Thursday, February 05, 2009

Toe up socks, in miniature

This is my class hand out:

These socks will fit the miniature sock blockers found on the internet, or you can add a loop to make it a decorative ornament. The purpose of learning a miniature sock first is so that we can finish within the time allotted and have all the skills in place to scale up for an adult-sized sock, so parenthetically I will comment on how I make them my sized (about 8.5 ladies). I suggest making one sock this size and trying it on, and then adjusting your pattern to fit you- and you're welcome to contact me on advice on fitting for your foot.

Casting on and Toe:
I like the Turkish cast on, 12 stitches (32 stitches). Begin by holding the yarn between the two needles with the tail hanging down in front of the lower needle. Wrap the working yarn up and over from back to front, down and under from front to back, six times (16 times). At the end of the required number of wraps, your working yarn is at the back, coming up from behind the lower needle. Slide the lower needle further to the right and the upper to the left, and just start knitting across. Turn and do the second needle the same (For the adult sock, either use circulars or add another needle every 8 stitches on dpns). I find it easier to split the sock across four dpns or two circulars at this point. Then we do the increases. Knit one. Make one – by lifting the bar between the two stitches or by knitting into the stitch below the next stitch. Knit across the top of the row until one stitch shy. Make one – by lifting the bar between the two stitches or by knitting into the stitch below the previous stitch (so it mirrors the other side). Knit one. Turn work and repeat on bottom half. Then knit a full round. Repeat until you get the desired number of stitches 24 (64).

If this doesn't work for you and you are getting horribly frustrated, do a provisional cast on with a crochet chain made with waste yarn. Crochet a minimum of number of stitches needed for one side plus two for a little wiggle room, so that is 12 (32). Insert the needle through the back of the chain where there is only one loop. Knit into these with your yarn. Then follow the directions for the short-row heel. On the last knit across picking up wraps, carefully unzip the crochet chain, picking up the live stitches on another needle. Then you can continue to knit around the sock, and don't forget to pick up the last of the wraps as you pass them.

Knit until desired length of foot. For the miniature sock, until when you insert your thumb into the toe the edge of knitting reaches your knuckle. For my foot, I knit until I can rest the base of the toe even with the base of my palm and reach the last knuckle on my middle finger, or 5.5 inches.

Because your ankle is wider than your foot, one usually needs a gusset. On the bottom half, do an increase row: Knit one. Make one, by lifting the bar between the two stitches or by knitting into the stitch below the next stitch. Knit across the top of the row until one stitch shy. Make one, by lifting the bar between the two stitches or by knitting into the stitch below the previous stitch (so it mirrors the other side). Knit one. For the miniature sock, you only need one. For the adult sock, you will need to alternate a plain row and increase row 4 times after this, making your stitch count 42 on the bottom (or adding 5 stitches to each side on the bottom).

Short row heel:
All heel directions look weird and confusing until you actually try them. Work *only* on the bottom half of the sock.
Row 1: Knit 13 (41) stitches (all but one of the bottom). Move the working yarn as if to purl. Slip the last, unworked stitch from the left needle to the right needle. Turn your work. This is called wrap and turn, because you are wrapping a stitch and turning the work.
Row 2: Slip the first, unworked, stitch from the left needle to the right needle, finishing the wrap & turn. Purl the next stitch and purl across to the last stitch. Move the working yarn as if to knit and slip last stitch. Turn.
Row 3: Slip the first stitch and knit across to the last stitch before the unworked stitch. Wrap and turn.
Row 4: Slip the first stitch and purl across to the stitch before the unworked stitch. Wrap and turn.
Repeat Rows 3 and 4 until 3 (10) of the heel stitches are wrapped and on left side, 8 (22) stitches are "live" in the middle, and 3 (10) are wrapped and on the right. At this stage, you should be ready to work a right side row. Your heel is half done.

Now you'll work the second half of the heel:
Row 1: Knit across the 8 (22) live stitches across to the first unworked, wrapped stitch. To work this stitch, pick up the wrap and knit it together with the stitch. Always pick up the wrap from the outside of the sock. Wrap the next stitch (so that it now has two wraps) and turn.
Row 2: Slip the first (double-wrapped) stitch and purl across to the first unworked, wrapped stitch. Pick up the wrap and purl it together with the stitch. Wrap the next stitch and turn.
On subsequent rows you will pick up both wraps and knit or purl them together with the stitch. Continue until you run out of wrapped stitches on a knit row. You will go back to knitting across the top of the foot. When you reach the bottom of the foot and the wrapped stitches there, pick up the wraps and continue around.

Gusset removal:
Now we have to get rid of the extra stitches we put in for the gusset. At the start of the next bottom half of the sock, slip, slip knit (or k2tog tbl). At the end of the bottom of the sock, knit two together (k2tog). For the miniature sock, you only added one, so do it once. For the adult sock, do this for five rows.

Just knit. Again, you can use your thumb and knuckle as a guide, or fold the sock at the heel, and when you reach the start of the narrowing of the toe, you've got enough (and that's how I measure the adult socks; I like short socks).

A little ribbing on the top looks nice and helps your sock stay up. For the miniature sock, three rows of knit one purl one suffice. For adult socks, knit 2 purl 2 works better, and an inch is the minimum I recommend. You can do the whole ankle in ribbing if you like ribbing.

Cast off:
I have a nasty habit at this point of getting out the crochet hook. But a simple knit 2 together, move loop off right needle and back onto the left needle, repeat also works well.

Turkish cast-on directions were lifted in part off the Tsarina of Tsocks' instructions. You can find her Tsocks 101 kit and others at or Caveat: I work for her. I still recommend her Tsocks 101 kit as an awesome resource for toe-up or cuff down sock directions as she explains several techniques.

The short-row heel directions are partially lifted from Wendy Knits, free Generic Toe up pattern:

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Different sheep

I was going to write a long article about the sheep fleece sampler I bought, but my boss seems to have done it already for me. I got the same sampler for my birthday last month... and I have already washed most of the locks. But I am not as good of a spinner (having only spun a few months less than Lisa) and when I sat down to wheel with locks in hand, I was stumbling too much. I need to work more on my spinning techniques, and probably to learn how to do long-draw. The problem with hanging out with Lisa and some of the know-everythings on Ravelry is I want to run before I can walk, and sometimes I get slapped with not knowing how to crawl. But I can say a few items of insight which will probably be of little use.

Working with Romney locks does remind me of wanting to run my fingers through the locks of Gene Wilder's hair.

I'm pretty confident at this time that I don't ever really want to deal with unwashed fleece again. The Jacob fleece was seriously covered in shit and I could not break it into locks for cleaning. All two ounces were tossed in the sink en masse, and I hope I didn't felt in the washing. But it was *clean* when I finished.

The merino wasn't a high quality fleece. There was a definite break half an inch from the cut end, and it did not look like mistakes with the clippers. I ended up tossing about half of it.

This corridale was white and so light and fluffy with tiny crimp, I like to fantasize this must be the stereotypical nursery rhyme sheep- white and fluffy clouds.

I also washed the polwarth and dorset, saving the Liecesters and the longer staples, and the double coats for my next washing session.

Discussing the domestication of sheep as the road to civilization with my lord and anyone who will listen is great fun.

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