I’m not so unsteady anymore. I’ve been doing this knitting thing for several years now, and I’ve gained skills and confidence.
The old blog name didn’t fit. This one does.
I started knitting with the vague idea of knitting socks. Which I do, as they are an addiction. I learned to knit several types of heels and in both directions, and I switched from five needles to magic loop.
I wanted to knit lace. And while my first lace project was a worsted-weight scarf, my advice is, if you’re already a sock-knitter, to knit lace socks first. You’ll get the gratification of finishing sooner, plus you’ll learn the major skills of lace-knitting – knit, purl, yo, k2tog and ssk – in a more friendly way. Having the wool congruent to the needles helps a lot.
I just finished a lace scarf – still needs blocking – for which I used a sock pattern that I just fell in love with. I have realized that for rectangles, I need patterns I can memorize or read easily – working from a chart gets frustrating. For triangles, though, with different patterns every few repeats and the challenge of it changing size – I want a complex chart. I haven’t done a square yet.
So. Socks. Lace. Complex garments (I’ve made five sweaters, each with a new technique). What was I missing? Well, lots, but the next thing on the list for me was colorwork.
I bought the Knitpicks Palette Tranquility sampler, which comes with a tote bag pattern. And. Turns out that knitting with both hands? Not as hard as I thought. I’m only a few rows in, though. We shall see.
Yesterday, I gave first anniversary presents to a wonderful couple.
Laminaria for the Bride
(My mom. Isn’t she beautiful?)
Yarn: Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud “Tidepool” colorway
Needles: Knitpicks Options US5 32″
This was easily the most complex shawl I’ve knitted to date, with two different pattern repeats and two different edgings. This made it an enjoyable knit – just as I was getting bored with one set of repeats, it moved to another. The only really annoying thing about it was that I had to keep moving the stitch markers back and forth, but even that got into a rhythm of sorts.
It’s my mother’s favorite color, and I know she’ll be using it – restaurants are always too cold for her.
Vest for the Groom
This handsome fellow is my stepdad.
Pattern: Vest from The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patternsby Ann Block
Yarn: Knitpicks Swish Bulky in Squirrel Heather and Marlin
Needles: Knitpicks Harmony US9 and US10.
It’s my first sweater vest, it’s my first v-neck and it’s my first time using bulky yarn and large needles. It felt like I was knitting rope with tree trunks and was just as much fun. I’m sticking to finer gauges from now on. I do think this would have looked better in a worsted gauge.
On the other hand, it’s also my first proper mattress stitch, and I matched the stripes (my design) on each side. It’s also a bit big and short, which I’m putting down to the fact that I had to guess at his size. But the colors look good on him, it’ll be warm under a light jacket and he seemed happy.
The other problem was that I couldn’t knit for the Nine Days before Tisha b’Av. I ended up weaving in the ends, and there were a lot of ends, during Michael Phelps’ final race. *sigh*
When I started knitting socks, I used five double-pointed needles. These weren’t a problem past the first couple of rows, other than when I turned the short-row heels. I couldn’t take them out of the house at that point. I thought the 7″ dpns were too long, but the 5″ ones broke in my hands. I’m too strong for birch (although Brittany will replace them for free.)
Then I decided to learn Magic Loop. This took me, oh, seconds, I think, and while I’ve started socks with dpns since, and even tried the two-circular method, I always end up back at Magic Loop. This shows that there’s no One Right Way for everyone, that it’s good to learn different methods and that there will be a best way for YOU.
Along the way, I also learned to knit socks cuff-down *and* to knit flap-and-gusset heels. I’ve discussed this before, of course. At this point, I don’t care which direction I knit and I very much prefer f&gs heels to short-rows.
To knit f&gs with Magic Loop, I followed the directions in Charlene Schurch’s books for two circulars, since they’re essentially the same thing – an adaptation of the dpn instructions. In dpns, the sock is divided among four needles, as evenly as possible. These needles are numbered, beginning with the left of the instep, 1-2-3-4. (If one is using four dpns, the instep is all on one needle, with two and three becoming the sole.) In circulars, no matter which method, the sock is divided in half. Eventually, this division becomes the instep and sole.
