Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This Idea I Have...

Despite the current pace of my life (somewhere between electrical current and speed of light), ever since I made my first pair (grudgingly) on a dare :-), I've been thinking about leading a sock knit-along of sorts.

Don't misunderstand. My version of such a thing would not come with a sweet logo and you wouldn't have to sign up. Of course, I'd want to know if you were participating! But it wouldn't be particularly regimented. Why? Because I'm not the kind of person who likes participating in process I perceive to be regimented. Seems it would be kind of hypocritical for me to expect it of you.

Let me start by explaining my rationale for undertaking such a thing - and of course I wouldn't persist if no one is interested so please do let me know if it appeals in the comments below or by email... I am not a natural sock-knitter. In fact, of all the things on the planet to knit, socks were at the bottom of my learn-to-make wishlist, a mere 11 months ago.

But, you know what? Since I learned to make them I've discovered a number of fascinating things:

  • Socks are very popular gifts.
  • Socks don't take too much yarn, so they're an affordable project.
  • Socks are portable, in every respect.
  • Sock-making is meditative, because (as long as you make the same pattern again and again) you figure out quickly how socks come together and then you just need to keep track. There's no wheel-reinvention. 
  • Socks are fun to look at on your feet.
  • Socks aren't hard to fit.
  • Socks are warm in the winter!
  • You can easily knit a pair of socks in a week. Really.
It's the final point that's cinched my interest in leading a knit-along for a simple pair of socks. In fact, I've done it before, in real life - so I know it works at least one-on-one. 

How Exactly Does One Knit A Pair Of Sock in a Week? Don't those Things Take A Long Time?:

Ok, for starters, no one's compelled to knit a pair of socks in a week. In fact, you can take a month, for all I care. But why would you want it to drag on?? I mean, you get socks at the end.

Over the past year, I have written a personal sock pattern - which, let me be clear is in no way novel; every technique described has been learned from someone far more knowledgeable than me. Nonetheless, I like to think my document manages to be clear and organized with the aim to facilitate a final outcome. (Warning: Did I mention I'm not a pattern drafter?) This pattern works for me and, every time I test it (5 times now), I make adjustments to improve clarity.

Were I to undertake this proposed knit-along (KAL), which FYI would be called Two Socks, One Week, my goal would be to demystify the individual steps in making the most simple sort of sock and in this way, to streamline the process. The pattern - and the KAL - is devised with this in mind.

In a stupid irony, the knit-along would take longer than a week because, seriously, there's a lot of writing involved. What I'd propose to do is break it out into the "Planning Stage" and "Knitting Stage".

Planning Stage:
  • Let's talk about yarn and needles
  • Let's talk about techniques - aka magic loop vs. DPNs
  • Let's talk about prep and gauge
  • Let's talk about the pattern and how to use it. (Natch, the pattern would be provided for free, what with it being a mash-up of everyone else's skill...)
Knitting Stage:
  • Sock 1 - Monday - Thursday
  • Sock 2 - Friday - Sunday
  • Blocking
Who'd Suit This Sort of Thing?

I'm not proposing to teach anyone how to knit. I'm not even proposing to teach techniques (though I would link to some excellent sources and answer questions and, knowing me, I would go into some depth re: magic loop and its relevance to this process, IMO.) I imagine that the ideal participant would be someone with a basic knowledge of how to knit - (s)he's made a few things, knows how to cast on, bind off, increase and decrease, has a comfort level to work in the round using a preferred method.

The pattern is scaleable but I'd be "teaching" it as-is. Unmodified, it's a sock that fits a medium-long foot (this sort of modification is easy) that is neither excessively narrow nor wide. The neck of the sock is designed to fit a small-med ankle and a slender-med calf. That doesn't mean I wouldn't discuss modifications, I'd just opt to refer to pattern dimensions when I speak about numbers.

At any rate, a lot of you have asked me how I knit my socks quickly, how I avoid laddering although I always use magic loop, how I find my yarn, how I keep my motivation to complete the second sock. I do believe I have some potentially useful feedback to provide. And I do love a gimmick!

Today's questions: Would you be interested in this concept? I'm thinking that starting soon (by the beginning of December) could be useful. The first few posts - as you run around readying yourself for the holidays - would be simply information-oriented. Then, perhaps we'd start the knitting part in the week between Xmas and New Year's - or in the first week of the New Year. It occurs to me that, at that point, everyone will be ready to knit something for him or herself. The crunch will be over. The holidays may be on. And baby it's cold outside. Of course, you sock knitters may already have your system down, so don't hesitate to advise if it's not your thing! Thoughts or feelings?

39 comments:

  1. I always like to have something to knit during that particular week -- and some of you should consider knitting those socks with some Christmas-gifted cashmere. Yummy. I like the idea of a Sock-a-long, but quite honestly, I've got my system down and generally have a pair on the go anyway, pretty much without a pattern anymore (although if I need a refresher, I usually refer to the Yarn Harlot's recipe). I've never learned Magic Loop, though, so I may peek in during the process. . . ;-)

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    1. I know - you need something occupying, but you want to be able to drink and not mess things up! (And then there are those house guests to consider.) Perhaps you'll give us feedback and pointers if we proceed with this?

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  2. Socks, socks, socks, socks! I'd love to read about how you do it! :)

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    1. If it weren't for your RSI, I'd dare you to participate! :-)

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  3. Wait, did my post just disappear, or am I about to post it twice? Here goes nothing...

    Socks, socks, socks! I'd enjoy reading how you make them! I've never understood magic loop!

