Time for a Recheck

Earlier this year I did a short post on what I was hoping to accomplish in 2017. So lets take a look at where we’re at:

20170308_102354

Nesting Basket Pattern…….Check!

Christmas Stockings……Crochet Check and Knitting Check!

That leaves me down to the pattern bundles. I have a few patterns ready for the bundles, but with two boys and my husband’s work schedule gone crazy, time is not something I am finding in abundance. It looks like y’all will have to wait a bit longer for those to come out. In the meantime though, I’ll be starting a series of VERY short blog posts on the A-Z’s of crochet and knit stitches.

The goal of these posts will be to work on stitches you may have never heard of or seen (like astrakhan crochet or Andalusian knit stitch). My goal with these is to expose you all to some unusual stitches you can try out over the holidays and to show you how to use them in different or unique ways (yes, there will FINALLY be a tutorial on Crocodile stitch in the round). Sometimes I’ll show you how I increase or decrease in a stitch (like crocodile), and sometimes I’ll just show how the stitch is worked. I may even have a project or two to go along with some of them.

If you have any questions on a specific stitch (how to work it a certain way, decreases, increases, etc…) or would like to see a specific stitch covered, now would be a really good time to email me! I’m planning out the next couple months of stitches along with my pre-school lessons for my older son and would love to include your questions in my posts!

There is ONE other thing I need y’all to help me with…

I have been asked for business cards a couple of times and I would LOVE to give some out, but I need to finalize a design for them. What do you all think of this:

Logo 1000px

It’s just a draft, but I would love to have some feedback on it.

I think that’s all for now, so happy crafting!

 

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Scarf Weather

Now that we’re past Labor Day, the weather SHOULD be getting colder–sorry West Coast and Southwest US, y’all might skip fall entirely for summer conditions–it is a great time to talk a little about scarves!

Right, cause who DOESN’T know how to make a scarf? Pick a stitch and go nuts!

Well, there’s is a LITTLE more to it than that. Besides, if you aren’t careful you’ll end up with striped scarf that looks like this guy’s:

who_scarf_02

Now, that is probably the most popular accident a knitter has made in all of television history (for those of you who don’t know the story, in the early 1970’s, a woman by the name of Begonia Pope was asked to make this for The Doctor and had been given no instruction on how long to make it. She used all the wool given to her and wound up with basically this beauty. The studio ran with it and used various lengths of similar scarf as filming required–at one point in the series this scarf is 24 feet long!), but you may not want to walk around with such a LONG scarf!

So what do you need to do when you’re making a scarf? Remember four big questions:

  1. Who is it for?
  2. How long is it?
  3. What stitch(es) am I using?
  4. What colors/pattern am I using?

Who is it For?

Making a scarf for yourself or no one is very different than making a scarf as a gift. If you’re trying to make a gift scarf (Christmas is just over 100 days away!), it is better to use a stitch and style of yarn you are comfortable with already. Mostly to keep the project lower stress and to keep from having messy stitching or ruining yarn. If you’re making a scarf for yourself (and don’t mind if it’s messy) or just for fun, it’s a good time to try a new stitch or stitches and go nuts with whatever yarn you can find.

How Long is it?

Maxi scarf? Infinity Scarf? Baby scarf? Kid scarf? Dad Scarf? Dog scarf? That may seem more like a list of who is it for, but since you already answered that question, all of those things refer to the length of the scarf. Generally speaking, you’ll want to make a scarf that is as long as the wearer is tall. So if you’re 5 foot nothing, you’ll want a 5 foot scarf. That will give you an average length scarf for the wearer. A Maxi scarf will generally be about twice as long as the wearer is tall, so that 5 foot nothing person from earlier would need a 10 foot maxi scarf.

An infinity scarf can be a little tricky because it depends on how many wraps you want out of it, but generally about 1.5 times the wearer’s height is a good start (7.5 feet for that 5 foot person), just tack the two ends together and test it before you sew the ends to finish.

Trying to fit for a pet can be a little tricky as well. Measure your animal’s front leg from floor to shoulder and double that to get a (usually) accurate length. Very short animals (like tiny and small dogs) may need special adjustments for length so the scarf goes around their collar and doesn’t drag on the floor.

DISCLAIMER: Please, please, please, if you are going to make a scarf for your animal remember that it is ONLY a decorative item. Scarves should NEVER be tied tightly around anyone’s neck and should never take the place of a collar or leash for an animal. Do NOT leave an animal loose outside while they have a scarf on. It can become tangled in fences or native landscape (trees, bushes, rocks, etc…) and choke the animal.

