Friday, December 11, 2009

The Trouble with DPNs*

It took me about an hour to get to this point.

I've never done a toe-up sock before. After a quick check of Rav, I looked up Wendy Johnson's "Easy Toe." It's not as easy as the name would have you believe, but I am willing to believe it is easier than the alternatives. Unfortunately, it calls for the use of dpns, which are not my favorite knitting tools. I'm sure there is a way to do it with a long circular, but frankly, my brain was pretty overtaxed just following the directions as written.

I'm not one of those people who can manipulate five tiny needles with speed and grace. When I have to use them, I prefer short, blunt, bamboo or nylon needles with a little give and a little stickiness to help me control the stitches. The only dpns I have in the right size for this yarn, though, are rather long, pointy, slippery, metal needles. This did not make for an easier first toe-up experience.

I did eventually get the toe finished, but I'm not at all sure it looks right. It seems to me the increases ought to be on the sides, not on the top and bottom. Yes, I could just lay the sock the other direction (and in fact that's what I will do), but then the tip of the toe is vertical rather than horizontal. This seems wrong to me, even though I'm sure I followed the directions correctly. Does anyone understand what I'm talking about?

This is what it looks like now. I'm not the world's fastest sock knitter, obviously.

(Can you see what I mean about the toe now? The stitches on the very tip are turned sideways because I turned the toe to put the increases on the sides.) I'm not using a pattern. I just ribbed the top in 2x2 ribbing, because I like ribbed socks, and did a twisted stitch cable for every other knitted rib for a little more interest. I'm sort of regretting that, actually. I don't use a cable needle and I've dropped quite a few stitches because I can't really see the little buggers that well, even with my glasses on, and the metal needles aren't helping. But I do like the effect.

All in all, I'm finding the sock knitting pretty interesting. I'm hoping I can sustain this level of interest, because this is what the mailman has brought so far--and there's more coming.

I may have gotten a little carried away.

*Please note that I am not in any way disparaging dpns. I know many people love them with a deep and enduring passion. I am not one of them, but I do understand. I love alpaca like that.

17 comments:

Wanderingcatstudio said...

I was never a big fan of DPNs, until I got rid of one. Most pattern call for four, with a fifth one to knit on, but I found using three with the fourth one to knit on makes it a lot eaier to handle. In patterns that call for four around, I usually just double up on one needle, so on a pair of socks with 60 stitches, I'd have 15, 30 and 15. Try taking out that extra needle and see if it helps.

Jill said...

I almost never use DPNs because I also find them so awkward. The best instruction I found for toe up socks was Cat Bordhi's New Pathways books. Plus she shows you how to do it on circulars with is a million times easier, especially at the start because the stitches that are not in use are moved to the flexible cable making it much much easier to deal with the stitches you are knitting. :-) Congrats on your new sock yarn stash, it looks lovely!

sophanne said...

Nice stash. The answer to slipperiness? Buy more needles. That's my solution.

I'm not seeing what you're saying about the toe but I'll keep watching the comments to see if anyone else sees it. (as in "I think it looks fine, what is she talking about?")

Are you ribbing on the bottom of the foot? Sometimes I don't do that (o.k. that was my way of saying I never do that)) I just want you- in your new sock frenzy- to be sure that you want ribbing at the bottom of your foot bumping and such. I usually do the pattern on the top and once the heel is finished, all the way up the leg (if in fact I ever did toe up sock- but I do the same thing top down)

It's about time that there is some knitting that slows you down!

joylee56 said...

I don’t see anything obviously wrong with the toe either. But next time you might want to use Judy’s Magic Cast on. Not only does it not involve waste yarn, which drives me batty, but it’s intended to be done on 2 circs. For confirmed DPN sock knitters like myself it’s easy to convert though.

http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEspring06/FEATmagiccaston.html

Sharon said...

Joylee56 said it first, but since Judy Becker is a friend of mine I have to mention it too: Judy's Magic Cast-on is the way to go for toe-up socks!

Sharon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kmkat said...

Wendy has another way to start toe-up socks that starts with a provisional cast-on of half the stitches you will eventually need to go around your foot. From that point you do a short-row toe, first progressing down to 4-10 st (depending on your gauge and how pointed your foot is), then back up to the original number. At that point you have knitting all the way around the toe and are even with your provisional cast-on. Get rid of the waste yarn, pick up those stitches, and knit round and round up the foot.

I find this much easier than beginning at the tip of the toes.

The Incredible M. said...

I have no quarrel with DPNs as a rule, but starting projects from the pointy bit on DPNs tends to make me a bit stabby. My coping mechanisms are as follows:

1) Start at the not-pointy bit so there will be enough fabric to anchor the needles when it comes time to deal with 7 stitches and 4 needles.

2) If 1) is not possible, use these little beauties http://www.skacelknitting.com/s.nl/sc.2/category.27613/.f Sadly, they are only available in sizes 0-4.

3) If 1) AND 2) fail, suck it up and deal, swearing like a pirate the whole time. If the item is a gift, I ask the recipient to kindly leave the state until I have the first inch or so done.

trek said...

This is why I prefer to knit my socks top down.

Melanie said...

I like to knit socks toe-up, and I always use the Turkish cast-on method, using the magic loop (great tutorial here: http://misocrafty.squarespace.com/journal/2006/1/30/turkish-cast-on-tutorial.html).

How are you liking your sock yarn? I just tried Classic Elite Alpaca Sox and loved it. Another favorite: Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Sock (w/ cashmere *sigh*). Both can be worked with size 2 needles, which speeds up the knitting process... But maybe alpaca/cashmere is too warm for California??

Erin said...

Search Youtube for Cat Bordhi's demo of Judy's Magic Cast-On for toe-up socks. It only takes two needles and once you do it a couple times you get her repeating the steps in a silly voice stuck in your head, it's awesome.

Knitman said...

Knitting with the Hedgehog is for masochists. I tried. Once. For several hours. I then threw them out the window, just missing becoming a serial killer in the process. Use one 80cm circular needle, magic loop style. You are a lawyer, you can work around anything!

Fibra Artysta said...

I love DPNs but I admit that when I first start a sock, its painfully slow at the beginning. Once I get about an inch done it goes much quicker.

And I understand the sock yarn spasm, I did that too when I first started knitting socks. Know what else you can use that yarn for? (And don't smack me...) Lace.

A lot of lace patterns use fingering weight yarn so if you ever feel like torturing yourself (I know how much you love lace), that's another way to use sock yarn.

marit said...

The others have said it all...
I used to love DPN's, and then I figured out magic loop, two-at-a-time, toe-up using Judy's cast-on, or possibly turkish- actually I'm not sure of anything anymore-LOL! But I knit socks toe-up, top-down, with a regular heel-flap, or even with a short-row-heel!!! Anyway, socks are fun. And I use a 80 cm circular...exept for the fairislepatterns...then I use DPN's. And hate them...!

Renee said...

I haven't knit socks toe up yet, I always go top down... sorry no help from me.

Kim said...

Metal needles = slippery doom.
I haven't knit a toe up sock yet. My friends who love the toe up method always do the magic loop.

Life's a Stitch said...

That;s why I don't do double pointed needles. Never could get the hang of them. Give me two circulars anytime.