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  4. I'm in. (Did I even need to say that?) ;-) Since I'm *nearly* done all three of my current knitting projects, I can finally start to think about what next and new socks are a must. Will you work toe up or cuff down? I may have to rebel and go toe up if that's not what you're doing. I'm good at switching patterns around at this point.

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    1. Terrific! You raise a really interesting question - I'm going cuff down but I know it's sexier to knit toe up. You are more than welcome to flip it around - making use of the tips and tricks this KAL will hopefully provide.

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    2. Is it sexier? I didn't know that. ;-)

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    3. I think it is! Maybe that's just cuz I've never done it?

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  5. I'm definitely interested - magic loop is completely new to me & I've never made apair of socks!

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    1. Great to hear Chris. Please stay tuned!

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  6. I just found your blog yesterday through Ravelry. This is a great idea. I don't do well with regimented KAL's, so this works for me. I have knit Christmas stockings, but not socks, and I've never used magic loop, so I'm definitely on board!

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    1. Oh, that's fun! I'm glad you'd like to participate. More info will follow quite soon!

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  7. I'm definitely on board! I've never knit socks (I've never knit two anyway) and I've never used magic loop. I just found your blog yesterday via Ravelry. Thank you!

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  8. Yes, I'd definitely be on board. I just uncovered the most lovely colorway of KPPM from who-knows-where, and I'd love to make myself some socks. Also, I'm knitting a beanie for my son. Plain stockinette. It's deadly boring.

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    1. I'm loath to tell you that these socks will be mainly stockinette - but I swear, it's not boring like when making hats. You get to go through different steps, all of which require different stitch numbers and techniques. So it's not dull!

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  9. I love knitting socks! I definitely have my own system down, but I'll happily follow along to yours (and, as a DPN fan, happily offer tips to anyone wanting to go that route).

    I love that you're a converted sock knitter. So fun!

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    1. Angela - we may be asking you a lot of questions :-)

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  10. Hmmm...interesting! I've got the first of a pair on my needles now (two circulars), and I'm curious about the magic loop technique. I'll be paying close attention, perhaps knitting along (depends if I get these purple people eater socks done first).

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    1. Well, we'll be covering it off, no worries. And join if it's convenient - not if it turns into a chore!

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  11. I once attempted socks. The 1st one was awful - lumpy and kind of deformed looking. The 2nd one was much better, but the leg part was too small! I couldn't get them on. How disappointing. I've not made socks since.
    I would join the sock-a-long to have a much happier time with a sock project.

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    1. Ha! My first sock was not the most gorgeous thing ever, in truth :-) But I didn't have a KAL to help me out. We'll talk about fit, of course. Hopefully this will make your next pair of socks just gorgeous.

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  12. I'd love to follow along and learn about magic loop, but I'm not getting started on socks. I'm enjoying my selfish sweater knitting too much.

    Lois K

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    1. Oh, I hear that. I cannot deal with sweaters and socks at the same time - they're like polar opposites!

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  13. I'd be happy to participate. But I only know how to crochet in a circle, not to knit. Do you think I can catch up?

    Also, can these socks be washed on a regular basis? I suppose we'll use them to walk around our (not always clean) apartment.

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    1. Hey R: This is a really good question. The answer is - as a non-crochet-er - I don't know! I'd definitely suggest that you learn a few things - which can be done easily and for free on Knittinghelp.com: long-tail cast on, knit stitch, purl stitch, K2Tog (knit 2 together), SSK (slip, slip knit), bind off. It would also be good to look at the video on magic loop - though much more discussion of this will follow. It's just important to be comfortable with the idea of knitting in the round. There are terms that go along with the concept and it's good to be aware.

      I learned to do these things with the videos provided for free on the site.

      Then I'd say, make a flat knitted swatch in stockinette (email if you want to talk). Do a few increases and decreases as you work. That swatch will look very odd but it will force you to use all the info you've acquired. If you can do that by Dec. 29, you should be able to do this.

      You will be able to wash and dry the socks as long as you get wool that allows it. There are lots of options though, no need to worry about hand washing socks.

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  14. I can knit and have a cardigan on the go but would be up for giving socks a try! Would be great to do supplies early so that we can order yarn online if needs be without getting caught in Xmas post

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    1. Really good point. I've addressed this in my next post, to be up soon. Let me know if it looks like what I'm proposing will work for you...

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  15. I like your idea. I have a plain sock recipe (Kate Atherley's) that I've followed for every plain pair of socks I've ever made, but I'm game to try something new, especially it it involves magic loop, which would be very new to me. Thing is, I won't be able to join until at least the first week in January. My man is here over the holidays and I suspect I will be turning all my attention to him, as I should.

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    1. I'm sure there will be many similarities between this simple sock and the recipe that Kate has devised. But this one is written for magic loopers, so it might be useful. We will start in the first week of Jan. so it should work out! Of course, you could always start in the second week of Jan if that works better. No pressure!

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  16. Having knit many socks on dpns I would be very interested in joining this magic loop KAL.

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    1. Well join on in! I hope you enjoy magic loop socks as much as you like DPNs. It's always good to have more methods up your sleeves :-)

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  17. Just catching up on posts and I am definitely intrigued by this! I have never knitted socks before but after reading your reasons to give it a try, I am convinced!

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  18. Maggie - do join us! It's not hard to knit socks if you know the basics...

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  19. Is it too late to join in the KAL? I knit socks two at a time, toe up...always fun to try another pattern & technique.

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    1. Please join us! You are probably used to much more sock complexity than this pattern will provide, but I'd love to see your feedback, as we go, about how your previous method meets this one!

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