After one turns the heel (done only on the heel needles/side), the heel stitches are picked up. At this point, dpn users renumber their needles so that the orientation right side/left side of the sock instead of instep/sole (or front/back of leg.) Schurch has circular users do the same thing – move the stitches such that the right half the food is on one side/needle, and the left is on the other. To simulate the spaces between the needles that clue when to decrease the gusset, one uses stitch markers. This works fine, although there are times I want to do heel stitch on the back of a toe-up sock, and slipping stitches between needles is awkward, and there’s always the awkward point of deciding when and how to move the sock back to the “correct” orientation – plus there’s always the problem of the stitch pattern, which might need k2tog in the middle of the instep or something. (This problem also exists for dpns, of course, which is why you see sock instructions specifying dividing stitches unevenly.)
Despite the problems, it works fine, and I’ve knitted many a pair of socks this way. In my last completed pair, Monkey Socks, that’s how I knitted the first of the pair. However, before I knit the second one, I read a book by Debbie Macomber where she had her characters learn to knit socks using two-circs. And her knitting pattern (a Nancy Bush used by permission) did not change the orientation – the instep stayed in one piece on the instep needle, and the gussets stayed with the heel and sole stitches on that needle.
In between my finishing the first sock and beginning the second, my brother-in-law and his wife had a baby girl (welcome to the world, Winifred Celia!) So, I had to finally make-up the cardigan I’d knitted for her big sister and, while I was doing that, I figured I’d also make a pair of baby socks for Wynn. Those tiny sockies were ideal for trying *that* method of making heels.
Oh, my goodness. Just not having to move the stitches made these so much easier, plus it was easier to keep track of when to decrease (and when not.) And I didn’t have to divide the instep in half. But the best part was that when I was finished with the gusset decreases, I could just move into knitting the instep and sole with absolutely no fuss.
It was a trifle more awkward when I used that method for the second Monkey Sock because it’s not easy having 32 stitches on one needle and 54 on the other, but it was manageable and, anyway, it corrected with time.
By tonight, I’ll be testing this on a toe-up sock. Maybe I’ll have pics.
There is a thread on Ravelry about knitting tools that need to be invented. One person asked about an automatic stitch/row counter – one you didn’t need to remember to click.
One person advertised her Etsy shop, where she sells very pretty devices made of chains, jump rings and beads (it’s here if you want to see them.) You put the first ring on your needle. When you get to it again, you slip the needle into the next ring in line. When you finish the chain, you’ve gone ten rows and you use a ring of seed beads to move down a row of ten beads. As I said, it’s pretty and elegant, and clearly a fair bit of work. These devices are over fifteen dollars, and the ones for sock knitting (smaller rings and an extra length of beaded chain for Eye of Partridge heels) are even more. I don’t think they’re overpriced for such an elegant device.
Yesterday, I reached the heel flap on the current sock. This is the one part of a sock where I use a row counter. And I wondered if I could make something myself that would work as well.
I have small brass jump rings. I have several colors of small stitch markers, including both a white and a black set of rubber stitch markers. I made a chain of eight – four jumprings, two black markers and two white ones. The colors alternate and the chain begins with a brass ring and ends with a white one. (Most of my socks have stitch counts of multiples of eight. My heels are one half the stitch count in length, and when I make heels, I count each knit/purl repeat as one. So a chain of eight works perfectly.) I went through the chain twice, giving me the number of rows I needed. Least stressy heel flap ever.
And then I realized I can use the same chain to keep track of the heel stitch I was working in the round – a brass ring would mean k1sl1, a rubber one would mean just knit. I’m not counting rows here, and I can look to see which I’m doing, but this just makes life easier.
Yesterday, I went to Yarn Harlot’s book signing in the Borders in Columbus Circle. Yarn Harlot, for those who don’t know, is a very popular knitblogger who has written several humorous and sometimes useful books about knitting and knitters.