What Stitch(es) am I Using?

Very much like asking how long the scarf should be, there is a little bit of thought that should go into which stitch you are going to use. If the scarf is for practice, this is a great way to try out new stitches new ways to blend stitches (like switching from double crochets to crocodile in the middle of the work or knitting cables). If you want to do the scarf up as a gift, it may be a better time to stick to something tried and true, or at least something you’re comfortable with.

You can pull out any stitch encyclopedia or just check out a random stitch on New Stitch a day to make a scarf with. They’re a great way to practice if you don’t mind being a little messy sometimes. The real reason that you may not want to pick  a new stitch for a gift is because undoing the work can hurt the yarn and unfamiliar stitches (especially cable work for me) can lead to a lot of “re-dos.”

What Colors/Pattern am I Using?

Wait, I thought this wasn’t about using a pattern?

You’re right. But in this case, I mean something more like a checkerboard pattern or stripes or basket weave or something of that nature, not a pattern that tells you every step like you would find in a pattern book.

When you’re choosing colors and patterns there are really only a couple things to consider:

  • Will the person I’m making this for like it?
  • Does the pattern work with the color?

If you’re going to make your husband a scarf in the colors of his favorite sports team, make sure that you get the RIGHT colors. I’m sure that he’ll wear that neon yellow and maroon scarf, but Barn Red and Gold were probably better choices for your Bay Area football fan. In the same fashion, if your little girl loves pink, don’t make her a mostly green scarf. This seems like a lot of common sense, but it needs to be said.

I have more than once gone into the store for yarn and found a yarn I REALLY want to work with, but the colors just aren’t what I need. There is a real temptation to just buy the yarn anyway and think “oh, they won’t care…” but don’t. Instead, remember that this is a project for someone and that what they would like is more important than that cool yarn. Again, it seems silly, but I’VE done it, so I want you all to learn from my mistakes.

When it comes to mixing patterns and colors the BIGGEST thing to watch out for is making people dizzy! Mixing a variegated yarn with a basket weave pattern might not be the best idea if the variegated is a busy set of colors. There is such a thing as TOO much going on, even when it comes to something so simple as a scarf.

The final thing to think about is how many colors you’re going to use. When it comes to stripes like the picture above, you can use almost an infinite number of colors (that actually a really good way to clean up your scraps collection), but if you’re doing colorwork, you may want to stick with two or three colors instead.

Ultimately scarves are a great way to just go nuts! Have fun with it and if you don’t like it, pull it out and do something else!

Knitting 101: The Christmas Toe

Turn on Charlie Brown for the last time until December! We’re just about finished with our Christmas Stocking.

The last piece we have to work out is the toe and all I’m going to do for that is switch back to green and follow the instructions given for Top Down Socks. Once you’re done and the toe is either sewn or grafted shut, you should have a completed stocking that is ready for blocking (nice rhyme right?).

finished stocking.png

What’s with the bed sheet picture? Well….I MAY have been sneaking in some telly while I was working…SHH don’t tell the kids!

For those of you who need help blocking, take a look back at my post on the subject to help you out. I will tell you, this stocking is VERY thick because of the extra strands from the color work. You will probably need to block it SEVERAL times using the steam method if you go that route.

You may also want to knit a little loop to attach to the top of the stocking for hanging. cast on 3-5 stitches and knit about 6 inches and bind off. Then with a yarn needle, sew both ends to the stocking.

And that’s really it. Congratulations! I hope you had fun with the stranded colorwork and are able to use some of it for the upcoming cold weather!

The Short Version

The Christmas Stocking

Materials:

  • 1 ball red worsted weight yarn
  • 1 ball white worsted weight yarn
  • 1 ball green worsted weight yarn
  • size US 8 (5mm) circular needles or 4 DPNs
  • yarn needle (optional)
  • Stitch Markers

Gauge:

17sts x 19 rows = 4″ x 4″

Cuff

With red, cast on 52

knit two rounds in red one white, one green, one white, and two red.

knit one round white

begin chart AChart A

knit one round white

begin chart B

Chart B

knit one round white

begin chart C

Chart C

knit one round white, repeat chart B, knit one round white, repeat chart C, knit one round white, repeat chart B, knit one round white.

Heel Flap

Row 1: with green, slip one purlwise, knit across half the cuff stitches, turn.

Row 2: slip one purlwise, purl across half the cuff stitches, turn.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until for 14 rows. End on Row 2.

Heel Turning

Row 1: with green, Sl 1, k to last 1.5 inches of row, leave last inch unworked and turn.

