Parallel universe

Just because I’m knitting a shawl, doesn’t mean I’ve stopped taking the bus.

Let me explain.

I must have a portable project at all times, which gets whipped out on the bus and the train, as well as in line at the post office. I think to myself, what did I do before knitting? Did I have more patience to just sit or stand there without doing anything? Because now, as soon as 45 seconds have gone by without doing something, and it’s clear that there will be 10 more minutes just like it, out come the needles.

So, although the shawl is my primary project at the moment, it has not seen the world outside my apartment. This, however, has:

Oh, yes! These puppies were dragged all over New York City last weekend, and have seen a bit of action since then, too. They will also be my companions as I travel this weekend.


I started out knitting them on US 0, 5″-long Brittany birch dpns. Boy, oh, boy, my hands love working with non-metal needles. Not a tinge of pain, just pure comfort.

Then in an unfortunate incident involving trying on the sock-in-progress, I snapped one of the needles. Boo! I substituted a metal INOX needle in its place.

Who was I kidding?!?

Knitting with metal needles is so much faster than knitting with non-metal ones! It was like, I looked forward to using the sole metal needle in each round. As you can guess, it was only a matter of a few rounds before the remaining four Brittany birch needles were ditched in favor of the complete INOX set, although they hurt my hands a bit.


Nancy Bush’s pattern instructs us to work these socks over 80 stitches. Knowing that my dad has rather dainty feet (he’d kill me if he knew I was saying this), I decided to work the pattern over 70 stitches. And I did just that for several inches before I stopped the denial and admitted that even 70 stitches were too much! I ripped to the cuff which I left as is (worked over 72 sts), decreased to 60 sts thereafter, and now the sock seems to be the right size.

People, have I entered some parallel universe?

In what country, on what planet, in which dimension, is working a 60-stitch sock out of Lorna’s Laces on US 0 needles in (basically) a stockinette pattern result in a sock sized for a human? As opposed to a Chihuahua, of course.

Purly agreed that this was indeed strange, and suggested that it may be my gauge.

Of course – although it’s only 60 stitches, the sock is about 7.5″ in circumference, which is just the right size for someone whose foot is 9″ around (socks require negative ease, too).

Weird, huh?

Shawl update: very little progress. First, a lot of grading has had to be done. Second, since we last spoke, I have found three more typos, two of which needed some mental power to figure out.


30 thoughts on “Parallel universe

  1. ariane

    I took the bus 4 days a week for over a year (last year..), but I didn’t let that stop me from bringing sweaters for my knitting – and I like to do part of the seaming as I go along (also so I can try it on, and make adjustments as necessary), so I’d have the back & front seamed, while I was still knitting one of them…haha.

    Socks are much more portable, though, I’m finding as a new sock knitter πŸ™‚

  2. Chris

    The socks look great!

    What’s the running total on total errors in that shawl pattern? Are you approaching a record of some sort??

  3. Rosemary

    Oooh those are the same ones I intend to start for my dh very very soon! LOVE them in that color.

    As for bamboo vs. metal needles. I agree metal would be quicker, but holy monkey I lose stitches left and right. Resulting, of course, in a much slower sock. Any tips?

  4. Stephanie

    There’s just nothing better than a sock for portability. What DID we do before knitting? I just bought a set of metal dpns and I’m anxious to try them and see if I like them better than bamboo. The sock looks great – I really think your dad will like the pattern. Have a good trip this weekend.

  5. Laura

    Hum. And here I’ve been wanting some bamboo dpns so I could feel like I’m part of the popular group who does things the cool way.

    Sounds like he does have petite feet for a man. My feet are much bigger than that. But then my feet have carried five babies and his haven’t. That’s probably it. Has nothing to do with me having naturally enormous feet.

    OH, and my Sharfik was for a 6’2″ man… no wonder your 53″ seemed kinda short! πŸ™‚

  6. Elli

    Don’t forget about the Brittany 5 year needle guarantee (it’s on their website). Of course, you don’t mention if what you did to that poor needle falls under the category of “normal use”. Love the socks!

  7. Chihiro

    I take bus and train to work on week days. But I knit only on the bus. Train I take is usually too crowded to knit. Since dpns are threat to those who fear pointed things, I often bring scarfs-in-progress with me. Now I’m thinking of Sharfik for my next work-on-the-bus project.

  8. Elspeth

    I’ve been thinking about this “if only I knitted when …” a lot lately. I can’t believe how much time I wasted not knitting and waiting! I’ve started bringing things with me when I’m in line at the store too. I wonder if that’s a symptom of our rushing more as a society? Anyway, great socks!

  9. Purly Whites

    So are you getting about 8 stitches per inch? I guess this makes sense, in that these will fit him. Your dad has about the same circumference feet as I do, and I like to cast on between 60-65 stitches, depending on the yarn and what gauge I get. I guess what it so shocking to me is that when I knit Lorna’s Laces on size 0 needles, I get about 10 stitches per inch. I probably could loosen up a little.

    Although, has your gauge changed since switching to the inox? If you were more relaxed knitting with the with the lovely bamboos, are you tightening up more with the faster, slightly more painful inox?

  10. claudia

    You know, the socks that I knit for myself in LL/Opal/Regia/Trekking etc. are knit on 60 stitches on size 1 bamboo needles. Just sayin’.