It took about an hour for me to get there, and I got a tad lost because it’s not a place I’ve been to before. I finally found the place about 6PM, and, well. Getting lost cost me because every seat was taken. And that was all the folding chairs in the store. And if I’d arrived five minutes sooner, I might have gotten one.
Last year, Stephanie filled the auditorium in the Fashion Institute of Technology, so it’s not surprising, and I suspected that would happen.
After blocking the view of the cd rack and getting tired of holding things, I took a seat on the floor at the edge of the seating area, in the children’s section, and started to do what pretty much everyone else was doing – knitting (after taking moment to run to the cash register and actually buy the book.)
There were socks and shawls and sleeves – all manner of portable knitting. I saw a lot of dpns and a lot of a cables and very few straights and one or two *gasp* crochet hooks. And the ladies around me all compared yarn and projects and everyone seemed fascinated that I was knitting my socks toe up with magic loop – most of the socks were on dpns. One lady was knitting two at a time on two circulars.
Stephanie gave her talk – she’s a good speaker and very funny – in her best moments, when she wasn’t busy saying how wonderful knitters are, it was like hearing an excellent stand-up routine performed by someone with knitting as their shtick. In fact, her best and most engaging moment happened when she answered the final question in the limited Q&A session, when she talked about the day a couple of weeks ago when she walked 14 kilometers in a snowy wood to get Guinness and toilet paper (she was spending time alone in a cabin to get stuff done.) It was charming and funny and very real.
On another plus side : she didn’t call non-knitters “Muggles” *once.* Yay!
Just before she started, Leah from my synagogue, another knitter, showed up and said hello. She gave Stephanie a knitting bag and left before I did. In fact, what I did was stand in line for about an hour waiting for my book to get signed, and chatting with the ladies around me – even getting a new Ravelry friend. (BtW – I’m “MamaDeb” on there, too.)
And then Jonathan called and I left to meet him for dinner at Mr. Broadway’s. I never did get the book signed. However, I had a lovely time and met good people (and made a lot of progress on my sock), so it was all good.
Pattern: Feather and Fan, with Eyelet ends and two stitch garter border
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Laceweight Lipstick
Needles: Bryspun ciruclar, US4
I started this project with Knitpicks Options needles, but the tips got loose a couple of times, and the laceweight yarn got caught in the threads. That plus all the mistakes I was making with the charted lace because I didn’t give it proper attention made me decide to do a much simpler pattern with a less problematic needle.
I made this scarf in about a month, in time for my mother-in-law’s 72nd birthday in a couple of weeks. It’s her favorite color, and it’s what she asked me to make her.
The pattern is very simple, and made for good tv, commuting and convention/filksing knitting.
Cast on 76.
K2 4(k1 8(k2tog yo) k1) K2 for six rows
K2 P72 K2
K2 4(6 K2tog 6(yo k1) 6 k2tog) K2
repeat rows 7-13 until scarf is long enough. Repeat row 1-6. Bind off.
I think it looked pretty even like that, but it could look better.
That’s me, but red’s not my color, so not showing my face. It drapes beautifully and the pattern works nicely. It was somewhat longer than I’d expected – unblocked it was about 60 inches, but I think it blocked out six inches longer. That’s a good thing, I think, since the recipient is larger than I am in all dimensions.
I think the border makes all the difference in this very simple scarf.
I absolutely need to get blocking wires if I make more lace – there was too much compromise between blocking the lace and keeping the edges straight. And I am going to make more lace. This ended up a very fun project, even if I had to discard my first attempt, which was much more beautiful but I found myself dreading the project. And life’s too short to knit a project you’re not enjoying.
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I *think* I just unvented a sock heel. At least , I haven’t seen it anywhere else and I’m not sure where to look.
I just spent a month knitting Cat Bordhi socks with her innovative heel – a short-row heel that looks like a flap-and-gusset, and I forgot how to do flap-and-gussets.