Row 2: Sl 1, p to last 1.5 inches of row, leave last inch unworked and turn.

Row 3: Sl 1, k to slipped stitch, k2 tog with slipped stitch and unworked stitch, k1 turn.

Row 4: Sl 1, p to slipped stitch, p2 tog with slipped stitch and unworked stitch, p1 turn.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until one unworked stitch from rows 1 and 2 remain.

Final Row A: Sl 1, k to slipped stitch, k2 tog with slipped stitch and unworked stitch, turn.

Final Row B: Sl 1, p to slipped stitch, p2 tog with slipped stitch and unworked stitch, turn

Gusset

Round 1: k across heel stitches. Pick up stitches in slipped stitches on side of heel flap and one stitch in corner of work place marker. k across cuff stitches and place marker. Pick up stitches in slipped stitches on side of heel flap. Make sure the same amount of stitches were picked up on both sides of heel flap.

COUNT YOUR STITCHES. If you have the same amount as the cuff, move onto the foot.

Round 2: k to 3 before marker, k 2 tog, k 1 move marker. k across to marker, move marker, k 1, ssk, k to end of round

Round 3: k around

Repeat rounds 2 and 3 until the stitch count is the same as the amount of stitches cast on for cuff.

Foot

With red, knit 3 rounds

With white, knit 2 rounds

With green, knit 1 round

With red, knit 2 rounds

With white, knit 1 round

With green, knit 1 round

With red, knit 3 rounds

With white, knit 1 round

Work Chart A

With white, knit 1 round

Toe

Round 1: with green, knit, spacing 8 decreases evenly around.

Round 2: k around

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until 8 stitches remain on each side of the sock OR until desired length is reached. Sew or graft toe shut with yarn needle, weave in ends.

Finishing

Weave in ends.

Block work.

Loop

Cast on 5,

Row 1: k across, turn

Row 2: p across turn

Repeat rows 1 and 2 for 6 inches bind off.

Sew both ends of loop to stocking.

 

Crochet 101: The “ugly” Toe

Crank up those Christmas tunes one more time and let’s get finished with this stocking!

We’re ready to start the toe now and once again, we’ll be following the pattern for Top Down Socks here. I liked how the toe looked a little better by decreasing every round (as you would for a child sock), but whatever looks good to you is fine. Once you’re done with the toe, close it up and you should have a basically finished stocking:

toe

Now we’re ready to get the fun pieces done up and put on the sock. I’ll be adding a small pom pom “star” (though it will look HUGE for the tree) and some ornaments as well as a chained garland. I’ll also add some bauble yarn to the top to give the leg a little extra.

I don’t know about y’all, but when our tree goes up, we have all sorts of mish-mashed decorations on our tree, not the Home Living Magazine kind. Especially with two small boys in the house, I don’t see that magazine tree happening any time soon, so to help my stocking tree look like my home tree, I’m going to use a couple different kinds of yarn to make these look more like real tree decorations. If you like a more uniform look to yours, just use the same weight and style of yarn as you did for the stocking. If you’re just curious about a certain style of yarn and how it works, now would be a really good time to experiment with a few.

Getting back to our task, the chain is easy enough, so let’s start there. Make about an 8 inch chain (or long enough to cross your tree a few times) and fasten it off. You can sew the chain on with a yarn needle, or if you’d rather no sew, you can attach your yarn at either the top or the bottom of the tree and chain across the tops of the stitches, attaching the chain to the tree with a slip stitch when you need to turn.

Either way you go, you’ve got a garland on your tree.

Next I’m going to make a few decorations for the tree. Let’s start with a pompom for the top. The basics behind making pompoms for this project are the same as making pompoms for hats and other things we’ll work on another time. First thing to do is to take a single piece of yarn and lay it over itself a LOT. Remember, the length of the yarn you lay is going to be the size of your pompom so if you lay the yarn out two inches before doubling back, you’ll have a two inch pompom when you’re done.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to take a piece of cardboard like a toilet paper or paper towel roll and lay it flat. Because I am trying to make a very small version of the pom pom, I am not going to use cardboard here. For mine, I’m leaving a very long tail and wrapping the yarn around my finger for spacing. Don’t be shy here, the more yarn you wrap, the more poof your pom pom has.

pom wrap

When you’re happy with the wrap, take it off your finger very carefully and use the tail to make a tight knot around the loops. Don’t be shy here either, you’ll want that knot as tight as you can get it without messing up your work.

pom Tie

It’s kind of cute just like that isn’t it? To make it a real pom pom though, we need to snip the loops and trim them to make the strings about even all the way around (note: if you like the ragamuffin pom pom look, don’t trim the ends). Just be careful not to snip your tails!! You need those to tie the pom pom onto the tree.

