Since my friend LouAnn got sick I’ve been knitting. I hadn’t knitted anything in 30 years and now I’m knitting all the time. I’m doing a lot of technical stuff which I share on Ravelry. I’ve got a YouTube channel for the videos I’ve done.
It’s sock knitting season again. I need a couple more pair to fill out my wardrobe and I’m revisiting the sock heel. Because my feet are so short I can make a whole pair of crew socks out of a single skein of Paton Stretch Sock if I use a contrasting color for toes, heels and cuffs.
This particular heel is build from knit-into-the-bump-below short rows and a strange combination of k2tog-pick up short row wrap stitch-drop the next stitch over it and knit. The decrease series nearest the back of the heel is a k3tog which includes the picked up short row wrap. This morphed into the decrease mentioned above which produces a more smooth decrease.
The bit I want to document is what happens between the series of increases and decrease, that lovely set of rows that separate the two. This short row section incorporates an additional 4 stitches toward the front of the sock with each row end knit in the bump below and slipped to the other needle.
I bought some on-sale yarn. I am so tight I have a really hard time paying full price for anything. It’s just not the way I’m made, I guess. Reuse, recycle, re-purpose . . . and buy on sale or at a discount. Maybe that’s why we have no consumer debt other than our almost-paid-off mortgage. We still do all the stuff we want to do, we just squeak a lot while doing it.
So the beauty of the yarn is it’s recycled denim jeans AND on sale. How could I pass that up? Yeah, I agree, there’s just no way. It was a must buy.
So, on to my story . . . I bought this yarn. And then I saw a picture of a sweater in a print ‘zine where the top was done in a lattice pattern. And I have a jacket pattern I really like. Can you see where this is going? The plan is to knit a sweater using the jacket pattern as my inspiration. I’m ‘hemming’ it in the lattice pattern. Up the front, around the neck, around the bottom of sleeves and body. The trick will be to get the stitch pattern to curve around the neck.
If you like this stitch and want to try it, it’s fairly easy. There are few and fairly simple repeats and mine is just a tiny bit different than the mag pattern.
Cast on multiples of 8 stitches then add 6 more. For four rows (this is your first repeat), purl 6 and knit 2 for the right side row, then knit 6, purl 2 for the wrong side row. Click and the image above so you can see how those first four rows look. On the right side you’ll see two knit then six purl repeated across the work.
Next create the holes where the lattice cross. This is a two row repeat and it’s done between every set of lattice repeats. The idea is to use knit two together and a yarn over to create the hole. Every stitch except those two are knit. So, for the first set of lattice, knit 4, *k2tog (knit 2 stitches together), yo (yarn over), k2 (knit 2), yo, k2tog, k2, repeat from * until last 4 which are knit. Just so I’m really clear, each side of the column of knit stitches has a yarn over. The next stitch outside that is knit two together. All other stitches are knit. The reverse of the row is purl all the way across. I’m explaining this rather than just telling you what to do so you can look at the work and see that, other than the number of knit stitches at the beginning of the row, this “make a hole” row just has to match where the lattice knit rows are placed.
Now we do the shifted lattice. Purl 2, *k2, p6 (purl 6), repeat from * until the last 2 which are purl. Once you’ve done four rows of the shifted lattice, do your two rows that make the holes and start with the first set again. Chart it like this.
oooooovvoooooovvoooooovvoooooovvoooooo (do this four times)
vvvvx/vv\xvvx/vv\xvvx/vv\xvvx/vv\xvvvv (do this once)
vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv (do this once)
oovvoooooovvoooooovvoooooovvoooooovvoo (do this four times)
Then repeat from the top. No, you may not throw rocks at me. This is the way my brain works!
The lattice on my hem will be two sets of lattice for a total of 4 horizontal bands. That’s the plan. It may never gain a grip in reality, but it’s a plan.
I’ve been wearing my slippers for a while but it wasn’t until a week ago I got the laces added. I couldn’t share them without the laces in place!
The bottom (part I stand on) has the perl out so they’re comfortable to stand on. I used my standard toe up sock with afterthought heel and revised heel decrease that produces zero holes. The yarn is worsted weight Red Heart Black Fleck. I got a super saver skein to use for testing stuff. I have no idea where the slipper idea came from. It must have been an aberrant moment.
The next step is to add waterproof leather soles and a felt cushion.
I finished my scarf for Jennifer and it’s inspired me to do a repeat with a twist. Jennifer’s scarf is a pull-on no fuss no fasten designed to keep the neck warm tucked inside a jacket or heavy shirt. It’s got a natural rolled edge out of which beads peak. The beads are #6 copper lined crystal seed beads and the whole feel is casual elegance.
This next scarf is going to be a bit bigger half-square triangle (240+16+8 stitches instead of 160) with an i-cord edge at the top ending in tassels or dingle balls.
I’ve used my own version of provisional cast on (Artisan square 2.5s paired with a long interchangeable needles cable with the yarn wound around both until the stitch count is met) and am using small DPNs (double pointed needles) to work the i-cord. I’ve got stitch markers set to mark the decrease and the first row of bead work. When those two markers meet, I work my first row of beads. The decrease occurs at the start of each row 4 stitches off the edge. This gives a lovely bound effect to the scarf.
