Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fear of Socks

I've had so many comments and emails in the last few days about socks.  They really aren't all that scary.... REALLY!  Let's chat a little about it and see if we can give a few of you some courage.

I wouldn't suggest making socks your first knitting project.  Not that socks are basically harder than anything else- but they take a little more time and I think instant (or at least quick) gratification is in order for new knitter.  If you're just starting- make a scarf and go from there.

Assuming that you know the basics of knitting and your comfortable with needles and smaller yarn....

These days, there are basically 3 methods to knit socks.  You can use DPN's... double pointed needles... 5 short sticks with a point at each end.  You can use the magic loop method... one long (36 inch) circular needle which is a long cable with a knitting needle point at each end.  Or you can use 2 Circs (24 inch) which means you use 2 circular needles to make one sock.  You can watch people do all of these methods on You Tube.

Needles are plastic, metal, or wood.  Skip the plastic ones.  Metal are faster, but stitches can slip off.  Wood needles hold the work better and slow you down a bit.  Wood and metal are both good- depends on the project.  I like wood DPN's or metal circs.

All 3 methods are good and it's TOTALLY a personal choice- no matter what anyone says.  People like their own method but IMHO, people tend to say that the "best" method is the one they have the most experience with.

Some people make 2 socks at a time (2aat) but I suggest one at a time for your first pair.  It's the instant gratification thing again.

Any sock pattern can be converted to one of the other methods once you have made a few pairs of socks.  For your first sock, pick a plain sock with no fancy design.  Get the needles the pattern calls for (or if you have the needles, find a simple pattern written for that kind of needle).  Sock yarn is generally $10 - $30 per pair.  Your choice.  If you get the kind that is in a hank (not wound) ask the yarn shop to wind it for you.  Most sock patterns call for about 100 g for a pair.

Cat Bordhi is one of my favorite sock divas.  There are lots of other designers out there... she is just one of the greats.  I started with Cat's book, "Socks Soar on 2 Circular Needles".  I made the first pattern in the book--- Simple Sock.  The good thing about Cat is that she has lots of videos on You Tube.

A GREAT way to start is to go into your local yarn shop (LYS) and ask when they have "sit and knit" times so you can work there and ask for help if you get stuck.  Most LYS have beginner sock classes, too.  If they aren't helpful- find another yarn shop.

OK.... here's the encouragement part.

This life sized motorcycle and rider are made of Lego's.  It's at the Mall of America in Minneapolis.  When my son was little, he LOVED Lego's.  In fact, he STILL loves Lego's.  He would ask for a big set-- like the space shuttle with a bazillion pieces and then when he got it, he said it was too hard.  I would sit with him and say... OK.... look at the first step.  Can you put the skinny white piece with 12 bumps on it on top of the fat red piece with 24 bumps on it?  Sure Mom.  Ok... then do it.  Now... can you do step 2?  Can you put another white piece on top of the red piece?  Sure Mom.  Ok... then do it.

You see where we're going with this.  You eat the elephant one bite at a time.  Socks are the same way.  They take longer than a scarf and there are more steps.  But none of the steps are too hard to handle.  And if something goes wrong-- you just rip it out!  It's just yarn!  And if you think you wasted time when you make a mistake-- it's called "learning".  Babies fall down when they're learning to walk but we don't think that's a waste of their time.  They're learning.  Sometimes ya' just gotta fall down to learn.  It's a hobby.  You don't have to be perfect.  Think of it as a game and you have to play around with it to get it right.  And when you DO get it right.... it feels SOOOOOOO good!

Whether you want to try socks, or make your first quilt, or learn to play the piano.  If you want to do it--- then give it a try!  Now here's the important thing to put in the back of your mind..... IT'S OK if you don't like it!  It's really ok to say, "I made one pair of socks and I'll never make another".  You had the experience and now you can try something else.  Or you might find that you're hooked and can't stop making socks.

So... that's my little pep talk.  Try something new in August!


Colleen's Blog Long Island NY said...

Loved how you made sock knitting less scary. My grandmother was a big knitter and taught me how to make socks. The hardest part was turning the heel. Reading through the directions carefully makes it so much easier.

Judy C said...

Loved the pep talk and the e-mail, I might just pull out those needles and yarn and give it a try.

SheilaC said...

Wonderful, encouraging post!!

A friend of mine knits socks with her eyes closed (practically) so she is helping me learn the basics.

Been too hot to knit around here though :)


Denise :) said...

I had to laugh when I saw this! Thank you for being so kind! :)

Judy S. said...

Good pep talk, Sue! Think I'll try a toe-up sock which has been intimdating me.....