Saturday, February 18, 2006

First sock!!!

I don't believe it! I have actually finished my first ever sock and it fits! It is also VERY warm (which one would hope given it is 100 percent wool). I rolled the ribbed cuff down.

I've read a lot about second sock syndrome but I'm actually looking forward to making the next one as I want a pair of these babies to keep me warm in winter. I don't think they are the most practical socks for wearing with shoes in winter but they will be perfect for keeping my toesies warm. As I'm knitting in 8-ply (DK for any Brit readers) it is a much faster knit than if I was doing it in 4-ply or 6-ply (traditional sock thickness).

One of my friends (Jackie) asked me if this would be my first and last pair of socks given the time it takes to knit and the cost of the wool compared with the cost of just buying a pair of socks from the store. I can see her point but I'm beginning to think hand-knitted socks are for something other than wearing every day under one's jeans and hence I may continue knitting them. To begin with, you cannot compare the quality (and warmth) of the pure wool knitted fabric compared with store-bought socks (yes, even if they are made from 100 percent wool). The other thing is that they are so easy to knit to my weird foot shape. And though I had a lot of difficulty initially doing the heal turn, I used the same technique for the toes with minimal problems. So I think now I know what I am doing they should be a much faster knit.

Things I have learnt.

It is MUCH easier to knit socks on 5 DPNs than 4 DPNs. Adding an extra needle one size down doesn't seem to cause any problems.

Having now used three different brands of needles for this project, I feel well-qualified to make some judgment statements.

I used metal (I think aluminum) Birch 3.75 mm DPNs. They cost $3.99 at Spotlight and worked very well. I'd definitely recommend them as a good value, user-friendly needle. Please note I am only saying this for the smaller metal DPNs - Birch plastic DPNs (and in fact Birch plastic straight needles) are disgusting to use and I have even thrown out some of them.

I used Morgan Lustre 3.25mm needles that I bought from a small wool shop that no longer exists for about $5-$6. They are really good needles that I would recommend but they are extremely slippery. They are great to knit with once you have a few rounds of knitting but an absolute bitch for the first couple of rounds.

I also picked up a pack of 5 metal Addi 3.00 DPNs that cost $9.50 from a boutique yarn store that I will not be returning to (because I was over-charged on the over-priced merchandise). $9.50 is not a bad price for Addis in Australia but it is double the price you pay for most other brands. So you would hope they would be very good. The plus side is that you get five of them, which is good for sock knitting. The minus side is that I felt that the wool stuck to the needle - it didn't knit easily. For someone who hates slippery DPNs, they would be wonderful. But I've discovered I would rather have a slightly slippery needle.

So my verdict is that for value and comfort, you can't beat the Birch metal DPNs. But I would recommend buying two packs so you have the benefit of the extra needles as spares and so you can do a five-needle sock round. You'll still be spending less than if you bought the famous Addis.

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