F is for Faun’s Eye

I’m actually REALLY excited about this stitch. I think it will be the PERFECT stitch for a fun throw and since I happen to be in need of a fun throw…..

What Is It?

Faun’s Eye stitch is a kind of lace that doesn’t have a ton of holes in it. Because it’s lace, there are a LOT of pieces to it. None of them are complicated, but there are a lot of things going on. I would NOT recommend trying to learn this stitch while you’re …say…watching your two young children (seriously, wait till nap time at least). To start though, cast on any multiple of 12 plus one. I’m working with 25 for now.

caston 25

Once that’s done, we’ll start row one by knitting the first stitch. Then follow this pattern: slip slip knit (decrease), knit three, yarn over (increase), knit one, yarn over (increase), knit three, knit two together (decrease) knit one. That is the 12 stitch pattern you’ll follow to the end of row one. It doesn’t look like much yet, but it’s the beginning of our lace pattern.

row 1

Row two starts similarly, but since we’re on the back, purl one to start. The work purl two together (decrease), purl 2, yarn over (increase), purl three, yarn over (increase), purl two, purl two together THROUGH THE BACK LOOP (decrease), purl one. Follow that to the end of the row and you’re done with row two.

Row 2

Now, I know that you all have reviewed my entry on increases and decreases already, but what is this through the back loop stuff? Well, it’s really easy and it works with ANY knit or purl stitch. This is the loop you generally work with.

this loop

And normally you would work through the “front” loop like this:

normally

When the instructions tell you to work through the BACK loop, you do the stitch exactly as you would, but you insert your needle in the other side of the loop, like this:

through the back loop

Notice that the needle comes in from the “right side” of the work toward the “wrong side” of the work (in this case).

So if you’re purling two together through the back loop (which effectively is the wrong side version of slip slip knit) it looks like this:

That was literally the most complicated stitch in the pattern. You should be proud of yourself for coming this far!

Now, because this is lace and is really a lot of “knit, yarn over knit two together” stuff that you already know, I’m going to skip the long explanation and just show you pictures of each row from here. We’ve done rows one and two already, here are the rest.

Row 3

Row 3

Row 4

Row 4

Row 5

Row 5

Row 6

Row 6

Row 7

Row 7

Row 8

row 8

Well done! Faun’s eye is super easy and fun and you’ve done a great job!

Fauns Eye

What Else Can You Do With It?

I think this would make a lovely sweater, throw, or accent pillow. If you’re bold and daring and have MASSIVE amounts of yarn, this would be an amazing candidate for Arm Knitting (check out Flax and Twine for a tutorial!).

This would also be a fun sweater or skirt embellishment and great for knitted curtains or a valance.

To work this stitch in the round,

Cast on a multiple of 12 sts

Round 1: *ssk, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, k2tog, k1; rep from * to the end.

Round 2: * ssk, k2, yo, k3, yo, k2, k2tog, k1; rep from * to the end.

Round 3: *ssk, k1, yo, k5, yo, k1, k2tog, k1; rep from * to the end.

Round 4: *yo, ssk, p7, k2tog, yo, k1; rep from * to the end.

Round 5: *yo, k3, k2tog, k1, ssk, k3, yo, k1; rep from * to the end.

Round 6: K1, *yo, k2, ssk, k1, k2tog, k2, yo, k3; rep from *, end last rep k2.

Round 7: k2, *yo, k1, k2tog, k1, ssk, k1, yo, k5; rep from *, end last rep k3.

Round 8: k3, *k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k7; rep from *, end last rep k4.

The Short Version

Cast on a multiple of 12 sts + 1.

Row 1: k1, *ssk, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, k2tog, k1; rep from * to end.

Row 2: p1, * p2tog, p2, yo, p3, yo, p2, p2tog tbl, p1; rep from * to the end of the row.

Row 3: k1, *ssk, k1, yo, k5, yo, k1, k2tog, k1; rep from * to the end of the row.

Row 4: p1, *yo, p2tog, p7, p2tog tbl, yo, p1; rep from * to the end of the row.

Row 5: k1, *yo, k3, k2tog, k1, ssk, k3, yo, k1; rep from * to the end of the row.

Row 6: p2, *yo, p2, p2tog, p1, p2tog tbl, p2, yo, p3; rep from *, to the last 12 sts, yo, p2, p2tog, p1, p2tog tbl, p2, yo, p2.

Row 7: k3, *yo, k1, k2tog, k1, ssk, k1, yo, k5; rep from *, to the last 12 sts, yo, k1, k2tog, k1, ssk, k1, yo, k3.

Row 8: p4, *p2tog tbl, yo, p1, yo, p2tog, p7; rep from *, to the last 12 sts, p2tog tbl, yo, p1, yo, p2tog, p4.

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E is for English Mesh

Grab your favorite cup of tea and a scone or three, today we’re going to learn the English Mesh Lace.