pom cut

Once all of those are snipped,you have a cute little pom pom you can tie to your stocking.

pompom

Finally, we’ll make some ornaments for our tree. Attach your any color yarn to the FRONT of the post where you want to “hang” your ornament.

ornament1

Chain three and insert your hook in the OPPOSITE direction to slip stitch and fasten off the chain.

ornament2

See, kinda cool huh? And SO easy! Do that with a few more colors and you’ll have a brightly colored tree for your stocking.

ornament3

The final touch will be adding some edging with the bauble yarn. Bauble (or pom pom) yarn can be a little tricky to work with, but I’ll walk you through it. First though, find that goofy looking ridge that marks the beginning of your round.

round joining'

Unlike other yarns, we will NOT be using a slip knot on this yarn. Working from the inside of your stocking, put your hook through the space where the round joins and lay the thin part of the bauble yarn over your hook.

attach bauble

Pull the yarn through and you have a loop on your hook.

Put the hook through the bottom of the next chain and pull the thin part of the bauble yarn through the chain and the loop on the hook to make a slip stitch. Repeat that all the way around, skipping past a bauble each time you make a slip stitch, to get your first round of fluff. You may need to adjust your tension to be looser to make sure that the baubles sit right.

work foundation chain

When you get to the end of the round, join it with a slip stitch in your first slip stitch. you should have a neat ring of slip stitches around the inside of your stocking  and a round of baubles on the outside.

Using the line after the next bauble, chain one.

For the next round, use that ring of slip stitches like you would a foundation chain. I’m going to single crochet around, but I’m going to work it very loosely so I have two baubles per stitch.

Continue that around and join the round. You should be able to see the stitches well from the back of the work.

sc stitches back

Repeat that round as many times as you would like for your stocking (I did one more) and you’re done! Congratulations!

crochet finished.png

The Short Version

The “Ugly” Christmas Stocking

Materials:

  • 1 ball red worsted weight yarn
  • 1 ball green worsted weight yarn
  • 1ball white worsted weight yarn
  • 1 ball green pompom (bauble) yarn
  • various scraps of yarn
  • US H (5.00mm) hook
  • scissors
  • Stitch markers
  • yarn needle (optional)

Gauge:

15 sc x 13 rows =4×4″

Cuff

With red, Ch 52 join chain and turn.

Round 1 and 2: sc around, join and turn.

Work chart over next 26 sts (side 1) and repeat for next 26 sts (side 2) using red for the background and green for the tree:

Chart

Next two rounds: sc around, join and turn.

Heel Flap

Row 1: Join white 13 stitches before beginning of round. Sc 26 turn.

Row 2: Ch 2, sc across, turn

Repeat row two until heel flap measures 2 inches (or desired length)

Heel Turning

Row 1: With white, Ch 2, sc 14 sc2tog twice. LEAVE 8 STS UNWORKED.

Row 2: Turn ch2, sc 4, sc2tog twice. LEAVE 8 STS UNWORKED.

Row 3: turn, ch 2, sc across worked sts from previous row, sc2tog twice in unworked stitches.

Repeat row 3 until one unwork stitch remains on either side.

Last Row: turn, ch 2, sc across worked sts from previous row, sc2tog in unworked stitches.

Repeat Last Row.

Gusset

Round 1: Join green, DO NOT TURN. Ch 1, working side of heel flap rows, evenly pick up stitches in the side of each row, stop at second to last row. Work sc3tog in last row of heel flap, worked cuff sc and unworked cuff sc. Place marker. Sc across cuff to last stitch. Sc3tog in last cuff sc, worked cuff sc, and first heel flap row. Place marker. working side of heel flap rows, evenly pick up stitches in the side of each row (same number as side 1). Sc across top of heel flap, join round.

Decrease Round: Ch 2, sc to two stitches before marker, sc 2 tog, sc to marker, after marker sc 2 tog, sc to end of round, join with sl st.

Repeat decrease round until the GUSSET stitch count is the same as the CUFF stitch count noted, adjusting markers to remain in the first and last stitch of the CUFF as you work.

Foot

Round 1: with green sc around, join round with sl st.

Repeat round 1 with green until green portion (including gusset) measures 1.5 inches.

Join white. Repeat round 1 for 1.5 inches.

Join red. Repeat round 1 for 1.5 inches

Toe

Lay sock flat and place markers in the sides of the foot (markers may not line up with row beginning).

