My elderly, but lovely, lace socks
Thirteen years ago, I started the Lacey Arrow Socks from the book Socks. I gleefully ordered itty-bitty size 0 needles, and the finest of creamy, laceweight silk-merino yarn. When the yarn arrived, as I recall, I sat down and cast on for the first sock almost as soon as the package was opened.
Thirteen years later, I have a problem. In reviewing my UFO collection, I found the partial sock tucked away in a box. I put it on, and discovered just how much my knitting skills have improved in the intervening years.
The lacey half-sock, though lovely, has noticeable "ladders" at the places where one needle met another. A quick check of the last bazillion pairs of socks I have knit in more recent years confirmed: I've managed to Lose The Ladders. And since many of you have written in asking about this particular problem, I thought I'd share my lofty wisdom on the subject:
Pull. The. Yarn. Tight.
That's it, folks. That's the entire extent of my expertise on Losing The Ladders. I just give the yarn a little extra-special tug after I knit the first stitch of each needle, and presto, no more ladders. I think the only trick here is a mental one: pull a weensy bit harder than you think you should.
See the ladders? Allll the way down the sock!
Why does this work? Ladders are caused by too much yarn between the last stitch on one needle and the first stitch on the next, so a firm little tug ensures that there is no "extra" yarn. It might help to take a closer look at the other stitches on your needles so you can see just how tiny that little strand between stitches is supposed to be. Some knitters tug until the needles are gently touching each other—experiment a little to find the proper "pull" to use in your particular style of knitting.
By the way: The same rule applies whether you are using dpns, two circulars, or the Magic Loop method to knit your socks with.
If you need a little mantra to help you remember how to lose the ladders: Tell yourself to "give the yarn an extra tug so the stitches will be nice and snug."
A bit corny, perhaps, but hey: Whatever it takes.
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