B is for Brioche

B is for Baubles, Blocks, and today, Brioche Stitch. When I started knitting up this stitch, I was using a fluffy worsted weight yarn and as I got farther and farther into the project, I couldn’t help but think of this little girl:

giphy

What is it?

Brioche is a type of rib stitch, but unlike traditional ribbing, you aren’t ACTUALLY purling to get the effect. Actually, it’s the way my ribbing came out on a good day before I learned how to switch from knitting to purling in the middle of a round. So, if you struggle with switching from knit to purl, you may have a really easy time of this. To start, cast on any even number of stitches. I’m going to add this onto an existing piece, so I’ll skip the cast on and knit a row. For those of you who want to add on to something, you don’t need to knit that row, you can just start right into the pattern stitch.

Now, bring the working yarn forward (wyif) and slip the first stitch purlwise

slip one purl

And with the working yarn still in front, knit the next stitch.

brioche knit

See that business there? In the middle?

yarn over business

That is where the yarn came OVER the needle so you could knit your stitch. In a normal rib pattern, that would be bad (granted you can just drop that yarn over as you work if it was a mistake), but in Brioche stitch, that is EXACTLY what you need to get the lovely, extra squishy texture. So let’s just do that all the way across. Bring the yarn back around, slip one purlwise, and knit the next one.

row 1

Well done. Now to turn, keep the yarn forward, slip the first stitch purlwise and knit the next stitch and the yarn over together. We’re going to call knitting the yarn over and knit stitch together a brioche knit stitch (bks–so we don’t confuse it with brk meaning break) for the sake of the short version. In a few rows, you’ll have a lovely rib that I am someday going to make a blanket out of. As it stands, this is the perfect stitch for a quick scarf or ear muff I think.

What Else Can You Do With It?

Brioche is a very versatile stitch that can take the place of ANY rib stitch. It is worked in a 1×1 pattern (slip one, brioche knit one), but anywhere you see “rib” you can plug this in no matter what the pattern calls for.

As I mentioned above this stitch would be perfect for a scarf or ear muff, so let’s make one, but just for fun, let’s turn this on it’s side. Cast on 40 and brioche knit for about 26 inches. Bind off, weave in ends and then sew the two ends together to make an infinity scarf that can be pulled over the ears if needed.

The Short Version

brioche

WYIF = with yarn in front

BKS= Brioche knit stitch (knit yarn over and next st together)

Cast on any multiple of 2

Set up row: wyif, sl one purlwise, yo, kn1 across

Row 1: wyif, sl one purlwise, yo, bks across

Advertisements

A is for Andalusian

A is for many things really, but today–since we’re beginning our alphabet stitching–it stands for Andalusian Stitch.

What Is It?

The Andalusian stitch is a very simple, textured stitch that gives the work a little pop without working too hard. To begin, you’ll need to cast on any multiple of 2 (2,4,6,8, etc…) and one more. This is sometimes see this noted as “multiple of 2 plus 1.”

I think I’ve mentioned before, but any time you see the notation of “multiple of (n) plus (x),” multiply the (n) and cast that number on, then cast on (x) as well. Don’t add the numbers together and then multiply. I’m not saying it won’t work, but it is much more likely not to.

I’m working 21 stitches for my square, but I’m only making a sample, use your best judgement to decide how many you would like to do.

So, have you got your cast on ready? Good!

cast on

Next knit a row.

1 knit

Then Purl a row.

2 purl

Now the “hard” part: knit 1, purl 1 until the last stitch. Knit the last stitch.

2 k1p1

Purl the next row and you’ve done it!

Repeat those four steps until you’re happy with the length or get the general idea. I did about 20 rows just for fun.

andalusian

What Else Can You Do With It?

Andalusian stitch is perfect for learning how to add beads! Adding beads (or bells) to your knitting is super simple, just slip the bead through the stitch you want it on before you knit (or purl) it. Andalusian is great because the knit 1, purl 1 row gives you an easy way to remember when to add beads and a convenient spacing method. Adding one bead every four to six purl stitchs should give you nice spacing and plenty of bling for any project.

20170927_071454(0).jpg

Want to work this in the round for a cowl, sleeves, or socks? cast on a multiple of 2, knit 2 rounds. Knit 1, Purl 1 around. Knit around and repeat those four rows until you have the length you want.

The Short Version

CO multiple of 2 plus 1

Row 1: K across

Row 2: P across

Row 3: *K1, P1, repeat from * to last st, K1

Row 4: P across

Repeat rows 1-4 ad infinitum or until you’re done.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Knitting 101: A Bit More “Fancy”

When it comes to knitting colorwork, it’s really easy to look at something like this:

20160918_120225

and say “This is gonna be awesome!” as we attempt to start our own version. Y’all may remember that phrase as the beginning to all of my MOST irritating and difficult projects (in fact, that very project started with that phrase). But once you get into it, you find ends everywhere and wrapped stitches that shouldn’t be and colors out of order. So the big question:

How in the world do you change colors in knitting without making a huge mess!?

We got the chance in a previous post to go over how to knit colored stripes. Wrapping the yarn up the side of the work as you go helps to keep things neat and tidy without trouble.

Now it’s time to figure out how to knit with colors switching in the middle of the row. Probably the EASIEST way to do that is called stranded or “fair isle” knitting in which you carry one strand of yarn behind the work making sort of a woven pattern behind the work. It looks something like this:

fair isle back

The front of that work is pretty fun looking though:

fair isle front

To get this to work, you have to worry about two things really. First, always make sure you’re using the right color to stitch with. That’s pretty easy for most patterns because you’re only working with two colors at a time and it is fairly obvious if you mess up. You have to really watch it if you’re using more than two colors.

Second, you have to keep an eye on your “floater” (yeah, kind of a weird name). The floater is the line that you’re carrying behind the work:

The floater needs to keep a smooth tension and keep tucked in (so you don’t have any long, loose strands on the back). Keeping smooth tension isn’t terribly hard if you are comfortable with your working tension already. The floating strand should be held behind with the same tension as your working tension. Resist the urge to pull it really tight. Pulling the float tight will not change that the back is woven together and will make the front of your work look or feel stretched too tight.