Round 1: Join white, Working in a spiral, place marker at beginning of round. *Sc to two before marker, sc2tog, repeat from * sc to end of round.

Repeat round 1 until toe reaches desired length. Sew toe shut.

Finishing

Garland

Using scrap yarn, make 8 inch chain. Attach to tree using yarn needle. Repeat for second side.

Pompom “star” (make 2)

Using scrap yarn, wrap several times around one finger leaving two long tails. The wrap should look poofy.

Slide the wraps off your finger carefully and use the tail to tie a knot around the center of the loops.

Cut the loops with your scissors and trim any long ends as needed, leaing two long tails to tie the pompom to the tree.

Ornaments

Using scrap yarn, attach to the front of the stitch you wish to “hang” your ornament from. To attach, insert hook from right to left and make a slip stitch. ch 3. Insert hook into same stitch as join from left to right, slip stitch to join round and fasten off.

Repeat with different colors on different stitches as desired. Repeat for side 2.

Edging

Attach pom pom yarn at join. Working in bottom of foundation chain, slip stitch around.

Round 1: Using slip stitches as foundation chain, sc around loosely join round

Round 2: ch 1 sc around loosely.

Repeat round 2 until desired length is reached.

 

I need a…(Part 3)

Y’all remember that dress I was working on in Part 1 and Part 2 of this set a few months ago?

pink-dress

I had some time to work on it and I finally did get it done!

mannequinWell, sort of… I used some leftover yarn I had to make a “quick” concept version too see (a) if it would work and (b) if I liked it.

 

I DO like the idea, but I’m thinking it needs a few tweaks. First and foremost, solid on solid feels too plain for me, so I’m definitely going with a variegated yarn for the top. I’m thinking something springy would be fun, so I’m gonna try this out

variegated top

For the skirt, I thought something in a coordinating color might be nice so I think I’m going to go with this green. It is a little olive drab, but I think that with the top being so colorful something a little plain on the bottom is ok.

solid skirt

Take a look at them together and see what you think:

sidebyside

Now, you might be noticing that the pictured yarn is a lot thinner than the yarn I used for my test. That’s the second thing I want to changed about it. I don’t like how big the stitches are on the test and the worsted weight is just too heavy for Texas, so I’m going to go with a sock weight yarn to help keep the stitch small and keep from overheating.

That poses a small problem however….the gauge I’m working with was written for worsted weight yarn and an 8mm needle. Keep that gauge with a sock weight yarn and you’ll have a lovely bit of lace, but not a very practical dress.

So we’ll have to change the gauge right? That’s a lot of math and figuring and this is starting to sound like way more work than necessary when there exist perfectly good patterns. Well, again, sort of…. I have a hypothesis.

If you use a needle that is half the size required and a yarn half the size required then when you make a gauge swatch, you SHOULD be able to double the stitches called for and get the same size square.

After some not so extensive testing, I found that, yes, to some extent that holds true.

For me, working with a 4 mm needle and sock weight yarn (1) rather than a fine (2) yarn–keeping in mind worsted is (4)–I was able to successfully double the stitches and rows to get the same size gauge square for this project.

Now, that does mean I have my work cut out for me. For each row in the two patterns I’m trying to join up, I’ll have to have two rows. And for each stitch called for I should have two. There is going to be a bit of trial and error to this I think, but I’m really excited to get underway.

If you need me, I’ll be working with pencil and notebook to get the math worked out before I get rolling….see you all later!

Knitting 101: The Christmas Heel and Foot

Hopefully you all are still in a holly jolly mood after knitting all that colorwork and you’re ready to move on to the heel. Before we move on, let’s do ONE more round of white just for space. Then we can start the heel.

Exactly like in Top Down Socks we’ll be working across half the stitches in short rows. I’ll be doing a solid green heel for this project, so the whole heel flap will be worked with just the green. You may notice that the other two colors are just hanging out on the cuff, and of course, if we don’t bring them up with the first stitch, when we get to the gusset they’ll still be hanging out there. I am choosing for this project not to carry them with me, mostly to show what to do if you DIDN’T mean to leave them behind. So, I’ll carry the other two colors up when we pick up stitches for the gusset. If you would rather carry them with you, just bring them along as we go like you would for stripes.

heel flap.png

When you’re working the heel flap, about two inches will still do the trick, but REMEMBER: you will need to have enough rows to pick up at least the same amount of stitches in round 1 of the gusset as you have in the cuff cast on (58). I made mine two rows too short the first time round and had to go back to fix it. For those of you who find it easier to just have a row count, 13 should do the trick for my pattern.

