Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Socks For Soldiers

I joined Socks For Soldiers a couple of months ago, but have still not finished my first pair of Olive Drab socks. I am trying to finish them this week, since I am on vacation. The legs must be 12" long, and they seem to be taking forever, plus I am using the Magic Loop "Two at a Time" (TAAT) technique for the first time, so it has slowed me down a bit. Both socks must be knit concurrently from an official pattern. Only certain yarns may be used, which have been selected because they have regulation colors (hence the Olive Drab) to wear with their uniforms. Also, they must meet strict standards for wear and tear, and comfort. At this point, I have about 9" done with the legs, and they have passed the 2-liter "Coke Bottle Test".

I strongly encourage anyone who likes knitting socks to join this group. More knitters are always needed. Troops being withdrawn from Iraq are being sent to Afghanistan, and they will probably be there for awhile, since things are such a mess. They are doing a tough job, and I feel good about sending a bit of moral support. It is also a nice connection to the past, when knitters made socks for soldiers in earlier wars. I have made a New Year's Resolution to spend at least 20 minutes a day knitting for SFS in 2009.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Knitters Thumb" is no joke!

I have not been knitting much for the past few months, and I really miss it. I had to stop for awhile due to what turned out to be tenosynovitis in my thumb and wrist (a.k.a "knitter's thumb"), which I am about 99.99% sure was caused by too much knitting over the 2007 Xmas holidays and/or shortly thereafter, when I tried to knit a worsted-weight yarn into a pattern designed for sport-weight yarn. WARNING TO ALL KNITTING DUMMIES: DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!!!

I tried to force the yarn into the correct gauge by using needles WAY too small for worsted (size 2 US), and the resulting strain on my already-overworked left thumb was too much for it. When it started hurting, I ignored it and kept going. I had to finish the project. This was so stupid. If something starts hurting like that, you should never ignore it. But, I did, and the pain then spread to my wrist, and has only recently started to get better. I had to go to the doctor, took Naproxen for 2 months, and wear a wrist brace at night, which I am still wearing. I only recently dared to start knitting again, about an hour at a time only. And when it starts hurting, I stop & put ice on it.

In my defense, I LOVE Scandinavian patterns, and this one DID call for worsted-weight yarn, but it was a 1950's classic pattern, "Scandinavian Snow Sets", and I think the term "worsted weight" must have meant something different then. Or, maybe their yarn was softer and would compress more easily. I was using Lamb's Pride (not bulky, I am not a total idiot), and there is no way you could get the gauge they were calling for with worsted weight, and enjoy knitting it. So, learn from my mistakes. IF THE YARN DOESN'T WANT TO FIT IN YOUR PATTERN, DON'T INJURE YOURSELF TRYING TO FORCE IT! No matter what the pattern says. Alter the pattern to fit your materials. Or, find another pattern. Your health is not worth it!!! I ended up having to change the pattern anyway, because the knitted fabric was too dense. All I had to do was remove the borders along the sides, and be a bit creative. The resulting slipper socks came out very nicely, but not worth all the pain I have had over the last few months when I forget and pick up an object at the wrong angle with my left hand! A true knitting dummy, this blog is aptly named.

The Orthopedic M.D., who finally cured my condition with a shot of cortisone, said he doubted it could have been caused solely by knitting, but I'm still pretty sure that's how it started.