Monday, July 09, 2007
Only 100g of Yarn
A TALE OF TWO SOCKS
Made any silly mistake in your knitting? Don’t be discouraged! Even designers have their ‘off-days’. Here’s a story by Elaine Cater about one of her ‘off-days’.
The Guild of Machine Knitters runs an annual competition. This year, Machine Knitting Monthly is co-sponsoring it. One category in the competition is for something knitted in under 100 grams. As a Guild committee member and a promoter of ‘In Celebration of Machine Knitting’, I thought I would ‘show willing’, and I decided to try in this category. I had bought a 100 gram ball of instant fair isle sock yarn some time ago, and I thought this would make an interesting entry. I decided that I would work the rib and main part of the sock using the garter carriage. Then I would re-hang the stitches so that half were on the ribber. Then I could knit the foot part of the sock in circular knitting. To add a little more interest, I would add a little flower decoration knitted in slip stitch and trimmed with a bead or two. What could be simpler, an afternoon’s knitting or maybe a little longer.
As I write this, I am now knitting my 4th sock—no, I won’t have 4 socks to show for all my efforts: just the same second sock that I have knitted 3 times. How can this be, you may well ask? After all, you have been knitting for so many years, you shouldn’t make mistakes. Well dear reader, we all make mistakes, even those of us whom you may consider professionals.
Let me tell you how it happened. I decided to knit without doing a tension swatch. After all, I was pretty sure that the socks would fit an average size foot. Luckily the tension worked out almost exactly as the basic pattern I planned to use. Instead of just doing a rib all the down the sock, I decided to use one of my stitch patterns from a Treasury of Garter Stitch Patterns. I didn’t bother to try it out, as I only had 100 grams of yarn to knit with. So I did my ten rows of rib, and then started to pattern. It looked ok, and I carried on to do circular knitting, which included the hold position heel and the toe shaping. One sock was finished. I had a little problem with grafting the stitches at the toe, because my waste yarn was very similar to some of the colours in the main yarn. I knew I must use a yarn that contrasted very well with the main yarn for the waste knitting on the second sock. I looked it over and wasn’t sure that I really liked the garter stitch pattern I had chosen. Maybe I should do the second sock using another pattern, and decide which one I liked best. When the second sock was finished, I decided I liked the first pattern better, so sock number two was re-wound so that I could start at the same colour point to get the two socks to match (sort of).
I cast on and set the garter carriage for the 10 rows of 2 x 2 rib. I went back to doing something on the computer, and carried on working until the garter carriage had stopped. I went back, and there was a hole in the knitting at row 2. Instead of trying to repair the hole, I decided to start again. This time I watched until the second row had been knitted. The same needle dropped a stitch, and I carefully picked it up and watched until things were going well. The 10 rows were now complete, so I programmed the garter stitch pattern that I had used for the first sock. I set the machine to knit the 60 rows and waited for it to finish. (I did go back every so often to check that it was knitting correctly—and no stitches had dropped.) When it finished, I looked at the knitting carefully, and discovered that I had forgotten to put the negative switch on before I started on the main pattern. Now clever readers will say that shouldn’t matter, as you can just reverse the work. But I couldn’t do that, because I had knitted 1 row of plain knitting after the e-wrap cast-on was done. If I simply reversed the work, the purl side of the first row knitted would show. So it was back to the wool winder and the fourth start on sock number two. Yes I remembered to check that the garter carriage was not dropping stitches, and also to activate the reverse switch. I took the last 20 stitches off on waste yarn that was in a contrast colour, so that I could easily graft them together. All should have been plain sailing, yes? Well, no! I used a fine acrylic yarn that started unravelling before I could put the needle in to graft the first stitch. In desperation, I steamed the tip of the sock so that the stitches in the main yarn would not unravel as well. I then went back to the machine and hung the ten stitches from the main bed on to 10 needles. I knitted 10 rows in a 4ply waste yarn, and then released them from the machine. I then took the 10 stitches from the ribber, hung them on the same 10 needles and did the same for them. This time it was easy to graft the stitches.
Well, that should be the end of the story. I looked down at what was left of my 100 gram ball of yarn. There wasn’t enough for another sock. Or was there? The two socks weighed 72 grams. Not enough! But I had another idea. I had a pattern for tiny socks that can be used as a key chain. I got the pattern out and had a go. It took no time to knit the sock and it looked so cute. How about a pair of these tiny socks? Yes, I made the second one. It took as long to sew them up as to knit them, but it was fun. So in the end I did knit and finish 4 socks, 2 for me and 2 for my keys! And here’s the photo to prove it.