there is something i would like to mention here before i get into any knitting news and forget. while knocking around the knit picks website ordering the yarn for my creativity 350 socks, i saw that that they will be debuting a new sock book called "Socks a La Carte". it is exactly the kind of book i've been searching for, and the current subject of most of this blog; sock toes, feet, legs and cuffs, that you can mix and match at will! just my kind of sock knitting!!! and although you won't be able to get your hands on it until december 31st, you can preorder it on amazon right now and have it automatically arrive at your doorstep after it drops!! i'm really excited about it and i'll most likely be buying it as soon as we have the money! i hope it's worth it, though, considering that i thought "Sensational Knitted Socks" was going to be formatted like that, but it has actual patterns. i like *recipes*.
so, after the last post i did some researching online looking for possible heels for my creativity 350 socks. i did come across some great resources *talked about and linked to in the last post* and came to the conclusion that a simple round heel would be fastest. after almost finishing it though, i didn't really like how it looked, it came out VERY square??? i think the numbers were a little bit off for my sock, which is not to say that you shouldn't try it on one of your own projects.
the square-looking heel would not have mattered to me one bit, had it fit well. after all, it looks fine once you put an actual heel in it. but of course, the sock came nowhere close to having a good fit! in my newest book, Sensational Knitted Socks, the instructions for a toe up sock were; knit the toe, knit the foot of the sock until it reaches your ankle bone (the big round bone on the outside of your foot, near the ankle, if there's any confusion) and when the foot of the sock is long enough to reach that point, you should start knitting the heel. i thought that sounded easier than all the measuring i normally do. it wasn't.
so i frogged the "round" (*SQUARE!!*) heel and a little bit of the foot, and went back to my tried and true method of measuring the foot- i take my total foot length minus two inches for the heel. for me that measurement is 7 1/2 inches, so once i reach that point, i know i'm reading to start knitting the heel of my sock. works like a charm every time for me! i also try my sock-in-progress on alot at this stage of the knitting, just to make sure everything feels right.
once i got back to the right length, it was once again time for the heel. i'm not sure what came over me at this point, but without second guessing myself, i started knitting short rows again!?!?! i just felt like i needed to do it. and although i had a few problems, i was surprised to find myself fixing my mistakes with ease!!! it seemed as though all the experience i'd gained recently from constantly ripping out and reknitting those short rows had finally paid off! and let me tell you, fixing short rows is not easy! it sort of feels like when you first start knitting and you watch someone drop a stitch and go down a few rows to fix a mistake, and it just blows your mind!! but once i knew what everything was supposed to look like, it was easier to tell what i had done wrong. i will admit, at one point i had to frog about 4 rows and redo them, but it was much better than frogging the whole heel! i had found my short row zen- i finished the heel without any major melt downs or cursing! it was nice.
at the beginning of the short row heel, i had an epiphany- when i was researching how to knit intarsia in the round, i came across a technique called "knitting backwards"; most commonly used while knitting flat, but has MANY other creative uses. now, i'm not going to get into instructions here, but i will be giving links so you can look it up!! a most basic explanation of knitting backwards is: without turning your work around, you will be making purl stitches on the back side of your knit fabric while viewing from the front of the knit fabric. here's a visual; instead of knitting stitches from the left needle to the right needle, the stitches you just knit will be on the right needle, and your left needle will become your working needle.
why i DO want to mention it is to tell you about my experience with the technique. i think this may be the one most creative and innovative improvements on the basic, thousands-of-years-old knitting that we do in every project, every day. and especially for me, i'm a little embarassed to admit that 75% of the time, i fall asleep about 10 rows into a knitting session.... most often on a purl row. knitting has always been relaxing for me, but now i find it a little too relaxing! and then there's a more common plague of the knitting community.... PURL STITCHES!!!! i have no idea why so many people say they hate purling, but for me personally, i'm half as fast on my purl rows, which is why i usually fall asleep on them. i don't know how fast other people knit, and i'm certainly no lilly chin or anything, but in my own mind, i think i'm a pretty fast knitter. and i like it that way. and then there's my other reason to dislike purling, though it may be a less common affliction of purlers out there, i'm not sure, i've never told anyone this: my hands feel drunk or something while purling! seriously, they're totally ineffective!! i'm not sure what that's all about, but it's true! it just doesn't feel right. so for anyone who may hate purling, for whatever reason- read on, this part of the post is for you!!
now, just like most of my great-idea flashbacks, it was very late at night, like 1AM. i did a search for knitting backwards tutorials on google, and was delighted to find that knitty did an entire article on the subject! of the hundreds of thousands of knitting websites and blogs on the globe, knitty would most definately be in my "top 5 most-trusted knitting websites" list.
since it was so late at night, i ONLY wrote down what i thought i needed to know to be able to execute the technique. i did notice that there were other tips and i still haven't read the entire article, i was on a mission! i went back to the bedroom *where i unforunately have to do ALL my night time knitting, AWAY from the help i can find on the internet because the baby sleeps in the living room*. so i sat down, with my minimalist notes, and picked up my sock in progress. to my surprise, i was knitting backwards with no trouble! i was shocked, it sounded so hard! i knit a few stitches backwards, and the only thing i struggled with was how to hold my working yarn. it was tricky, too tricky for learning a new technique. so i dropped it. the easiest way for me to learn was to first concentrate on how to move the needles. to teach my fingers and hands to do something that i've been doing for years backwards was hard enough on it's own. can you imagine trying to teach yourself to write from right to left?!?! it would take a long time. so, while my hands were still learning, my working yarn would hang dilligently at the back of my knitting until i needed it, and only after i got the needles in place and was reading to make the stitch would i pick it up, make the stitch, and drop it again. and although i'm making it sound harder than it is right now, i was knitting backwards fluently in 10 minutes! for the rest of the night, i knit the heel, picking up the yarn as i needed it, until i was too tired and had to go to bed.
the next morning, i worked on knitting backwards while holding the working yarn. i tried a few different ways of holding it in my hands, i even tried continental. but, i settled on holding it in my right hand, like i usually do, with one modification: when i need a little extra tension, i use my middle finger to hold the yarn down a little more, making it easier to control the yarn.
now that i learned to knit backwards, i look forward *no pun intended* to purl rows!! it hasn't proved to be necessarily faster than purling *for me* but it's certainly more entertaining!
so, the moral of the story is: try something new!! this technique was pretty darn easy for me, even though i thought it sounded like a lot of work! but if i hadn't tried it, i would never have found that out! i LOVE trying new techniques, SO SPICE UP YOUR KNITTING LIFE! and perhaps the most important thing to remember is: you don't have to do anything a certain way, if it's not working for you, try something else! experiment a little and see if you can find a way to make it easier on yourself!
ok, here's where you can find out more about knitting backwards!
knitty summer 2006 (note that they call the technique knitting back backwards)
rexenne's you tube video for knitting backwards (if you want to see the technique in action, i suggest this video. she uses very big needles, so you can really see how the it's executed. she does knit with the working yarn in her left hanb, but everything else is the same for right handed knitters. it's a little bit long, and if you've never watched one of rexenne's videos, you may be surprised at her quirky style, but i've watched all her spinning videos and she's good at explaining things, so stick with it!)
all of rexenne's videos can be found here
the knit witch's knitting backwards you tube video (no frills video!! this is strictly technique here, but she is a traditional right handed knitter, if you don't like rexenne's left handed style!)