Planning phase (or procrastinating as it is allowing me to put this sock knitting thing off for a bit longer).
Before starting a knitting project there is a certain amount of planning required. This might be my favorite time because I see my finished project only in my imagination–and it is always amazing–before being faced with any of the grim realities. The which comes first, yarn or pattern, is a chicken and egg thing. Sometimes it starts with finding a pattern to match a yarn and sometimes it starts with finding a yarn to match a pattern. Chances are, in spite of the size of one’s pattern library and number of bins storing one’s yarn stash, having the one will lead to the purchasing of the other. But this project starts happily for my pocketbook with a free pattern in a free KAL [knit along] class and re-gifted yarn from the shelf. The next decision is which set of sticks are going to shape the string.
The first weapons were probably sharp sticks and fist-sized rocks. Although my ball of yarn would work well as an item to pitch, hopefully I will not feel inclined to hurl it across the room during the course of this project. But I do need a set of sharp sticks. When it comes to knitting, I am totally into metal needles but this may be the time to stop rocking and rolling the heavy metal and become a mellow tree hugger. Having passed through the many phases of bamboo, plastic, exotic woods, nickel, steel, straights, and circulars, I reach first for Signature Stilettos. The thought of knitting with tools called “stilettos” alone might be enough to make them my preference, but those brightly colored finger piercing sharp lovelies are what I reach for first and enjoy using the most. If they came in size 0 or 1 the discussion would stop right here; I would grab one or two of them and use the other methods for knitting in the round–magic loop or knitting with 2 circulars–and abandon the notion of trying DPNs [double pointed needles]. This experiment would be at an end.
Those short little DPNs are going to feel awkward at first so I am going from Led Zeppelin to Dan Fogleberg, putting aside the slick metal and going for the less slippery woods. That eliminates all the metal options, but thankfully my needle stash included a few options to try beyond the usual Clover bamboo. I started first with Brittany which were very nice but I think better for a slippery yarn; they were a bit too tacky and points too dull for the yarn I am using. I next tried both the everyday Knitter’s Pride and the Mercedes of the needlecraft world, Dyakraft’s handcrafted wooden needles. Either of those needles–with just the slightest preference for the Dyakraft–would have been a fine choice, but in the end the ones I felt most comfortable with for a combination of smoothness and sharpness were the Lantern Moon Sock Sticks, if one can call the feel of any set of size 0 itty bitty tiny sticks “comfortable”.
In the process of trying needles, I used different sizes and created a gauge swatch to calculate the number of stitches per inch each size needle produced with my yarn. Gauge swatches are one of those oft hated and scorned necessities, but without matching the size of my stitches to those specified in the pattern I would be doomed to failure. I do remember my first pair of mutant, oversized socks and lesson learned. This time the aim is for Golidlocks socks, not too big and not to small but just right.
Having reached the decision on which needles to use for this project I did what any reasonable knitter would do at that moment…I immediately went online and ordered more of them in different sizes. Yes, I do harbor the illusion that I will have success and do this again. And when I do, I will have the needles, in whatever size necessary, ready and waiting in my tool kit. I view it as optimism, not as hoarding. As with patterns and yarns, it is all about planning for that magical day when I enter my workroom and find the pattern that matches the yarn that matches the needles. It could happen. One day.