Thoughts on Size Zero Needles and Other Musings on Knitting

2/18/2010

Thoughts on Size Zero Needles and Other Musings on Knitting

As you may recall, I always knit something when I travel by airplane.  Well, I just traveled to Washington State to my school reunion.  I had an adventure with knitting needles right before I left on my trip, which was as follows:

Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, use size zero needles.  You will age faster.  Your hair will turn very gray.  Your kids will start taking drugs.  Your cats will run away from home.  Your husbands will have ejaculations so premature that you will both be very, very sorry you ever even looked at size zero needles.  Now, aren’t you glad there are no negative one needles?

Size one needles are a joy by comparison.  They actually have tips that don’t happen to slice you up every time you look at them.  I dig size one.  Ditto size two.  I actually bought some “spare” size zero needles in case my other size zero needles got lost on the plane.  Then I had lotsa toothpicks for my trip.  I changed my mind and switched needle size after I knitted about two inches, disgusted with the toothpicks.  It actually made no difference cuz my stitching was tighter on the size ones, at least twice as fast, and neater, too.  Plus, I could SEE.

Now, it took approximately 2-1/2 minutes to do a row, and there were four rows to a round.  But if there was a difficult or stubborn stitch, the row took 2:45.  This included moving the hair elastic from one needle to the other.  I used those to keep the stitches on the needles and not somewhere else.  Then I found some wonderful Clover brand caps for the needles.  You will need eight for a double-pointed needle project.  These are silicone and they do stay on.

Six rounds will make a half inch of sock.  That means it takes ten+ minutes  to do a round, 120+ minutes to do an inch, which is two to four hours, not including breaks.  Including breaks, it takes at maybe eight hours to do an inch of sock.  I have done four and a half inches or so now.  On four plane rides, I did only about an inch to an inch and a half.  The pattern recommends six inches of sock before turning the heel.  Arrgghh!!!  And this is only sock #1!

Do you know just how hard it is to knit socks with tiny needles on a plane?  First of all, you have to keep your overhead light turned on.  Undoubtedly, you’ll be stuck sitting next to some arsehole who wants to sleep for the entire ride and is gravely offended by the light, and bothered by your periodic elbow jabbings (from dealing with runaway yarn) and swearing at stitches you nearly drop.  Secondly, the light does no good, because your head forms a shadow over your knitting.  This is remedied by leaning the seat back, but not without offending the person behind you and knocking over his coffee, spilling it all over his business suit.  Then there is the well-meaning looker-on, who wants to tell you you are knitting all wrong, that you are too slow, too sloppy, that you don’t know what you are doing, and really, you don’t, do you?  YOU’RE KNITTING SOCKS, AFTER ALL!  THIS ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!

So what did I do?  When I got home, I decided to quit cursing, and put the project aside in favor of yet another hat, this one from Merino wool, bulky.  I dig size 9 needles.  Besides, when I bought the spare size zero and spare size 1 and 2 needles, I purchased more wool bulky yarn (couldn’t resist) for a new dog sweater, this from the Windsor Button Shop in Boston.

If you haven’t been to the Windsor Button Shop, I’d suggest going there.  It is magnificent.  What a gold mine.  You are guaranteed to go home with something you love, but with a few dollars missing from your wallet.  It’s worth the sweater you’ll make.  Go there.

If you love knitting as much as I do, you will put up with the eyestrain, the dropped stitches, the frustration, the expense, the tangled yarn, the lost needles, the yarn that runs out at the last minute.  You will put up with the fact that you’ve got three or four projects going at once.  You know something?  Knitting makes sense.  And eventually, our projects–dog sweaters, hats, socks, mittens, scarves–do indeed get finished.

Feedback and comments welcome!