Under the Wire – Hurrah!

I only recently discovered that there was a knitting guild up in Dayton, just a little over an hour away, and I joined almost instantly. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that Charlene Schurch was coming to do a workshop in March, but it was full and waitlisted. Considering that one of my primary goals for the year is to conquer sock knitting, I really wanted to attend! All I could do was add my name to the list and hope – and that turned out to be enough. :o)

I got a phone call the middle of last week saying that I was now officially on the class list – and was given a list of supplies to bring. I couldn’t believe I was unable to come up with a skein of worsted weight yarn without making a trip to Wal-Mart, but since I had to go see the dentist anyway, I didn’t have to make a special trip out at least. The trip that was not so nice was the drive to Dayton on Saturday morning in pea soup fog all the way.

I definitely recommend Charlene’s workshops if you have the opportunity to attend. She is a gentle and pleasant teacher who isn’t of the “one right way” school. She has the aura of a good doctor – you know, the sort that makes you feel as if you are his only patient and he has all the time in the world to tend for you. And I think it might be tough to go to one of her workshops for the first time and not learn at least one thing new. I also enjoyed the fact that I was suddenly facing some techniques I’d been putting off trying, and had no excuse not to attempt, especially with expert help at hand to bail me out, and a project that wasn’t something for real.

What we made in class is a pair of sample socks – and I’m using the term “pair” rather loosely here. For that matter, “socks” is somewhat loose, too! As you might imagine, one sock was toe up and the other was top down. The focus was not on the areas of the ankle and foot that are worked straight, so most of us birthed somewhat odd looking bits of knitting as we worked cast ons, heels, and toes one right after another.

Charlene Schurch Workshop Socks

On the top down sock, we could choose to either rib the top or make a picot edge. Since I have no problem with ribbing and flexible cast ons, I opted for the picot, which I’d never tried. I got off to a rough start, having to frog 2-3 times before I got going right, and it has nothing to do with the difficulty of a picot edge and everything to do with trying to knit when I’m usually asleep, right after driving for 90 minutes in heavy fog. Once I got going, I did fine, and I didn’t have any trouble again except when I was interrupted halfway through my Kitchener stitch and laid it down… sigh… We did heel flaps on the top down and short row heels on the toe up socks, experienced Judy Becker’s Magic Cast On for the toe ups, and played with not one, but four flexible bind offs when we reached the top. I love the picot bind off, and I’m eager to try it on a ribbed edge. I didn’t have time to work any ribbing on my practice sock, so the edge rolls, which could be a great design element on the right item. Charlene says it doesn’t roll on ribbing, so I know it’s going to find its way to the top of a pair of socks sooner than later. If you look at the smaller of the two socks, it has all four options, and the picot is the one that shows on the part of the edge toward the toe. If you would like to try knitting it yourself, click here: Picot Bind Off.

As an added bonus, Charlene stayed in town for Monday’s guild meeting, and presented a lecture on the history of socks. If she’d had that info in printed form, I’d have purchased it on the spot! Very interesting, in my opinion, and I wish I had a way to reference it in the future without digging through the list of sources she rattled off as providing her information.

Charlene has authored a number of very popular books. Her two sock books are designed to enable a knitter, so instead of just having patterns for specific socks in certain sizes, she includes techniques and charts and oodles of pattern stitches, and all the help you need to build your own perfect socks. If you are the sort of person who would rather learn how to fish instead of being handed a fish, check out Sensational Knitted Socks and More Sensational Knitted Socks.

If it wasn’t already a sock heaven sort of weekend, we also got to paw through a delicious mountain of her sample socks, knit for her books… Yum!

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