Posts Tagged ‘dpn’

stripesI’m feeling pretty clever. Having been very engaged of late with the most hands-on of crafting activities, I am proud to announce the first interim results. The sock yarn I dyed lately, hoping for stripes? Here it is. And those nice needles (bamboo, 2.5 mm)? They come in sets of 100 for 70p from the kitchen supplies shop. (Actually some of them are 2.75 mm: you have to check. Personally I think several sizes of needle for 70p – or about $1 – is even better value.) Borrow Child One’s pencil sharpener, give them a light sand, and they turn out to be fine. Any misgivings I expressed earlier in the week, on anyone else’s blog are entirely mistaken and must have been written by paracetamol-deprived gremlins who know my passwords/logins.

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I am ruined. There is a new shop on the corner of my street and the next one. Ok, it is on the other side of the road, but that’s not going to save me. I can sense it.

Speak it quietly. There is a LYS in the neighborhood. According to Google maps, it is officially a 52 second walk away. Penarth was a nice, safe distance. I could get there if I needed to, but I wasn’t going to go there by accident. Only by-accident-on-purpose. And then only once.

I know. Scary. It could only be worse if Warm Glass had moved there instead of being nicely tucked away an hour’s drive over the bridge, in England (a bridge we have to pay to use, by the way, effectively taxing travel into Wales, but don’t let me get started on that).

My only hope of avoiding immediate ruination is that stock so far looks to be limited and pretty mainstream. Nothing rubbish, but nothing truly exciting either. So it still feels fair enough if I end up getting funky indie yarns online, and I won’t have to feel guilty for not supporting the LYS. When I can reasonably buy from they, I will. And, yes, of course I already have. But only a little bit. And I really think that I could justify the row-counters. It turns out that I can’t count to six in my head as reliably as I’d assumed.

And then, having looked at the sock needles and thought, “I could make those” I came home and did just that. Beechwood skewers, pencil-sharpener and a bit of sandpaper, and voilà, 3 mm needles. Cost = 5 p. They had some bamboo ones in the shop for £4 (and some pretty rosewood ones for £18, but the less said about those the better for everyone). And then I made these sweet little straights, with a couple of the kids’ beads on the ends.

beechwood needles

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I don’t like waste, I really, really don’t. I’m not a big one for throwing away anything that might be useful (but on the rare occasions when I do throw away, boy, do I throw). In the “there are two kinds of people in the world” division between the pack rats and the minimalists, I am rather sorry to admit I know to which party I belong. In fairness though, I am better than many at actually getting round to using those useful-looking things. Here is a broken clothes airer:

clothes airer houseclothes airer house2Two things you should know about this: it still folds up like a regular airer, and it’s a HOUSE, not a tent. Thank you.

And maybe my best day last year was the day we got the compost bin. It was a gleeful, soothing thing to peel a family’s-worth of vegetables for a roast dinner and not fill the bin. Just – disappear it to the compost, and know that it was doing something good. It used to kill me: all those healthy peelings, just going into a black refuse bag. The day my local council introduced a food-waste collection scheme was pretty good too. Now they take away the things I’m not keen to feed my own compost, like meat bones and cheese rinds and the dead pasta that fell under the little ones’ chairs (“you could eat off out floor” says the Beloved darkly, and with regularity).

I am, after all, a person who has found a use for dryer lint. I’m not saying I keep it indefinitely, but I found it irksome to throw away something so glaringly useful-looking (but perhaps other people are not gnawed at by the ‘obvious’ utility of lint), and now I have found me a use. Turns out that dryer lint, if reasonably densely textured, is excellent for polishing stained glass. Outstanding at it. Assuming that the solder has no nasty spikes (which good solder lines shouldn’t have), it polishes up a treat. All the finger marks and residual flux grime come off beautifully, and then you throw your little wad of polishing lint into the compost (ha! ha!) and done, sorted. Solved.

