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

Posts tagged ‘Sock Saturday’

Sock Saturday- Casting off

So, you’ve got most of the sock finished, all that is left is ribbing (so the sock doesn’t fall down during the day!) and casting off. The ribbing is fairly basic- choose whatever ribbing and get to it! Just don’t skimp on it, you want at least an inch and probably closer to 1.5- I use 1 but am planning on switching to 1.5 soon, as some of my older socks aren’t staying up so well any more.

After the ribbing, it’s time to cast off. Casting off normally isn’t going to cut it for this, it just isn’t stretchy enough. I use a cast off called Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off (it’s decidedly not mine!). You basically do either a yarn over, or reverse yarn over between each stitch so you have more y6arn length used to make it stretchier.

I use a 2×1 ribbing for my socks, and they look like this when I’m about to cast off:

IMGP0274I just knit the first stitch, rather than do Jenny’s trick, so, for this tutorial, we will be beginning with the second stitch.


On the knit side, you need to do a reverse yarn over, so you bring the yarn over from back to front, and then under from front to back ready to knit the next stitch

IMGP0276Knit the next stitch as usual, and then cast off the first two stitches, so only the last stitch is on the needle. In the beginning, it is easier to do this one stitch at a time, but as you get more experienced, it becomes quicker to do both stitches.

For a purl stitch, you need to do a normal yarn over. So the yarn goes over the top of the needle from front to back, and then under the needle in preparation to purl

IMGP0277Again, purl the next stitch, and cast off the other two stitches on the needle. Repeat this all the way around, and finish as usual. Darn in the ends, put your foot into the sock, and admire! Or take the sock and wave it around in everyone’s face to show them that you made a sock!

The main trick with this technique is remembering which yarn over to use. The way I remember is by thinking that before whichever stitch you’re doing (knit or purl), you want to bring the yarn under the work (so front to back for knitting, or back to front for purling). The the yarn over has to work with that!

And that’s that! All done. Next week there might be a post about mending socks, if I can find any damaged ones to mend to show you! If you’ve been following along (either as I’ve been posting these, or afterwards!) drop me a link to some photos, or something! I’d love to see more socks!

Sock Saturday- knitting the heel

Ok, so now you have your sock(s) and you’ve knitted to the required number of inches before the end of the foot. Now it’s time to increase for the gusset.

This works in the same way as increasing for the toe, but only on one side (and make sure that you don’t accidentally increase on the front…)

Again, the pattern calls for Kf&b, but I personally prefer M1R and M1L, as they produce a nice straight line. So feel free to replace the line Gusset round 1 needle 2 with K1, M1R, knit to last stitch, M1L, K1. I would suggest putting in an open/lockable stitch marker so you can easily keep track of how many stitches you’ve increased.


Now that my camera is fixed, I can show you how to M1R and M1L (after I’ve finished this, I’m going to edit the other post to include instructions). Firstly, M1R:

See the blue bar between stitches here?

IMGP0251You need to pick it up *from back to front* with the left needle

IMGP0252and then knit into that as if it were a normal stitch. It can be quite tight to do that, sometimes I find it easier to use the right needle to pull the slack to the front and then knit it, but do whatever helps you the most 🙂

Now for the M1L: knit to the last stitch

IMGP0253Now the bar between stitches is yellow, and this time we’re going to pick it up *from front to back*, again with the left needle

IMGP0254Now you need to knit into the back of the stitch (again, I use the needle to pull some of the give over to the back to make it easier).

You only need to increase every other row, and so the row after increasing you won’t be. After an increase row, your increases will look like this


and this is the row you won’t increase on. It also feels tighter than a standard knit stitch.

After all the increases, it’s time to move onto the short rows and wraps and turns.

On the knit side, you work wraps by bringing the yarn to the front, slipping the next stitch from left to right, taking the yarn to the back and returning the stitch to the left needle. Here you can see the yellow stitch on the left needle has been wrapped (in blue.) You now turn the work around and start purling, including purling the first stitch.

IMGP0259On a purl row, you take the yarn to the knitted side of the work, slip the stitch, bring the yarn back again, and slip the stitch back

IMGP0261Then you are ready to turn the work and start knitting again.

