Somewhere I can let out my inner crafter without being labeled as even more insane.

Knitting update

Work here is cutting into my free time again. Not too much- I am still knitting, and cross stitching, but other things (blogging, gaming, cycling…) are starting to creep back into the back seat again (story of everyone’s life, I’m sure!).

But I am still working on my cardigan- I’ve reaching the armhole shaping now!

cardigan7It’s strange, but this is excellent relaxing knitting. The cables are technical but not difficult, and now I’ve (finally) learnt the cable pattern, I don’t need to check three different pages of charts every other row!

However, now I’m only working on one bit a time (starting with the left side), and doing things on both sides independently of each other. This might get more challenging!

Ok, first of all- a disclaimer. I’m a PhD student, not a photography whiz. Also, I only have two hands. It is very difficult for me to take pretty pictures, but I’ve tried my best.

 

Notation-

Needle- if I tell you to knit a needle, I mean all the stitches on one needle. Two needles make a round.

Round- the circular version of a row, you get back to where you started, but a row above.

TAAT- knitting Two At A Time.

That said, let’s get on with the show!

The first thing you need to do is cast on. I use the figure 8 cast on. This isn’t the only one, but I particularly like it because you don’t need to guess the amount of yarn you’ll need at the beginning.

You start off with a slip knot, as usual.

IMGP0228Then you need to arrange your needles- put the one with the knot on below the one without the knot. The aim is to have them neatly lined up next to each other, but that generally takes a few stitches.

Begin winding the ball end of yarn around the two needles in a figure of 8(hence the name of this particular cast on). You start with the top needle, bring the yarn over the top and down between the two needles. Then do the same thing for the bottom needle, and so on.

IMGP0229Here you can see the slip knot on the bottom needle, and two stitches, one on each needle (the slip knot doesn’t count as a stitch). Continue in this manner until you have the required number of stitches (check both needles, I’ve somehow lost stitches before).

IMGP0230I knit the largest size of sock, so I need to have 11 stitches top and bottom.

I knit two socks a time (called TAAT), and so now I cast on another 11 stitches top and bottom for another sock.

IMGP0233Now it’s time to start knitting your sock! For the first round, we won’t be increasing at all, just knitting around. Before we can do that, we needle to free the bottom needle by sliding it out. The cable will hold the stitches.

IMGP0234This picture shows what the cable loops will look like.

IMGP0235And what the needle tips will look like. So, begin by knitting straight across the needle (both socks, if you are doing TAAT). You’ll find as you get further along the needle that your stitches get looser, this is completely normal and fine.

When you’ve finished one needle, turn and prepare the work the next row, but we need to do a few things first.

IMGP0236First thing is to take the slip knot off the top needle. I weave in ends as I knit, rather than wait until the end and darn, but that’s up to you.

You also need to tighten the top stitches, so they don’t get looser in the same way as they did on the first needle. Beginning with the left-end stitch, insert your needle into each stitch and tug gently. There’s a surprising amount of slack to be taken up.

IMGP0237This is after about half the stitches have been tugged. When they’ve all been tugged, and the remaining slack has been added into the tail, knit through the back loop of each stitch. After the first one, it’s natural and easy to knit into the back loop, ad it untwists the stitches from when they became twisted as you cast on.

When they’ve all been knitted, you’ll be ready to start increasing for the toe. Rather than kf&b, I do M1r and M1l, as I feel it gives a neater line. Unfortunately, my camera is refusing to take photos now so I can’t make a tutorial for these right now. I’ll try to have this problem sorted by next week, in the meantime there are plenty of tutorials online! Simply replace round A with

Round A: k1, M1R, knit to 1 stitch from end of needle 1, M1L, k1; k1, M1R, knit to 1 stitch from end of needle 2, M1L, k1.

After all the increases, it’s time to move onto the instep. This is simply knit every round until you reach a certain number of inches from the back of the foot. The easiest way to check this is to put the sock on, and measure with a tape-measure, like this

IMGP0241IMGP0242It can be slightly awkward, but it doesn’t need to be exact. I need 3.25 inches, and have about 3 here. I ended up frogging .25 inches off my sock, to get this right, but that’s because my row gauge can be slightly dodgy, and I want to figure it out properly. When you’ve got it right, you can measure your sock so you don’t need to keep measuring against your foot every sock (guess how many socks it took me to figure that one?)

Next week we’ll be turning the heel, so have fun with your knitting up till this point :) I’ll try to fix my camera for next week too :/

Happy knitting!

 

Back-stitching

I am constantly surprised by how much of a difference back stitching makes to a piece! I’ll look at a piece before back stitching, and wonder just how something coherent will come out of it! Sometimes I even wonder if I need new glasses, it seems to out of focus!

And then, I’ll do the back stitching, and it all comes slowly into focus!

Here are before and after pics of the back stitching for my dad’s card!

daddydaddy2Tada! I think my dad will like it- he does a lot of gardening with my mum, especially over the summer!

*Clears throat* Hello class, and this week we will be discussing the anatomy of a sock. Examine this picture(from off t’internet, as I can’t figure out how to add writing to my own pictures):

Anatomy-of-a-knitted-sockThis sock is actually knit cuff-down, rather than toe-up, as is my general method, but that doesn’t make any difference.

The toe section

The pink bit of this sock is the toe. You start my casting on some stitches(there are various special cast ons for this, and I will discuss my favorite one next week), and increase until you have enough stitches to go around your foot.