The yarn is bamboo/cotton I bought from a vendor on Ebay. He sells yarn from Asian manufacturers where the labels have been misprinted (my guess based on how the labels look). It’s very good quality yarn and lovely to work with. Bamboo/cotton makes it wash and wear.
Since I started this scarf I’ve found a video for an i-cord cast on. Duh. That would have been SO much faster.
Life’s been fairly busy for me the last four months. I’m caring for a bed-bound family member and haven’t had a lot of time for the crafty stuff that feeds my soul. Because I’ve been sitting bound to one spot I’ve been doing a lot of knitting. Most of the knitting I’ve done is fairly mindless stuff I can do while watching and thinking.
I finally finished the knitting on a pair of sock slippers out of Red Heart acrylic worsted. I’m intending to put soles on them but that’s a future project. Until then, I’ll wear them without. They do keep my feet toasty.
I’ve knitted two cowls, a bunch of mobius scarves and a few hats.
I knit a cowl in Caron Simply Soft Oceana to try out reversible cables on a seed stitch background. That was lovely. My sister-in-law got that one for Christmas and loves it. I knitted a cowl for myself out of pink and green self-striping merino wool blend but it was a bit girly for me (cute ruffly edges and beads). My SIL coveted it so I passed it on.
I got a gimmee skein of KnitPicks Biggo which I knit into a hat for my bed-bound friend. That’s some wonderful yarn!
Close fitting cowls and hats are quick and fairly boring, but mobius scarves are interesting. To knit a mobius scarf, you either have to join the ends (fairly obvious) or use a provisional cast on which is significantly less obvious. Any time you can knit something without having to sew it together saves time.
Provisional cast on produces a shift in the columns of stitches at the point of cast on. Because I like mobius in 2×2 rib, the provisional cast on is really obvious to me. Seed stitch would hide the point of cast on but the stitch isn’t as stretchy and the point of this scarf is to stay close and keep the neck warm. Because I’m fairly anal, I find the cast on shift unattractive. By incorporating beads at the point of cast on, I minimize the obviousness of the shift.
The green and purple mobius is the first I made and is being worn by my niece. It’s bright and smart and so is she.
The brown/gray/emerald/navy mobius is off to a friend in California. She wanted me to make her a mobius when she was here visiting but I’m really bad at reading hints. Once she got more pointed and said “I want a mobius”, I got it. This color combo is perfect for her. Because she likes touches of sparkle, I added the beads. This was my second knitted project with beads.
The blue mobius is for my friend and sister of my heart. I originally made the striped one for her but she’s too sensitive to the merino wool. She’ll have no problem with the Caron Simply Soft acrylic. I used the beads to mask the cast on, adding beads at the edge to give it that ultimate “girly” touch. Can we ever get enough sparkle? I ran short of beads to finish the cast off so it’s on hold until I get more beads.
The blue/pink one might be for me. The challenge will be to see if I can resist the temptation to give it away if someone admires it. This mobius is smaller around than the others I’ve done. I only have a partial skein of Lion Amazing left. Of the three matching dye lot skeins I bought, I’ve already made two hats and a mobius. This mobius gets what’s left. Beads prevent it from being the ugly step child.
I ordered a Try It pack of needle tips from KnitPicks. I really like the concept, one set of cables and one set of needle tips. Sadly, the Harmony wood needle tips didn’t hold up. I had just started another mobius scarf and the wood separated where it entered the metal portion of the tip. If I’d bent the needle, it would make sense, but I was pulling the stitches along the cable while holding the tip.
I think the wood needles would be fine in a bigger diameter, but in something as small as a six, they just aren’t going to hold up. I’ve switched to size seven nickel plated tips. I’m fairly confident they’ll hold up to the task at hand.
I’m on my third batch of stitch markers. I’m not losing them, I find myself giving them away to people who have the same complaints I do about the commercial stitch markers. I have the same policy with earrings I make, so it’s a natural extension of something I’m already doing. Fun!
I’ve used a variety of stitch markers but was wholly unsatisfied with what’s currently available. They’re either bulky or intrusive or too easily dropped/lost, all of which are frustrating. I’ve worked out a couple solutions that work better for me.
If I leash together two of the commercial markers (I’ve used plastic split ring, round plastic and triangular) they work much better as the marker doesn’t get lost and is easily retrieved if it slips from my grasp when transferring from one needle to the next, but they’re still bulkier than is comfortable when using sock yarn and size 1 needles. On the plus side, if the leash is tied to a clip or pin so it can be fastened to the work, they don’t fall away when they’re dropped.
An even better solution are markers made from filament and beads. The flexible filament is very thin and keeps the marker from interfering with the work, the bead makes the marker easy to spot and acts as a handle or connector and are big enough that both needles can simultaneously be inserted into the marker reducing the chance you will drop it when transferring between needles.
