When we last left our clueless heroine, she had asked for last words of wisdom before her first Sock It To Me Thursday. Little did she know, she was in for some good advice and a lot more work than she’d expected in her quest for socks. That first Thursday, did not end up being a musical montage in which I woke up, picked up my DPN’s and ended up with a gorgeous sock in the space of a few frames.
Bekki Hill got to me just in time and explained that I really did need to do a swatch to check my gauge since I had the wrong size needles. Hannah, reminded me how much I wanted to get this sock right, so come knitting time, the first thing I did was to change my approach.
In one of my first posts, I explained that I had tried teaching myself to knit in the same way I taught myself to cook: trial and error. Given that I’m a pretty good cook and a dangerous baker (or so I’m told), I thought I was fine for years. Until I took on my first pattern a month ago and found out that I had a great deal to learn about knitting in general if I ever wanted to get the project right and more importantly, grow as a knitter.
Sock It To Me Thursday became my “Do, or do not, there is no try” moment but unlike Luke, I had plenty of Yoda’s guide and inspire me. MrsKristyHoll’s, for example, keeps a knitting notebook – which was an idea I’d been meaning to steal but for some reason hadn’t. And there are at least two other people who talked some sense into me about not making this harder than it was. That afternoon, everything fell into place.
I was going to approach knitting like scientist so rather than pick up the needles first thing, I started with research. I looked up the Nice Ribbed Sock pattern’s gauge and sizing, then looked up the best way to knit a gauge, how to measure it, how to measure my foot and then how to apply that information to making a sock that fit. I didn’t pick up the needles until 8:30pm, and then it was to knit my swatch. Rather than knitting the pattern’s recommended 32 stitches/36 rows over 4 inches in stockinette stitch with US1.5 needles, I knit 36sts/40 rows with the DPN’s I had – I think they’re size 3? I ended up with this.
I measured the swatch twice at its center 32 stitches. Then I got The Spouse to do it a third time and all the results were identical. 36 rows were exactly 4 inches, however, 32 stitches were over the 4 inches by about five stitches. So what to do? I did need to make the sock a bit bigger, so did I add cast on stitches according to the pattern’s instructions or did I let it be given that I was using a bigger needle and had more stitches per inch? After having to start over a second time using 68 stitches, I decided this was the universe telling me to go to bed and to make the pattern as stated. That first Thursday really did bring it (or really did sock it to me). All I had to show for it was a swatch that I’d be ripping out the next morning.
Friday I was still hesitant about the fit of the sock but then I remember the sage advice of my knitting buddy: “The worst that can happen is that you’ll end up with a gift for someone.” Heartened by this, and wonderful encouragement from many awesome knitters, I got to work. I grabbed the closest pad of paper (dislocated knee meant not going out for a proper notebook) and wrote down the number of stitches I was starting with, the direction I’d be knitting in (counter clock wise with the cast on edge facing up) and then I mapped out my needles. The one by the stitch marker at the joining was A, the one counter clock wise from it was B and so on. I wrote out all my stitches for the first row of K1, P1 all around. Then I finally got to knit the first 12 rows. Each time, I finished a row, I’d write the number of row down, and start the next. Yeah, that does seem like over kill, but this way I always knew where I was. I also noted any changes in yarn color mostly just for fun, but if I have to go back to a certain row, I’ll find it a lot faster this way.
After that, I did the same for the next stage of the sock. The leg consists of about 5 inches of K3, P1, so after writing that out, I went back to my knitting. I am so very glad I started writing things down. I’ve had to put my knitting down suddenly a lot, or I’ve just lost track and ended up with a mistake and there hasn’t been one tear or curse word. I take a breath, check my notes and fix it before I get back to working on the leg.
This project feels SO good. I’m loving every second. I think this is due to all the wonderful encouragement and tips I’ve been getting from knitters here (thank you!!!) and even though I haven’t turned the heel yet, I think I might love knitting socks 😀 And really, if I can do it, anyone can, come join us! If you’re new, knitting with plucky companions makes things easier, and if you can knit socks in your sleep, Hannah and I would love your wisdom/sock stories.
Tune in next time when the momentum of this small success will have either spurred our clueless heroine to turn the heel or to create a tangled mess from which she must battle forth.