A Is For Autumn, B Is For Backbone


Changing seasons, changing moods, changing makes. The foggy cloak of Autumn has finally descended here in the UK. I’m torn between relishing the cosy nights, resenting the dark mornings and enjoying the familiarity of routines now firmly established. Every year without fail, now is the time I start dreaming of bulky wool and quick knitting projects. So it’s a shame that my current knitting project is languishing in the No Man’s Land of Blocked Waiting To Be Pieced Together. These pieces of knitting have been pinned out for weeks now.

blocked pieces

I’m also considering a third sock knitting project. Should I embrace the magic loop technique? It scares me! I’m not even kidding. Maybe I should find my back bone and man up. Woman up. Knit up. Any advice for a weakling?

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47 Responses to A Is For Autumn, B Is For Backbone

  1. Lynne says:

    Oh my goodness, the magic loop is sooo much easier than double pointed needles. I say go for it!! Good luck!

    • LinB says:

      Well, it is certainly DIFFERENT than double points. I say go for it, as well! Always good to learn new techniques … it builds new neural pathways, which can come in handy later in life. Using the magic loop is not particularly difficult, but you do have to pay careful attention to whether you are on the front of your sock, or the back of your sock, when you knit top-down. Toe-up is easier to distinguish front from back, but then you have to futz about to get a heel and a heel flap. Have fun!

  2. Louise says:

    Hi, you could try the little baby sock needles. I think one make is hiya hiya! It’s what I use because I wasn’t up for the Magic loop technique and the dpns always fall out for me. They feel a bit small to start with but soon get used to them. And they are really easy to transport in a little bag!

  3. Angela says:

    Magic loop is so much easier than DPNs, which I tried once and miserably failed. I do mine now on 2 circulars which IMO is even easier. Good luck!!

  4. Rachel says:

    I agree, magic loop is sooo much easier than DPNs, just takes a bit of practice to understand how it works, after that its a breeze. And it also means you don’t need to buy separate sets of needles for smaller projects. Go for it!

  5. Maria Josephine says:

    Years before I heard of magic loop, I started using the two circular needles method. Having tried magic loop, I returned to the two circular method as I found it easier, and that’s what I’ve used consistently ever since. Cat Bordhi is the high priestess – I learned from her book ‘Socks soar on Two circular needles’. She has a couple of You Tube videos on the topic. Part One is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RybPvCNfrT8. This method is also good for sleeves, the top bit of hats, tiny baby jumpers etc. I have tried the very short needles mentioned by Louise but they weren’t kind to my slightly arthritic thumb joint.

  6. Jenny Lester says:

    Yes yes yes!! We all know what a capable needle woman you are so why so scared of magic loop knitting! I have been knitting TTTU (two together toe up)socks for years now and it is without doubt THE best way to make socks. I have recently been gifted a Hiya Hiya cable needle which is wonderful – I would suggest that you purchase these, the join between the cable and needle is very smooth and essential for magic loop needles. I use a free pattern from Knit Purl Hunter called Lacery (free on Ravelry). She talks you through all new methods by directing you to her website where there are detailed videos of new techniques. Even if you just knit one sock at a time now is the time to try!! I always have a sock in my handbag as using this method you can easily transport your work and NO need for any markers.
    PS if you get stuck I am visiting TMOS a week on Saturday so could give you a small tutorial in William Morris Cafe! Ha Ha!!

  7. ok, magic loop? Had to click over quickly to see, I’ve never knitted socks as I thought multipal needles way to scarey.

  8. Anne-Marie says:

    Magic loop is magic indeed – once you have the hang of it, it’s so much easier than double-pointed needles – and if you learn to do two at a time on a magic loop you’ll have one pair of socks when you’ve finished. I won’t knit socks any other way now. Good luck!

  9. Jenny S says:

    I’ve never had any luck with magic loop either Karen so you’re not alone, and I find dpns tricky until I’ve got going – I get ladders. I’ve spotted some new needles called Neko (nekoknit.com) which are curved dpns, or there’s a 23cm circular with asymmetric swivel points which looks interesting by Kinki Amibari. Both claim to make things easier. The 2 needle technique sounds interesting …. I really must spend less time browsing and more actually doing! I’m almost finished a cardi for myself and I’ve done the body on a circular to make less joining up and avoid No Mans Land, which is familiar territory.