To help keep the floater tucked and looking neat, the working strand will always lay down and have the next color pulled around it when changing colors. What does that mean? Well, take a look:

floaters

If you are fairly dexterous, you can hold both strands in one hand and switch back and forth. Hold the active color between your thumb and forefinger (mostly like normal) and the second color between your middle and ring finger. As you work the stitching, have the two strands trade places as you change colors.

hold yarn

 

If you’re not able to do that, don’t worry too much. It will come with practice and in the meantime there is nothing wrong with dropping one color to pick up the next color. I have to do that when I purl still.

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 (which doesn’t really work well for things like mittens or socks). Most patterns you’ll find that call for fair isle work only use two colors or work in stripes where colors can be completely cut before beginning the next section.

If you DO choose to work with three or more colors, watch out for where and how you carry the third strand. Assuming that you’re not able to change colors every stitch for what you’re working on, you’ll need to lay the third color under the floater as well for the ENTIRE work. If you don’t carry the third color all the way with you, you’ll end up with a changing thickness across the work and it will feel a little weird. To do that, just hold the third color with the second color as shown above and when you change colors, lay the new color over the working yarn AND the third color.

One final thing before I go for now: just like all colorwork, take a break from time to time and untwist your yarn. Something like this:

twisted colorwork

will happen fairly often and I don’t think you want to deal with the big mess that results from leaving that hanging around.

Knitting 101: Toe Up Socks

It’s time for our final sock lesson, knitting toe up socks!

Alright, Alright, I know I said I wasn’t going to cover how to knit toe up socks, but I felt like it would be wrong to skip COMPLETELY over it. Especially when such a good change to highlight double pointed needles is involved. For those of you who don’t remember, there is a WONDERFUL toe up tutorial called Silver’s Sock Class that will take care of how to use circular needles to knit two at a time.

As in the previous lesson, I won’t be using sizes for this pattern, I’ll just be looking at measurements so make sure you do a gauge swatch before we start. I will also include the short version at the bottom of this post for those of you who just need the quick instructions. As for the sock I’m actually making here, I’ll note in parentheses how many stitches and such I’m using so you can follow along for practice if you’d like.

For my sock I am using:

 

you will need

 

1 Skein Worsted weight (4) yarn any brand, fiber, and color (about 275 yards)

4 size US-5 (3.75 mm) Double Pointed Needles–DPNs (or 1 circular needle)

Split ring markers, locking stitch markers, OR safety pins (at LEAST 1)

A measuring tape

OPTIONAL: Medium stitch holder(s)

OPTIONAL: Knitting Gauge

 

Toe Up Socks

In the last post, I wrote that I was quite pregnant while making the top down socks. Due to the magic of the internet (and advanced scheduling) I am no longer pregnant and have an almost six week old son. This time, I am NOT dealing with swollen ankles or feet, so I’ll be able to use more accurate measurements. If, however, you are still having troubles, here’s that link to the Craft Yarn Council’s foot size chart.

Now, obviously, we’re not going to start with an ankle measurement this time, we’re going to start with the toe. More specifically, we’re going to start with the measurement across the tips of your toe. Basically, we need to see how wide to make your sock. Once we have that (and of course after you’ve completed your gauge swatch to know how many stitches per inch you need), we’ll need to cast on.

For those of you who like a very nice, fancy cast on, I suggest you take a look at Judy’s Magic Cast-On by Judy Becker (does anyone know why everything is “magic” this or that? No, really. I want to know….). It’s a little complicated, but it makes a REALLY nice toe cast on. For those of you who don’t mind a little bit of a funky toe or a more square cast on (great for quick starts or practice) I’m going to show you what I do.

First, take two DPNs and set them a little apart from each other like so:

caston1

Notice I already have the yarn attached to the needle. If you haven’t already done that, get it attached and get ready for our normal cast on technique. Use the back needle (the one that’s empty in the photo above) for your first cast on:

caston2

The slip knot we started with counts as one, so now you have two done. Wasn’t that easy? Now, use our normal cast on method with the front needle (the one that has the slip knot on it). Then the back again, then the front, and you get the idea. After a few, it will look like this:

caston3

Now, because we were all very good and made gauge swatches before starting this sock (Seriously, make the gauge swatch), we can finish casting on our stitches.  Measure across the tips of your toes to see how wide your toes are and subtract half an inch. Whatever that measurement comes out to is the amount of stitches you’ll need to cast on (40 for me). So, cast on a few and then check your measurements. When you’re ready to measure, slide your cast on stitches to match your gauge (I’m not joking you need the swatch this time).

We’re ready to start our first toe round, but it doesn’t look very round yet does it? Don’t worry. It’ll round out as we work. The first thing to do is place a marker at the beginning of the round. Then, knit across both the needles the same way you would if your were working a round.

Now take a little break, flip the work over, and I’ll show you what I was talking about with the funky toe cast on:

funky toe

See how the stitches on both sides stand at attention? Here’s a better look:

funky toe2

The toe lays VERY flat. This cast on is also really great for making anything square (think blocks for baby). The other fun thing about this cast on is that if you flip it inside out, that sharp edge basically disappears. So if you’re wanting a purl sock (or if you start with purls rather than knits and flip the work) you’ll still get that nice round toe.

Anyway, enough of that side bar, back to knitting!

Well, almost. We still need to measure the length for our toe. Pull you’re measuring tape out and measure the length of your big toe. Then we can go on to round two.

For round two, knit the front and back of the first stitch in the round (check out my More Increases and Decreases post for help with that if you need it) and knit across needle 1. Knit the front and back of the first stitch on needle 2, then knit across that needle to complete the round. You may want to place a maker before the second KFB to help you remember to increase.

Marker or not, repeat those two rounds (knitting then increasing) until you have reached your toe length measurement.  When you get there, you should have something that looks like this:

toe

Now comes the easy part: the foot.

Measure your foot from the tip of your toe to the beginning of your heel. It may help to imagine your heel as a circle right about the top of that circle is where you’ll want to stop. For most adults, this will leave about 2.5 inches of heel left over.

Slide the stitches evenly onto three of the four double pointed needles (looks a little more round at least right?) and use the fourth to work. For those of you who have knit before and/or are wondering why I’m using four DPNs instead of five here, I couldn’t find the fifth one.

Yeah, really. I see no issue with using three rather than four in every case I’ve come across so far. The needles commonly come in sets of four, and I don’t want to pay more for needles that I don’t need. And this time, I HAVE five, but I honestly have no idea where the fifth one went, so….there’s that.