So, when a knitting recipe says “place stitches in reserve on some waste yarn” my first instinct is to think something like “what mean they by this ‘waste yarn’ idea?” In exactly the way I have trouble throwing away any piece of glass more than about half an inch square (there’s no glass too small to use if you’re prepared to be patient as you can see here), that extra six inches of yarn left over from grafting the toe of those socks isn’t WASTE, it’s darning yarn in waiting.

eye of partridge heelBut I’ve decided that you can still use it like the proverbial waste yarn, even if you intend to keep it for later. Which is what I just did. I’m making a new, slightly more ambitious pair of socks. Firstly, they are patterned, secondly I tried the ‘eye of partridge heel’, and thirdly I’m sort of doing them both at once. That’s where taking the first one off the needles came in. I previously left all the other stitches on while I did the heel, and now I’ve counted my needles and contemplated the intruiging notion of ‘hot-needling’. If I work smart, I can use one set of dpn’s and still work on both socks simultaneously (leg on one, heel on the other; heel on the second, gusset on the first). I’m not sure about how working the yarn from both ends is going to pan out: it could be a real pain.

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The Beloved was off to South Africa for a couple of weeks on Sunday. Firstly, it had to be Sunday and not Saturday because of the priority of watching the finale to the season’s Six Nations. Which was very thrilling, but ultimately disappointing for Wales. Well, never mind: at least they won’t have to struggle from under the muffling mantle of favorites next year.

nice foot at leastSecondly, I had to finish his socks in time for him to give them a wearing before leaving. Now he was not to be allowed to take them with him (he said it was too hot anyway), in case they fell foul of The Infamous Washing Disaster of Johannesburg, an incident involving a less-than-state-of-the-art machine and an operator unprimed in the delicate matter of handling hand-made socks. So they were finished for good or ill by the Knitting Dervish of legend, on Saturday morning and presented to the Beloved’s feet. He said they were going to be too hot (it having been unaccountably, confusingly, but short-lived-ly spring-like), but upon receipt of an appropriate look, he demurred and on they went. I think they went down fairly well.

Sock A was truly rubbish: holey crap, in fact. Sock A was so terrible it needed darning before it could be put on, and that was only so it was a plausible match for Sock B. Now Sock B was preferable, by far, and at least could be called a sock instead of a waste of good wool, but it was hardly the dizziest height of elegant hosiery. Sock C (ongoing at the moment) is as superior to Sock B as Sock B was to Sock A.

terrible sockI should really have taken a photograph of Sock A before it received the ministrations of the darning needle: it was sadly comical. The sock equivalent of two-year-old finger-painting. My father – cruel man – on spotting it on a recent (rare) visit declared that he would be throwing away a sock with that many holes in it. Very witty. But he won’t be getting socks from me anytime soon. Unless he begs. Which I have to admit is unlikely. It is actually still pretty terrible. See this? How bad is this? I also had to warn the Beloved that they might not be his socks forever. Who knows what will happen to them? I think the gauge is too loose, so they might just streeeetch impossibly; they might shrink in the wash. They might do the former and then have the latter done unto them in a desperate remedial – or retaliatory – gesture… I will anyway do him better ones some day.

sock cIn my own defense, I feel it only fair to give a foretaste of Sock C: altogether better. I don’t think I’ve managed to drop any stitches (yet) and there are no great gaping holes (or none worth mentioning). I think I have benefited from experience – the joy of still being at the Early Learner Exponential Improvement stage of socks – and smaller needles. Yes! Half the size of porcupine I was using before. Size 3 (3.25mm) has given way to size 2 (2.75) and the result looks altogether sturdier. I’ve also gone for 1 x 1 ribbing instead of 2 x 2 (but I still “cheated” and did that part on straights. Hey: it works for me, OK).

I quite like this sock thing at the moment. I can see how it could get addictive. Where next? A pattern? Maybe.  Let’s finish Sock C first. Oh – and Sock D, too.

