Monday, December 8, 2008


As you know, I've talked again and again about the importance, the practicality, and the incredible satisfaction of learning new skills. Granted, these skills are not always strictly practical (think spinning wool--for me, it's way more time-consuming and expensive to spin wool and knit something with the yarn [at least for now], but the satisfaction of doing it myself, and the meditation of spinning are worth it), but they are all useful in some way if for no other reason than they keep me sane. I wouldn't underestimate the importance of calm and sanity during these tough times.

In any case, my most recent skill is sock-knitting. I just finished--this week--my first pair of socks. They are far from perfect. One is bigger than the other because I did my decreasing the wrong way on the second sock. But they're beautiful, warm, green, fitted (as opposed to tube) socks. I couldn't be happier with them.

I had some help learning this skill from the woman I hope to be in 25 years. She farms, raises animals, spins her own wool, and teaches others how to do the same. Sock-knitting is far from impossible to learn on your own, but I would advise finding someone who has done it before who can give you pointers, especially if you aren't ultra-familiar with knitting terms. k2p2 is one thing--even if you don't knit you can probably guess what this means. ssk is another--I had no clue what that meant. There is one website that I absolutely love because it has, in addition to a glossary of knitting terms and some patterns, video of different stitches and methods with accompanying audio that tells you exactly what is going on as you watch.

What I liked so much about the way Lorri taught me to knit socks is that she uses a method with two circular needles instead of double-pointed ones. I'm sure doubled-pointed needles have their virtues, but every time I use them I end up losing stitches and getting frustrated. The circular method enables you to work without having to worry about stitches falling off the ends of the dpn's. You can also knit two socks at once this way (I'm not that advanced yet, but now that I have the basic sock-knitting concepts down, I'm sure it's not that difficult).

Now, I am in the process of knitting wrist-warmers. I've finished one and will start the second today. I'm using some very fussy yarn (bulky, silk and farm wool--in short, coarse, variable yarn that isn't at all elastic), so it's taking me longer than it probably should, but I know that when I'm done I will have some mighty comfy wrist warmers and free fingers.

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