When it comes right down to it, as long as the amount of needles is working for you, you can use as many or as few as you like. I’ll show you the way that is easiest for me, but if you would rather use five or two or whatever, do that.

Moving right along then (I’m a bit side tracked today aren’t I?), you should have something that looks like this:

on DPNs

We still need that marker at the beginning of the round (and if you’d like, at the halfway mark), but from here, just knit around until you have reached your mark.

foot

Now we get to start the heel. Today I’m going to teach you what is probably the EASIEST heel I’ve ever done. We’ll start by knitting across half the stitches on the foot — to your marker if you placed a half way marker (20 sts). Now, measurements being what they are, you may have an odd number of stitches, and be wondering what to do? Generally speaking, having an even number of stitches for your heel will be better, so round either up or down to have an even number of worked stitches.

Place the rest of the stitches onto a stitch holder or just leave them unworked on your other DPNs. If you have point protectors, now might be a good time to pull them out. What’s a point protector? This:

point-protectors

They keep your work from slipping off your DPNs and are very helpful in these cases.

Now that the extra foot stitches are safe, purl across your heel stitches to the last stitch and wrap the stitch. To wrap the stitch, lay the working yarn between the needles, across your work:

wrap1

Slip the stitch (knit wise for knit stitches and purlwise for purl stitches) to the working needle:

wrap2

Lay the yarn around the side of the slipped stitch and slip the now wrapped stitch back to the other needle:

wrap3

Pick up the working yarn and work to the end of the row. Wrap the last stitch and make your way back and wrap the last stitch, leaving the stitch your wrapped last time unworked.

Before we get too excited about this step, we need to know HOW MANY stitches to wrap right? We’ve knit half the stitches on the foot. Two thirds of those stitches will be wrapped. One third of THOSE stitches need to be on either side of the needle (leaving half in the middle).

harry's opinion

Alright, Harry…you’ve got a point…. let’s try that again. On your needles, you have a number of stitches (I have 20). Divide that number by 3 (6.33 for me). If you have an even number, awesome. If you do NOT have an even number round up to the nearest whole number (7 for me).

That number (the “nearest whole number” in my case–7) is the number of stitches that you will have wrapped on EITHER side of your work (in my case, 7 wrapped stitches on the left, 6 worked stitches in the center, and 7 wrapped stitches on the right). Whatever happens, you MUST have the same amount of wrapped stitches on BOTH sides of your worked stitches. These will be picked up in the next step to create the “corner” that is the heel of your sock and you don’t want THAT to be uneven.

By the time you’re ready to pick up stitches, you should have something that looks like this:

wrapped stitches

Ok, half the heel done. Now we move onto the picking up part.

Work across your short row and work the first slipped stitch (this is the only one that won’t need the k2tog part that’s coming up) then turn. Work across the row again and when you get to the slipped stitch this time, you’ll be looking at something like this:

k2tog wrap

We’re going to pick up the wrap yarn (from the stitch we wrapped earlier) and knit two together with that and the wrapped stitch on the needle (you may also need to pick up the first stitch in the previous row and k3tog to prevent holes here depending on your tension).

k2tog wrap2

Continue working back and forth, picking up wrapped stitches like this until you have no more wrapped stitches left and your work looks something like this:

heel done

It may look like the heel is folded over itself and your foot will never fit in there. Honestly, I thought I had put the heel on backward when I was making mine. Don’t worry though, there has NOT been a mistake this time. The cuff will take this funky looking heel and straighten it out to more sock like proportions. That does mean though, we’re ready to start the cuff! Almost done now.

Depending on how many stitches you had on your heel, you will either knit across the first needle or just keep working in the round. See my little pink marker in the picture? That’s the beginning of my round, so I’m just gonna jump right into the “corner” of the sock where we’ll knit three together.

k3tog wrap

Using the unworked foot stitch, a worked foot stitch from the same round, and the wrap portion of our first wrap stitch (just like before) knit three together to turn across the round. Knit across needle 2 and do the same thing in the other corner. Move your marker into the k2tog stitch to mark the beginning of the cuff and evenly distribute your stitches onto three DPNs.

corner done

Now, one last sidebar before we finish up the cuff (and the post really). When it comes to keeping holes out of your socks, we enter another “do what works for you” area. If you need to knit three together instead of 2, do it. If you need to knit 5 together then do it. Maybe you don’t need to do anything at all. Whatever works for you and is comfortable for your foot is the right way.

Oh, and don’t get too frustrated if you have a hole no matter WHAT you do. Socks and mittens are very straight forward, but not easy. They both take practice and time to get right and get rid of all the holes.

Right then, back to work.

To finish up the cuff, knit around for one inch (measure from the marker we just moved) and then start your favorite kind of ribbing. I’m using a 2×2 rib for mine, but you can use a 1×1 or whatever suits you. If you DO choose a 2×2 rib be aware that you may need to fudge the first row a little to make it work (I have 40 stitches on my needles and that left me with knits back to back, so I had to decrease by 2 to get the pattern to work right).

When you’re happy with the cuff length, bind off loosely. If you need to, get a larger needle (1-2 sizes bigger than you’re using) for binding off. The larger needle will keep the stitches looser. Tuck all your tails in and you’re done!

Repeat that business (or see the short version below) for sock number 2 and you’re all done! Congrats on you new pair of socks!

The Short Version

Materials:

 

  • 1 Skein Worsted weight (4) yarn any brand, fiber, and color (about 275 yards)
  • 4 size US-5 (3.75 mm) Double Pointed Needles–DPNs (or 1 circular needle)
  • Split ring markers, locking stitch markers, OR safety pins (at LEAST 2)
  • A measuring tape
  • OPTIONAL: Medium stitch holder(s)
  • OPTIONAL: Knitting Gauge

 

Gauge:

5 sts x 5 rows =1 in x 1 in

**GAUGE NOTE: Because this pattern is using measurements rather that stitches, it doesn’t matter what weight yarn you use or what size needles you use as long as you are matching the measurements. I have listed here what I am using for this project.

Take Measurements:

  1. Across top of toes
  2. Big Toe Length from tip to joint
  3. From your big toe joint to the start of your heel
  4. Heel height from bottom of foot to base of Achilles tendon or just below the Medial Malleolus (the bone that sticks out on the outside of some ankles)
  5. Desired cuff length

TOE

Using two DPNs and either the cast-on above, Judy’s Magic Cast-On or similar, cast on the length of measurement 1 MINUS .5 inch. Place a marker to indicate beginning of round.

