Friday, March 28, 2008

Wouldn't be easier to just take a pill?

Anyone who has ever knit socks (or, to a lesser degree, mittens or gloves) has had a taste of the dreaded SSS -- Second Sock Syndrome. (or mitten, or glove... you get it). As much as you loved that yarn, as interesting and challenging as that pattern is, somehow after the first sock is finished and warming your little foot...some of the magic is gone. And as much as your other foot is still chilly, we all know that the lace weight alpaca you just bought is calling your name, just itching to be made into a stunning shawl.

There are all kinds of clever ideas to deal with SSS, and I've tried a few over the years. I made a valiant effort with Cat Bordhi's "two circular needles" approach. But it seemed like there were cables and needles going every which way, and I was forever picking up the wrong one and getting three "sides" on one needle and having to transfer them. Nice little bit of satisfaction when the two socks were finished at once, but not really worth the aggravation in my book.

Still and all, I was willing to try Melissa Morgan-Oakes' approach when I saw "2-at-a-time Socks" and the Sugar Maple pattern seemed a great way to show off the colors in my new Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett ... yum! (this is Mirage Earth, #4254, by the way).

Aren't these colors amazing??

Melissa's technique is basically an adaptation of the Magic Loop method to allow you to knit two socks at the same time, using a very long-cabled circular needle. Not familiar with Magic Loop? Sure you are. Anyone who has ever tried to knit a hat on circular needles when the cable was just a little longer than the knitting could stretch knows the trick of pulling out a little loop of the cable to make the working portion smaller and allow you to knit around. The problem with this approach -- whether it's a quick & dirty cheat on a hat, or Magic Loop, or two-at-a-time, is that it's a royal pain to keep stopping to adjust the needles and cables! Pull out a loop of cable...knit half of the sock round, then pull the knitting down the needle onto the cable... no, wait, move the other sock out of the way first by pulling some cable around... ok, now bring the new portion of the sock onto the left needle and knit that... Oops, another 35 stitches done, time to readjust all the needles and cables again. Jeesh!!

Now I know that everyone has their own preferences when it comes to knitting, and I try to respect them all, but if you are trying this approach because you think that it's too difficult to use double-pointed needles, may I suggest that you might want to give those DPs a serious college try before you start pushing, pulling and sliding stitches all around.

If you're like me, and have nothing in particular against DPs, but you do have a touch of SSS, there is one more option to consider. It is possible to knit two socks at the same time on the same set of DPs, using double knitting. Here's a great article from Knitty that takes you through it. Now, double knitting (for a scarf or blanket) is a really nifty little technique and can be lots of fun, however double knitting socks in the round seems a tad masochistic, but hey... that's just me.

Which brings me back to my SSS problem. I've decided that what I really need to do is call my pharmacist and see if they've got a pill for this yet.

Monday, March 24, 2008

With an Oink, Oink Here

As promised, here are a couple of pictures of my Barnyard baby sweater set (although I'm not thrilled with the way the colors came out ... not sure if it's my camera or the lighting)

This was so much fun to make! I had been eyeing the pattern for ages, and when one of the girls at work announced that she was expecting her first baby, it seemed the perfect time to give it a whirl. I didn't use the Baby Ull, as suggested in the pattern, for a couple of reasons. First, the book is a few years old, and Dale doesn't make all of the suggested colors any more. Since the parents didn't want to know the gender before the baby arrived, they had settled on "earthy neutrals" for their color scheme. The Dale colors that were available didn't seem to capture that, so I went with Rowan 4-ply Soft. It's a very cozy, washable merino, and I think the colors work with the "earthy neutral" vibe.

One more bit of eye candy, because I know that all you knitters are thinking what I always think when I see colorwork... "Yeah, that's pretty, but show us the inside!" So, for all of you salivating for stranded colors, here you go:

As luck would have it, I brought the finished set with me to work today, thinking that I'd pick up a gift bag and card at lunch and then I'd be all set when the new mom comes back from her maternity leave. Guess who showed up at work for a surprise lunch with her friends today? Yep, timing is everything. Little (actually not-so-little ... he was 10.5 lbs. at birth!) Connell and his mom came in for a visit, and I was able to deliver the goodies in person. Everyone was thrilled, except Connell, who slept through the whole thing!

Crazy long day at work today, so no progress on the socks. Sigh.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hello World

I think that every programming course I've ever taken started with an exercise where you had to write a program whose only purpose was to print "Hello World" on the screen. It's a lame exercise, but it somehow seemed an appropriate way to begin. And, since no one is likely to be reading this blog for a while, I'm not feeling too badly about it.

Happy Easter, to those who celebrate. I'm in the process of cleaning up plastic grass from my carpet (does that stuff ever go away?) and deciding which work in progress to bring to my Mom's house to work on after Easter dinner. I have a few things going, but maybe I'll bring the socks. I'm working on the Sugar Maple pattern from 2-At-a-Time Socks at the moment. I'm not sure how I feel about the pattern... or about the method... I'm learning what "fiddly" really means!

More on the socks (with pictures) next time. I've also got to take some pictures of this fantastic Dale of Norway sweater I just finished... it's number 5 from this book. I'm pretty sure the book is out of print now, but there are some great patterns in it.

But all of that will have to wait. I've got three kids to wrangle into holiday clothes and off to grandma's house. Enjoy the holiday, all.
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