  10. Miriana says:

    Do it. I managed a tubular long tail cast on (it’s fabulous) recently. God knows how, and best not to mention how long it took to get right and the tragic attempt at German short rows that followed (I think one new technique per item is enough). DPNs do my head in (not that I’ve figured out magic loop either – so this is a do as I say, rather than a do as I do)

  11. V. Kathryn Evans says:

    IO don’t know about that but joining knitted pieces is my FAVOURITE knitting job. I’m itching to join that up just looking at it on the floor!

    • Robin says:

      Karen, just building on V’s comment, imagine blocking is your favorite part too, and that you are really good at it! And think how much happier your knitting life could be if you looked forward to blocking, instead of dreading it. Maybe you’re just bored with the project. How about blocking with a contrastIng color? If these techniques don’t work perhaps you can trade services, or get psyched for blocking via other knitters at a meet-up! Life’s to short to dread anything, especially ANY aspect of a favorite pastime!

    • Nadine says:

      Hi Karen, just look at your schedule for a bit of spare time…plan to just get started. You will be surprised how much you will get done in small bits of time.

  12. Tanya says:

    Magic loop – you’ll never go back!!

  13. jackallcraft says:

    Magic loop is genius. Having never knit socks before, on DPNs, circulars or otherwise, I learnt to knit socks two at a time, toe up, using this tutorial http://www.cometosilver.com/socks/2mlsocks_start.htm No second sock syndrome ever!

  14. rachelo says:

    Do it!!! Magic loop is really simple once you have a go, I think all the instructions (even the really good ones) make it look/sound more confusing than it is. And you will be able to knit socks and sleeves on the bus without fear of DPNs flying all over the place. Just have a go!

  15. rillafree says:

    I fear circulars. If you try it and have success, then do share!

  16. Chris says:

    Omg, you MUST try magic loop! Your post is the first I ever heard of this technique, so if you find it works out well I’ll definitely give it a try too! So there, you are committed now 😉

  17. knitlass says:

    Come, come woman! If you can sew a vintage pattern, insert a zip and make your own jeans, then I’m sure you can do magic loop.

    I’ve never really tried it – I’m quite happy with DPNs thanks – but would love to hear how you get on. You know what – nothing bad can happen, it’s only knitting!

  18. masha says:

    You know, I might be the only person who doesn’t like magic loop. I am not a sock knitter but I used it for sleeves on a sweater once and I found it annoying. I prefer DPNs!

    • Ros says:

      I’m the same. It’s not difficult and if I haven’t got the right dpns free, I’ll do it, but I much prefer knitting with dpns. Karen, if you’re happy with your current method, there’s no reason to change it.

    • elle says:

      I love Magic Loop for socks but won’t use it for top-down sleeves ever again! All the sweater’s weight is hanging from that tiny sleeve hole and it’s such a pain.

  19. Lorraine says:

    Socks knitted on 2 circular needles work for me. Pat Bordhi’s books about knitting socks on 2 circular needles are fabulous. Lots of pictures to walk you thru the process. I say go for it!!!

  20. Kim Morrison says:

    I just went to a magic loop workshop at a local wool shop as I couldn’t get my head around it, but I think I finally have it having seen it in action, and plan on trying it with a pair of socks I’ve been wanting to knit for ages! DPNs just do not work for me! I also bought some of those tiny circular needles but they were quite fiddly so I’m hoping magic loop is the way forward!

  21. Amy says:

    My advice would be just to do it! It’s a lot easier on the fingers than DPNs. I’m a total novice knitter and found it quite straightforward

  22. Brigid de Jong says:

    I’ve heard about magic loop but thought it was a specific type of needle or device…I just Googled it and it doesn’t look too hard. I’ve done two cable knitting in the round and I don’t much like it (I keep forgetting which needle to use) and using dpns is tedious…I’ll try this if you will. I’m seeing patterns for fingerless mitts showing up on various blogs and I’m tempted….

