Ravelry is a wonderful knitting community where knitters can find patterns, inspiration, fellow knitters and crocheters, browse other people's projects, chat, and visit forums. There are groups dedicated to everything you can imagine. My three favorite groups I've found so far are the German Shorthaired Pointer group, Sock Knitters Anonymous, and Harry potter Knitting/Crocheting House Cup.
Each month, Sock Knitters Anonymous do what is called a sock knit along (SKA). There are several guidelines for the month and participants make a pair of socks according to those specifications to be entered in that month's drawing. The winners of the drawing get knitting-related items such as yarn, pattern books, or knitting accessories. Since it's a drawing, not a contest, anyone can win -- not just the awesome experienced knitters.
If it has escaped your notice to date, I am addicted to knitting socks. So Sock Knitters Anonymous is a great group for me! One of the points of having guidelines for the month is to challenge knitters to try new techniques. September was my first time participating in a SKA and I made the yellow socks I named Goldy Lace.
September's guidelines were:
1. Make yellow socks from a Nancy Bush mystery pattern
2. Make socks of any color from a Wendy Johnson pattern
A mystery pattern is simply a pattern that is not given in its entirety right away. Instead, the pattern is given out in several parts so that you just have to follow along clue by clue and end up with a surprise since you didn't know what it would look like until it was finished. It's a really cool concept but I did not do the mystery pattern this month. Instead, I made yellow socks from Wendy Johnson's Diagonal Lace pattern out of her book Socks from the Toe Up. The brand of yarn is Crystal Palace Yarns from their Panda Silk Print. Lovely, soft yarn. Very fine too. I used size 0 needles but would use a 00 if I knitted with this yarn again.
These socks were a challenge for me because I had never tried to make socks starting from the toe. Also I had never done a lace pattern. And I made these using the Magic Loop technique for the first time.
Socks can be made either top (cuff) down or toe up. Top down starts at the cuff and is then knit down the leg, heel, foot, and ends with the toe. Conversely, toe up socks start at the toe and are knit up the foot, heel, leg, and end with the cuff. Previously, I had made all my socks cuff down on double-pointed needles (DPN). The other needle option is using either two short circular needles or one long one. Knitting two socks at once on one long circular needle is called the Magic Loop (ML) method. It is great for making socks when you aren't sure how much yarn you have because you can work on both socks at the same time and, if you start at the toe, can keep knitting up the leg until you run out of yarn. Cuff down construction means that you might run out of yarn and not yet be finished knitting the foot or toe. Not good!
The lace pattern wasn't really difficult so much as it was just different from what I had done before. Lace involves making holes in the sock. In this case, the holes are placed in diagonal lines to make a neat-o design that I love.
With my September challenge finished I am already looking forward to October's. One of the choices for October is to make a pair of men's socks and Mike has asked to be the recipient. He wants Colts socks. Since he wear a size 16 shoe, I'll probably be making my first pair of socks with worsted weight yarn! Normally socks are made with fingering weight. It is very fine, thin yarn to make small stitches. Worsted weight is a mid-weight yarn that, being thicker, knits up much quicker than fingering. It will make a thicker sock as well which is fine for the ones Mike wants as he doesn't intend to wear them with shoes, just around the house during Colts games.