It all started innocently enough. Just a small paragraph in C.B. Wentworth‘s blog post A Very Crafty Summer about knitting socks on a knitting board. I’d never heard of a knitting board. Not to worry. She promised to explain all in an upcoming post.
And so she did, promising her readers that I Made Socks And You Can, Too! I didn’t even finish her post before I started searching local craft store websites to see who might have a KB Sock Loom in stock. Not finding a sock loom within driving distance, I popped over to Santa’s Workshop, aka Amazon.com, and two minutes later a KB Sock Loom, complete with instructional DVD, and a sock pattern book were on their way to me.
I’ve missed creating with yarn, apparently more than I realized given this sudden intense desire to knit socks. I pretty much stopped crocheting several years ago, having made enough hats and scarves and baby blankets to last me and everyone I know a lifetime. But I never tried socks, because like C. B. Wentworth, I never really learned to knit. Yes, I knew the mechanics of holding the two needles and wrapping the yarn around them, but I never developed the skill needed to actually knit anything. Instead, I became an expert in tearing knitting out. My mother was an incredibly skilled knitter, a make-argyle-socks-on-four-needles-without-a-pattern knitter, a knit-fine-gauge-sweaters-with-cashmere-fingering-yarn knitter. None of my dropped stitches or uneven yarn tension could be tolerated. Every four rows of garter stitch had to be inspected, and not meeting her standards, torn out and started over. By the start of winter, my hoped-for knitted scarf was only six inches long, and I gave up. I found my grandmother’s old crochet hooks in the bottom of my mother’s knitting basket, checked out a crochet book from the library, and taught myself. My mother knew nothing about crocheting, despite my non-knitting grandmother being an expert. Hmmmm . . . . . . .
My KB Adjustable Sock Loom arrived two weeks ago. I was ready. There was a big yarn sale at A.C. Moore earlier that week, and with a “25% off your total sale” coupon burning a hole in my pocket, I bought enough yarn to knit socks all winter long. I popped the DVD in the player, sat down with my yarn and sock loom, hit play, and cast on my first sock. And did it again. And then a third time. The DVD instructions are very clear and easy to follow, but a video cannot convey exactly how much yarn tension you need to create even stitches. Trial-and-error, as with all new things, is still required.
Using the sock loom is not complicated. If you are old enough to remember wooden thread spools, you may remember the process of driving four nails into the spool, wrapping yarn around the nails twice, and then looping the bottom yarn over the top yarn to create a knitted cord that emerges from the center of the spool. (In fifth grade, all the girls raced to see who could knit a cord long enough to reach from the top of the six-foot tall sliding board to the ground.) The sock loom stitches are variations of this same yarn looping. But it took me time to learn the motions for the stitches, to figure out how tightly or loosely to pull each stitch, and to learn how to hold the knitting tool in a way that does not create hand and arm tension. Sock progress was painfully slow.
Of course, I couldn’t start with a simple all-knit-stitch sock. For my first sock, I picked an interrupted ribbed stitch pattern from the book Sock Loom Basics: Using the KB Sock Loom by Leisure Arts. I figured that between the variegated yarn and the textured knit, people would have to put their noses practically on my feet to see mistakes. I’m not letting anyone that close. Now, Charley and the cats no longer stare at me when I begin chanting the pattern stitch: “Knit one, knit two, purl one, purl two.”
The biggest problem is that I’ve been obsessed with completing my first sock. It’s practically the only thing I’ve done for two weeks. I’ve not posted on my blog, responded to blog comments, or read and commented on my favorite blogs. I’ve barely practiced harp or recorder. Charley’s long walks have been pared down to a bare 20 minutes, or just enough to get the job done. To be fair to myself, I have to acknowledge that my single-pointed focus on the sock was assisted by a bout with the latest “virus that’s going around” that for the past week left me only enough energy to prop myself up on my pillows and, well, knit.
But today, I am feeling better and my first sock is finished. The two dropped stitches I had to fix are undetectable in the pattern stitch, just as I hoped. The sock fits perfectly. I successfully cast on its mate on the first try last night, and finished the cuff. Now that I know how this whole sock knitting thing works, and that a real honest-to-goodness sock is going to emerge, perhaps I will be a bit less obsessed and get back to the parts of my life I ignored the past two weeks. But you know, I can’t wear my socks until I finish the other one. . . . .
Gotta go. I think I hear my sock loom calling.