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While knitting N’s socks, I had a breakthrough in my continental knitting style

May Dishcloth by allie1123488.

(not my hands, photo credit here)

When I learned to knit, I learned the traditional (American) way, holding the yarn in my right hand.  Then, while taking a sock class with Kari, I met a couple really neat knitters who were SO FAST while making their socks.  Watching them closely, I saw they were holding the yarn with their left hand.  Continental knitting, one of these amazing women explained to me, as her hands handled that yarn like Dash from the Incredibles, zooming through her sock project at warp speed.

(photo credit)

So the week between classes, I determined to learn continental (translation:  speed knitting, for us Type-A knitters).  I got onto knittinghelp.com, and slowly learned this backwards-feeling method.  I would have quit for sure if it had just been a theory, because it felt so awkward, but I had seen with my own eyes the speed when it was done right.

Well, I did manage to teach myself to knit continentally, but (silly me) I did it on the second sock of that project.  As a result, I had one normal-ish sock and one very-loosey-goosey-new-methodly-knitted sock.  Normally, I am a very tight knitter.  (Result of my type-A personality, no doubt).  But this continental method was So Loose.  After that project I sized-down my needles to get the right guage.

Now, if you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know that by this point, I’d made two pairs of socks that Just Are Not The Same Size.  The first pair was mismatched because I was getting used to those blasted giant toothpick dpn’s and it was my first lesson in Tension.  The second mismatched pair was the intro to continental knitting, which was made during my sock class with Kari, who chronicled her journey with the Stupid Sock from that class through a series of hilarious posts. 

And now there’s N’s latest pair of socks.  Mismatched Pair Number 3.

N's socks looking not quite even

N's socks looking not quite even

The photo (mercifully) doesn’t show just quite how mismatched these socks are… 

See, what happened is somewhere near the end of the first sock, I got my groove regarding continental knitting.  Seriously, it FINALLY became easy and all of a sudden, there was my guage again, just like with the American knitting method.  How refreshing to be all (up)tight again. 

The problem, of course, is that the first sock was almost finished and the second sock was made with an entirely different guage.  I toyed with the idea of ripping that first sock out and doing it over again, but even I couldn’t bring myself to do that.  N is still pretty happy, and I figure I can always semi-felt the suckers if they get pulled too far out of shape. 

But the problem with My Continental Groove does cut a little deeper.  See it affects…The Husband.  The Husband’s Sweater.  I started this sweater months ago and set it aside because frankly, it just got to be So Boring.  This was all fine, until I got my groove.  Now, I’m going to get to finish this sweater while trying to ungroove my groove.  I know I could just change needle sizes, but what fun would that be really?

I’ll either figure it out or else poor, poor Husband will get a nice big sweater with little-bitty sleeves.  Either way, I’m sure he’ll love it.  🙂

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[EDIT:  Some of you know my technological issues that I’ve had with my camera.  Please ignore the dates on these photos.  They’re just not right.  Some day I may figure out how to get the date-thingy to stay correct, but this is not my day!]

N’s socks are at last completed!  You may recall, I was having some trouble getting started with this pair of happy feet, but inspired by Shanda the diplady, these cute little tootsies were made.

 

N modeling her new socks

N modeling her new socks

I’d been having trouble with my Online Supersocke yarn (so I thought).  It kept splitting and just being generally naughty.  Well, Shanda was using size 1’s so I started over with size 1’s and what do you know, things started sailing along, once I got them going. 

Curious, I wanted to figure out what was wrong with the first try on size 3’s.  Lo and behold, there was a teensy tiny nick in the cord of my size 3 addi turbo lace needle.  So tiny.  I tried to take a photo to show you how tiny, but it wouldn’t turn out even on the close-up, close-up setting.  The document setting on my camera caught it though, Here’s the tiny nick, looking deceptively like a little harmless line in the cord:

 

Teensy nasty nick in the cord

Teensy nasty nick in the cord

Who knew that such a tiny nick could make such a big nasty mess.  Once I started using nick-free circulars, it was a much, much more enjoyable knitting experience, both for me and for all those around me who had been privileged to hear me muttered and grumbling with the nicky needles.

