This workshop was originally presented the week of October 1, 2006. The following is a collection of three posts that introduced the workshop:
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
The appearance of a lot of complicated-looking things is an illusion. In hand knitting, you can only work one stitch at a time. One stitch builds upon another so that the end product appears complicated or simple depending upon what you did with each stitch. Those of us who let ourselves be stopped because something looks complicated miss out on a lot of fun. Many knitters will see this sock as fairly simple, but some have the words, “I can’t do that” running through the back of their minds. Yes you can. If you can work a knit stitch you can do it.
This sock workshop will lead you through this pattern in small steps. You can ask questions and share ideas by selecting the responses link. You may print the pattern found at this LINK. If you are a “can’t” person, don’t look any farther than the yarn and needle specifications. Then find two balls of yarn in your stash or at a local store.
A word about yarn weight — socks need to be firmer than other garments so that they wear well and don’t migrate in your shoe. That is why the needle size is smaller than you would expect to use with the yarn weight that is specified. Any yarn that wears well will do — you don’t necessarily need to see the word “sock” on the label. Also, If you prefer using two circular needles or the magic loop method instead of a 5-needle sock set, those will work just as well.
In addition to knitting a sock during this workshop, you will have the opportunity to learn (if you don’t already know these things) features of gansey knitting, pattern reading, chart reading, and maybe some new techniques.
Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.
If you’ve printed the PDF file for this pattern, you will see a paragraph about my inspiration for this sock design. In her book, Knitting Ganseys, Beth Brown-Reinsel discusses the details that makes sweater construction identifiably Gansey — welts, plain area, definition welt, patterning, seam stitches, gusset. This sock design displays those features including the split in the welt. The gusset for the heel is worked like an underarm gusset, then turned with a short-row technique. This allows ample ease for heel shaping. An enterprising knitter may even choose to include initials in the plain area near the top. By the time you get to the heel turn on this sock, you will have mastered all of the aspects of knitting a gansey.
Knitting Traditions is Beth’s web site and you might enjoy browsing her patterns.
The most damaging phrase in the language is:
“It’s always been done that way.”
Admiral Grace Hopper (today’s quote) would be 100 years old this year. A most remarkable woman, she was in the Navy after most people would have retired since she had essential skills. Among her many accomplishments, she programmed the first modern computers. I admire her attitude. When someone says, “It’s always been done that way,” I ask, “Why?” If the answer is valid, I do it that way too. If not, I experiment with other ways.
Since knitting can be considered a folk art, people can do it any way they choose as long as they are satisfied with the end results. I knit a garment recently using the method taught by Andrea Wong. It is completely different than I’ve done before and I enjoy knitting textured patterns that way. I usually carry my yarn over my right index finger—when knitting two colors, I carry two yarns over my right index finger. I’ve tried continental technique and my tension isn’t consistantly smooth. I taught myself to knit with a smooth tension by using acrylic yarn. What you see with acrylic yarn as you knit, is what you are usually going to get when you are finished blocking the piece.
There are only a couple of things I feel strongly about with knitting. The first is teaching a left-handed person to knit left-handed (meaning, teaching them to do everything the opposite direction). Please don’t. It isn’t that it is wrong to do it that way—it is because it makes it difficult to follow most patterns. They have to be able to transpose the instructions like transposing to another key when reading music. I’m left-handed and see knitting as a two-handed skill like crocheting or playing the piano. When people learn a new skill, they are likely to feel awkward no matter which hand they use. The awkwardness will pass if they are fascinated enough to persevere.
My other opinion has to do with reading patterns. I’ve read discussions about standardizing abbreviations and chart symbols. K is knit and P is purl in English so they are standardized to a certain extent but, as long as there is a key to tell us what things mean, it doesn’t really matter. Here is the key for the abbreviations used in the pattern for our workshop sock:
st(s) – stitch(s)
sl – slip stitch
k – knit
kb – knit in back of stitch
p – purl
ssk – slip, slip, knit 2 together
k2tog – knit 2 together
p2tog – purl 2 together
ytf – yarn to front
ytb – yarn to back
For most knitters, the only one that might need explaination is the slip stitch. In this pattern, it means slip as if to knit (so that the left leg of the slipped stitch falls in front of the needle).
We will discuss chart symbols when we get to them. I know that some people strongly dislike using charts but I use them for two reasons. First, I like to visualize where I’m going and charts help me do that. For me, it is like reading a map. The other reason has to do with languages. I only read English. My son brought me yarn and a pattern from Norway. I was able to knit the garment by looking at the photograph and following the chart. I had the same experience with a set of Japanese lace patterns. The chart key was also in Japanese but the symbols depicted the stitch maneuvers so well that I was able to knit the piece of lace just using the chart.