What Is It?

I’ve been on a bit of a lace kick recently haven’t I? Well, here is another lace stitch that is a beautiful airy pattern and is really easy to work and very beginner friendly.

Cast on a multiple of six stitches plus one stitch. I’ll be working with 25 today. Once that’s done, purl a row. All the odd rows in this pattern will be purled.

row 1

Row two is a little more complicated, but still very simple stitches that we’ve gone over before (well, if you’ve been reading my knitting blog anyway). If you need a refresher on increases and decreases, take a look at my entry on the subject.

So, starting row two now. Knit one, yarn over (increase), slip slip knit (decrease), knit one, knit two together (decrease), yarn over (increase). Repeat that across and end with a knit stitch. The purl across for row three.

see the holes

You can immediately see one of the defining features of lace, holes. The yarn over increases create the lacy structure that makes up this stitch. The angled decreases define which style of lace you’re making. More complicated lace patterns use increases and decreases to define specific shapes (like drooping elm leaves from last time). Less complicated lace patterns are more abstract like this one.

So lets keep going to row four: knit one to start the row. Then, yarn over (increase), knit one, slip one knitwise, knit two together and pass the slipped stitch over the knit two together stitch (decrease two), knit one, yarn over (increase) and knit one. Repeat from that yarn over across to the end. Then purl a row.

row 4

Row six is next, knit one, knit two together (decrease), yarn over (increase), knit one, yarn over (increase), slip slip knit (decrease) and repeat that across to the last stitch–which you will knit. Then, you guessed it, purl another row.

row 6

The last row in this pattern starts by knitting two together (decrease). Then, knit one, yarn over (increase), knit one, yarn over (increase), knit one, slip one knitwise, knit two together, and pass the slipped stitch over the knit two together stitch (decrease two). Repeat that to the last five stitches then knit one, yarn over, knit one yarn over, knit one, slip slip knit and you’re done!

row 8

Work up a few more rows and you can see the lace pattern a little better. Kind of a nice break to have such a simple pattern stitch isn’t it?

What Else Can You Do With It?

I really love this stitch for the lower part of a tunic, a circle skirt, or flowing sleeves. With Thanksgiving nearly upon us though, I can’t help but to work this into several panels for a Christmas tree skirt.

You all probably noticed that for being a “lace” and “mesh” stitch, this stitch isn’t very lacy and doesn’t look much like mesh. That has everything to do with the gauge of needle and yarn I used. To get the look that I have in the post, use a size 8 (5.0mm) needle and worsted (4) yarn. That gauge is great for a blanket or scarf. If you want something a little more lacy looking, try using a smaller needle and crochet thread (lace weight 0) or using the same needles with a sock weight (2) yarn.

Want something REALLY lacy? Here’s what happens when you use size 8 (5.0mm) needles with lace weight (0) yarn:

thin mesh

The Short Version

Cast on a multiple of 6 + 1.

Row 1: p across

Row 2: *k1, yo, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo,  rep from * to last st, k1

Row 3: p across

Row 4: k1, *yo, k1, sl 1, k2tog, psso, k1, yo, k1, rep from * to end

Row 5: p across

Row 6: *k1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk,  rep from * to last st, k1

Row 7: p across

Row 8: k2tog, *(k1, yo) twice, k1, sl 1, k2tog, psso; rep from * to last 5 sts, (k1, yo) twice, k1, ssk.

D is for Daisy

To be honest, in knitting, there aren’t a whole lot of D’s. The great Debbie Macomber who is not only an amazing knitter, but also a prolific author; the Drooping Elm Leaf Stitch which very nearly made this post; and Daisy stitch are some of the big D’s outside of double and diagonal.

Not gonna lie, the real reason I’m not posting about Drooping Elm Leaf Stitch is that it just has too many pieces to it. I wanted to keep this beginner friendly and that one really isn’t. If you’ve had some practice with knitting and want to give it a go (drooping elm leaf stitch would make a beautiful table runner for fall) I’ve posted a bonus short version at the bottom of this entry as well as linked to new stitch a day where you can see the video for how to do this stitch.

For now, let’s talk Daisy!

What is it?

Daisy stitch is a lovely textured stitch that is very simple to work in one, two or a million colors.  To start, you’ll want to cast on a multiple of four stitches plus one. I’ll be working with 21 stitches today.

The first row is VERY easy, just knit across:

knit a row

See, told you that would be easy.

The next part is a little more tricky, but not difficult. First, knit one stitch, then purl three together, but do NOT let those three off that needle. They need to hang out for a minute:

p3tog on

Next, yarn all the way over and around (we’re going to purl again in just a second):

yarn all the way over

Now, purl those SAME three together again.Effectively you just lost three and gained three all in the same stitch.Knit one more and you’ll have a look at your pattern already:

begin daisy

Repeat the purl three, knit one gig across the row and then turn and knit another row. You should be able to see the “flowers” starting to come together:

one set done

For the final row in this pattern, start off by knitting one, purling one and knitting another one. Then work our same purl three yarn over, purl the same three from row two.  Repeat that across and end with a knit one, purl one, knit one combo.