Round 1:  Knit around

Round 2: Place marker, KFB, k across needle 1, place marker, KFB, k across needle 2

For older child and adult socks:

Repeat round 1 and 2 until measurement 2 is reached.

For younger child and infant socks:

Repeat round 2 until measurement 2 is reached.

FOOT

Slide stitches evenly across three needles

Round 1: K around

Repeat round 1 until measurement 3 is reached.

HEEL

Short Row 1: K across half the FOOT stitches and slide remaining stitches onto a stitch holder or leave on DPNs unworked.

Short Row 2: P across to last stitch, wrap last stitch and turn.

Short Row 3: K across to last stitch, wrap last stitch and turn.

Repeat Short Row 2 and 3 until 1/3 the number of short row 1 stitches are wrapped, ensuring that left and right sides of short rows have same number of wrapped stitches. Ending row will depend on number of stitches.

Short Row 4: Knitting knits and Purling purls, work across row. With 1 wrapped stitch and wrap yarn, work 2 together.

Repeat Short Row 4 until all stitches are picked up.

CUFF

Round 1: k around, working k3tog with working stitch, worked stitch, and wrap at corners of work. Place markers in K3tog st at beg of round.

Return stitches to 3 DPNs

Round 2: k around.

Repeat round 2 for 1 inch.

Round 3: k2, p2 around.

Repeat round 3 until measurement 5 is reached.

Knitting 101: Top Down Socks

Since we’re ready to get started on our first pair of socks, I have to tell you now that any sock pattern can be cast on either double pointed or circular needles. The trick is that DPNs do not allow you do to two at a time, so while I will touch on how to cast on this pattern with DPNs, you’ll largely be seeing circular needles in the photos for this post. In the next post (Knitting 101: Toe Up Socks), it will be the other way around as we look at how to do toe up socks with DPNs.

I’m going to talk you through this method, and I tend to be a little long winded, so for those of you just looking for the pattern, I’ve included the short version at the end of this post. I am also going to be working this pattern in measurements rather than sizes, so you won’t be stuck making ladies size 9-10 like I am. This is important when you look at your guage because it means that as long as your measurements match, it doesn’t really matter WHAT yarn or needle size you use. Use what feels good or what you have on hand. As for me, I’ll be noting how many stitches or inches I am working in parenthesis and I will be using:

supplies

  • 1 Skein Sport weight (3) yarn any brand, fiber, and color (about 275 yards)
  • 1 size US-5 (3.75 mm) circular needles (or 5 DPNs)
  • Split ring markers, locking stitch markers, OR safety pins (at LEAST 2)
  • A measuring tape
  •  medium stitch holder(s)
  • Yarn needle
  • OPTIONAL: Knitting Gauge

Top Down Socks

I’m sure we’re all excited to cast on, but before we do, we’ll need to split up our yarn and  figure out how many stitches to cast on! So, grab your measure tape and take a measurement around your ankle. As I am writing this, I am QUITE pregnant, so my ankles are swollen today. If you have a similar problem, you can either take a little off the measurement (to better match what a normal ankle would be), or  you can take a guess based on your shoe size using the Craft Yarn Council’s foot size chart. Generally speaking your foot circumference and your ankle circumference will be the same measurement. If you have wide or narrow feet, this may not be true though, so be careful.

Another note before we move on: if you’re planning on making knee high or even mid calf high socks, you’ll need to measure you leg at the knee (knee high only), largest part of the calf (both) AND the ankle (both) so that you can increase and decrease circumference as needed.

Being done with the measuring for the moment, let’s split our yarn into two balls or skeins, this can be done with a yarn winder, or by hand as I lay out in my post Yarn Balls, or you can very carefully take the center out of the skein and snip the part tying them together. If you’re going to use that method, be very careful not to tangle  your yarn and remember that the smaller the round of yarn, the less yarn there is. So the inside of the skein has less yards of yarn than the outside of the skein. However you choose to separate your yarn (or if you choose to just use two skeins), make sure they are about even in size.

With measurements done and yarn separated, we’re ready to cast on! This will be the same amount of stitches whether you’re using DPN’s or Circular needles. Either way, you need to make a circular gauge swatch to know how many stitches will equal one inch. Since we really do have to make a gauge swatch, lets just start small. We’ll cast on 20 stitches total.

For those of you using DPNs, you can either cast on all 40 stitches to one needle, or you can cast on 10 at a time across four needles as I show in Knitting 101: The Ever Dreaded Round. Either way you’ll want to make a square with your needles so that all the stitch bottoms are facing inward. You should end up with something looking like this:

DPN square

Just like we did in The Ever Dreaded Round, slip the first stitch you made over to the last needle, lay the working yarn between the first and second stitches, and then slip the first stitch back over to the first needle. This will help to hold the round nicely and keep it from having a loose spot.

For those of you using circular needles, I’m going to show you how to cast on two at a time here, but you only need to work one for the gauge swatch. For the sake of this cast on, I’ll be using two different color yarns so you can see what’s going on, the socks I’m making will actually be the same color though, so don’t feel like you have to make two different socks.

To begin, cast on HALF of the stitches you will need from ball number 1 (the grey ball in my pictures) for our gauge swatch we’ll cast on 40 stitches, so do 20 from ball number 1.

cast on 20

Slide your stitches from ball one onto the cable and cast on ALL your stitches from ball number 2 (the yellow ball in my pictures). For this demonstration, that will be 40 stitches.

cast on 40

Slide all the stitches to the cable part of the needles and find the center of the ball number 2 (yellow) stitches (you’ll have 20 on each side for this gauge swatch). Pull the cable through the center point of the stitches so that half are on one side and half are on the other.

finish cast on

Using the working yarn for ball number 1, cast on the second half of the stitches you will need, and make sure that the bottoms of the stitches are facing, similarly to the DPN method shown above.

Now, I mentioned in the last lesson that one way to cast these on is the long tail method. I will go over some alternate types of casting on in a different post for those of you who are interested, but if you’re BURNING with curiosity, Knittinghelp has a a good you tube that can show you how today. The benefit to using a long tail cast on here is that it is a very stretchy cast on that will give a lot, but the ribbing that we’ll use for the top of the sock should compensate for any lack of stretch.