Once the heel flap is done, we’ll work the turning part to round it out. Once again, we’ll work the heel turning exactly the same as we would for Top Down Socks. I’m still using the green only here. When you want to make any sock that had a different color heel like this one, work the heel and heel flap in the accent color then start the gusset in the main color for the work.

heel turning.png

Now that the heel flap and turning are done, we can start on the gusset. If you’ve gotten here and gone OH NO! I forgot to carry my colors! (or if you have followed what I’m doing on purpose) Now is the time to breathe and follow along closely.

Work across the heel stitches and pick up stitches on side one. Then work across the cuff and when you get to side two, pick up your stitches, but as you work, wrap your green around the back side of the red and white, then bring it forward to pick up the next stitch.

By the time you have picked up all the stitches for side two, you’ll have all three colors at the beginning of the round and ready to start the foot.

Wait, what happened to the gusset?

Count your stitches. If you have the same amount as you cast on for the cuff, you’re golden. If you don’t, work the the gusset the same as Top Down Socks, and then move onto the foot. My stocking had enough stitches to move onto the gusset.

For the foot of my stocking, I’m working some thin, “random” stripes. Of course, if it’s a pattern they’re not REALLY random, but if you wanted to deviate from the pattern, here is a really safe and easy place to do so. The stripe section is about 2.5 inches long and the only really necessary part is to end on a white round. If you want to follow me exactly, I did 3 rounds red, 2 white, 1 green, 2 red, 1 white, 1 green, 3 red, and 1 white to lead into the next section.

When I was done with this chart, I worked chart A again:

Chart A

and then did one last round of white before starting the toe.

hohofoot.png

If you feel like you need a little more on the foot, you could work some more stripes or work chart B and C again. Or maybe just do a bit of solid color. When you’re ready, move onto the next post where we’ll finish the toe and get the Short Version of the pattern.

Crochet 101: The “Ugly” Heel and Foot

Get the Christmas music back on, and re-watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” or whatever you need to do to keep in the Christmas mood, we’re ready to start the heel.

The heel will be worked as we did in Top Down Socks with only a couple minor change. The first change comes in the heel flap, we’ll need to bridge the beginning of the round we just finished so that the heel is on the side of the sock and shows off the picture when displayed.

First, place a marker at the beginning of the round. Then count backward 1/4 of the stitches in the round (13 if you’re following along) and attach your yarn to start the heel flap. I’ll be working with white for the heel and the toe on this one. Work your heel flap back in forth like normal, I did about two inches for mine. If you want a little more pronounced heel, go for three inches.

heel flap christmas

When the heel flap is done, move onto the short rows. Remember, with the short rows, it is MOST important to have an even number of stitches and the SAME amount of stitches unworked on both sides. If that means you have to work more than half the stitches or work less than half the stitches, that’s what you do. I left 8 stitches unworked on either side and had to single crochet 4 rather than three to get this one to work out right. I also had to change the last two rows so that I only worked two together once at the end of each row.

turning christmas.png

When you’ve finished the turning, cut your white and switch to green. To get the different color heel effect you see on some socks you work the heel in one color and the gusset and foot in a different color. In this case, the foot is going to be striped, so we’ll just start our stripes in the gusset.

The gusset will be worked the same as Top Down Socks, so I’m not going to go into much detail with that here. Just remember, because we’re using a larger yarn and hook, you may have a smaller gusset for this project. Of course, the longer your heel flap is, the bigger the gusset will be. Just remember to start the foot when you have the same amount of stitches as the cuff.

For the foot, I worked three stripes. Each one is about 1.5 inches (6 rounds) and they’re green, white, and red–in that order. See:

christmas boot.png

With the foot done, we can move onto the toe, but I’ll save that for the next post.

Oh, and does that leg look a little short? It’s ok. Next post we’ll also learn how to do some edging and work with bauble yarn all at the same time.

 

 

 

Design it Yourself: The Dark Side of Design

Up until now, you all have seen the happy fun, well thought out side of designing. Projects that work out flawlessly or at least theoretically, but what happens when design isn’t so happily ever after?

Alright, alright, I admit, it’s not that dramatic of an answer. The answer is you start over, adjust, or roll with it.

The last time we were talking design, I shared a couple of patterns that I was going to be working on for Knitting 101 and Crochet 101:

The Crochet pattern is going well, but the Knitting pattern did not go so well…..

One of the problems with starting ideas from drawings is that you don’t know the gauge of your work and you don’t know how many stitches you’re really working with.

Now, if I had been clever I would have made a gauge swatch and then started designing, but since I was in a hurry (mom of two under 4, not EXACTLY got a lot of free time) I figured I’d do it on the fly.