How Else Can You Use It?

Daisy stitch is a wonderful way to break up a long sweater, coat, or dress pattern. It makes a great belt, edging or scarf detail. I think that even by itself it would make a fun “micro scarf” (if you’re not super into fashion, a micro scarf is the same length as a normal scarf, but usually about 3 inches wide).

As mentioned above, Daisy stitch is a prime candidate for stripes, just work rows one and two in color A and switch to color B for rows three and four. Switch back to color A or just keep using up your scrap yarn for a fun, textured, blanket or scarf.

The Short Version

Daisy Stitch

Cast on a multiple of 4 +1

Row 1: k across

Row 2: k1, *p3tog do not drop, yo p same 3 tog, k1 rep from *to end

Row 3: k across

Row 4: k1, p1, k1 * p3tog do not drop, yo p same 3 tog, k1 rep from *to last two sts, p1, k1

The BONUS Short Version

drooping elm leaf

Drooping Elm Leaf Stitch

So, no joke, this is the short version. You would be reading for DAYS if I tried to explain the whole thing. The good news is that all of the individual pieces are pretty basic. The bad news (and the piece that keeps this from being beginner friendly) is that this stitch takes a LOT of focus.

You know what though? If you need help, just contact me and I’ll walk you through each step. And who knows, maybe I will post this stitch someday, just not today.

Cast on a multiple of 15 sts + 1.

Row 1 : *k1, yo, k1, ssk, p1, k2tog, k1, yo, p1, ssk, p1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo; rep from * to end, k1.

Row 2: p1, *p4, k1, p1, k1, p3, k1, p4; rep from * to end

Row 3: *k1, yo, k1, ssk, p1, k2tog, k1, p1, sl 1, k2tog, psso, yo, k3, yo; rep from * to end, k1.

Row 4: p1, *p6, k1, p2, k1, p4; rep from *.

Row 5: *(k1, yo) twice, ssk, p1, (k2tog) twice, yo, k5, yo;rep from *, end k1.

Row 6: p1, *p7, k1, p1, k1, p5; rep from *.

Row 7: *k1, yo, k3, yo, sl 1, k2tog, psso, p1, yo, k1, ssk, p1, k2tog, k1, yo; rep from *, end k1.

Row 8: p1, *(p3, k1) twice, p7; rep from *.

Row 9: *k1, yo, k5, yo, ssk, k1, ssk, p1, k2tog, k1, yo; rep from *, end k1.

Row 10: p1, *p3, k1, p2, k1, p8; rep from *.

 

C is for Cane

With the holidays approaching I couldn’t help thinking of this stitch for C…so today, C is for (candy) Cane Stitch.

What Is It?

Cane stitch is a lace stitch that sort of looks like little canes, see:

cane

It works up really quickly and is kind of fun once you get in the rhythm of it. It is reversible which is nice because you don’t have to keep track of the front or back of your work. It also has a garter stitch boarder built in to the sides, so it is really easy to make cane stitch into blocks or pieces that can be sewn together.

So, how do you get it started? First, cast on a multiple of three stitches plus four stitches.

Now, if this is your first time working lace, you may want to knit a row first just to have a firm row to work row one on. If you’re comfortable working with lace, you don’t need to knit a row, just jump right in.

To start row one, knit two. Then slip one, knit two together and pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch. Then yarn over twice. You should have something that looks like this on your needle:

row one cane

Work that across the row like that to the last two stitches and knit those last two. You should be starting to see the holes coming through already, but if they’re not terribly apparent, don’t worry. They will be soon.

For the second row of this stitch, knit the first two. For the next two stitches, you’ll be working in the two yarn overs from the last row. First purl one. You should have a sort of long loop left on your needle.

long loop

Knit the next yarn over loop and then purl the next stitch. Follow that same purl one, knit one, purl one to the last two stitches and knit the last two. The third row is really easy. Just knit across and you’re set.

cane done

What Else Can You Do With It?

Cane stitch is pretty straight forward. It can be worked in the round by casting on a multiple of three and dropping the two knit stitches at the beginning and end of rows one and two.

To make a square for sewing, you can knit three rows of garter stitch before your start into the pattern stitch and then knit three rows of garter stitch before you bind off. Stick a few of those together to make a lacy shopping bag or purse, or work a couple long rectangles together for a quick vest. I think this would make a lovely sweater myself.

The Short Version

cane when done

Cast on a multiple of 3+4

Row 1: k2 *sl 1, k2tog, psso, (yo) twice rep from * to last 2 sts, k2

Row 2: k2 *p1, k1, p1 rep from * to last 2 sts k2

Row 3: knit across

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

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.