Once you’re cast on, knit at least an inch long around (remember, you only need to do one gauge swatch) and measure your gauge either with a tape measure or a knitting gauge. For me, about 7 rows is one inch and about 6 stitches in stockinette stitch (knitting every round).

gauge

Now that we know how many inches we’ll need and how many stitches in an inch, we’re ready to cast on for REAL. Pick your favorite method from above and cast on 10% less stitches than your ankle measurement calls for (ankle measurement x .1, then ankle measurement – that answer for those of you using the calculator). This will mean your sock is just a little smaller than your leg and will help it to stay up. (I’m using 10 inches as my ankle measurement, so I’ll have 10*.1 = 1 and 10-1 = 9. Then 9 inches *6 sts per inch means I’ll would be casting on 54 sts for my sock, however in order to maintain my k2,p2 evenly I need two more stitches so I’m casting on 56) Math being what it is, you may have to round up or down to get to an even number for casting on. You will need to have an even number of stitches for your cast on. You will also want to make sure that when you divide the number in half (56 / 2 = 28) it is an even number as well. This will help you to keep you ribbing correctly in pattern.

To begin working your stitches, slide the last stitches you cast on down to the cable so you have one needle with stitches on it and one needle free to work. Remember to take your working yarn across your stitches like we did above. Be VERY careful during this first round to keep good tension. If you don’t you’ll end up with sloppy side stitches.

prepare to work

There are all kinds of ways to do a cuff with all kinds of fun things you can work into them, but for today we’ll stick to the basic 2×2 ribbing. So knit 2, purl 2 across your first set of stitches with ball number 1 (28 sts), and then SWITCH and work your second set of stitches with ball number 2 (28 sts), don’t forget to lay the yarn over just like we did for the first set. DO NOT WORK BOTH SETS WITH THE SAME BALL. While the result is interesting and kids seem to think it’s funny, it’s no joke to have your socks stitched together.

Turn the work and very carefully slide the stitches that are on the cable onto the empty needle. If it helps, grab one of your stitch markers and place it the gap just in case you slip and your stitches end up back together. Once you have it turned, work this side the same as the previous side, just remember that you’re starting with ball number 2 this time and ending on ball number 1.

Here comes our next measurement: Cuff length. Relatively long socks will have 5 or more inches for cuff length. I would suggest doing at LEAST one inch of cuff to help keep the sock up. With knitted socks, I feel like two is better. I’m just making ankle socks, so I’ll go with two inches and call it good. When you’re done with your cuff it should look more or less like this:

cuff

If you’re making knee high or mid calf socks, it will obviously be longer and have a little shaping as you add and remove stitches to match the circumference of you knee and/or mid calf. Remember as you’re working those, do increases and decreases every OTHER round and calculate how MANY decreases you need total so that you can start enough rounds ahead to do 1-2 increases or decreases PER ROUND, keeping the changes even dispersed around. Otherwise you’ll end up with weird bunched up socks that don’t fit right.

Make sure you have ended your cuff at the beginning of the round so that you’re not working half a round. Once you’re done with the cuff and happy with it, you’re ready to move on to the heel flap. If you’re working with DPNs you’ll want to slide half the stitches onto one or two stitch holders. If you’re working with circular needles, that step is optional, but it may help you as we work back and forth here.

To slide your stitches onto a holder, you’ll want to slide the stitches you just finished working up onto the needle part of your circular needles (obviously DPN users skip this), and carefully slide the stitches straight onto the holder like so:

As you work, slide the stitches off the needle and push the rest forward until you have half your sock on the stitch holder.

heel onto holder

If you feel comfortable working back and forth on just one side of your circular needles (or DPNs) just skip this part and move on to the next step.

The next step is to pull your measure tape out again and measure the height of your heel from the flat of your foot to base of Achilles tendon or just below the Medial Malleolus (the bone that sticks out on the outside of some ankles).  This measurement will tell you how long to make your heel flap. For most adults, this will be about 2 inches.

Ok, pick your knitting back up and slip one stitch as if to purl, then knit across the row. When you get to sock 2, slip one stitch as if to purl  and knit across (this row is identical to sock one of course). STOP when you get to the end of sock two and TURN your work. Slip one as if to purl and purl across the work. Turn the work after, and slip one as if to purl, then knit across. Keep working back and forth in this way until you’ve reached your heel height measurement (2 inches for me). Make sure to end on a purl row so that you’re ready to knit your next row for the heel turning.

When you’re done, you should have something that looks like this:

Notice on the purl side of the sock there are some nice knit-looking rows on either side? Those will be the stitches we pick up when we get to the gusset. Before we get there though, we need to turn the heel and you’ll probably be glad to know we do NOT need the measuring tape for this one.

There are two ways to work this heel turning. This section is short, so I recommend just working the socks one at a time so you don’t’ have to deal with stitch holder here, but if you would like, you can slip the unworked stitches on to stitch holders and work both socks at the same time. Either way you go, slip one stitch as if to knit this time and knit across sock one until you’re within 1.5 inches of the end of the work (9 sts if you’re following my gauge). Leave those stitches unworked and turn your work. This is the first set up row for the turning of the heel.

Next, slip one stitch as if to purl again (we’re not setting up the gusset anymore, so always slip the way you’re stitching going forward) and purl to the last 1.5 inches of the work (9 sts) and leave the rest unworked and turn again. This is the second set up row for turning the heel. Make sure you have the same amount of unworked stitched on both sides before you move on.

Now you’re ready to pick up stitches and make a heel. Slip the first stitch like we’ve been doing, knit across the row until the last stitch on the row (this is the stitch we slipped on the previous row).

Decrease by knitting two together and then knit one more stitch. Turn your work, slip one, purl across to the slipped stitch from the previous row, purl two together and purl one more then turn. Keep working in this way until you have picked up all the unworked stitches from rows one and two. On the last two rows, you’ll be out of stitches after the work 2 tog part, but don’t worry, that’s normal. Just stop when you have worked 2 tog and turn.

Now if you still have all your stitches on circular needles, slide the finished heel onto the stitch holder. If you opted to move your cuff stitches onto the stitch holder, slide your heel stitches onto the empty needle and down onto the cable to hold for later. Then repeat the heel turning instructions for sock two and we’ll be ready to move on to the gusset.

