Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Case of The Emperor's New Clothes

My lace socks are finished and I enjoyed every minute (well, not quite, but I'll explain) and I realise more and more that I prefer to knit something quite patterned, quite lacy. It certainly makes things much more interesting, as opposed to knitting plain old stocking stitch, which is easy but soooooo boring. This stitch is Waterfall from the "Sensational Knitted Socks" book, by Charlene Schurch. I really find this book useful, as you can use the tables to calculate how many stitches to cast on for any sock with any stitch pattern and no matter what your tension or needle size. Having said that, I can never quite get my socks to be narrow enough. This time I cast on 54 stitches, thinking that it would be perfect, as I was using a lighter yarn (Jawoll Cotton) and maybe they'd come up nice and small. I kept my tension tight to the point of snapping one of my brittany birch 2.25mm needles - obviously not the way to go as it also made my fingers sore! But the socks, although a snugger fit than the recent Koigu ones, are still on the roomy side, girth-wise. Try again I suppose. But I am happy with them and the pattern makes a lovely airy sock.

So where do the emperor's clothes come into this? It's the brittany birch needles. The fact that one of them snapped was definitely down to my mishandling of them, so that doesn't come into it, although I've already ordered some metal 2mm ones, as they're far more hardy. Even with normal use I could sense the fragility of the birch ones in 2.25mm. But the thing about these needles is they are so sticky for goodness sake. I first cast on for the Koigu sock using these, and thought the combination of the Koigu and the needle just too tacky, so I changed to the Clover bamboo - no problems. I cast on the Waterfall sock, above, with the bamboos and knitted the whole thing with them, until it came to the toe, at which point I introduced the reinforcing thread and the birch 2.25mm needles. Yuk! They seem to have a tacky coating of varnish on them. I know I've read a lot of good comments from people about these, but apart from the fact they're so cute and tiny and woody, I think they're horrid. It's tempting to go for a needle, or anything for that matter, based largely on aesthetics (and I'm a terrible culprit-I am indeed culpable) but when it comes down to it, sometimes you just have to go for something practical but ugly. Skinny little wooden needles are not practical and that is that. Bigger ones are just fine. I always use my clover bamboo 2.5mm for socks and find them perfect: strong and not too sticky.

Right, better get on with Ella 3. Nearly done with section 2 but haven't touched her for two days, so lagging at the moment. I've already got my eye on knitting a Lady Eleanor in Noro Kureyon. Take a look at

Hope you all had a good sunny weekend!


  1. Love the colour - turquoise is so fresh and summery.
    Had a look at the Lady Eleanor (love that song - takes me back to Youth Club in the Methodist Hall in Downham Market) That would be WOW! in Noro Kureyon. Do It! I want to feast my eyes!

  2. Yeah, I have no money at present and don't know how to spin Noro Kureyon. Shame....!

  3. Love the lacy socks - are they comfy to walk in though?
    I know what you mean about boring. I'm currently knitting a fisherman's hat (for a would-be fisherman) which involves 9 inches of 2x2 rib across 96 stitches. Still at least I was able to glance up occasionally when we were watching a video last night.

  4. they are lovely socks! I agree with you about the birch needles... didn't get on with them myself, though they are pretty.

  5. You're not helping here. Not at all. I've been drooling over the Lady Eleanor in the book, didn't need to know about a webpage full of it! Is Silk Garden soft enough to cuddle? And the sock reference book sounds useful: my calves seem to be unusually thick, er, muscular. Too much walking. I seem to recall a reference in one of the Hornblower books to gentlemen of the time padding their stockings with oakum to form a shapely calf. Falsies, as it were :-)

  6. Your socks look great. Shame about the needles, I haven't tried the Brittany ones but I like a very smooth needle personally - like the addi turbo circulars.

  7. I reckon your socks might not be narrow enough because of the tension you get from your yarn-winding around the needle technique. If you see what I mean. Doing the finger-flicking method really narrowed my socks down.
    But your socks look great.