Published On: December 3, 2009

I get a fair number of people asking me how I learned to design socks or asking if I’ve been knitting for ages.  This is very flattering, but I feel the need to confess.  I’ve only been knitting seriously for about two years.  I’ll explain.

About seven or eight years ago, I decided to learn to knit.  I cobbled together something resembling the knit stitch and made a large and very ugly rectangle.

Having never been very good at taking small steps, I then decided that I was destined to create intricate cables.  I got Elsebeth Lavold’s Viking Patterns for Knitting, picked out the most complicated cable pattern in the thing, and decided to whack it on a scarf.

Alas, I had no real concept of gauge or yarn selection.  I picked out some nubbly blue acrylic stuff from Walmart and proceeded to successfully execute the cable pattern (more or less figuring out how to purl and wield a cable needle along the way).  The nubbly bits hid the cable almost completely, and the yarn/needle combo resulted in a fabric so dense it could be used to hold up a sagging porch.  But I did make cables.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to add on more yarn, so I was stymied about 6 inches in.  I stopped knitting for a while after that.

A few years later I decided to try again, this time with lace.  I thought that a skein of laceweight was long enough that I wouldn’t ever have to worry about joining on new yarn.  So the third attempt (after the ugly rectangle and the unexpectedly structural cables) was Knitty’s Branching Out scarf knit in some Knit Picks laceweight.

Along the way, I learned to do increases and decreases.  Unfortunately I did not learn about winding my yarn into a ball.  Instead I would open up the loop, wind off ten rounds or so, twist the loop closed, and knit that yarn.  I did that for the whole scarf.  I did learn rather a lot about picking knots out of laceweight yarn.  I also found that you can use up that seemingly endless skein of yarn long before you’ve reached the hoped for length of scarf.  I’ve still got this (rather short) scarf tucked away in the bottom of a drawer somewhere.  I took another break.

Just over two years ago I decided that socks were obviously the answer.  Each sock took only one ball of yarn (no joining on) and the yarn came in tidy balls (no terrible tangled loops).  I found a free pattern (Mock Crock Socks, again on Knit Picks).  I bought the yarn and needles called for and just followed the instructions.  Two months later, I had learned to work on dpns, had some sort of notion of how you turn a heel, and had socks.  They even looked more or less like socks meant for an adult human.  I found another pattern and did it again.  All seemed to be going well.

Then I got cocky.  I’ll tell you that story next time.


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