I always find this section to be really difficult to keep track on what row I’m on, and how many stitches I’ve done on that row. Therefore, I’ve noticed a really cool trick:

IMGP0262This is a photo of the second knitted wrapping row. It’s at the point when you’re about to pick up a stitch, knit 1 and wrap the next one. You’re 5 stitches from a ‘gap’, and when it’s all done, there will be 3 stitches between ‘gaps’. This happens every time, so, rather than keep track of how many stitches I’ve knitted, and how many I need to knit, I just keep track of how far away I am from a ‘gap’, and work from there. Also, when you’ve done all the wrapping, there should be 4 wraps on either side, so, on the last purl row, before you wrap, there should be 3 gaps. I find counting those much easier than trying to keep track on what row you’re on! (Also, count your stitches. Even using these tricks, it’s still very easy to forget to pick up stitches/whatever and then be off by 1 or 2 stitches.)

Next, you have to pick up and knit the wraps with the stitches. IMGP0263This is a stitch which was wrapped on the knit side. Insert the needle from bottom to top of the wrap, and then the stitch

IMGP0264The bright red stitch further down the needle is the wrap, the darker one is the stitch. Now you can knit these together, just as you would for k2tog.

For the purl wrapped stitches


you need to put the wrap (green) onto the left needle with the stitch it’s wrapping (yellow).

IMGP0267You can then, as before, basically just k2tog.

The heel flap is worked flat, with decreases on either side to include the stitches you created in the gusset. The two sides look like this







On the right-side (knit) rows, you are told to do a slip stitch pattern. This is to make the fabric denser, as it will have more wear-and-tear forced upon it by shoes. It can be quite easy to accidentally knit 2 stitches, and then throw the pattern off by a stitch, and this doesn’t really matter, but for those who care, a quick way of checking to see if you’re knitting the right stitches is by looking at the work

IMGP0271Some of the columns stand out more than others. In particular, the column of the stitch first on the left needle stands out. This is a stitch you need to slip. The ‘hidden’ columns are knitted. You can start to see this pattern appear right from the first row of slip stitch knitting, but it is harder to photograph, so this is after a few rows.

When you’ve finished assimilating all the side stitches into the heel flap, you’ll still have one more stitch on the right, like this (ignore the stitches on the stitch marker, I was fudging stuff)

IMGP0272This stitch is the last stitch to get included into the heel flap, and will be done almost as an afterthought. Don’t fudge this one, you’ll get a whole because the two bits (the main sock and the heel flap) are almost two separate parts, and they won’t play nicely together without it.

So, that’s the heel flap done! Now, the leg. If you’re doing a pattern, do it all over the leg now, not just the front. Otherwise, do more stocking stitch. Unless you want particularly short or long socks, a good rule of thumb is about the same as the foot. I knit 4 inches, and this is what it looks like

IMGP0273Next week, I will be talking about the ribbing and cast off. See you then!






Sock Saturday- Casting on and increasing for the toe

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.



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!


Sock Saturday- anatomy of a sock

*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.)


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.


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 😛

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!



Sock Saturday- washing and general care

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- different yarns

I love hand-knit socks. I’ve nearly memorised my standard vanilla sock pattern numbers, yet I have virtually no posts dedicated to the wonderful things. They’re usually thrown at the end of other posts, in a ‘oh hey, I made more socks’, which I think is a bit of a shame. So I decided to make a few posts just about hand-knit socks. They’re lovely things, and deserve more air-time! If there is anything you want to know about socks, drop me a message and I’ll see what I can write about 🙂

First thing I decided to do was have a look at all the socks I’ve knitted, and see what yarns come up most often.

First thing to do: corral all socks.


Some of these are drying, so we won’t disturb them too much, but here are close ups of all the other socks (except the pair on my feet… 😛 )

IMGP0220This pair is knit with Rico Superba Mexico (thanks ravelry!) It’s actually very similar to some other sock yarn I’ve got (Superba Chinee) which is a massive coincidence since I don’t think I got it from the same shop( and certainly not the same time!). I knit these with a looser gauge (60 stitches rather than 66), but I think they’re holding up well.