Before we get started on the gusset, get all your stitches back onto your needles (whichever kind you’re using). This would also be a good time to straighten out your yarn and make sure any tangling is dealt with.

To start the gusset, knit across the heel flap we just created–only the first one for now. Then, we’re going to pick up the stitches in that pretty part we made along the side of the heel. You may want to put the stitches for the heel of sock two on a holder for this part because it can get a little tight if you’re working with short circular needles like the ones pictured (30″ or shorter). Working under the stitches we slipped earlier, pick up one stitch for each slipped stitch on you holding needle like so:

pick up gusset stitches

Then knit that stitch. When you get to the corner, pick up one more stitch through the center of the knit and knit that as well.

This will help to keep the gusset tight and reduce the chance of a hole forming where the round comes together. Place a marker to keep track of the corner (9 picked up stitches). Repeat that for sock two (don’t forget to put your stitches back on your needles if you moved them).

Next, knit across the cuff stitches for sock two ONLY (28sts) and place a marker. When you’ve gotten to the end of the cuff stitches for sock two, you’ll pick up the stitches from this side of the heel flap as well as one in the corner. Remember, the corner is the FIRST stitch you will encounter this time rather than the last. Another good thing to remember is that you should be picking up the same amount of stitches on this side as you did on the previous side (9 if you’re knitting along with me). Repeat that for sock 1 and we’re ready to start on our decreases and head toward the foot!

Get your socks ready to work and knit across until the last 3 stitches before the corner marker, knit two together then knit one and move on to sock two repeat. When you get back around to you cuff side, knit across to the marker, slide the marker, knit one more, slip slip knit, and knit the rest of the stitches. Repeat that for sock one. Knit one round even and you have completed the gusset decrease rounds!

Repeat the gusset decrease rounds until you’re back to the same number of stitches that you had for your cuff (56), ending on a work even round.  You should have something that looks like this:

See the triangular area formed by the stitches? That’s the completed gusset! You’re ready for the easiest part of the socks: the foot.

Grab our that measure tape one more time and measure your foot length from the back of your heel to the first joint on your big toe (8 inches). Knit around your socks evenly until they match that measurement from heel to needles.

foot

Now we’re ready to work the toe and finish up our socks. You’ll have to do a little more math for this part, but we’re mostly done with the measuring tape at least. Take your number of stitches and divide it by 8, because you want 8 decreases spaced evenly around (56 / 8 = 7). To evenly space decreases, knit the answer minus two (since you’re knitting two together), then decrease by knitting two together (k5, k2tog) around the sock.

You may get to the end of side one of sock one and have a remainder of two or three stitches. Don’t worry, just pick up the pattern when you get to the other side (I have two knit stitches at the end of side one, so starting on side two I’ll k3, k2tog then continue in the pattern across side two).

If you end up having a decrease with one stitch on side one and one stitch on side two, use a locking stitch marker or small stitch holder to hold that stitch off the needle until you get to side two. Then slide that stitch onto the needle as the first stitch for side two and work your decrease. Use the same holder or marker and hold the finished decrease off the needle. When you get to your knit around round, slide the stitch back on to the needle for side one and knit it. That will keep your sides even.

What do I do if my stitch number isn’t evenly divisible by 8!? It’s ok. If you have one remainder stitch, it’s not going to hurt anything. When you get to the round that has you knitting two together around, just knit three together with the remainder stitch so that both sides of your sock have the same number of stitches.

If you are making small socks (like for a child or for very small feet) or very large socks (like larger men’s socks) you may need to adjust the amount of decreases you are using. For those cases, measure the toes from the first joint to the tip to make sure that the socks are long enough for the rest of the toe to fit. For very small feet you may need to skip a few knit around rounds  to decrease faster or use less than 8 decreases to get the length you need. For very large socks, you may need to do a few more than 8 decreases or add a little to the foot of the sock to get the length you need. The most important thing here is to keep your decreases evenly spaces around the toe and use an even number of decreases.

However you need to adjust your toe, work a round with 8 decreases evenly spaced (just lose one knit stitch each time around, for example if your first decrease round was k5, k2 tog then the next one will be k4, k2tog)  and then knit around until you have finished the round that is k1, k2 tog and knit around one more time.

toe

Take the working yarn and lay it across the toe of the sock. You want the length to be 3-4 times as long as the stitching so that you’re sure you have enough to sew with. Cut the long tail and grab a yarn needle.

long tail

Thread the needle with the long tail and sew the toe of your socks shut by working back and forth through the stitches like this:

sew shut

Just remember as you work to slide the stitches off the needle as you go and pull them gently when you’re done to pick up any slack left over.

If you want to make them REALLY fancy, you can try grafting the toes shut. To graft knitting, you first need to slide both sides of one sock onto the needle portion of your circular needles.

grafting set up

Then, hold that with one hand and use your yarn needle to pull the tail purlwise through the first stitch, leaving the stitch on the needle:

purlwise front

Put the yarn needle through the stitch on the second needle knitwise:

knitwise back

Come back forward and put the needle through the first stitch (the one you already ran purlwise) knitwise and pull the stitch off the needle.

knitwise front

Bring the yarn needle purlwise through the next stitch on the front needle

purl next front

Then bring the yarn needle through the first stitch on the back needle (the one you’ve run through knitwise) purlwise and slide it off the needle.

purlwise back

Bring the yarn needle knitwise through the next stitch on the back needle and you’ve successfully begun your graft.

knit next stitch back

Knit the front stitch and slide it off, purl the next stitch on the front needle, purl the back stitch and slide it off, knit the next stitch on the back needle and keep doing that across your toe until you’re finished and you can tie off the end. (pardon my green for looking clumsy, I used a heavier weight yarn to help the pictures be clearer)

Weave in the loose ends and you’ll have a brand new pair of socks! Good job!

The Short Version

Materials:

  • 1 Skein Sport weight (3) yarn any brand, fiber, and color (about 275 yards)
  • 1 size US-5 (3.75 mm) circular needles (or 5 DPNs)
  • Split ring markers, locking stitch markers, OR safety pins (at LEAST 2)
  • A measuring tape
  • Medium stitch holder(s)
  • Yarn needle
  •  OPTIONAL: Knitting gauge

Gauge:

7 rows x 6 sts =1×1 inch

Make a gauge swatch to determine your gauge if you are using a different weight yarn or different size needles. Use a tape measure or knitting gauge to help you measure.