Designing “on the fly” doesn’t work very well.

The first mistake I made was casting on 52 stitches. Casting on 52 stitches got me to the 7 inches across I want to be at for the stocking, but 52 divides into two sets of 29. What’s wrong with 29? 29 is both an odd number and a prime number. I mentioned the math in Top Down Socks that allows for the k2,p2 pattern to work out well. Turns out, that same math is best when trying to work colorwork in a round like I am doing for this stocking. As you can see from the charts, I wound up with some spare stitches:

Chart BChart C

Well, if 29 is an odd number, why can I just stretch those cute little dots into an odd number? 29 is also prime which means it’s divisible by 29 and 1 without remainder. No matter which way you slice that one it won’t evenly divide into any more than 1 or 29. Trying to fit 8 dots around this was going to have a remainder no matter what I did with it.

Wait a minute, what happened to the snowflakes we were working on?

Well……

Snowflake

They kind of ended up being a hot mess.

No matter how I sliced it, they just kept coming out in a way that was either too small to get “snowflake” from it or they were kind of just weird and boxy. Given more space to work with, the would be pretty fun, but being limited to working around and wanting to work a stripe in, I just couldn’t make it work this time.

That of course means I’ll have to find an excuse to make it work now, so keep an eye out for something involving snowflakes coming from me. I’m not one to let a “this is awesome” project get the best of me. They do have to wait sometimes, but it’ll happen.

So what happened to the rest of the little designs?

Well, by the time I had gotten through this mistake, I realized that I was trying to make this too complicated for what I needed. The other cute little patterns will be set on the shelf for another project.

If you’ve ever watched one of those “Next Star” shows, you’ll know that the WORST thing you can do as a host (or in this case, a blogger) is to admit that you’ve made a mistake. I think in this case though, it’s warranted. I hope that you’ve learned from it, at least a little and I hope that you’re encouraged when you make your own mistakes. It’s not the end of the world, it’s an opportunity to learn something.

 

 

Knitting 101: The Christmas Stocking

Alright knitters, time to get into the Holiday spirit! Grab some hot cocoa, put on the tv fire place (I live it Texas y’all, it’s ALWAYS too warm for a real fire), and bake some sugar cookies. We’re finally ready to start our Christmas project!

Now, if you read the design post, you saw that the original knitting project looked like this:

knit design

Pretty cool right? Well, pretty cool if you have a very small set of needles and a lot of time. The snowflake pattern wasn’t working out with the size needles and yarn I wanted to use for this–and I really did want this to be a quick, easy project for anyone to be able to pick up–so I scrapped that idea in favor of something less intricate and a lot easier to knit.

Before we start with that though, make a gauge swatch. Yeah, I know, everyone’s LEAST favorite step. But especially if you want different measurements for your sock, you’ll need to know your gauge.

Now that you know your gauge, you can decide how big to make your stocking. Do you want a “standard” size sock? Something long and skinny? Maybe a miniature version for the office? Whatever you decide, you can use the patterns for Top Down Socks or Toe Up Socks as a guide for this whole project.

If you just want to follow along, I’ll be working top down with worsted weight yarn and US size 8 (5.0 mm) needles. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with stranded (aka Fair Isle) knitting and how to carry yarn up for stripes, you may want to take a look at my posts before you get started.

Ok, you have your gauge (17sts x 19 rows = 4″ x 4″) and you know how long and wide you want to make your stocking (~7″ across the top, ~10.5″ leg, ~7″ foot) so, now what?

Grab your needles and cast on of course! I cast on 52 which was actually turned out to be kind of a pain as I got into this. You see half of 52 is 29 and 29 is a prime number. Prime numbers don’t like to break into smaller parts evenly, so when I got to redesigning the pattern it wound up a little uneven, but that’s a story for a design post, so I’ll leave it for there.

When you get to the pattern at the end of these posts, you’ll see that it calls for 4 or 5 DPNs, I’m going to be completely honest here: I couldn’t find my 4th double pointed needle, so I am using circular needles to make mine.  The truth is that so long as you are able to comfortably join the circle, even one sock can be done with short circular needles.

How exactly do you DO that? Basically the same way that you cast on for two, except you are only casting on one. Cast on your stitches, find center, and work half at a time. There is a bit of a trick to it when you’re working with stranded knitting though.

