Friday, February 08, 2008

FO: The Tweedy Socks/Ribbing Needles

Stash sock yarn... not really sure what it is, the ball band disappeared. It's traditional sock yarn, with nylon. Using my standard sock recipe as per the Knitty article. 2.5mm needles.

I've been teaching a few sock classes of late, and we use my standard sock recipe as the basis for designing custom-fit socks. My standard sock recipe calls for the use of smaller needles for the ribbing. I am a filthy hypocrite on this point... I long ago abandoned the use of ribbing needles for socks.

It's partially because socks are my favourite travelling project, and if I'm travelling (whether on a streetcar, subway or a plane), I don't want to bother with any unnecessary equipment.

Plus I'm not sure they're required, strictly speaking. Smaller needles for ribbing allow the ribbing to pull in more, and mitigate the stretching out. For sweaters, when you want a tighter cuff/lower edge, this makes sense.

But for socks, I don't bother. Two reasons: I tend not to do a ton of ribbing at the cuff -- as per my Basic Ribbed Sock design, I find k1 p1 ribbing very tedious.

And perhaps -- more to the point -- if you design your sock well, it fits your leg and doesn't fall down so you don't need the tighter ribbing to keep it up.

Yes, that's right! A sock that actually fits. Back to my point in the Knitty article, if you're going to make socks you may as well make 'em to fit. I'm modestly sized -- not very tall, small feet, narrow ankles -- and I find that one-size-fits-all socks are always too big, and even the smaller size of a multi-size pattern is often a bit big. So I make 'em to fit. (I refer you back to my standard sock recipe .)

And they don't fall down! And therefore I don't need tighter ribbing! And so I don't use ribbing needles. Now, I do use a slightly smaller needle for the entire thing -- 2.5mm rather than 3mm.

There are knitters out there who might disagree with me violently. And this is the great part about this sort of thing -- we're ultimately designing and working to suit our own needs. I just don't happen to need to work my ribbing on smaller needles.

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