Betsey Do

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


So. It's the day after Christmas, and on the needles this morning is my very, very first sock ever. I've just spent 2 really cool hours learning and practicing the Magic cast-on for toe-up socks.

Even though I've never knitted socks before, I think it will be okay to start with toe-ups, rather than learning the usual "first way" by starting at the cuff. I'll take it slow.
So cool using such fine needles (size #2s and #1s) and working with this wonderful yarn from 40 years ago: fingering weight wool with 20% nylon in a classic beautiful dark steel grey-blue color with very subtle flecks of plummy grey in the yarn.

I kept thinking about my mom when she used to describe learning to sew handkerchief hems when she was eleven; and I was also remembering Brenda Dayne talk about her first sweater knitted as her first knitting experience. So I didn't want to baby myself on this experience, but rather take on a few real skills and master them from the first sock.

In fact, I was listening to Brenda's podcast from last spring, during her Muse series. The episode was about the Muse Thalia, the Muse of Comedy. Probably my favorite Muse.
And it's ironic, but I find that the less serious I take my knitting, the more I enjoy learning and practicing it's finer techniques and taking the process slow.
It's just not frugal or important to make ones own socks. And still, its so important that I make these for some reason.
(QUICK NOTE: any knitter reading this, you must listen to Mike Bryant – Knitta Please - JUST DO IT, funnnnnny and oh so well crafted too).

So, like alot of knitters (or really alot of non-knitters) who've seen women knitting their own socks, I used to think "huh?"
Cool scarves I get. old fashioned looking mittens from nice wool - yeah. Felting bags and clogs - oh yeah.
But I've done them.
I've done the sweaters too.
And fair isle - which is really the best and my favorite knitting to get lost in.
But now I get it - this stupid sock knitting.
The smallest needle I'd used up to now were #5s, and that was for the miniature hats I had just done this Christmas. Previous to that, I was really a bulky-knit enthusiast who had many pairs of 10s and 13s, on up.
#8s got me onto hats and the fair-isle passion.
But the #5s knitting little doll-size hat ornaments made me want to keep going smaller. That and the recent fetish for socks in general.
So Christmas eve, at the family dinner and party, I started swatching with #2s and fingering yarn and oh-my-gosh, watching those fine little stitches and feeling their softness.
So now I'm making the first sock.
It's the Happy Sock pattern from MagKnits, with alot of help from Knitty for the excellent tutorial on doing the Magic cast-on for these little toe-ups.
Taking it slow and really reeling in the little moments sitting on the couch just doing increase rows right now and seeing the toes form.

A favorite blogger YSOLDA has another dream project planned for the spring:
Oh, and I must write about the book I am reading now. It's like what Twyla Tharp was describing in her book "The Creative Habit," where she writes about spending hours at the New York Library studying pictures of Martha Graham and Isadora Duncan and getting lost in their poses, gestures and attitudes. Like this sock knitting, with the hours of patient studying, stitching and mastery, I also feel like I am "earning my ancestry."

And finally. I can't believe I haven't mentioned this until now. But Christmas really pushed good blogging around. THE book I've loved the most this winter is John Murphy's STUPID SOCK CREATURES. Wow is this book inspirational. Ever since I got this book a couple of months ago, I've been stashing and watching people's old socks to make a couple.
Now that Christmas is over, I can.


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