We all start somewhere. My knitting began with a class that promised learning to knit by way of knitting a sweater. As a newbie, this was exactly what I wanted. I have always been a quick study for handcrafts and I knew the only way learning to knit was going to not be horribly frustrating for me was just a crash course. Now looking back I think the shop & instructors I took this class from might have been crazy. As an instructor, I would never want to attempt to get beginners to stick to a gauge for a properly fitting sweater — the room for error is just so great because as a beginner gauge and how you hold the yarn is not yet predictable. But that’s just me and it could be because of this experience that I wouldn’t touch such an undertaking with a 10-foot pole. My sweater turned out a little snug, as could be expected since I had no experience and ‘tight makes right’ seemed like the way to go at the time. I learned a valuable lesson (that tight does not make right) as I listened to my instructor attempt to coax it a little bigger (read: beat it into the proper size) with the steamer, all her strength, and sheer determination. To this day, I’m not sure what all the pounding was when she took it in the other room, but I still feel kind of bad about it.
In any case, something else important happened during that first class. As I knit the Lamb’s Pride Bulky into what can best be described as a Cardi of Armor, my instructor knit on a pair of socks in between dropped stitch rescue missions and general questions. I watched as she knit around her double-pointed needles and — as all newbies are — was totally impressed. All these needles poking out of everywhere while this woman calmly knit a neat little tube. She told me that her husband only wore her handknit socks and I remember thinking how sweet that was & how inspiring that one could knit for every day life. I asked how hard it was & she shrugged, handed me a pattern, and said I’d have no problem. After I completed my sweater, I picked up a skein of sock yarn & a set of double-pointed bamboo needles intent on knitting my husband a pair of Australian merino socks.
I don’t really remember how that first sock went other than I felt like the queen of the world when I made it successfully through the heel & deciphered Kitchener stitch on the toe. Like a lot of skills in knitting, it felt like it came very naturally to me. That’s not to say there haven’t been heels that I’ve had to rip out and socks that were intended for my husband that ended up only fitting me. We all knit & learn. Somewhere in the last few years I added magic loop to my toolkit & started using that method for my socks. All my double-pointed needles were bamboo and since the early sock knitting days I’ve made an almost complete transition to higher quality metal needles to the point that bamboo are pretty uncomfortable for me. Rather than invest in new double-points, since learning magic loop I just used the versatility of my long circular needles to do the job.
Something in me over the last few months has brought me back to double-pointed needles for socks though. I really can’t say why. I’m absolutely comfortable making socks via magic loop and with double-points alike – technically speaking there is virtually no difference for me. Yet still I have found myself longing for a nice set of double-pointed needles in my hands. Right now they have a certain je ne sais quoi that I simply can’t put my finger on. Be it a need for change, to keep things new & fresh for me, or just a desire to reach back to my knitting roots without knitting another bulletproof sweater in Lamb’s Pride Bulky, the double-points have been on my mind.
As any good knitter knows, when something is in your mind and you can’t shake it you best get it in your hands. With winter settling in & Christmas looming, I picked up some nice Hiya-Hiya double pointed needles and got to work on some sport weight socks.
While my fancy Signature US1 needles wait in the wings for my first pair of fingering weight socks, I picked up a $9 set of perfectly fine Hiya Hiya double pointed needles. It is the holiday season and I have gifts to purchase & big meals to plan, so another set of the $60 Ferrari of needles is not really a priority for me at the moment. The Hiya Hiyas are comfortable and easy to use and in my opinion a very good value. Most importantly though, they are granting me exactly what I was looking for — I have captured that je ne sais quois. Change. A fresh approach. Roots.
All those years ago I watched in awe. Today I once again have that feeling as I click away on my own socks. It doesn’t matter that they aren’t the first pair and they won’t be the last. The simple act of picking up those same skills, those same knitting moves that brought about the first real spark of interest and my very first heel turn grounds me a little bit in space in time. People change. Lives evolve. The knitting skills though, I may tweak a cast-on or correct for gauge, but after all these years knitting a sock hasn’t changed. In reaching back to where I’ve come from, I’ve found those early skills & techniques are as inspiring as looking ahead to all that I still want to learn. To stay firmly grounded while your skills take flight, now that is truly flying.