Yes, there are a lot of needles in that thing, but you only have to deal with two at a time. If you’re lucky.
I had a bad sock knitting experience, my first time around. When I worked on the sock, I felt like I was holding a well-behaved little porcupine on my lap; it could be done, but it wasn’t comfortable. Then I got to the heel, which involved using two more needles to hold the heel flaps. That was more than I could handle, and I started losing needles and dropping stitches every time I picked up my knitting. The worst episode was on a city bus, when I lost two needles at once; they skidded along the grooves on the bus floor to the very back where a nice drunk person was sitting. He decided he was going to return these mysterious objects to me, and, really, we’re both lucky we survived, because he should not have been handling anything that sharp.
I’m not saying this wasn’t mostly my fault (needle/stitch problems, not alcohol problems). A little research would have shown that sock knitters who aren’t completely daft use point protectors (the little green witch’s hat in the picture).
In spite of all that, I’ve spent years thinking about the spiral stockings from Vibeke Lind’s Knitting in the Nordic Tradition. I’ve always wanted a pair because I wear skirts all the time the winter, but I don’t like tights. Strangely, it’s hard to find thigh-high woolen stockings. These stockings also have spiral ribbing all the way to the toes, which looks wonderful as well as keeping your socks up where they belong. In addition, the lack of a heel attracted me (see paragraph #2), as did the possibility for of using socks for barter after civilization collapses; I’d like to find a stress-free sock pattern. Socks are a year-round commodity here, and everyone else is growing heirloom vegetables, so there may be a niche for me to fill.
If anyone wants to knit along with me, I would be so delighted. It should be fairly easy, and you can stop wherever you want: boot sock, knee sock…all good. If someone does want to try this, and can’t get the book, I’ll email you the pattern – karen at themakeshift dot org.
You start by casting on 48 stitches on three needles, and then alternate three knit and three purl, staggering the rib every five rows. I was confused by the paragraphing in the pattern at first and still don’t understand if you are supposed to knit or purl when you put in the extra stitch to shift the rib. I decided I just needed to commit to one (purl!), and that seems to be working. You decrease after 26 staggers, although I may be doing that earlier, because I’m not tall. I’m using Brown Sheep Company Lamb’s Pride bulky wool, in deep charcoal, and size five needles. (What? Don’t roll your eyes. Size five isn’t that small. I don’t want woolen fishnet stockings, sexy as that sounds.)
More pictures to come :-)