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dpn1So there I was, with sock yarn, all wound up and ready to go. But no sock needles to go there on, like Cinderella awaiting a coach (and slippers – or socks?). Having spent five days – or as many lifetimes – winding the stupid yarn, I faffed around online for another age, trying to mentally unravel the mysteries of DPNs and which to buy, and (being also frugal, and cautious) where from. In the end, I decided on Knitpro (Knitpicks) Symfonie in 2.75mm and 3.25mm, brought from Artist’s Palette Yarns, to whom I was most endeared by an attractive web site and non-gouging postage rate. One day I will go back and buy yarn. Possibly some of the rather appealing-sounding ‘rescue yarn’. The needles took less time to arrive than it had taken me to decide on them, and I’m not proud of the fact. Not that it helped the decision process that I didn’t want to buy every single possible size. I did a tentative (for which read “tiny”) swatch on my bamboo straights, guessed a size down, and hoped for the best.

So they came, and they were smooth and pretty, and very pointy, and very skinny-looking, and very deeply baffling. I faffed some more with sock patterns online and ordered a book (which came a whole tenterhooked, post-watching week later) and then decided that ‘suck it and see’ was likely the only way forward, so I sucked. Hard and long. And am sucking still. I still haven’t worked the damned things out. I have learnt a couple of things, and though I doubt they are of any use to anyone, I humbly present them here, just in case.

Firstly, you do not have to start as you mean to go on. I see no reason (I tried both ways, and you may divine which worked for me) why socks must be started in the round. I found that, as a rank beginner, K2 P2 ribbing is a lot easier to keep track of in a straight line than randomly divided among several needles. And anyway – should that have been three, or four needles? So I ended up going straight for the ribbing and then moving onto the DPNs for the stockinette.

Secondly, stockinette in the round!!!! Wow. Wow. Wow. How does that work? OK, they tell you it’s a spiral, not a circle you’re actually knitting, and I suppose that much makes sense. After all, if I think of it as a single piece of string, rather than stitches or loops, which I find easier to manipulate in my mind’s eye, I can see it would form a coil, so of course knitting does too. And once you have a coil, you must …

No, I’m still confused. Why isn’t it garter stitch? My brain needs to lie down in a darkened room. But I don’t really care. It’s brilliant. Not that I have anything against purl, I just … think it’s an amazing thing, that you can get perfect stockinette just by going knit, knit, knit, knit like a zombie. And that helps when you are concentrating with all your might and main with learning to hold a porcupine.

Thirdly, how many needles/prickles do you use at once? I started with 3+1, thinking that the fewer I had to hold, the easier it would be to keep control of them. Well, now I’m using 4+1, but I reserve the right to change my mind.

Fourthly, hey – I can change my mind. It’s a shock, but I realized I can migrate stitches around the needles as I want to. Or, as I realise what “ladders” are, and how migrating round the needles seems like a neat and undocumented way to avoid them. Pull tighter, people say. I say, move a stitch or two over every round, and you might have complex scaffolding, but you don’t have ladders. I know this from seeing them appear and then disappear before my eyes. Gadzow. Why do I suspect that at some point I will figure out there was a Very Good Reason 24,567,982 knitters don’t seem to do it this way? But I figure, these are beginner socks, and there are no complicated pattern stitches and who cares, I wear boots all the time anyway?

So I seem to be moving along, sort of. Inelegantly, but progressing. I have a small, half-ribbed, half-stockinette tube, and it’s confounding my daughter, whom I’m teasing by not telling her what it is going to become. Like all my works in progress, I hate this one with a passion right now (for instance I cordially loathe the yarn which I liked so much as a naked hank) and am sure I’m wasting my time on something so utterly hideous that the bin will blush when I consign it to That, its Rightful Oblivion. Usually I come around again afterwards, becoming fond when It (whatever It is) acquires the charisma of the complete. Knitting is friendlier than glass, in that regard because if you do still hate it, you can just unravel it back to being yarn and all you’ve lost is time (and you may still have learned someting in the process); glass, once cut, soldered, leaded, what-have-you, is harder to put back to a virgin (by which I mean useable) state. Maybe, maybe, you can melt it, or cut it into smaller, other shapes, but it’s much harder, and generally more wasteful. And I really, really don’t like waste.

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