Anyone who has ever knit socks has probably experienced it…the dreaded “second sock syndrome” (SSS). The symptoms are clear and easy to diagnose. They include, but are not limited to, wandering around the house with the one finished sock on your foot trying to convince yourself to start the second but really just wanting to move on to another new knitting project; continually knitting, taking out, and re-knitting the second sock because you want it to perfectly match the first; counting, re-counting, and counting again the number of rows you did for the cuff or foot of the first sock so that you will get them both the same and yet wondering why they don’t look the same; and the worst symptom…finding a single sock and a ball of matching yarn sitting in the back corner of your yarn storage area and not being able to remember what the pattern was nor where you got the pattern, and thus throwing it all back in the corner to sit for another six months.
I learned to knit socks on DPNs (double pointed needles) about 7 years ago. I loved making them and my family loves wearing them. After about a year, I found out that it is possible to knit two socks at one time. I was sooooo excited, especially since I suffer from major cases of SSS. I got a book from the library, bought myself a couple of pairs of circular needles and went for it.
The method was no problem. Sure, it is tricky when first learning how to cast on and get all the stitches set up, and the first few rows were a bit of a struggle (as are the first few rows of any sock in my opinion). But overall, I grasped the method quickly and was on my way to completing two socks at once.
Unfortunately, there was an issue. A big, frustrating issue. The issue was my needles.
As you can see, the cord for the needles is twisted for packaging, but unfortunately it wants to hold that twist. Here you can see my daughter trying to straighten them out, they still want to twist back:
I searched for answers to get it to straighten better. People suggested heating it with a blowdryer or hot water and straightening it while warm. I tried and tried but nothing would convince those cords to stop twisting. You can imagine that when you have two of those cords, hooked together with two socks in-process, you end up with a big mess. I spent more time wrestling the cords and untangling cords from yarn than I spent actually knitting. By halfway through the sock I threw the whole thing across the room and gave up. I happily went back to my DPN knitting of one sock at a time, and experienced less SSS because I was just glad to not be wrestling cords.
Fast forward 6 years to this last December. I was at knitting club working on a sock on DPNs, while a friend of mine sat next to me knitting two socks on circulars. The topic came up and I told her that I loved the concept of two-at-a-time, and that I even understood and enjoyed the method of it, but that I would never wrestle circulars again.
She showed me her circulars. They weren’t trying to twist up! She pointed out the problem was the quality of my circular needles and that I needed to give it another shot with higher quality needles (which have higher quality cords). Since my symptoms of SSS had greatly increased again in the six years since trying out 2-at-a-time, I was totally on board to give it another try. I bought a pair of 24-inch long size 5 circulars and a pair of 32-inch long size 5 circulars in the brand she suggested, grabbed the same book that taught me before, and went to work on a pair of socks for my son.
It was AWESOME. I loved it. It felt so good for both socks to be finished at once, and for them both to look the same. And there was absolutely NO wrestling with cords nor tangled messes (well, maybe a few small tangles, but I was trying to get used to the method again and it had nothing to do with the cords).
Look at the finished socks one on top of the other. No blocking at all and they match eachother perfectly!
As soon as that pair was off I started another pair for myself
I am totally convinced now that this is the way I want to always knit socks. After I finish this last sock I have on DPNs (a victim of SSS), I don’t think I will ever go back to DPNs again. Now I just need to collect more sizes of the circular needles and I’ll be set. I know what will be on my wish list for birthday, and Mother’s day, and…4th of July?
So, if you are a sock knitter and are now convinced that you need to switch over and try 2-at-a-time you are probably dying to know what brand the needles are and what book taught me. Here you go:
The needles are Knitter’s Pride Dreamz. They have both fixed circulars (the cord is permanently attached) and interchangeable circulars (you can remove the cord and put a different size needle on them). The fixed circulars come in all sizes, the interchangeables come in size 4 and up. The circular needles have two different lengths of needles too, depending on if you like to have more needle in your hand and less cord as you knit. Not only are the cords manageable, which was my biggest issue with circulars before, but oh-my-goodness the needles themselves are soooo high quality. They are very smooth, hard, and pointy. It is easy to get into even a tight stitch with these pointy ends. I am actually dream-ing (pun intended) of potentially owning more than just circular needles in this line – they also have straight needles and DPNs. The fixed circular needle prices range from about $8-13 depending on the size.
The book I used to learn the method is called “Knitting Circles Around Socks” by Antje Gillingham. I found the book to be easy to use, for someone who has knit socks on DPNs before and thus understands the concept of how socks are built. I also think it would be easy for a first-time sock knitter, as long as the person already knows basic knitting, cast on, knit, purl, etc. There are good pictures and clear instructions.
And now for the surprise…
Before you go out and buy some of these awesome needles for yourself…I am working on putting together a giveaway. But you have to be a little patient. I will be posting the giveaway in the next couple of weeks!
If you can’t be that patient then go buy them for yourself…you won’t regret it because they are really awesome!