Monday, September 7, 2009

Around the bend

Fall is in the air. I can tell by the way I'm sneezing and because the poison ivy is turning a glorious shade of red on the trees across the street, which usually happens before the deciduous trees start to change color.
The Rivendell socks are going fairly well; I finished the first one a few days ago and it fits. I made a few minor modifications, like going up a needle size and using a different type of cast on than the one suggested. My go-to cast on is usually the knitted one, but it's pretty un-stretchy and doesn't work very well for sock cuffs because I tend to do it too tightly and then knit through the backs of the stitches on the first row. This means that I have to learn a new cast on besides the evil backward-loop.
When I first learnt to knit about twenty years ago, my elderly neighbor taught me the backward-loop method. The problem was that because she was left-handed, she taught me to cast on as though I were also a southpaw, so I've always done a reversed-backward-loop and never learnt to do it the right-handed way. For me, the backward-loop always produces a long gap between the next loop to be worked and the right-hand needle, which generally means I use the dangly yarn between the needles to cast on extra stitches and take up the slack. As a result, this is my least favorite method to use; that's why I started using the knitted cast on.
The lack of flexibility in the knitted cast on is fine for things that don't really need a lot of give, like shawls or potholders, or maybe even a sweater--if you're one of those people who does it loosely and hits the gauge dead on without having to swatch, maybe it matters even less--but it's probably not your best bet for a nice, stretchy sock cuff. Since most patterns seem to call for the long-tail method anyway--which I've mistakenly thought was the backward-loop for the last five years... oops--it's probably better to stick with what the pattern suggests unless you just don't care.
After consulting a number of sage souls on Ravelry, I headed off to YouTube to see what the twisted German cast on was all about. Rumor has it that it's super-stretchy and is about on the same level as the long-tail cast on. I skipped the long-tail videos altogether and, after watching the same video (KnitWitch, your video is to blame for my new brand of delinquency) about fifteen times to make sure I knew what I was doing, I cast on the second Rivendell sock. And the cuff is way more flexible than the first one I did. The downside is that I misjudged the amount of yarn I'd need to do the required 63 stitches and was left with a tail about a foot long even after I finished. This, I've been told, probably isn't uncommon since there's a lot of trial and error involved calculating the exact amount. The first time I tried to cast on, I didn't leave enough extra yarn to make a 63 stitch cuff. Needless to say, I frogged the cuff and had to start all over; my sock now has a little blob of blue yarn hanging at the beginning of the round.
I said the sock was going well... and it really is.. or will be if I can figure out where I made my mistake. I've finished the first chart and am two rows into the second, and it's that second row that's got me puzzled. I have the right number of stitches, but for some reason I can't seem to get them arranged the right way so the twisted stitch does what it's supposed to. Since I obviously finished the first sock and got something that actually vaguely resembles the pattern in the book, then I should be able to manage the second one just fine. Right?

I broke down and ordered more sock yarn. *sigh* Just two skeins, but that's enough to set my fingers twitching at all the possibilities. It should arrive tomorrow, and that's not quite soon enough for me. The CraftsMeow's proprietoress does gorgeous work.. it's going to be tough to decide which pattern will go best with which yarn.


Christy said...

Yes well, it's YOUR fault that I ordered yarn. What pattern are you going to do with Witches Brew? Maybe we could do a two person KAL?

Rachael said...

I don't think I know what the knitted cast-on is... I've heard of it before, but I've never seen it done.

I always use the long-tail cast on. I've even figured out a way to do it so that it's provisional when I need it to be (by knitting the first several rows with waste yarn and then ripping them out when I need the live stitches) because I hate every other provisional cast on I've ever tried to do.

word: "snont" I don't know what to make of that. o.O

La Duchesse said...

Knitted cast on is something like this: Make a slipknot and slip it over the left-hand needle. Knit through the slipknot without removing the slipknot from the needle, and slide the loop of live yarn back over the left-hand needle. Pull the loop tight, then knit through it without removing from the left-hand needle; slide the loop of live yarn back onto the left-hand needle and pull tight. Repeat as necessary.
I think it's possible to somehow twist the loops so you don't get gaps in the first row, but I usually knit a set-up row through the backs of the loops to tighten up any potential gaps... It's a little fiddly, really. :P But it's nice for sweaters if you remember not to do it too tightly.