you will find someone who knows the answer to most anything, especially related to knitting/yarn/fiber.
I went to Stitches Midwest today, after a bit of trauma trying to print the ticket, for the Market only. There was *so* much yarn. Something that I noticed, when talking to my friend Deirdre, was that if you are not on the internet as it relates to yarn, then all that yarn is really new and different, and the only time to get it is at the show. From my point of view, a lot of it was yarn that I had seen on-line, or read posts about, and had just never seen in person. And some of it, like the Koigu, is freakishly difficult to get from any source. But in general, the Stitches Market was a shopping experience, not really a buying experience. Its nice to touch the yarn, and there are some that I would definitely like to keep in mind, and now I know that there are some I have no interest in, but overall, I know where to get what I want/need. I'm kicking myself that I didn't buy more sock yarn, but I'm getting to the reason for that shortly.
I really want to knit socks. I've made two pairs of real adult socks, and many pairs of cute little baby booties. The problem with socks though, is that they need a tight gauge (7-10 stitches/inch) to be any good as socks. I want a firm fabric, with neat, tiny little stitches. And I don't want to use a 0000 steel needle to do it. In my previous experience, no matter what size needle I use, my stitches are always huge. As I said today,
I'm so loose, my mother is embarrassed by it.
I don't want to be a loose knitter. I'm don't usually mind it when I can be Elizabeth Zimmerman zen about how nice it is to be relaxed and calm and easy going with the knitting. But when I'm knitting a sock, I want firm tight, quick little stitches.
In a last ditch effort, I bought a 100g skein of sock yarn from Susan's Fiber Shop and a pair of Clover bamboo needles (my personal favorite) in both US1 and US2 sizes. When we were done shopping, D and I sat down on some chairs, pulled out our knitting, and I decided to try swatching for socks right there. I cast on 40 stitches over 2 of the US1 needles and then proceeded to knit a few rows using a fake-in-the-round swatching method. Drat, foiled by yarn again. My stitches were giant and baggy and loosely hanging off these pointy little toothpick needles.
I turned to D and asked her what I could be doing wrong, she's heard about my extraordinary looseness, but now she could see it in action. She watched how I knit and could find nothing wrong, so we decided to ask some passersby. A lady from the WCKG didn't have any ideas, but then another lady, from Champaign, IL, took one look at me knitting, looped the yarn around my pinky, and told me to try it.
That lady is a freakin' GENIUS. Suddenly, with no other change, no concentration on my tension, I was knitting, tiny, tight, cute little stitches. Its a bit awkward to learn how to keep the yarn over my pinky, but I think that with time, it will be natural. Now I just need to finish my other projects that are in loose-gauge land with the yarn only over my index finger before the over-the-pinky thing is too set in my habits.
Thank you, o lady who works in the yarn store in Champaign two days a week and on Saturdays (except for this one). You have changed my knitting for the better. My sock yarn need not languish any longer.