  23. gmariesews says:

    I learned magic loop on a dare and won’t go back. Just do it. Amazing. g

  24. dorienbrion says:

    You’ll absolutely love magic loop! Go for it!

  25. Linda says:

    Gorgeous photo! I can’t advise on the knitting though, but looks like you should just go for it!

  26. I really struggle with dpn’s, the stitches catch on the way up to the needle every time for me, even with the ones the yarn shop woman recommended. So it’s DPN’s all the way for socks for me and I don’t mind a bit (except when I take my knitting out of the bag and a needle has fallen out, argghhh)

  27. Helena says:

    I like 9″ Hiya Hiya circs. I don’t knit socks, but I do use them for sleeves and much prefer them to dpns or magic looping. Try different methods, you’ll find one you like sooner or later!

  28. susew says:

    Tried magic loop once for socks and hated it – would rather use two circulars or dpns. I recently did the bottom of a sleeve on two circulars – took a bit of thingking about the start once I did the cast on – had to shuffle some of the stitches onto the other circular to get the first round started.

  29. susew says:

    Have to add- though Ella’s in focus compared to the blocked project, the knit looks fab – just seam it.

  30. Jen says:

    Ha! This is like reading a foreign language! Or a secret code! I can sew, but my goodness me, I cannot knit… I would love to though!

    • Jenny Lester says:

      Get down to a local knit and natter group. They will soon cast you on!! (Translated – make you welcome and she you how to knit)!!

      • Jen says:

        I know, I know…. I must. I have been meaning to for ages! I gaze at all those beautiful socks and shawls and sweaters, and then….. I go and sew, because I can!
        I will search for a group right now.

  31. Katie M says:

    You should definitely try magic loop. I’ve knitted a load of beanies with them, and they are fabulous. Sometimes I get all confused and my knitting keeps ending up inside out. I read a tutorial that said your loop of knitting should face away from you (on the opposite side of your needles, just as if it was a teacup that you were sipping from. After that, my knitting comes out the right way around.

  32. shaewc says:

    I too am terrified of the magic loop! I started a pair of socks and only made it a couple of rows before I gave up…I then started two socks at the same time on DPNs, determined to alternate between the two so that I finished them about the same time…put them down for a while and now I am lost as to where I was…OH WELL

  33. tinygoldenpins says:

    I wish you would so you can tell us that it really is much easier than it seems to be. I’ve tried to teach it to myself at least twice but I felt pretty half-hearted about it.

  34. LinB says:

    You may care to try knitting two socks at the same time, on the same set of DPNs. It’s a 19th-century parlor trick of a technique, to use two balls of yarn but only one set of needles. You cast on the requisite number of stitches for a sock on a straight needle, then repeat on a second needle for the second sock. Transfer the stitches onto DPNs, one stitch from one sock, the next stitch from the next sock, all the way around. Then, take yarn for each sock, one in each hand. Knit the first stitch from that sock’s yarn, then the next stitch from THAT sock’s yarn. Be uber careful not to cross your strands, or you’ll weld the interior sock to the exterior one, and have to cut and then darn the hole.

    When you get to the heel, separate the stitches (hold the waiting sock on stitch holder) and do a standard heel flap and heel, and gusset. Then do standard heel flap and heel, and gusset, for the second sock. Put both socks back on DPNs for the foot, as at the beginning. Separate them again for toes, weave toes, and then … Magic! Pull one sock out from inside the other sock. Ta da!

    It is only too easy to start doing one sock with the other sock’s yarn, but fun to try anyway. The first time I tried this technique, I ended up with only one boo-boo, easily fixed — but had not paid that much attention to my tension from hand to hand. The inside sock was at least three sizes smaller than the outside sock. (Oh, who am I kidding? It was the ONLY time I tried this trick. What a lot of trouble for such a ridiculous result! Still, I persevered to the end, for which I congratulate myself.)

  35. New Capel Street: Fabric Division says:

    Magic loop is easy! It’s a little futzy getting yourself set up to work in the round, but once you do it’s a doddle.

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