There were six of us gathered around the table of my local yarn store (LYS) Sunday afternoon. Across from me sat an older woman who preferred crochet to knitting. Next to her was a not-quite-thirty expectant mother who, like me, has been knitting for less than a year. On her right was another older woman who, when asked, explained, “Oh, I’ve been knitting for years,” and who was looking to make something for the newest grandbaby. Then came a woman a little older than me, a breast cancer survivor who was just getting back into knitting. Next to me was the woman who posed the question about our knitting experience and revealed that she was very much a beginner, although to those with knitting stereotypes, she looked like just the sort of granny who’d been knitting all her life. Then me.
And then there was Ann: our LYS owner and, for the next three hours, our teacher. As always, she was cool, confident, and collected, no matter what snarl of yarn and needle we waved in the air.
On the table in front of us were 2 circular knitting needles of different lengths (US 5), a small ball of baby-soft yarn (pink for girls, blue for boys, and red for the undecided), 2 stitch markers, a darning needle, and the pattern that was the cause of all of our trepidation.
More specifically, baby socks. Baby socks we were knitting on 2 circular needles. I wondered, as I sat there flipping through the pattern before the class began, if I’d made a big mistake. After all, to date I’d knit exactly 2 pairs of socks, neither with any shaping. I didn’t know what a gusset was. My only previous experience with picking up stitches was a disaster. And I’d never completed a project with circular needles before (the only one I started was in progress, only a few rounds in). I wondered if anyone would notice if I quietly snuck out the door.
“Ok, I’ve locked us in!” Ann announced cheerfully as she made her way to the back of the store. “There’s no escape now!” Apparently she had experience with cold feet.
Fortunately, I needn’t have worried. Ann told us right from the start that this was a class about knitting socks, and a class about knitting socks on circular needles. We commenced casting on and almost immediately commenced frogging.
“Too tight,” Ann chided as she tried to move my stitches on the needles. The top of a sock had to be elastic, she reminded us.
Finally we were all prepared to start the ribbing on our cuff. We knit in silence for several minutes, trying (and occasionally failing) to keep our needles straight and the right side of the project facing us as we worked. Once we developed a rhythm, the conversation started.
The expectant mother was a catalyst for a lot of the chatter, of course. It led to discussion about names and birthdays and what it was like to be pregnant during the summer here in south Texas (if you’d like to know, it sucks. But since she’s due in November, as I was with Lexie, she won’t be hugely pregnant then, and that helps. A lot). From there, the talk branched all over the place, interrupted only by the occasional knitting emergencies. The woman who survived breast cancer was the first to hold up one empty circular needle and laugh–Ann had warned us about making sure we kept track of which needle end we were supposed to be working with (which is why we were using circular needles of 2 different lengths, to help keep them seperate).
The fix was quickly applied–just a simple matter of shifting the newly knit stitches on to the newly empty needle. Good thing it was so simple, because it wasn’t long before the expectant mother and I simultaneously held up our empty needles and laughed at ourselves and each other.
We took a break about halfway through–Ann brought out the popcorn and we wandered around the store, admiring various yarns and chatting about projects we’d made, our works in progress, and what we’d make if we bought this…or maybe this…ooh, or how about these? Then it was back to work, and I finally learned what a gusset is and the proper way to pick up stitches to knit one. As we knit in stockinette with carefully placed decreases, we suddenly were able to see a sock forming from the yarn we’d put on the needles. At least, most of us could–the beginner next to me had realized as she was working on the heel flap that she’d made too many mistakes to repair, so Ann had her rip it out and start over. I moved over so Ann could sit next to her, and in between explaining the next steps to the group and answering the occasional questions, Ann walked the beginner through the steps row by row.
I’d gotten to the point where I needed to do some straight knitting before the toe decreases when my cell phone rang. “Are you on your way home?” Steve asked…a legitimate question since the class was supposed to be over at at 4 pm, the LYS was less than a 30 minute drive from our house, and it was almost quarter ’til 5. We’d been so involved in our knitting that no one had kept track of time–except possibly Ann, but she hadn’t said anything. The plan was to finish the sock in class, so apparently she was just going to let us go. But, looking at how much further I had to go, I decided to head out. Ann made sure to discuss the Kitchner stitch with me before I left.
At home, Steve looked at the 3/4 of a sock I’d knit and said what I’d been thinking but afraid to voice: “That looks huge!” I’d opted for the 6-12 months size since Lexie’s almost 6 months old. Ah, well. Too big was better than too small (although we’d discussed at the class that if the red sock the expectant mother was knitting–red because she’s not far along enough to know if she’s knitting for a boy or a girl–turned out to be too small, it would make an adorable Christmas ornament. So I kept going, and before I went to bed last night I knit the last stitch. I’m pretty sure I screwed up the Kitchner stitch, but I can ask Ann when I finish sock #2.
The sock still looked way too big, but once I got Lexie up this morning, I decided to try a fitting.
I knew they’d be perfect. And Lexie loves them too.