I'm new at blogging and a little unsure at blogging etiquette regarding comments. I've seen some people answer questions in their blogs, others mention e-mailing people in response to their comments and I've had a few people pop into my blog and comment after I've left comments on their blogs. In the past, I've posted my own comment in my own comment field but that's just weird, so I've stopped that and the people that have commented on my blog are people whose blogs I read and comment on all the time, so there is a reciprocity thing going on all the time.
All that to say, if I make some total breach of protocol sometime, please forgive and feel free to let me know what a doofus I am. It is not intentional. I just haven't taken the Blogging 101 course or read any Blogging for Idiots books yet.
Yesterday, I did receive a question from livnletlrn about knitting two socks at once. I'll make an attempt to answer it here. Her question was,
"Can you tell which sock you're on after you walk away from your knitting for a while? I know I could tell if I always stopped midway through a row, but if I'm at the end of a row on both socks, would it be obvious which one to start with?"
Actually, it is the same as when working on one sock on two circulars - the yarn is on the side where you have to start. If you visualize it like two sweater sleeves on the same needle, and imagine that you've properly knit across both of them, the yarn is on the left hand side of both sleeves. When you turn the work to start the next row, the yarn will be on the right side of both. It is the same with the socks on two circular needles. The yarn will be on the right side of both socks when rounds have been completed on both socks and both circular needles will lie parallel to one another. Just make sure that the yarn is on the right side of the knitting and you'll be ready to go.
Where it gets tricky is if you've stopped between socks. Instead of having two parallel circular needles, you have a circle with four pointy ends sticking out in 4 directions. What I figured out is if I could find the last stitch I knitted by pulling on one of the four tips, that was the end and the next sock on the circle was the one I needed to start on. The other tell tale sign is that the yarn tails are facing each other between the spot where you left off. The sock you need to knit will have the yarn on the right side and the sock you just finished will have the yarn on the left side. The other two pointy ends will be hanging out on the opposite side of the circle with no yarn at all and be lonely and sad and wondering why they weren't invited to the party.
When you get to the heel construction, you have to treat each sock separately until your up to the cuff. The Widdershins pattern has one round between the short row heel shaping and the heel flap, where you need to pick up the wrap of the (wrap and turn) stitches and knit it into the next row . That's where I was worried about getting confused between the two socks. Because the round ends between the sole and the front of the sock on the needles, I have to move onto sock2 before completing a full round on sock1. Now, there are two ways to handle this. My was was to just work the pattern as written, moving onto the heel shaping on sock2 and remembering where I was on each sock and praying that I wouldn't get interrupted or that I would have time to write a note to myself if someone's hair caught on fire or there was an emergency. Option two would have been to handle sock1 by itself, simply slipping the stitches on sock2 without working them. This would have been much easier and more logical but being as it was very late and I was tired, never even occurred to me. God took pity on me, a poor, worried mama and kept everyone's hair from spontaneously combusting and kept the distractions to a minimum.
One tip that I use for knitting socks on two circular needles, I use two completely different length needles. This helps me in two ways: 1) I use one (the longer one) as my sole needle, so I always know which needle to increase for the gusset and to work the heel on and; 2) to make it easier to figure out which needle I should pull around to knit on. If you've ever used the wrong end and gotten all your stitches on one needle by accident, you'll realize what a timesaver it is use needles that can be differentiated from one another. Not only are the cable lengths different but the actual needle tips are 2 inches different in length. Another way to make the needles different would be to color code them with some permanent markings of some sort.
Now for the shameful admission of the day. I didn't finish the Elfin Widdershins yesterday. I thought I could but I didn't. This yarn ball is just not shrinking as fast as I thought it would. And I really want to use it all up, so I'll just keep plugging away. The cuffs are already 1-1/2 inches long and the yarn ball has shrunk by a mere 1/4" in diameter, so who knows how high they will go. Any guesses?