Last week I attended my first Sock Class at close knit (2140 NE Alberta St., 503-288-4568, in the hopes of becoming proficient enough of the Art of Sock to craft a bunch of 'em for Christmas, 2007. The instructor sent us home with seven inches of knitting homework to complete before we met again. I had 82 surplus yards of yarn, and I prefer long socks, so I decided to knit an extra three inches. I could probably have made them even longer, but I didn't want to take any chances. The last thing I wanted to do was throw-down an extra $8.75 for another skein of yarn.

It's difficult to screw up straight knitting, but I managed. This is not the end of the world. I'll love my socks despite their imperfections, like I do my people.

The class was constructive. One student didn't come back, but the remaining six of us were eager to get a move on. The pattern quickly turned mysterious with all kinds of new vocabulary to feed my brain. To "Turn the Heel," we learned to SSK, which means "Slip, Slip, Knit." This is an incredibly important stitch to know when making a pair of socks, or anything that needs to fit correctly. To SSK, you move one stitch from the left needle to the right needle as if you are going to knit, but then you don't (S). Then you move another over as if you are going to purl, but you don't (S). The tricky point comes on the "K" – without an instructor to tell you otherwise, the first impulse is to knit the next stitch like normal. But that would be wrong— you knit the two stitches you slipped over to the right needle together, on the right needle, as one. So it ends up in a decrease. It's actually pretty effin cool, and kind of fun.

In the silence between wash cycles upstairs at Bishops Barbershop (2132 NE Alberta, 546-4171,, one could hear the cacophony of "questionable" language and borderline whining that sometimes accompanies the acquisition of a new skill. We squawked for our poor instructor Ann's attention amidst the orchestrated chaos toward the end of the night, as we each needed her assistance.

By the end of class our socks consisted of a long tube with a heel. I wanted a complete pair of socks by the end of the three-week timeframe, so I mentally cleared my calendar and made time for some power-knitting over the next seven days.

Next Week: On my own and messing things up


Last month in our "Crafty Bitches" cover story, we asked readers to turn an issue of WW into a fashion accessory. Here's our favorite, from Alaina Mickes, who has more wearable art at

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