Monday, June 06, 2011

D is for... DPNs

As you can see - the 30 day blogging challenge has become somewhat theoretical. I am going to carry on with the A-Z thing though, because it's fun, and why not. With interspersed book reviews... and I'm going to try to make it semi-regular...

So - DPNs.

There are almost as many ways of knitting socks as there are people, I think. I'm in a knit-along (KAL) for Cookie A.'s book knit. and there are people knitting on 4 DPNs, 5DPNs, one circular, two circulars, two at a time on two circulars, two at a time on one circular. Some are adapting the patterns to knit toe-up, and there are as many methods of knitting toe-up socks as there are top-downs...

I also remember being at the (sadly now closed) Stash Yarns in London when there were 7 knitters there, using 7 different methods of knitting socks, and a lady came into the shop and said "what's the best way to knit socks?" How we laughed. (And then explained why we were laughing and invited her to watch us all knitting and work out which might be best. Obviously.)

Me, I'm a fan of double-pointed needles in a set of 4 for socks. I like the triangle formation, and how stable it is.

I like wooden needles, because I'm a looser knitter and I like the grabbiness of wood. My favourite DPNs are a set of 3 (formerly 5) Colonial Rosewoods from Wibbo several years ago - I broke one, and left one on a table at work while knitting at lunch... I supplement these with KnitPro Harmony wooden needles, which aren't quite the same (and are half an inch longer) but do the job.

The only book I could find which made sense to me while I was trying to learn how to knit with DPNs was called America's Knitting Book by Gertrude Taylor (found in Oxfam in Ely, but I gather it's back in print at . I warmed to this book on the bus home, when it said "If you are left-handed, you should not knit from left to right. Left-handed people write in the same direction as right-handed people do, so too, you should knit in the same direction as other knitters do, so that others will be able to help you." My grandma tried to teach me by getting me to sit opposite her and knit in the opposite direction, and it just didn't work - in the end I taught myself from a (right-handed) Ladybird book. I would love to find a copy of that book again. I have met a couple of truly left-handed knitters over the last couple of years and they do brilliant work; but I'm not sure I'd have carried on in the 1970s climate if I'd knitted entirely left-handed.

One of the legacies of Gertrude Taylor, though, is that she does say breezily "If you are going to knit socks without seams you will be using the four-needle method", and additionally shows all of her diagrams for both circular and DPNs with the knitter working from the back of the triangle, looking at the right side but with the wrong side facing, thus:

(This was a test knit for Erssie Major last summer; a lovely Christmas stocking in colourwork).

One of the good things about knitting "inside out" in colourwork is that the "floats" (lengths of yarn between one use of a colour and the next) are on the outside, so you're less likely to get all tightened-up...

The other thing I like about using DPNs for any circular stuff is their compactness.

Knitting is totally a matter of preference - and this is mine.

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