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How do you knit socks?

I am still deciding. Or I’m in transition. Or I’m confused.

When I started knitting socks, I knit them with worsted weight yarn. I’d never turned a heel. I’d never knit anything smaller than a hat. I was so frightened of fingering-weight yarn that I did what felt like the safe thing at the time. I have a pair of worsted-weight cotton socks that hurt to put into shoes. It took me five pairs of socks until I graduated to sock yarn – and I haven’t exhausted all the colors yet, so there’s a good chance I’m going to keep obsessing over it.

IMG_0522.JPGWhen I started knitting socks, I knit on bamboo dpns – I had lots of bamboo double points, and so it was familiar to buy smaller ones. When those proved too sticky, I switched to metal ones. I have the whole set of 6″ metal sock needles from Knitpicks. And that’s where I stayed for a long time. Mostly metal (I branched into the square ones, but they were super pointy and hurt my fingers when I’m not careful), occasionally wood. But it started to feel slow. All those needles. All that stopping with one needle and starting with the next. Sliding a quarter of the stitches, and another quarter, and another quarter.

IMG_0520.JPGSo I decided to try knitting on two short circs. I was in a yarn shop in Maine when someone showed me a pair she was knitting this way – it didn’t click right away, but I finally tried it. Success! Half the stitches at a time. It was faster. I’ve knit several pairs of socks with these needles, and it works just fine. But right around the time  we went to Georgia to visit some family, I noticed how much it drove me crazy that that needle not in use clicked against itself every time I moved my hands (which, for someone who’s got ‘learn continental’ on the to do list but still hasn’t done it, is frequently).

IMG_0521.JPGAnd so it was time to try magic loop. I’d used the technique once, three years ago, with much larger needles and a circ that was never meant to be twisted around into a magic loop (those Denise interchangeables – love ’em, but they’re not as flexible as the cord on a sock needle) when I was knitting sleeves for a baby sweater, several hundred miles away from my dpns at home. It had worked okay, but it had felt precarious, like I was hurting the yarn and the needles doing it. I decided that our trip to London would be the perfect time to cast on a test case pair of socks for magic loop. And it was great! I think a lot of the flying feeling my Smokestack socks are inspiring is due to the pattern – I love the cables and the nice, stretchy ribbing and the garter details, and the first sock just flew by.

So I guess my conclusion is that there is no conclusion? I’m looking forward to trying a pair of socks two-at-a-time, but with having to keep track of yarn coming from either end of a ball, it feels to me like it would be messy to take along for commute knitting. And barring loving that, I think I could get used to magic loop. Except I still have all these dpns. And I like how securely on the needles the socks feel on two circs, which is important when that’s the sock on the go with me.

How does everyone else do it? Do you pick a method and stick to it? Has it changed for you over time? Want to tell me your sock story?

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