Friday, June 10, 2005

2 socks at once

So, doing the 2 socks on 2 circs was interesting for awhile, back when there was all kinds of heel turning and gusset decreasing. Now I am at the foot and it seems like it is taking forever. At least I have an instep pattern to break up the tedium. I have to admit, though, that it will be nice to close both toes at once and finish these guys at the same time.

The first time I tried this technique, I found that all of my ends kept tangling and twisting, and it seemed I spent more time trying to unwrench the skein ends from the needles than actually knitting. Now that I've got the feel for this technique, I think I've solved this problem. I think I'd still be wary of doing stranded knitting this way (4 skeins at once...argh!). I've also heard that you can work 2 socks from the same skein: one from the end and one from the center. Frankly, the prospects of this sound frightening, especially considering you would be relying on the yarn from the center to behave itself, and they often don't. You would have no recourse if you ran into trouble, either, for you couldn't solve the problem by rolling it up into a ball.

There's a bit more futzing about between socks and at the ends than for just one sock, so I can't help but think that this technique is slower. I also found that having all of the heel and gusset stitches on one needle initially proved very unwieldy, as the initial ratio of instep to heel-and-gusset stitches was almost 2 to 1. When you have that much of a curve on the cabled part of the needle, it's much harder to get all of them onto the stiff part smoothly. Cat Bordhi knits her socks in profile (usually), and this keeps the number of stitches even on both needles throughout the gusset. Unfortunately, you can't employ this technique with 2 socks, short of migrating one of them off the circs and re-arranging the stitches independently.

There are advantages, however, to doing 2 socks at once. For one, the socks should have the exact same number of rows without any conscious thought put into it. This should guarantee equal fitting (assuming I measured properly). It also should cure Second Sock Syndrome (SSS), though this has yet to be an issue for me. Of course, if I screw up the pattern, I've screwed it up for both socks, most likely. I guess it's more likely to look like a "design element" than an error this way, though.

So, I think the verdict is still out on this technique.


Nowhere Nick said...

Sounds like you definitely have your hands full. I think I will take it slow with socks for a while. Just so you didn't think that I replied to your comment, I did in fact reply to it on my blog page. Just thought I would clear that up...not sure why.

Happy Knitting,

Elizabeth in Norway said...

It isn't all that difficult to rotate two socks on 2 (or even 1) circulars to profile if you find them too unweildy with all the heel stitches on one side. I do it regularly with extra long heel flaps and with stranded two-color heel flaps, as these are extra bulky.

What you do is knit the first half of the heel of the second sock onto a dpn, knit the rest of the heel and half of the instep onto the "heel needle", knit the rest of the instep with the "instep needle" and knit the heel stitches off the dpn onto the "instep needle".

Now your dpn is free, so knit the first half of the instep stitches of the other sock onto the dpn, continue as above, ending with knitting the instep stitches off the dpn onto the "heel needle".

This rotates each sock a quarter turn counterclockwise. If you want to rotate back at any time before doing the toe, it is easiest to just rotate them another quarter turn counterclockwise, as a clockwise rotation requires 2 dpns.

I even happily do stranded knitting simultaneously. I solve the twisting problem by putting the two yarns for for one sock into one zip-top bag, and the two for the other in another bag. If the yarns for one sock get too twisted, I pinch the zip-top closed right over the yarns to hold them in place and twirl the bag until they unwind. If I am careless about the direction I have rotated the needles, I hold the yarns and dangle the knitting until it unwinds.

I was willing to take the effort to work out these methods because of the great advantage to me of doing the same thing on both socks. Not only is it a great relief to have both socks finished at once, but I don't have to reconstruct what I did on one sock to get the other one like it, and if my tension has been uneven during the process, even this factor will be the same on both socks!

the fiddlin' fool said...

Yes, I have thought about doing that. The helper DPN has come in handy on more than one occasion.

Good idea with the zippered bags. I'll have to try that out next time I feel really adventurous.

Anonymous said...

I'm very new to sock knitting. I've only knitted one sock so far (never started the matching one).
So can I ask a newbie-type question?
You said "Cat Bordhi knits her socks in profile (usually)...". What does that mean? And would that be easier?

the fiddlin' fool said...

Anonymous, "profile" means that half of the heel stitches and half the instep stitches are on each needle, rather than having one needle with all heel stitches and the other with all instep stitches.

It's easier to do it this way when working through a gusset when you only have 2 needles because otherwise the stitch count would be very unbalanced. You'd have, say, 36 stitches on one needle and maybe 56 on the other. It can be a bit difficult to navigate the corners when it's like this (though not impossible).