Hello faithful followers. My apologies for my long absence from the blog. I am, in fact, still knitting by hand and by machine although the progressive crippling effects of the Rheumatoid Arthritis is making it more difficult to knit by hand. But, don't cry for me Argentina - I've found some tips, tricks, and work-arounds that I'll be writing about in the coming days that have helped me cope with my pain and loss of dexterity. I hope these will help some of my fellow knitters out there who are also suffering some disability in their hands and either have given up hand knitting or think they will have to give it up at some point in the future.
I've been knitting socks - with luscious sock yarn - on size 1 needles! How's that for coping? How do I do it? Three words...two circular needles. I know, I know, it's not some groundbreaking new technology. Folks have been knitting socks this way for a long time and I vaguely remember hearing about a technique for knitting socks with a single circular needle twisted and turned into an odd figure-eight affair. Never did quite savvy the instructions on that. Instead, I continued to struggle with conventional 4 DPNs (double point needles) for years and hated every moment of it. As a consequence, I can count on one hand the pairs of socks I've made over multiple decades of knitting. I did turn to making socks on the knitting machine, but I was never totally happy with the results.
I'm not sure why, but my MK socks were never as soft or stretchy as the handknits worked in the same yarn. The tension difference may account for part of it. The other part may be related to the need to use weights on the MK socks to keep the stitches from jumping off the needles. I suspect those weights stretch the yarn and remove some of it's loftiness in the process. Moreover, the Kitchener stitch (which is used to sew up the toe of top-down socks made either by MK or HK) has never been my friend and I avoid it whenever possible.
Imagine my delight in discovering a book by Wendy D. Johnson of WendyKnits.net titled "Socks from the Toe Up." Her instructions for knitting socks using two circular needles were easy to understand, easy to execute, and very easy on my gnarled fingers. The toe-up sock patterns are beautiful and also easy to work. And, oh, the beauty of working from the toe up so that there's no sewing up to finish! Socks not only come off the needles ready to wear, you can actually try them on for fit as you are knitting. Not an easy task with DPNs. Add the instructions for Judy's Magic Cast-on, which produces a perfectly smooth and seamless toe, and this book is worth every penny of the $22.99 list price I paid for it at my LYS (local yarn shop) as an impulse buy. You, however, can buy this book on Amazon for about 50% off. Here's a link to appropriate page at Amazon for your convenience:
Until next time, keep on knitting!
(ETA: Thanks to some wonderful machine knitting friends I've made on Ravelry, I am now quite happy with my machine knit socks, but still like to do the occasional pair by hand. Wendy Johnson's book is still my "go to" reference for toe up sock knitting, too.)
P.S. I love reading your comments. Will you take a minute to share your thoughts and tell me what you've been working on?