The instep

The dark grey stripy part of the sock is the instep. This is just quite a lot of stocking stitch mostly. If you’re using a pattern, only work it on the top of the sock- you want to have nice squishy stocking stitch layer of sock between your foot and the floor.

The gusset

Here you start increasing on each side to get more stitches so the sock continues to fit as your foot increases as you get towards the ankle. The increasing is done on the underside of the sock

Heel turn

This is some short rows, done because the heel flap needs to curve around. Have a picture to see what I mean

anatomyThe green and yellow bit at the bottom of the picture (under the blue stripe) are the short rows. It curves the end of the sock. Again, do it on the bottom of the sock!

Heel flap

This is how you get rid of the extra stitches you got for the gusset. Knit straight, you knit the last stitch of each row with the gusset stitches. (If you’re knitting top down you pick up stitches either side for the gusset.)

Leg

The light blue part of the sock picture at the top of the post. If you’re using a pattern, do it all over this time, not just on the front of the sock this time.

Cuff

And finally, we reach the cuff of the sock(the orange bit in the photo). Usually done in rib of some kind, to ensure the sock stays up all day, and doesn’t get saggy because the fabric stretches all day. Don’t skimp on this- I generally do about an inch and a half, and I definitely notice the difference with my earlier socks when I didn’t do that much rib.

 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes the tour of a sock. Next week we will be casting on for a sock, and so, if you want to join in, there is a bit of homework:

1) Measure around the ball of your foot, like this

2) Procure 100g of sock yarn (fingering weight, usually wool/nylon blend, but others work too. Just avoid anything like cotton which doesn’t have any natural stretch.) and needles (either dpns or a cable for magic loop. However you like knitting in the round)

3) Gauge swatch. I don’t bother nowadays, because I know my sock yarn tension. If you’ve knit lots of socks before, grab a sock and use that. Otherwise, the pattern has different sizes depending on gauge. Go do it :P

4) Print out ‘All the math‘, and figure out what size sock you need to make, based on your foot size and gauge.

That’s it!

So I will see you all next week, when we discuss casting on and increasing for the toe!

 

 

Hi! Long time no see!

So, umm, yeah, sorry for that random hiatus! I had a very important meeting for my PhD last Friday (as in do-or-die level!) and so I was massively busy preparing for and then getting over that! But that’s all done, and I’m massively psyched for it now! I have a month-by-month plan of attack so I feel like I’m in the home stretch now (somehow!).

So, where was I? Sock Saturday will resume this Saturday, I finished that card, started one for my dad’s birthday, bought a sweater’s worth of yarn in Oxford (what? They didn’t have any sock yarn I liked!) and finished some more socks :)

I will be back later with a proper update post, I just thought I’d let everyone know that I’m still alive! Next time I’ll try and give a bit more warning before I go AWOL!

Again, apologies for the lateness of this post. I now have a monitor, so I am now back as usual. At some point, I shall need to send my laptop away for repairs, but I’ll worry about that later!

So, back to socks. This week I’m explaining how I wash and generally care for my socks on a day to day basis.

I wash socks in batches of 5 pairs (usually. I can fit 6 pairs on a towel, so sometimes if I’ve been lazy and they’re really piling up I do a batch of 6.). How many you do a time will depend on personal preference, and how many socks you have.

So, after all the socks are piled up ready to be washed,IMGP0223I first of all make sure I have complete pairs, and there aren’t any odd socks missing. Then I carefully go over every sock to check for weak patches, either to fix or to make a note of to watch of more wear. I’ll talk about weal points and repairs in a later post. Also, because I have long hair and I’d rather not wash it with the socks, I pull off and throw away all my hair off them. It’s amazing how much can accumulate on them!

So now the socks look like this

IMGP0224The next step is to actually wash them. If necessary, wash the sink you’ll be using, then fill it with warm water and some form of cleaning agent (I use cheap shampoo, but there are some detergents designed to be used with knitting). Then lay your socks on the bubbles, and leave them to sink down into the water.

IMGP0225Because I don’t want to leave my socks unattended for long periods of time (and it’s a shared bathroom I don’t want to put out of commission for so long!) I gently push them down and stir around. Don’t be too harsh on the socks, otherwise they’re in danger of felting.

After washing them for a bit, I rinse in the same manner- fill the sink with warm water (you don’t want to shock the socks by having a vastly different temperature here) and soak the socks. When you think they’re bubble-free, drain the sick and squeeze as much water as you can out of the socks. DON’T wring them out, they’ll end up massively deformed. As I’m doing this step, I line them up on the edge of the sink in their pairs. Again, it helps make sure that random socks haven’t gone down the drain or anything crazy!

IMGP0226Now all that is left is drying them. I don’t own any sock blockers, and so I lay them out on a towel.

EDIT(Lisa, from a few spoons short, suggest rolling up and stepping on the towel first, to get rid of some of the moisture, then replacing the towel immediately! Genius idea!)

IMGP0227I lay them out on my bed, as I don’t have much floor space! When I go to bed, I replace the towel and roll it up, and then the next morning I roll it out again. In the Winter, they can take 4 days to dry, but when it gets warmer it takes closer to 2!

When they are dry, all that is left to do is fold them up and put them away ready to be used next time!

Sock Saturday- delayed

Hi all,

Unfortunately, I have somehow dropped my laptop and destroyed the screen, and currently am borrowing my housemates TV to see what I am doing. I anticipate getting my own screen on Monday, and should be able to post my Sock Saturday post then.

 

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