Last week I registered and bought supplies for a three-part Sock Class at close knit (2140 NE Alberta St., 503-288-4568, closeknitportland.com), Phase One of Operation: Socks 4 All 4 Christmas. I didn't want to arrive late and unprepared to the first class, so I wound the yarn at home using the method I mentioned in Project 9 (Knit Cap).
Place two chairs back-to-back. Untie a yarn skein and open it into a big circle. Drop the circle over the chair-backs and spread the chairs apart, pulling the yarn taut. Locate a yarn end. Extend two fingers out like a gun (or like the ASL sign for the letter "H" with a raised thumb). Leaving a 6" tail, wrap the yarn around your fingers until it begins to form a small ball. Slip the ball off your fingers and wind the yarn over itself, changing directions, until you reach the end of the skein. Tuck this end deep within the new ball. If you want to mess with your cat, let him watch – the constant fluttering is apt to drive him mad.
I arrived to the first class eight minutes early and found the group already at work, with still a few more women trickling in after me. The teacher introduced herself as Ann, and said they were making gauge swatches to ensure our socks came out the right size. I noticed a close knit employee, Nancy, winding yarn for the class on the store umbrella swift and ball-winder which was super-cool and thoughtful.
Ann was fantastic. She kept track of multiple skill-levels like a 7th grade PE coach, patiently working around our awkwardness. She rescued me twice: the first time I knit my purls and purled my knits, when I should have knit my knits and purled my purls. (When done correctly, this creates "ribbing," a stretchy stitch generally used for cuffs, waistbands, etc). Ann "re-knit" the row for me, turning knits into purls like magic. Later, I noticed the outside of my sock was bumpy (which is what pearl stitches look like) instead of smooth V's (what knit stitches look like). I had somehow turned the sock inside out. Ann determined I had been knitting from the inside of the round instead of the outside, and all I needed to do was flip it right side out and pay closer attention.
By 8:30 pm all seven of us had completed ribbing and were packing it up. Our homework was to continue knitting until our socks measured seven inches from the cast-on row.
Next Week: Class 2
Made is a weekly how-to advertising-sales feature that focuses on D-I-Y projects and the local businesses that can help you make them.