With the ‘Magic Loop’ method for knitting in circles, that is.
Not that I’m about to throw out every single pair of my dpns… But wow, is it ever so much easier. I had a feeling that I would feel this way from everything that I’d heard and read from other knitters, but I was curious if I would really like it that much more, or if it would be too confusing to easily understand. I just figured that I had to give it a try for myself and see what I thought.
I’d originally considered both Magic Loop (1 long circular needle) and the other methods I’ve seen that involve knitting socks on 2 long circular needles. I’d bought books detailing each of those methods last fall, but hung onto them until I was comfortable enough with the ‘traditional’ sock-making method using dpns. And I think that really helped – knowing how socks are structured and what the different terms (gusset, inseam, etc.) meant helped when it came time to adapt to a new way of going round, and round.
I decided to try Magic Loop specifically because I figured that keeping track of one needle would probably be easier than multiple ones, and because I was able to find a couple of videos that gave me the general idea beforehand too. And the book that I’d bought really helped as well – it was recommended to me at the LYS (local yarn store) and even though it’s a very short, simple book, it was very clear and easily understandable. The book is called ‘The Magic Loop’ and can be found here: http://www.knitpicks.com/books/The_Magic_Loop__D30340.html.
There’s a basic sock pattern in the book – called ‘Winter Socks’ so that’s what I decided to try first. But before that, I simply cast on a bunch of stitches and worked on getting the hang of the method in general. The only problem I had (and still have) is figuring out exactly how to join the round to begin with, without twisting the stitches. Every time I’ve managed to figure it out, I end up losing the very beginning stitch once I get back around to the last stitch before the join and have to try and cast it back on in the middle of everything. Somehow when I’m maneuvering the needles to untwist the stitches as I join the two ends, it untwists something in that final stitch I’d cast on. But once I get the round joined, it’s amazing how easy and quick it is to knit in the round this way.
My biggest astonishment was that there truly is no issue at all with laddering in Magic Loop! I’d struggled with that so much when making socks and such on dpns, no matter how tightly I pulled the first and last stitches before switching needles. In fact, by the time I’d finished the last pair of socks, my hands were hurting so much that I was beginning to become really concerned as to whether or not I’d be able to keep knitting so much.
With Magic Loop however, I’ve had almost NO hand pain at all when knitting. Other than a twinge or two, there’s been nothing! I’ve actually been enjoying knitting so much more again – and I finished the first sock in a record 5 days!! It is knitted on worsted weight yarn with size 5 needles (versus sock yarn and size 2 needles), so that makes a difference too, but wow. Five days!
I really like this pattern – it’s prettier than just straight stockinette and it’s just a simple k1 p1 for the ‘beaded rib’ design. It was very interesting to see how the sock went together in Magic Loop – and I found it a lot easier to knit the heel flap without juggling extra needles hanging below, and it was so much easier to pick up the inseam stitches and knit the gusset section this way too. There was a lot less maneuvering around of the hands, and I think that helped with the hand pain too.
I’ve already started the second sock of the pair and after that will probably try this method with regular sock yarn for a pair of socks for one of my girls. I’m curious how that will go. Eventually I’d like to learn to do two socks at a time this way, but I’m finding that going in baby steps and learning these things incrementally is helping a lot.
Here’s the final product for Winter Sock #1 – the yarn I used is Paton’s Décor – a mixed wool and acrylic that’s machine washable. I love the colors!
Let’s see if I can beat the 5-day record with Winter Sock #2…