I love the Paton stretch sock yarn and I love wearing the socks. I only have one pair of socks I like as much, a Smartwool sport sock that fits as well as the socks I make for myself.
In the socks I’ve done so far, I’ve got two modified versions of the sweet tomato heel and a short row heel using the sweet tomato stitch pickup technique. This time I’m going to work a modified version of the afterthought heel. The single row of black yarn near the needles is where the heel will be inserted.
After three pair of socks, I think I’ve found my rhythm . . . sort of. The trick is to wear glasses strong enough for me to see the stitches. I’m no longer dropping stitches or inadvertently adding stitches. Who knew? Go me!
I’ve refined the pattern I’m using (toe up sock). My wedge toe has more of a pleasing curve (magic cast on 40 stitches, increase every row for 4 rows, every other row 2x and every 4th row 1x for a total of 68 stitches). Now that I’ve got the technique down and have wised up and started wearing strong glasses things are coming together nicely. I just need to test drive this heel technique to see which one works best for me (least number of holes and fits the best).
Because my feet are so short I can get a whole pair of socks out of a single skein of sock yarn if I don’t need tall socks. If you discount the ~30 hours it takes to make a pair of socks, these are a bargain at about $6 a pair. If I want the socks taller than a 3″ crew, I need just a touch more yarn, thus the black toes, heels and cuff.
This latest pair of socks show I can’t seem to get the quality of work paired with the pattern matching. Admittedly, this yarn is the left over from the very first pair of socks, so I’m cutting myself all kinds of slack. As I seldom leave the farm, the likelihood of anyone but me noticing the pattern doesn’t match is pretty darn small. And if they do notice, I’m pretty certain I won’t care.
I’m about 2/3 of the way done with my second 6″ crew sock. It’s going very nicely. My heel-turn technique is improving (fewer holes) and my work is nicely even. I love the cast-on technique for toe-up knitting. The heel turn method is easy and easy to adapt to fit my specific heel. Getting a good fitting sock with no pattern is easy, after the fifth heel tear-out on the first sock. Go me. <grin> The next pair I’ll do differently still and they will be even better . . . and faster!
I’ve got a couple yards left in the first skein of yarn which isn’t going to be enough to finish this sock. The second skein will let me finish this sock and should leave me with enough to make another pair with short cuffs. I couldn’t buy quality socks for the price I paid for the yarn so color me happy. I guess that’s one of the blessing of having small feet . . . more sock per yard.
At this point, I need to solve my needle problem. I’ve ordered another brand of needle AND some fix-it stuff. If one won’t work, the other should.
The fix-it stuff is for the problem I have with the join between the tip and cable for the square needles. They really are a good concept, but the design/execution could really use some work. Let me explain.
The socks I’m making are worked in super-fine yarn. Other than crochet thread for doilies, that’s the finest yarn sold in skeins for hand knitters. The yarn manufacturer recommends a size 3 needle but I like tightly knitted socks so I’m using a size 1 needle.
For the stitch transfer to go smoothly for finer yarns, the join between the cable and the needle really has to be flawless. Add together the fine yarn, small needle size and tight knitting and getting the yarn back on the tip from the cable becomes tricky in the best of situations. As you can see, the join on the top needle in the above picture is a far cry from ideal.
When I got the square needles, I was appalled at the price (easily twice the price of needles the same length and size at KnitPicks.com) but I really liked with the squared off shaft which reduces hand strain and the slightly shortener tip which fits my hand better.
The total limpness of the cable is a true wonder. When you make socks using two 16″ cable needles, stiffness in the cable prevents even tension in the stitches where the needle change occurs. This is magnified for tight knitters. That forced unevenness drives me nuts. The limpness of the cable on these needles solved that problem. The difference in appearance between the first sock (done largely with stiff cable needles) and the second (completely knit on limp-cable needles) is graphic.
To fix the hip-join problem between the tip and the needles I used my brass hammer and cobbler’s jack and reshaped the butt of the tip. This worked really well right up until the altered shape of the butt impacted the integrity of the cable sheath. Click the needle image and you’ll see what I mean. The extra sharpness at the butt over time caused the sheath of the cable to separate and peel back giving an additional place for the cable to snag the yarn, though it’s still an improvement in moving yarn back onto the tip over the original shape. Unfortunately, in one needle it caused complete separation between the tip and the cable.
I’ve got some neat stuff coming that I hope will allow me to solve the tip/cable join problem and let me continue to use these too expensive but wonderfully shaped needles.
Check out Sugru. It’s an air curable silicone rubber which bonds to aluminum. When my multi-color 8-pack arrives, I should be able to reshape the join to a smooth ramp AND take the stress off the cable sheath at the join. If it doesn’t work as well as I think it might, I might be able to use it instead of cork for the heel seat in my shoes! The uses for this stuff have got to be endless!
I have decided I need a purple pair . . . I just need to find the right purple. Every girl should have at least one pair of purple socks. The Patron Stretch Sock yarn is so awesome I am hesitant to try another type yarn. I’ll have to see what kind of purple they make.