9 Inch Circulars vs. Double Pointed Needles: A Review.

Very witty, clever title, no? Ok, no.  But sometimes simple and straightforward is best.

As you may know, I have only become a serious knitter in the last few years.  I’ve known how to knit for quite some time but contented myself with producing endless numbers of scarves and blankets.  Finally, I decided I wanted to be able to knit things that weren’t rectangular. Time to kick it up a notch

.cookfresh

I am someone who likes to work from scratch, I dislike buying prepackaged food and get great enjoyment from cooking delicious meals from simple, clean ingredients.  If I’m using ingredients I have grown myself? Bonus points!! So, once I decided to begin really knitting I wanted to make things that were both beautiful (at least to me) and practical.  This was going to require gaining techniques and methods scarf knitting simply had not taught me.

So with all of these things coalescing in my head, I decided it was time to knit some beautiful and practical socks.  There seems to be a quite large number of people who are very serious about socking knitting.  I remember hearing of a Sock Summit (which is, sadly, no more) that was entirely dedicated to folks who are all about knitting socks.  Although I never got to attend such an event I decided to hop aboard and see why everyone was having so much fun.

socks

I began learning to knit socks around the same time that 9-inch circular needles were becoming very popular.  Katie, at Inside Number 23, one of my favorite podcasters and a knitter of some lovely socks,  mentioned her interest in trying these needles in her sock knitting.  Since I had knit a few cowls on circular needles and was comfortable knitting this way, I bit the bullet bought some Hiya Hiya Sharps needles so I could get started.  It seemed to me the advantages would be fewer chances for laddering and not needing to switch needles 3 times per row.

So I began on (as my long-time readers know) on a pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks.  The first row was a bit of a challenge but then I always find the first row on any circular project a bit fiddly.  Once I get going I am usually fine.  Since I was knitting in tandem, I had two needles going and I knit the cuff, leg, and heel of one sock and the cuff, leg, and heel of the other entirely on the 9-inch circulars.  Knitting with such a short cable required adjusting how I held my hands.  For whatever reason, this hand positioning caused more stiffness and occasional cramping in my hands.  Also, the SHARP in Hiya Hiya sharps lived up to their name. I started to get very tender spots on my fingers that sometimes made me have to put aside my knitting for a while.  To be fair, I think this was more because of the way my hands were positioned.  Although I haven’t tested this theory, I suspect that if I were to knit socks on Hiya Hiya’s in double pointed needles it wouldn’t be an issue.

Somewhere around the middle of knitting the foot I decided to move my stitches onto double pointed needles and complete the socks this way.  Coincidentally, right after I had done this, I happened to watch an episode of Inside Number 23 in which she had come to the same conclusion.  I felt very vindicated.

As I newish sock knitter I had (finally!!) gotten past the heel, the most intimidating part for me, so finishing the socks from there was fairly simple and I did indeed finish both of the socks at long, long last.  Although I am slightly loose in my knitting I was able to pay attention to my tension and avoid any laddering.  Also, once I got into a good rhythm switching needles really wasn’t a big deal.

So I am now, sitting here wearing my own hand knit socks.  They are by no means perfect, there were a few fixes here and there that I had to do.  BUT they fit and the mistakes are subtle.  I am very pleased with myself. 🙂

Hermionedone

In spite of the picture, the cuff lengths are the same, it is just not a good angle to show that.

One of the factors that kept me motivated to actually complete these socks was that I had another skein of yarn that I was dying to cast on for another pair of socks.  But I sternly told myself I was not allowed to cast them on until this pair was completed.  In case you’re interested it was the skein of yarn I purchased from Voolenvine Yarns that I described in Yarn Buying: Bloodsport.

I am happily working away on the leg of the first sock now.  I decided to do this pair also in the Hermione pattern just to allow myself to become more comfortable with the process since I hit a number of frustrations last time.  I am feeling far more confident this time and it is going very well.  I hope to have these finished in a couple of weeks.

 

coven.JPG
Coven colorway by Voolenvine Yarns

 

 

I have to give some shout outs here.  My friend, Lea, was invaluable in helping me rescue my socks when I was stuck in a frustrating spot.  Also Maggie, who as you recall from Maggie Menzel: Knitwear Designer actually creates sock patterns told me that she wasn’t really happy with her sock knitting when she was still learning until about the 3rd dontgiveuppair she had made.  This encouraged me a good deal and helped me persevere.

So the conclusion for me is that I prefer double pointed needles over the small circulars but I enjoyed the process of figuring that out.

Also, I’m starting to get what all the fuss about sock knitting is about.  The important thing is not allowing yourself to be discouraged.

In that vein, I will close with this excellent quote by Georgia O’Keeffe:

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life-and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

Whatever holiday you just celebrated I hope you had a wonderful and meaningful time.

Happy New Year!

Jamye

P.S I receive no compensation for any of the brands or names I mention in my blog, this is all from my own personal experience and journey.

 

2 thoughts on “9 Inch Circulars vs. Double Pointed Needles: A Review.

  1. I’ve just returned to knitting after a very long break (decades). So much has changed; I love self-striping wool, but not yet convinced on circular needles, but I have a couple of patterns which require them, so time to get to grips with them!

    Like

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