Overcoming second sock syndrome, broken needles, dropped stitches, and shreddy yarn, I now have a pair of baggy, floppy, but very comfortable socks. I also can claim to have had the DPN (double pointed needle) experience to add to my attempts of twisting magic loops and juggling two circulars. In the end, I am still not entirely sold on either knitting socks or using DPNs but am still willing to get caught by the craze. As I told one friend, I may not have been bitten by the sock bug yet but I think I have been nibbled.
I did make a few discoveries in this process.
Perhaps my best discovery along the way: I can knit a little project and peddle at the same time. Why my knitting bag looks like it was designed to fit my excercise bike. At last I have mastered aerobic knitting and proven once and for all that knitting is good for you.
I have also discovered that I am a beast when it comes to needles. It was during this process that I learned my wooden Darn Pretty needles are in huge demand as they are no longer being made. After having snapped so many toothpick sized needles, there was no way I was going to put those pretty little wood sticks at risk. People selling these are taking offers, not setting prices. So that is what I did. When offers started to come in I knew they had to be sold or they would be the grandma’s china of needles; put away in a cabinet to gather dust because they are too far too dear to use.
It is not a discovery that when one sock is finished there is a whole other one to do. And it was not so much a discovery as an admission that, however certain I am that I will remember exactly what I did at each juncture, I never do. A thought for doing socks in the future: do a pair in tandem. Other than having to buy still more needles, what could be the downside? Sure I did not like the fiddly two at a time thing with two socks dangling off of two circulars, but I can definitely see the advantage to doing them in tandem: the legs on one then the legs on the other, the heels on one then the heels on the other, and so on. When I finish one I will be very nearly finished the other, and at every step it is fresh enough to remember what I just did. I might even get a matching pair.
I also discovered that being committed to a single method is just stubbornness and perhaps even silly. On my second sock I became less of a purist. When it came time to cast on stitches or hold stitches aside while I did the heel flap, it made a lot of sense to use a longer circular needle. Any time there is a large number of stitches, why risk having them fall off the edges just because one is comitted to using DPNs? Choose the right tool for the job I say, even if it means mixing it up a bit.
My final discovery is that wood is nice but a brute belongs with metal. Not ready to throw in the towel–or the sock–I am doing the next pair with metal DPNs. I swatched with Chiagoo metal DPNs, Addi FlipStix, and Kollage Square DPNs. Although a very popular needle, I find the Karbonz tips catch the yarn so did not include them in the test. Metal is in my comfort zone. Every pair felt more secure and easier to handle than any of the wood needles I had tried, the stitches that came of the needle were meant to. My gauge was identical for the Chiagoo and Addi needles and only slightly larger for the square needles. I had no clear favorite. Well, maybe the Addi FlipStix because the colors are so fun. My decision is to go with the square needles as they felt really secure and easy to handle, plus I want to see if the claim of less hand fatigue is true.
So, I am going to try, try, try again with the DPNs (in metal) and hoping for improvement each and every time I knit a pair socks. The first few will not be gifts, no need to test someone’s honesty versus politeness in writing thank you notes. But gifts are a part of knitting so it will be improve or move on to something else. Perhaps a Christmas stocking or two. Same concept but no sizing issues, and absolutely no promises about sticking to DPNs.