Measurements:

  1.  Ankle circumference***
  2. Cuff Length
  3. Heel height from bottom of foot to base of Achilles tendon or just below the Medial Malleolus (the bone that sticks out on the outside of some ankles)
  4. From your big toe joint to the back of your heel

***If you’re planning on making knee high or even mid calf high socks, you’ll need to measure you leg at the knee (knee high only), largest part of the calf (both) AND the ankle (both) so that you can increase and decrease circumference as needed.

CUFF

Split your skein into two balls (ball 1 and ball 2) and cast on the amount of stitches needed to match Measurement 1. Make sure the number of stitches cast on is both even and when divided by in half is even as well. (example: 56 /2 = 28).

Round 1: k2, p2 around working one sock with ball 1 and one sock with ball 2. Keep working yarn separate so it does not tangle.

Repeat round 1 until cuff reaches desired length.

Longer socks

If you’re making knee high or mid calf socks, add and remove stitches to match the circumference of you knee and/or mid calf. Work increases and decreases every other round and 1-2 increases or decreases per increase or decrease round. Increases and decreases should be worked evenly around.

HEEL FLAP

If desired, slide half the cuff stitches onto a stitch holder.

Row 1: 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 measurement 3 is reached. End on Row 2.

HEEL TURNING

Work socks one at a time or use stitch holders to hold unworked stitches.

Row 1: 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.

If working socks one at a time, place stitches for sock 1 onto a stitch holder and repeat for sock 2

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.

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

Knit around until sock matches Measurement 4 from back of sock HEEL.

TOE*

Round 1: k,  spacing 8 decreases evenly around.

Round 2: k around

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

*See end of blog section for notes on adjusting for very large or very small toes.

Knitting 101: Eso Si Que Es?

Depending on who’s Spanish your speaking, this can mean “Yes, that, what is is?” or “it is what it is” or just be an Americanized silly phrase that means nothing at all. Whatever it means though, it’s homonym in English is S O C K S which spells out what our next set of lessons will be! SOCKS!

Now, I know I said that we would wait till summer and Christmas stockings to make something round, but I thought you guys might want a practice go on a small sock before we get to the big one. Before we get started though, there are a few things we’ll want to go over.

Basic Sock Terms

No matter what kind of socks you’re making, this part will be the same. I’ve put together a picture to label the parts of sock here (yes, it’s a crocheted sock, sorry guys):

parts of sock crochet

Toe: This is the part that covers JUST your toes, usually about 2 inches or so.

Foot: This is the part from the toe joints to where your foot starts to curve into your ankle.

Heel: This is the part that covers JUST your heel, usually about 3-4 inches of work.

Gusset: This is the weird triangular piece that fills in the space between the heel of your foot and your ankle. This piece basically evens out the sock so that the cuff can be worked evenly.

Cuff: This is the part of the sock that goes up your ankle (and sometimes leg).

Ways to Cast On

When it comes to casting on socks, there are several ways to go about it. First, you need to know if you’re going to make one or two at a time. I SERIOUSLY recommend making two at a time. Working two at a time means that when you’re done you’re DONE and you don’t have to cast on another sock and start from the beginning again.

The second thing you’ll need to know is if your pattern is working toe up or top down. As the names indicate, toe up works from the toe of the sock up toward the cuff and top down works from the cuff down to the toe. Depending on the direction your socks go, you’ll need to change the method for which you cast on, and may need to change the kind of needles you are using.

Now, since there are several VERY good tutorials out there already and I do not want to take up four posts on how to cast on in various ways, I am instead providing you some links to my favorite tutorials.

Two at a Time

These methods will require circular needles to make something known as the Magic Loop. The “magic” of the magic loop is that is shortens the cable part of circular needles and allows smaller work to be done by folding the needle basically in half.

Toe Up

There is an AMAZING picture tutorial that takes you not only through how to cast on two at a time toe up socks, but ALSO how to make the WHOLE sock on Silver’s Sock Class. This is both my favorite method and the site I keep coming back to when I forget how to do a toe up cast on (I don’t make socks that often). Because she does such a good job and takes you through the whole sock, I won’t be covering this method in our sock lessons.

If you need help with this method, please contact me!

Top down

Knitpurlhunter has a good video for top down cast on. And for those of you who would rather the pictures than the video, there’s a great tutorial on KNITfreedom. Knitpurlhunter shows how to cast on with the “long tail” method, this method is a continental cast on, and I have been teaching you guys how to “throw” knit, so I will show you a method of casting on more appropriate to throwing in our next lesson.

One at a time

Both of these methods will use DPNs (Double Pointed Needles) to work the socks. Working socks one at a time can be more time consuming, but the cast on tends to be less frustrating. If you’ve never made socks before, this is probably the best place to start.

Toe up

This cast on is sometimes called the “magic cast on.” Knitty has a good blog on the subject that takes you through in 8 steps how to use DPNs to cast on for toe up socks.

I’ll cover this method as well when we make our toe up socks.

Top down

It just so happens that I DID a tutorial on this method already, so if you haven’t taken a look at my entry on The Ever Dreaded Round, you should pop over there to take a look. I mentioned in that entry that this was not my preferred method for socks, and indeed it is not, but it IS a good place to start if you want to get comfortable with DPNs or if you have never made a sock before.

Knitting 101: Blocking

We’ve knitted some pretty fun things at this point and you may have knitted a few things on your own. Have you looked at your work and wondered why it’s curling up or twisting and not looking like the pictures at all?

Probably what’s happened is that you need to “Block” your work. Not, mentally block it out,  but manipulate the yarn to give it some shape. Blocking is a way to show the yarn who’s boss and get your work to lay the way it’s supposed to lay. Blocking will NOT fix twisted stitching or crooked seems, but it will make our dishcloth lay nice and flat and keep our sweater pieces flat and easy to sew together.

I will be honest here, I think blocking is a total pain and I really don’t like it. However, it is WORTH THE TROUBLE! (I say that a lot huh?) Please learn from my experience here and just block your work. It usually needs to happen before you can really finish a piece, so you’ll need some patience, but it will be worth the wait to do it right.