Tension is HUGE in stranded knitting (as we’ll see farther down), so to help with that, the best way to handle a circular cast on is actually to cast on all your stitches in a line like you would for a straight needle:

cast on one circ

Then find the one quarter to one third mark on either side. Leave somewhere between a quarter and a third of the stitches on one needle, about one third to a half on the wire, and the other quarter to third on the other needle to work like so:

quarters

You can see in the photo that the cast on looks a little stretched here, if it does NOT tighten up and look more even once you’ve knit one round then you need to adjust your tension and try again.

Once you’re happy with your cast on, knit a few rounds to make your top. If you prefer a straighter top rather than the roll down style I’ve gone with here, either block the work when you’re done or knit a round, purl a round and then knit the rest. The purl round will help to tack the top straight without having to block the work. I kind of like how the roll came out though, take a look:

rolling top

To achieve that effect, I knit 2 rounds of red, one white, one green, one white, and two red, carrying the colors along as I went.

Once the top is finished, we can begin the charts.

The what?

The charts. Using a chart to guide your colorwork is sort of a short hand that many times is easier to follow than, “with white knit one, with red knit two, with white knit two, with red knit two, with white knit two, with red, knit three…” you get the idea.

When you’re reading a chart, the numbers across the top indicate the stitch and the numbers along the side indicate the row. Just look at the color in the square that matches the stitch your working. For my stocking, I have written the chart for half the stocking, so just go back to stitch one when you’ve finished the first half and start over.

Before we start with Chart A, knit one round with white. I’m knitting one round of white between each chart to help give some space. Keep that in mind as we go along so your charts don’t get too mashed together. Here’s Chart A:

Chart A

A fun little note, when you turn this thing inside out, you’ll have an inverse color scheme in the strands if you’ve carried your yarn right (keep this is the inside, so you’re looking at it backwards too):

inverse

Now, I warned you about keeping good tension through the stranded portion of this pattern right? See in that picture above how the work is starting to look a little bit like a corset?

corset-1330777_1920

That’s a tension issue. If you let it go too long, it will start to REALLY look like a corset

bad tension

Especially if you’re working with DPNs, you’ll need to watch your tension when you change needles. If you’re working with circular needles, there is a trick you can use to help you get the tension right.

Mark the beginning/end of your round and as you work, continue to shuffle your stitches around, so that no matter where you’re at in the pattern, you always have the strand for the color you’re changing to on the working needle. So if you need to switch to red, the last red stitch you worked is still on the working needle. That way every time you need to pull a float across to become a working strand, you have the needle to measure against and help to keep a constant tension.

Once Chart A is done, work another round of white (spacer remember?). Then work Chart B:

Chart B

Looking at Chart B, you may be saying “wait, how do I work three colors?” Don’t worry, it’s really easy. Let’s take a look at switching colors with three strands.

First, of course you have three strands you’re working with. In this case white, red and green:

3 strands

I’m changing from green to white in this picture, so the big thing to pay attention to is what happens with the red. Tuck the white strand behind the red like so:

cross white.png

Then wrap it across both the red and the green:

wrap white

That will force the red and green strands to stay close to the work and keep them from flopping around.

There’s one more thing that I want to address before we hit Chart C. In my post on stranded knitting, I very clearly say

“The tick with stranded colorwork is that you can only go so far with it. Carrying the yarn two to four stitches works fine, but anymore than that and you have to start worry about loose strands and potentially backing the work”

And I know you all can count, so you can see that I skip TWELVE stitches on the first row of the chart….

Yes, I just contradicted myself, but for good reason. I wanted to show you all what I was talking about with crossing more than four:

long float.png

That red line I’m holding up is the float between the red stitches on the first round of chart B. That line is a good tension (by my judgement), but you can see how a toe could easily get caught on it if it were an everyday wear sock. Being as this is a stocking and I like the pattern, I’m going to leave it that way on mine. I want you all to play with your tension here. See what you can do and how far you are comfortable stretching your floats.

If you don’t like the long string, just add to the top of the green dots and you’ll have something that looks a bit more like Christmas lights than polka dots. You’ll want to do the same for Chart C if you decide to go that route.

The last thing before we finish up the leg. If you’ve finished Chart B, your yarn might look like this:

tangled mess

Now would be a good time to untangle your skeins before moving on to another round of white and Chart C:

Chart C

Another round of white then Chart B, a round of white, Chart C, a round of white, and B one more time. You can actually keep repeating that pattern over and over until you’re happy with the length. Remember to keep untangling your yarn. It is NO fun to pick the knots out of this business and you can crunch your yarn (especially acrylic) and it won’t want to go back. Once you’re happy with the length, you’re done!

leg finished

When you’re ready, move on to the heel, which I’ll cover in the next post.