Wednesday, December 20, 2006

And Then I Corrected My Purl

Fast forward 40+ years. Three doll-collector friends, who also happen to be accomplished knitters, introduced me to Stitches East in 2001. One friend told me about it because it was in my area and I had started making some attempts at doll sweater knitting. That friend couldn't attend. The other two friends said they would drive up from Maryland and join me. Stitches East was being held in Pennsylvania at that time. The three of us attended the show and I was completely taken by what I saw there. I decided to attend a free Learn to Knit session because they were giving out free yarn and needles. 'Free' is my favorite four letter word. My friends thought I was too advanced for a "Learn to" class, but am I so glad I attended! I learned that for I-don't-know-how-many years I had been purling backwards! No wonder my stitches were so tight. They were twisted! No wonder I was so slow at knitting. It was hard to knit into each tight, twisted stitch! I immediately bought yarn and needles to make two of the newly popular big-needle scarves.

However, those scarves were not to be my pivotal purchase. I saw that one of my friends was knitting a pair of socks on skinny, short, wooden, double-pointed needles. I was mesmerized. I remembered wanting to knit socks in high school when girls were making argyles for their boyfriends. I never put forth an effort to learn because the point was moot. I didn't have a boyfriend in high school. But I digress. About those socks my friend was knitting at Stitches, I couldn't get them out of my mind. After Stitches we were IMing one day when she told me she had used Learn to Knit Socks by Edie Eckman. She had bought a second copy in error. I bought her extra copy and knitted my first pair of socks. This first pair, basic anklets, were of Lion Brand's Woolease, the closest I could come to DK weight at the craft store.

Oddly enough soon after my first few pairs of socks on double points, Socks Soar on Two Circulars by Cat Bordhi took the sock-knitting world by storm. I bought the book. I made my first pair on two circulars and put my double points away. This first pair was made of Regia cotton in shades of the sand and sea. I knit them on the beach at Cape Cod.

After more and more pairs of socks, it was time for Stitches East again. I attended Stitches East 2002 alone but no less enthralled. At the Manning's booth I was introduced to The Magic Loop. The book, Sarah Hauschka's "magical unvention," written by Bev Galeskas, a 40-inch circular Addi Turbo size US 1 and many balls of sock yarn came home with me from that Stitches East. I was hooked on socks! The many sets of Addi Turbo size US 1, 24-inch needles went the way of my wooden double points. I became a Magic Loop afficionado. I still am. They call me "The Sock Lady." This first "Magic Loop" pair were made with Regia and were for my mother. Can you tell which one was tried on before I took the picture?

The book that changed my knitting life is the first of Sally Melville's Knitting Experience series, The Knit Stitch. Somewhere in the midst of all the sock knitting I started using what I learned from that book. I no longer pinch the yarn between my right thumb and index finger. I am still a "thrower" but I have the yarn wrapped around my little finger and over my index finger and with circular needles I'm almost fast. Heck, I am fast! But a circular sock machine is faster . . .

Bona Fide Knitter

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