Now, I’m not a sock knitter – and one reason is that I can’t manipulate double-pointed needles properly with my hands in the state they are (the surgery has helped but I’m still prone to tendon flare-ups when I overdo it or hold my hands in a cramped position for longer than about ten minutes). There are other reasons, but they are gradually being whittled away, and when I was sent Knit Your Socks on Straight by Alice Curtis by Storey Publishing, more whittling occurred. Some of the patterns are just sooo tasty.
But that’s not the real point of the book – the real point is quite exciting: knit socks using straight needles. No messing about with four or five dpns, no more dropping them down the side of the sofa or finding them being used for strange engineering tasks on a motorbike engine (excuse me???). And you don’t have to learn magic loop, either. The subtitle says it all: ‘a new and inventive technique with just two needles’.
I’ve been waving this book at people, and the non-sockies have leapt upon it. But the reaction from existing sock knitters has been interestingly varied. One almost sneered – ‘why would anyone want to do that?’ – until I pointed out that some people, like me, can’t manipulate multiple needles. Another was seized by enthusiasm and I had to prize the book off her so I could do this review. The patterns have got everyone going, and the technique? Well, it’s so intriguing…
You can find patterns for two-needle socks, and they sometimes come up in books. I’ve done some myself, ages ago, as a sort of snuggly bed-and-house sock but they were uncomfortable. The seam went under my foot and no matter how careful I’d been with finishing – and I’d been very careful – it was lumpy. Alice Curtis had encountered the same problem, but she set out to solve it instead.
The key is in the seam, of course. It’s often placed on one side (these socks come in a definite right and left) and is worked so that it’s extremely smooth. The edge stitches have to be slipped, and closing the seam is critical – but it’s easy with slipped purlwise stitches to work on.
She starts with a basic, worsted-weight sock for you to practice on, with amazingly clear instructions and illustrations, but soon moves on to other exciting developments, such as these which almost everyone to whom I’ve shown the book wants to have a go at knitting:
As you can see, the seams aren’t an afterthought; they’re part of the design. Sometimes they’re deliberately more obvious than others, but they don’t create a comfort problem. And I’d just like to add a personal thank you: on sizes, and a comfy cast-on. I spent far too long doing ballet – until I discovered real men as opposed to teenage crushes, that would be, men who use your dpns to mend their motorbikes – and still have big calves (possibly also a consequence of walking up and down my hill all the time). Many sock patterns are too tight for me; these are not. And I want these, too:
There are chaps’ socks, baby bootees and some rather scary ‘moccasocks’, but there really is something here for everyone. The straight-needle-sock sceptic whose reaction I mentioned above really likes the moccasocks. Got her.