Friday, April 17, 2015

Sock of the Month Program & Sock Knitting Basics

Launch Pad Socks
This spring, we're “launching” a new Sock of the Month program, starting with a solid workhorse of a sock pattern: The Launch Pad Socks. Unlike a NASA launch, these socks are easy - a basic, simple-to-knit pair of socks that uses just a single skein of Crock O Dye yarn from Knit One Crochet Too. If you have never knit socks, the Launch Pad Sock pattern is the perfect place to start! 

The Crock O Dye yarn is 65% superwash wool combined with silk and nylon that makes the yarn surprisingly bouncy and soft. Crock O Dye also has a sheen that you would expect from silk. While the yarn feels extra soft, the nylon and silk fiber combination reinforces the wool and will prove quite durable. Blast off with 12 yummy colors!

Launch Pad Socks
How does the Sock of the Month work?  Each month we'll be offering an exclusive new sock project, with progressively more interesting "skill building" opportunities. There's no registration required or fee of any kind.  The pattern each month will be free with the purchase of the yarn.  You can knit one project, or knit them all!

Socks are simple, right? Well, yes and no. They're small enough to get done quickly, but there is also some structure in a sock ... heels, toes, gussets, cuffs. This basic top-down pattern will teach you all the essential things you need to know to knit awesome socks.

There are a few different needle choices when knitting socks. Here are the most popular for knitting socks in the round:
    Double Point Needles, 1400-1410
  • Double Point Needles (dpn). Using double point needles is the oldest way to knit a seamless tube. You cast on like normal and then divide the stitches on to three needles to create a triangle or four needles to create a square. All those needles might appear complex, but it's not. You use your 4th or 5th needle (the one with that came in the pack that you haven't used yet) to knit the stitches off of one needle and on to the empty one you're holding. All the other needles just hang there, waiting for their turn.  Think of them as stitch holders
  • Two Circular Needles.  It is difficult to create the narrow tube of a sock with one circular needle. This is solved by simply using two circular needles at the same time similar to the way you would use double points.  You simply cast on to one needle like normal, divide the stitches on to the two needles, and then use the flexible circulars to work around.  KnittingHelp.com has a great instructional video on their YouTube channel. 
  •  Magic Loop.  The Magic Loop method is new - it was first published in 2002 - but it has quickly become the favorite method of many sock knitters.  It uses one very long circular needle to create a seamless tube of any size, from narrow socks to large sweaters.  The stitches are split so that half are on the needles and the other half are held on the cable, using the cable as a stitch holder.  Michelle Hunter has an excellent video demonstration.  
  • Two At A Time (TAAT).  Two at a time knitting knits two socks at the same time!  It is done using the Magic Loop method and two separate balls of yarn so that both items are on your needles at the same time.  TAAT is great for socks and anything else that requires creating two identical items, like sweater arms.  When you're done knitting you have both socks done at the same time and don't have to worry about the dreaded second sock syndrome (an affliction that prevents the "victim" from getting around to knitting the second sock!). Michelle Hunter explains TAAT knitting in her video instruction
The Launch Pad Socks are knit on double pointed needles, which I think is the easiest method to learn on.  We'll leave the Magic Loop and TAAT knitting for future projects!

Enjoy the Launch Pad Socks - and join us in May for the next project in the Sock of the Month series!

Happy Knitting . . . . Amy

*The artwork is a detail of the painting "Visit of the Angel" by Master Bertram of Minden, from the right wing of the Buxtehude Altar.  Bertram was a Gothic painter born in Minden, German in about 1345.  "Visit of the Angel" is the first known depiction of double pointed needles - and there doesn't appear to be any difference between Mary's needles and the dpn's we use today! 

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