Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sock Tutorial, part 1

As promised, here's the first part of my toe-up sock tutorial. This is easy to resize for any foot size, but I'm doing this one for my husband, who is a size 13!

Yarn: Patons 100% wool, worsted weight
Needles: 3.25 mm double pointed (5)
Gauge: doesn't matter, as long as you're getting a fabric density you like.

Step one is casting on. For most women's socks, you'll want 8 loops on each needle. For these, I'm doing 12.

You do a figure 8 cast on. Knitty has some good pics of how to do one as well. I find it easier to wrap a few extra loops. When you start knitting, just knit up the ones you need and let the rest drop off your needles.

Knit half the stitches from one needle off onto a third needle, then the other half off onto a fourth.

You should have something that looks a bit like this.

Next, you'll flip the needles over and knit off the stitches from the bottom needle (which is now the top needle.) I find it easier to knit into the BACKS of these stitches, and it tends to tighten up the stitches a bit too.

In all honesty, I had to do this a bunch of times before I could get the stitches tight enough. Make yourself some coffee (or something stronger) and resign yourself to frogging a few times. It's worth it when you get it right.

You should have something that looks like this picture (below). It can seem a bit of a mess at this point, but be patient, and after a couple rows, you'll be fine.

You'll increase every row from this point on. I do a make 1 increase at the ends of each needle. So, you'll knit one, make 1, knit to the end of the needle. Then, knit all the stitches to the last stitch, make one, knit the last stitch. Flip the sock and do the same on the other two needles. You're increasing along the edges of the sock (not the center!).

One trick I use is to concentrate on pulling the yarn especially tight when moving from the top of the sock to the bottom of the sock. This helps to make the sock start taking on a tube form.

You can see my sock below starting to take that shape. With this sock, I increased 4 stitches per row until each needle holds 10 stitches (40 total).

At that point, I start working increases only every other row. This provides the nice round toe shaping. You'll continue working that way until you get the sock as wide as you want it.

How do you know when that is? Just hold the sock against the bottom of your foot (or the recipients) and see if it's wide enough when slightly stretched. In this case, I finished with 14 stitches per needle.

Here's a picture of the toe just starting to look like a toe. Remember to pull your stitches tight where top and bottom meet or you'll get ladders, and you'll have to frog it.

By now, it should be a lot easier to work with (thank goodness, right?).

Finally, here's the sock actually looking like a sock. At this point, it's easy. Just determine your ribbing (if you want it) or just knit in stockinette until you reach the base of the ankle.

For this sock, I'm doing a 2x1 rib. The stitch count for that is something divisible by 3 plus 1. You'll need to start the ribbing with a purl (to separate it from the stockinette on the foot), work knit2/purl1 rib across the top and end with a purl.

So, make sure your stitch count across the top of the sock is right. You might have to adjust your increases a little to get the right number. Work stockinette along the foot and ribbing along the top.

When you've reached the base of the ankle (with the sock stretched as much as it will be when it's worn), stop. It's time to work the heel.

Now, I'll catch up so we can do sock tutorial 2. Have fun! Leave a comment if you have any questions, and I'll try to help.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

So much for the hat

You remember the cute hat I was knitting? Well, it turned out to be not so cute after all.

Instead of a "normal" hat, I ended up with something that looked like a cross between a condom and an old-man fisherman's hat. Oh well...

Sorry, no pics of that one. I frogged it and put it out of its misery right away (and out of my misery too...)

Now I have a ball of nice handspun, and I need a good idea for it. I don't think I'm going to take the hat route again. I've already done a scarf out of the same yarn (and it turned out really cute). There's not enough for mittens or a stole. Ideas anyone?

It's still freezing here today, but not quite as bad. We got above freezing (barely), but we did get some snow and ice today anyway. I'm making good progress on the sweater, and even on the socks. Stay tuned for some sock pics.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dang, It's Cold!

I think we've officially hit about 5 below freeze your butt off here. It is cold!

I've put off doing the sock tutorial in favor of working on a sweater I've had on the needles for about two months. It would be nice if I finished it before spring....

I've started the socks, and I have some pics, so I should be able to get the first part of the tutorial up soon. I've been lazy the last few days, hence the lack of blog posts.

Be back soon with pics and details, just as soon as we thaw out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Upcoming Sock Tutorial

I'm still working on the top down hat, but there's not enough progress to warrant a picture.

I also just started a pair of socks for my husband, Mr. Size 13 extra wide. As with most patterns, I've not been able to find any patterns to fit him, so this one is a mix of what I know from following others' patterns.


So, I thought I'd start off with a simple sock tutorial, and I plan to get the first steps up in the next day or two. These socks are toe up, worked with a heel flap and gusset. I'm doing a simple rib up the top of the foot and then up the entire cuff. I've found that ribbing carried the whole way (instead of stockinette with a couple inches of ribbing) gives him a better fit. If you'd rather have smoother socks, then you can just ignore the ribbing instructions, of course.

Toe up socks

I learned to knit by following the basic sock pattern in Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot's Bag of Knitting Tricks. I really enjoy knitting socks top down, as she does, but I'm using toe-up for this tutorial (and for many of my socks now) for a couple reasons.
  1. You don't need to check gauge to do toe up socks. For some mysterious reason, I always get the size wrong when I do cuff down, even if I check gauge. So, this keeps me from ripping out... and swearing... a lot.
  2. Toe up lets you make the most important part of the sock first (the foot!) so that if you run short of yarn, you can just shorten the cuff a bit. That doesn't work the other way, unless you're a fan of toe-less socks. For my hubby, this is important. When you're making size 13 socks, you need to be careful about your yarn supply.
  3. One problem is that doing the first row or two of toe-up socks is a huge pain. The first time I tried it, I bet I ripped it back out at least half a dozen times, and it still wasn't great. I'll give you some of my tips for getting through this first, most difficult step.
Gusset or no gusset

I've tried socks both with and without a gusset. Since both my husband and I have relatively thick ankles, gussets make the socks fit SO MUCH better. If you're ankles are thinner, you can probably get away with no gussets.

One problem with my approach is that it will disrupt your striping pattern, if you're using a self-striping yarn. I can live with that easier than I can tight socks.

I've already worked the toe of the first socks, and I have some pictures of what I did. I'll get that up first, along with stitch counts, yarn, gauge, etc. However, these are super easy, and the "pattern" should work for sock sizes from tiny all the way to enormous.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Top Down Hat

I'm working on a top-down hat that I found on ravelry. My project link is here, for members.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but the top has a bit of a point -- my husband says it looks a lot like a boob. I wonder if it'll look like that on my head?

If you're not a member, then you can find the pattern here too. It's super easy, but as you see, I've already moved it off to several double pointed needles. Yes, it would be easier on a circular... but I found out I didn't have any circulars in the right size AFTER I'd gotten too far to rip out and start again. Luckily, I have lots of sock needles in that size...

I'm using a cream worsted wool and some handspun I got from Christine in a secret pal exchange. I've been in a small-project mood lately, and I've managed to do a pair of socks, two pair of mittens and now the hat in the last couple weeks. I have a sweater on the needles too that's crying for attention, and I need to get back to it as well.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

First Post

I've been thinking of setting up a knitting blog for a while, so here it is. If you're a Ravelry member, I'm jkay there. Look me up!

So far, I've done socks, mittens, scarves, hats, and sweaters. One of my goals is to start designing for big and tall men -- it's almost impossible to find patterns for big guys. I'll get busy posting some pics (and updating my ravelry info!!)