I will also say that I am not terribly skilled at blocking. There is a really great blog entry on Knitty.com called “To Block or Not to Block…” that will serve you much better if you are a more advanced knitter and want to get more detailed information on how to block specific fibers. I am going to go through the beginner’s basics here so that you can get started on your blocking journey. Just know there is more out there than what I’m going to show you in this post.

So, what do you need to block your work? That depends on which way you want to do things. For yarns like cotton and acrylic I prefer to wet block. When it comes to wool and other animal fibers, I prefer to steam block them. Now, that being said, there are wool pieces I will wet block because there is a lot of (or very thick) cables and there are cotton pieces I will steam block (like dishcloths) because it’s just faster and I don’t need it to be sized perfectly.

BEFORE YOU PICK A BLOCKING METHOD: READ YOUR LABELS!!!!

I cannot stress enough that you have GOT to pay attention to your yarn labels. If your yarn says “do not hot iron or press” then DO NOT STEAM BLOCK IT. There is a GOOD REASON the care instructions are there.

Now that you’ve read your label, here’s what to do for

Wet Blocking Method

You will need:

You will need wet

  • A large cardboard box (or similar flat surface you can stick pins in)
  • Straight pins
  • A tape measure or ruler
  • OPTIONAL: A felt tip pen
  • A large towel (larger than the work being blocked)
  • A washtub or sink (large enough for your work to fit in)
  • Water

Before you get to the fun part, you’ll want to get your box or work surface set up. If you want to spend the money (or will be receiving gifts soon) you could get a cool set of blocking boards like these (from Amazon.com), but I don’t have those currently. To get the same effect as those, you can use a felt tip pen to create a 1×1 inch grid on your box so that you have a way to know how many inches you’re working with and don’t have to muck about with the measure tape later.To make a grid, use a ruler or tape measure to mark out your box and a straight edge to join the marks, making a grid like so:

If you’re confident in your measuring abilities, you can skip that part, but make sure your measure tape and pins are ready. I am blocking a few cotton blend hearts, so I’ll show you a little bit of grid, but I’m not actually going to use it today.

Fill up your sink or washtub (or bathtub, or whatever) with some water–nothing added, just water–and immerse your work in the water.

wet the work

Make sure you have your towel laid out flat nearby, you’re going to wrap your work in that in just a minute.

Gently squish the work to get any excess water out of it. DO NOT WRING YOUR WORK! Most fibers, but especially wool and other animal fibers do not like to be wrung out. It is better to either use the towel to absorb the water or to let the work dry a little longer.

Speaking of that towel….now we need it. Lay out your work on the towel as flat as possible and roll the work up in the towel, gently pressing to help absorb water.

Again, DO NOT WRING YOUR WORK. You may need another towel or two depending on how large your work is and how much water it soaked up. By the time you’re done with this step, your work should be mostly dry.

Unroll your work and lay it out flat again on your box or work surface.

lay on box

With those pins that you kept nearby, pin your work to the box and use your measure tape (or grid) to check the size of the work. Your pattern should have given you a size measurement to match up to.

pin wet work

You may have to shuffle pins or pull the work slightly to reach the right size, but once it’s there, you’re done.

Now is the hard part. Wait for the work to dry. DO NOT get out the hairdryer or similar high heat device to speed this process. You will risk felting your animal fibers and burning other fibers. Just let it sit. If you have a room in your house that stays a bit warmer than the rest, you can move it in there (the laundry area with the dryer on is ok, but not IN the dryer) to help speed things a bit. We live in Texas, so in the summer, I’ll move a work outside if it’s not too windy and let it dry in the sun (DISCLAIMER: the sun can bleach color out of work, so be careful with bold or bright colors or work that rely on contrast).

Once the work is dry, you can unpin it and when you hold it up, you shouldn’t see any rolling or twisting of the work.

finished

If you do see a little rolling, or if the work is not blocked to your satisfaction, go back to the top and try it again, or try steam blocking if the fiber can take it.

Steam Blocking Method

You will need:

steam blocking you will need.png

  • An ironing board (or similar flat surface you can stick pins in)
  • Rust resistant straight pins
  • A tape measure or ruler
  • An Iron
  • Water
  • OPTIONAL: a thin towel or pillow case

I prefer this method for small pieces or animal fibers because it is relatively quick and gentle. It can be difficult to find a large enough area to work sometimes, so larger pieces usually get wet block if I need to block the whole work. As I mentioned above, there are some exceptions to this and the work pictured is one of them. This piece is an acrylic nylon blend that I needed to block quickly and that I am only blocking the pointed ends of. The method is the same whatever fiber you are using though.

To begin, make sure you have either a steamer or an iron handy and that it has plenty of water for steaming. You may want to keep a refill bottle nearby just in case you need it.

measure and pin.png

Lay your work out on the board, use a measuring tape to make sure that you are pinning the work to the correct size and pin the work to the board cover. I am only blocking the ends of this piece, so I am only pinning a few inches, of it. If you are blocking a whole piece (like you would for a sweater) you will need to have a surface that is large enough to hold the WHOLE piece at the same time.

steam.png

Turn your iron to steam and let it warm up. Once it is ready, blow off some of the steam AWAY from your work. You may be able to skip this step, but my iron is a little older and we have pretty hard water here, so there is sometimes an almost saw dust like buildup that comes out of the thing the first couple of times you steam something if you’ve let it sit for a bit. Clean or not, I always do this step with my iron because it’s troublesome like that.

Hold the hot iron over your work, and DO NOT TOUCH THE WORK, seriously, hot iron on MOST yarns is a bad thing and will easily crush or warp your fiber. Acrylic is a kind of plastic remember, so it CAN melt in high heat. If you are worried that your hand is not steady enough to hold the iron close, but not touch, get an old pillow case or thin towel and lay it over your work where you are steaming. This might mean you need more steam, but it will provide an “oops” barrier if you accidentally touch the work.

Press the steam button and let the steam saturate your work. Keep in mind, you are NOT trying to get the work wet. It will be a little damp because steam is evaporated water, but it should not be soaked and if your iron starts dripping, you need to let it stand up and reset.

And really, that’s it. Cover the work with steam and then stop. Let any damp parts dry before you remove the pins. You should be able to hold your work up and notice that there is no more curling or twisting. If you do see any curling or twisting, or if the work is not blocked to your satisfaction, go up and try the wet block method.