I brought a ton of yarn with me to Germany. (In my opinion…Branden doesn’t think that it’s very much. Does that seem backwards to you?) But I brought all the “special” yarn that I’ve had in the stash for a long time and have been meaning to work with, not the bread-and-butter yarn that makes up my daily knitting existence. Too much “special” all at once leads to me flipping through stitch dictionaries with no projects on the needles. This is not good.

I have gone to a few yarn shops in search of everyday yarn, but there’s not a whole lot to be found that isn’t acrylic. I’m usually a natural fibers kinda person, so that makes it fairly safe for me to go yarn shop touring, but it doesn’t help with the no-projects thing.

Unfortunately, the shops don’t carry laceweight. Everyone I’ve asked says to go online…it’s apparently the only way to buy it here. It just so happens that Branden got sent back to the US for work this week and next, so he’ll probably import some lacy yarn back into the country for me when he returns.

Until then, I’ve been knitting socks, because sock yarn is plentiful here. And rather cheap. I’d tell you how much, but I don’t remember what it actually costs. Somewhere between 5 and 7 euros, I think (~$7.50-10 US).

I went for a wander around Karlsruhe with Leseratte last Tuesday, and we stopped in at the Karlsruhe knitting group. Manisha(Rav link) was knitting in a way that I’ve seen before but never completely managed to pick up, though it fascinates me.

I can’t really describe what this method is, since I’ve never really paid attention to the names for different ways of knitting. I think someone else said that it was combination knitting, which I’ve heard of but never seen done. It’s still a continental (two hands) method, but you use the needle to grab the yarn rather than wrapping it around the needle with the left hand (is this picking vs. throwing? It seems like it should be, but I usually hear that used to describe the difference between continental and English knittting…)

In any case, it’s very much like the way that I knit, except there’s a lot less motion in the left hand. You tension the yarn with your forefinger, and not wrapping means that the yarn doesn’t have to travel as far. Generally more efficient.

I was curious. And it was horribly hard to make myself knit differently. Which amused me. I think it’s very interesting how your brain can get stuck in a rut with muscle memory, and how hard it is to change. Which, of course, meant that I was going to change it. So I decided to knit the socks the new way.

I can’t say it’s completely comfortable yet. If I’m not paying attention my hands still switch back to my standard knitting, which is bad since I usually mount the stitches differently (I usually use a plaited knit stitch, so it’s all weird and mounted backwards from everyone else). But in general, I’ve managed to get pretty good at it. And it is faster. Three days of not much knitting have produced a sock and a half:

Or maybe I just think it’s faster because it’s something new that I can play with while I knit. Who knows.

I don’t love the purl stitch, and my tension is much looser this way. I assume that will change with time and practice. I had to drop down a needle size on the stockinette and three on the ribbing, leaving me at a size zero needle for the cuff. I plan to do some comparison swatches, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. So far, it’s quick, possible, and it’s been fun to challenge my brain a little bit.

And a new pair of socks never hurts, either.

Especially when they pop up out of nowhere.