  11. Judy

    The socks I knit for myself in LL are 60 st. on size 0 needles, but I’m a very loose knitter (with kinda thick ankles but smallish feet). So that doesn’t sound so outrageous to me at all; in fact, I have trouble getting the kind of gauge that a lot of sock patterns call for. I just do NOT want to go down to 1.5 mm (what is that, 0000 in American needle sizes? Yowza.).

    Good looking socks, your Dad will love them!

  12. stinkerbell

    for my feet it does πŸ™‚

    Well 68 on the ribbing to get up and around my ginormo calves. And for the leg and then 64 in stockinette for the rest (when I do plain jane socks) Actually it does that for all my socks. I think I might use a size 1 US (I believe it is 2mm- I only use one set of needles for my socks and it has worked ok so far πŸ™‚ But those numbers arent abnormal for what I have encountered…

  13. Eve

    Hi there! I just found your site and it is fantastic. I was wondering how you did the little “finished projects” dealie on the side. Is that php-driven, or do you have to add pictures manually?

  14. Sunny

    Since you got a kick out of the “reasons” for the date I chose – January 23 is my husband’s birthday. You caught me!

  15. Beth

    I had an unfortunate experience with this pattern and a few others in Ms. Bush’s book. I was a fairly new sock knitter and relied heavily on patterns. I knit this sock according to the pattern and ended up with a sock so huge I could have probably fit 2 feet in it. I have since learned to use about 60 cast on sts and then adapt her lovely stitch patterns.

  16. Melissa

    Your sock gauge sounds just about right to me. I always have to go down a needle size or two to get the gauge for the patterns. Currently working 66 stitches on 1.75mm needles, US 00. So you 60 stitches on a 0 is just about right for us loose knitters.

  17. freecia

    It isn’t the birch that gets to me, it is the 5″. Try the Crystal Palace 6″ bamboos- it may work as well for you as it does for me. Inox 6″ dpns usually works for me. Plus, it delights me when I read that’s what we’re both working on – socks with inox needles. Feeling the grump πŸ™‚

  18. Lisa

    Nice socks. I received the Nancy Bush book for Christmas from my husband. Maybe he’s hinting that he’d like another pair of hand-knit socks.

  19. Cindy

    I feel the same way as you do about knitting if I have to wait. I always have knitting with me. I keep 4 or 5 pairs of socks going all the time, along with a hat or scarf or something else. I even knit socks in the movie theater when I take my kids.

    I got sick of buying new wooden double points every time I broke one (which often happened when I tucked the sock back into my bag). I went back to metal for a while, but I hate the way they slip out of the work (again, when I tuck them back into my bag). So, I finally broke down and tried the 2 circular method. If you haven’t tried it, you should. I am absolutely a convert, and I just tried it for the first time last month. No more needles falling out. Very quick and easy! I was confused about how it worked until I read that one needle is always resting while the other is working. That made me realize that you knit half the stitches with the other end of the same needle and I am very pleased with how quick and easy it is to knit this way. I’m also fortunate that I have some circs that have clear wires and others with black wires, which makes it very easy to know which one to use (although you can put a dot of nail polish on both ends of one of the circss). I hope you try it. It’s great!

  20. Mary

    That’s interesting, as I often find Nancy Bush’s patterns a little on the narrow side, although I have yet to try any from the new book. My feet are 9in around and I usually end up doing 60 stitches on 2.5mm needles, going down to 2.25mm for Lorna’s Laces – maybe I should investigate negative ease.

  21. Angelia

    I’m with you on the portable projects! Whenever I encounter someone who comments on how they don’t have “time” to knit, I explain about all the “wait” time we have.

    My Mom thinks I’m (semi) crazy…or at least odd…for always taking knitting with me. She took her car in for service today. She called me and told me how she wished she had packed her knitting, so that she could be kntting while she waited for the car to be done.

  22. aimee

    Funny, I have always used bamboo dpn’s for socks. Just last tuesday I bought some Inox because I was too broke to buy bamboo. Or, I should say, I could not rationalize yet another set of sock needles, but “needed” size 0. I think I may be a convert. They are indeed faster.

  23. Jenn

    Metal is super fast for me too but I just haven’t gone out and bought any of them for the socks I”ve been knitting.

    And ummm…. let’s not get crazy with the shawl delays here woman! I said January 29th, not February!

  24. Jan aka Warrior Knitter

    OMG! You’re knitting the socks I’m knitting!!! I made several changes to the pattern, too. My hubby has chubby legs & he wanted them to go higher up on his leg.

    I posted in your Jan 1 post . . . .

    “I finally finished (New Year’s Eve) the 1st sock of a pair that I’m making from that book β€” the “Gentlemen’s Sock with Lozenge Pattern” on page 41. I’m using Cascade Fixation Lapis blue for the cuff, heel & toe & the white for the leg & foot. . . .

    In addition to all that, they’re on 3mm bamboo dpns. I also shortened the cuff, lengthened the leg, turned the heel a little differently & did a star toe. I did the “seam” for the leg cuff, leg & heel, but didn’t for the foot.

    It’s a big sock but it fits him & he can hardly wait for the mate.

  25. KarenK

    OH please please please, when you’re finished beta-testing that pattern, post the corrections, please? I received the pattern for Christmas but am nowhere near to casting on for it yet. Knit on, you’re the leader goose in the V formation.

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