I was knitting baby socks for a friend. I can’t find the original pattern, which I’d downloaded only a couple of months ago, but it’s very simple and after four pairs (plus a mistake), I had it memorized. It’s a top-down sock with traditional heels, done in a 2×2 rib, so who needs a pattern, right? Anyway, I was modifying it because I needed bigger sockies.
So. Casting on is not a problem. Magic looping the tiny leg not a problem. Even the heel flap was not a problem. And then I came to the heel turn.
And instead of the normal procedure of knitting ever-increasing short-rows, I just decreased – normal decrease of p2tog or ssk one stitch from the edge. Plus, I slipped the first stitch of each row. I did this until I was down to about 1/3, and got a flat triangle.
While the sock didn’t turn by itself, I did get a nice, smooth curve out of the triangle. I also got ears because I didn’t pick up the stitches on either side of the triangle, but went down to the flap immediately.
If/when I do this on purpose, I’m going to experiment with picking up the sides of the triangle, too, to see if that eliminates the ears. If the gusset turns out too big, I’ll reduce the length of the heel flap.
Has anyone heard of a heel like this?
Lorna’s Laces Flamingo Stripes
Knitpicks 32″ Size 1 (1.5mm)
Pattern: Stansfield 304 from More Sensational Knitted Socks.
This is a twelve-stitch repeat, which works beautifully with this colorway. I knit this top down with a garter-stitch cuff, and a garter-stitch plain stockinette heel flap. I’m very pleased with the way the heel flap striped. I finished these with a standard toe.
I made these for a friend of mine who loves pink. I chose the colorway without knowing that Lorna’s Laces donates 20% of the proceeds to breast cancer research, which made it a nice plus.
In the Navy
Socks that Rock” In the Navy”
Knitpicks Size 0 32′ circular
Pattern: Lattice Stitch from More Sensational Knitted Socks
These were knitted toe-up, using a standard toe with a Judy’s Magic Cast-on. The stitch pattern, which forms a diamond, turned out to be somewhat problematic with the dark colorway. While it looks very good, it was difficult to see at times, and I had to do a lot of ripping back. It seems such a simple stitch pattern until I actually did it.
On the other hand, my husband chose the pattern and likes it. Which made it worth while. The leg is so short because STR comes in one skein/pair of socks, and it was the only way I could be sure of having enough yarn. Fortunately, it’s a good length. This was my first pair using STR, and I liked it a lot – almost as much as the Lorna’s Laces.
I chose to do a flap-and-gusset heel, with the heel stitch beginning on the sole of the foot and continuing up the back of the heel. I also chose to do a garter-border for the look of it, but I slipped the first stitch of each row because I find I prefer picking up a chain stitch. Also, when I knitted into the picked up stitches, I did so through the back loop, twisting them. I found this looked very neat and tight.
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In all the talk about second sock syndrome, why has no one ever mentioned the very real difference?
The second sock (or mitten) is much faster. It took me a week, with false starts and miscounts and sometimes making negative progress in a day, to complete the first of the pair currently drying in my bathroom. The second? Took me four and half days. I knew the pattern perfectly (it’s engraved on my brain), I knew what mistakes I was likely to make and how to avoid, correct or mitigate them. It didn’t go perfectly – I certainly tinked and laddered down and there were so many dropped stitches I had to catch and reknit/purl – but it was much, much faster.
Now, I have to say that I’ve never experienced SSS myself. I think there are a number of factors. I don’t think of a single sock as a completed project, for example. But also – I’m going to be casting-on for my next pair of socks tonight, as soon as I get the skein wound. And while I’m going to be using a different stitch pattern and I’m knitting these toe-up instead of top down – they’re still socks. Whatever order, there are still toes, legs, feet and heels. And it’s a chance to do things right.
Plus – I’m an Orthodox Jew living in Diaspora. This means that most of my holidays are doubled. Every year, I have two complete seders on successive nights. Trust me, once you go through that, starting a second identical sock is nothing.
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