IMGP0215This pair…was a massive mistake. It’s knitted in Wendy Happy, which is a 75/25 bamboo/nylon mix. I’ve never worn them, and I don’t really think that I ever will. Note to self- stick of sock yarn/wool blends for socks! On a related note, it’s also been discontinued now, according to ravelry, which is a shame, because I think it would make awesome shawls.

IMGP0218These are both regia yarn, and they’re lovely to wear. The only problem I’ve had with these is that the socks on the right aren’t colourfast, but when they do bleed, it doesn’t stick to other socks I wash at the same time, so we’re all good.

IMGP0219The yarn used for these socks is apparently Schoeller and Stahl Fortissima Color. I’ve had these for a while now (I knitted them the Summer before I came up to York), and the yarn feels slightly flimsy. Not enough for me to not wear them, but I think I wear them less than other socks.

IMGP0216These two pairs of socks I call my ‘work socks’. They’re one colour, rather than the bright mix I really like wearing, and they’re patterned with cable-esque work, making them look (in my mind) professional. I don’t usually wear these, but save them for work events which require me to be well-dressed. The purple yarn on the left is 100%wool from Loncon 3, which I went to with my dad. The yarn company is a foreign one. The yarn feels like it’s going to hold up really well (it’s tightly spun) and the yarn feels quite rough, so it can be quite painful doing lots of walking on them, but I quite like that. The blue pair is knit with some of the Superba Chinee I mentioned before. Again, this yarn seems to be holding up well, although I’ve only worn them a few times.

IMGP0221This pair…are apparently too old to be listed in ravelry. Wow. Umm, I knit these quite loosely, and made the mistake of pairing a busy yarn with a pattern, with the result that you can’t see the pattern, but you still have the stress of the pattern on the yarn. These are probably the closest to giving out, just because I knit them so far before any of the others, and quite loosely. It’s probably regia, but feels slightly thinner than my other regia socks, just because they’re been used so much more.

I’m currently wearing these:

Digital StillCameraThese are knit with Opal, and they feel about as thick and fluffy as my regia socks- maybe a little bit rougher, but not enough for me to really notice.

Now onto the socks that are currently drying:

Digital StillCameraI call these my zombie socks, because of the mix between purple and green. These are knitted with Zig Zag, and are slightly tight. This might be because the yarn is slightly thinner, as I’ve knitted exactly the same pattern later, and they aren’t too tight. I keep deliberately choosing these socks to wear, because I’d quite like to wear them out so I don’t need to keep wearing them! Now I’ve got so many though, they might get stuck at the back and not really brought out.

LoriansocksMy other jaywalkers. These are knit with Heart and Sole, which I think I love. It’s slightly cheaper than regia, and feels just as nice getting knit up. However, it’s also really hard on the feet, and I certainly wouldn’t choose these socks for a long walk! I would wear these to work events I think 🙂 (These are getting washed for the first time, so I don’t know how it wears, and whether or not it will get softer after washing).

Cardiff2More regia, and I don’t know what it is about these socks, but they’re wonderful! These have been worn quite a bit more than others, just because they don’t seem to loose their softness after multiple washings! I would love to get other colours in this design line, to see if they also keep so soft.

Liasocks3More regia!

Digital StillCameraand finally…more regia!

Wow, I have quite a few pairs of socks! 13 pairs in some kind of rotation, even if it is just ‘when posh socks are needed’, and that pair of Wendys I am probably going to just throw out.

Most of them are regia (5 or 6), two Rico Superba and various others. Most of them are regia, just because that’s what is easiest to get in the UK. However, others are starting to increase in number- I’ve got the first of another pair of Zig Zags on the needles, and another Heart and Sole and Rico in the stash.

Regia is probably the nicest I’ve got. Depending on whether or not the Heart and Sole softens after washing, and how much, they might take over, but there isn’t as big a range available locally as there is for regia. Although, combining Heart and Sole with Zig Zag makes it about as easy to get hold of, so there is that. So I suppose I need to get on knitting up my Zig Zags and see how they do with a pair of socks that fits better!

So far, I haven’t bought any sock yarn online… but part of me wants to start. The rest of me is holding the purse strings… Have you bought sock yarn over the internet? Independent maker, or big company? What did you get? Did you like it? (Hello, slippery slope!)

Next week, I’ll talk about washing and general maintenance of socks.




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