Here are a few more photos of the little masterpieces:

Getting there...

Getting there...

All done.  Happy feet!

All done. Happy feet!

Finished socks--not quite even, but pretty nonetheless!

Finished socks--not quite even, but pretty nonetheless!

Happy happy happy feet. 

Cue big, dramatic sigh from Husband, who wonders out loud when he will EVER get a hand-knit item completed for himself…

I’ve entered the world of Pattern Improvisation. 

My friend Kari is amazing.  She can improvise almost any pattern.  And she has a great attitude about it:

Don’t have that kind of yarn?  Who cares?!  This is pretty–let’s try it.

Only seem to find a different size needle?  No big deal, use it!   It’ll all work out. 

Did that pretty green hat end up too big? 

The Green "Hat"
The Green “Hat”

No problem, let’s just make it into–oh yeah–a hula skirt for the husband.  Yes!  That would work just fine. 

Counting stitches?  Excuse me what did you say?  Counting?  Huh?  Hmmm.  HA HA HA HA!  You were joking weren’t you?  Where’s the fun in that?  Ooh look, there’s something shiny over there…

She’s one of those knitters–those carefree knitters–happy happy happy.  (And incidentally, I think she’s awesome, even as I tease her!)

Happy Kari
Happy Kari

Now, me on the other hand, I’m a Type-A, by-the-book, follow the pattern, rip-it-out-if-you-made-a-mistake-ten-inches-ago (I’ll know that mistake is there!), tight-gripped, jaw-clenched, do-the-math, get it right, perfectionist, kind of knitter. 

Let’s just say, we’ve balanced each other out…

So Kari, bless her widdle heart, will be thinking, well how nice for you, Shannon, that you’re finally relaxing a bit with this knitting adventure. 

But to me, improvising is mucho stressful.  Did I say Mucho? 

It all started when I lost , misplaced, surely my husband is somehow to blame for the fact that this book is not where I remember it–my World’s Greatest Sock Book.  I love this book by Ann Budd.

getting-started-knitting-socks

I learned to knit socks using this book and every time a sock pattern seems kinda squirrely, this is my go-to book of help. 

So when I started knitting N’s socks on the magic loop, you know, the ones I started five times, I figured I could get details I needed from my Awesome Sock Book.  I needed the help because I was using different yarn and size needles than the pattern called for (very rare and scary for me, but I am under the mandate of No More Yarn!  So I am using what I have).  Now the Awesome Book doesn’t really help with circular knitting, but it’s great about explaining the heel flap and heel turn very specifically.  I figured I could figure out the ribbing, but once it came to that heel turn, I’d need a bit of a primer. 

So, fearlessly knitting away, I work on my little sock, getting ready to head into the flap and the infamous heel turn and–wouldn’t you know–I couldn’t find that stinking–I mean awesome–book ANYWHERE.

Complicate this with the fact that we had to head out of town, so I had no Awesome Book, no internet access to knittinghelp.com, no lifeline to call.  All I had is the pattern with the Way Wrong Information, and some folded patterns in the bottom of my knitting bag. 

Just before despair set in (if I didn’t figure this thing out I was going to be sitting for HOURS in a hospital waiting room with NO KNITTING–subject of another post), I got Determined not to let that stinking sock beat me! 

So I MacGiver’d parts of several patterns together and with my own considerably puny expertise, managed to turn that heel without an Actual Pattern or Actual Instructions!  I do have photos, but my camera has pooped out, presumably due to sympathy-stress from my Improvisation Ordeal, so the photos will have to wait until we’re both recharged.

But still–WOO HOO!  Very exciting to have crossed over into the world of Improvisation Knitting.  Not necessarily relaxing and enjoyable the way Kari would do it–but exciting to rise to the challenge nonetheless. 

Confession:  I’m relieved to be back to the pattern now, however.  Enjoying myself much more, and really looking forward to that Kitchener stitch at the end.  (I have issues.  I know.)

 

 

 

 

 

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