna have to take it one day at a time

2 great iPhotos
Here, the lovely Jaywalker sock begun. On the right, too small version done on size 0 dps. On the left, just right version done Magic Loop style.

Edited to add: Just one more thing! Found the craziest thing, today. Check this out. Click on the little flock of sheep on the right for a knitted object I now desperately covet. What size needles would you call those? 100?


cat said...

OMG LOL that would take forever wouldn't it? I see you are wearing a Panta in your photo. Can I ask? Where did you get the pattern?

Sara said...

Hey Cat! I emailed ya, too, but for anyone else, I got the Panta pattern at craftster.org, here:

Just scroll down to Melosond's entry. Have fun!