Shortly after I first learned to knit I discovered people talking about hand knitting socks. For some reason this appeals to me, having a drawer full of pretty colourful socks. I also figured that socks were a short term project, which considering most of my projects are huge, would be a nice change. So I figured I had best do some research.
Where to Start?
It seems there are three (main) ways to knit small diameter tubes; double pointed needles (DPN's), 2 circular needles, magic loop (ML). Around the time I was doing the research to figure out what I was doing it became clear my daughter didn't like mittens and the shops don't sell gloves with fingers for such small hands. As a result I made some basic crochet mittens, these worked as she keeps them on. However they were made with no stretch in them and were hard to get on. So I figured a small pair of fingerless gloves were a good place to practice the three methods of knitting small tubes. The idea is to knit a small tube in a 2x2 rib and make a one row buttonhole for the thumb.
Two Circular Needes
So with some scrap yarn I started with the 2 circs method as that was the easiest place to start. I found I could do this and also found I had no ladders! This was a great start but I found I didn't like the various needles hanging down as I worked. Don't get me wrong, that's only a minor complaint. What was good for me is that I found I have a tendency since getting circular needles to drop the empty needle as its normally attached and hard to lose. This is OK until you switch back to straights or as next DPN's
DPN's - or Sticks if you are my husband
In the meantime I had bought a set of DPN's so I tried them, but had various problems with them. I can knit with them, but found I had to constantly move them and adjust them just so I could knit. It turns out the way I purl doesn't work with the DPN's as every time I tried to purl my working yarn got caught in one of the tips of the DPN's. I was kind of upset by this as for some reason I really wanted to use DPN's, don't know why. Also because of my tendency to drop empty needles when not in use (using circs this isn't a problem as they are attached to each other) meant I kept dropping a dpn and had to chase it. Although I wanted to like DPN's I found I had lots of big ladders no matter what I did, this was disappointing as with 2 circs I had to put in little effort to avoiding ladders.
So yesterday I tried the last method, magic loop, I like this. It doesn't result in anything hanging down to annoy me, theres no chance of losing a needle as with DPN's. Another bonus was that there were no ladders, OK so getting the stitches back onto the needle was often tight but not impossible.
So Now what?
For some reason I keep wanting to like DPN's, I cant figure out why I want to either. In the end having tried several times to get the DPN's to work for my I had to be sensible and say it just wasn't working. So that leaves either 2 cirs or magic loop, which isn't a contest in my mind now. The thing is the way the stitches are configured on both those methods is identical and ML has the advantage of using only one needle. So I reckon unless something major happens I will be using magic loop from here on.
As I result of my various tests I now have two fingerless gloves in progress, one on ML and the other on 2 circs. This has proved to be a good comparison and helped me make the choice of ML. In the meantime I will finish both gloves and then start practicing some sock knitting as Santa got a me a book for Christmas.
So now I need to figure out what length of needle I want for ML knitting and buy a set of the smaller sizes for whn I get into sock knitting seriously. The other thing ML has going for it is that you can knit 2 things at the same time on the one needle (if its got a long enough cable). You can do this with 2 circs as well but im not going down that road.
So where am I now? Finish those gloves for the Wench then wth some scrap DK yarn and my 4 mm circs practice making a sock. I decided this first attempt isn't going to be made to fit anyone but just me getting the hang of making a sock without worrying about gauge or sock yarn or anything like that (also means I don't have to worry about making a second sock to match).