Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

I was 31 when I became a mother, so in honor of Mother’s Day today I’m running a one day sale in my Ravelry store.  Get any of my self published patterns for 31% off for today only through midnight PST.

Here is my firstborn when he was just a few weeks old.  Isn’t he amazing!

Fitting Socks

Fitting Socks

Fitting socks is a bit easier than fitting sweaters, you mainly have to worry about the length of your foot and the circumference of you foot and/or ankle.  Most of my sock books recommend about 10% negative ease for the sock circumference and 1/2″ of negative ease for sock length.

Here’s how I found the ideal sock dimensions for my foot.  First I measured around the widest part of my foot just below my toes.  On me, this measurement is just shy of 9″.  On my calculator I put in my foot measurement times .9 and pressed the equals key.  (9 x .9 = 8.1)  My idea sock circumference would be around 8″.  Why multiply by .9 you might ask?  To make a tube 10% smaller than my actual foot circumference, I need 9/10 of the total size.  Multiplying by .9 gives me an answer that is 9/10 the original number.  Since my foot is really just shy of 9″, I rounded my answer down.

Length is a bit easier.  I measured my foot length while standing and subtract 1/2″.  My foot length is 9 1/2″.  9 1/2″ – 1/2″ = 9″  So I need a 9″ foot length on my socks.

All this works great as long as you are getting the gauge listed in the pattern.  I always swatch in the round when making a gauge swatch for socks.  I usually cast on the number of stitches in 4″ in a tube and knit in the round for an inch or two.  I then measure across the tube.  If it is 2″ across, I’m getting gauge.  If not, I do a purl row and switch needles and try for another inch or two.  If the tube is too large, I try smaller needles, if the tube is too small, I try larger needles.

For my last pair of socks, I simply could not get the row gauge listed in the pattern.  It called for 34 stitches over 4″ (or 8.5 stitches an inch) and even on my smallest needles, I could only get 32 stitches over 4″ (or 8 stitches an inch).  So I multiplied my gauge per inch by my ideal sock circumference (8 stitches x 8″ = 64) and I picked the sock size in the pattern that used 64 stitches– in my case, my pattern had a size that used that exact amount, but you may need to pick a size with a few less stitches than your ideal.  I then went through the pattern circled the numbers for the 64 stitch size for anything that was about sock circumference and I circled the numbers for my “real” size (as if I were getting gauge) for any directions having to do with length.   That way I was able to make a sock that fit!

(Most sock patterns use measurements, not row counts, for directions having to do with length.  If my pattern had included row counts, I would have needed to check my row gauge and adjust those as well, but in sock patterns this is not at all common.)

Of course, if you just enjoy making socks, every pair you make will probably fit somebody!  Here’s a pair that I though I was making for myself but they turned out the perfect size for my husband!

 

 

 

 

May Classes at Yarn Shop Santa Cruz

May Classes at Yarn Shop Santa Cruz

I have new classes coming up in May at Yarn Shop Santa Cruz. Call the shop at 831-515-7966 to register!

Sock Club Sundays

Every first Sunday of the month 10am-11:30am, this month May 7th.

Join the fun, while filling your drawer full of hand-knit socks as many other knitters have done via the popular #operationsockdrawer on social media. This month we’ll work on the pattern Tip Toe Up.

During the monthly meeting we will go over the selected pattern and review any new techniques or tricky steps. Members will vote on what sock pattern we will tackle next. You will have a chance to cast on and get started but not before we “show and tell” our FS=finished socks!

Cost: $15 per session

Skills needed: Basic knitting skills (knit, purl, cast-on, bind-off)
and should be comfortable knitting in the round

Knitting 101- Mug Rug

When: Monday, May 8th from 12:00-3:00pm
Cost: $40

This is for the total beginner or if you need a refresher. Make a handy mug rug to go under your favorite hot drink. You will learn how to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off.

We’ll also discuss how to read a simple knitting pattern and practice identifying and fixing your mistakes as you go.

Prerequisite Skills: None

Materials Needed: US size 7 knitting needles, light or medium colored smooth worsted weight yarn (suggested: Plymouth Worsted Super Wash), row counter, small scissors, tape measure, and a darning needle

Introducing the Vedru Shawl

Introducing the Vedru Shawl

In January I attended my first TNNA show and met the lovely couple who own Twisted Owl Fiber Studio. They had some perfectly glorious yarns and when I met them again at Stitches West, I ended up with a lovely skein of 2-ply sock and a set of mini-skeins. I came home with them and the Vedru Shawl flew off my needles so fast, it almost knit itself!

Vedru is a classic top down crescent shawl design perfect for using a special collection of mini-skeins. There are no complex stitches or purling in this lovely, peaceful garter stitch lace knit. The design works well with solid yarns, tonal yarns, or yarns with subtle variegation. The pattern includes directions for two sizes with six or eight stripes.

Skills Needed:

Cast on, bind off, knit, yarn over, knit two together, knit front and back, picking up stitches

Finished Measurements:

Small size (shown) is approximately 50”/127 cm at widest point and 14”/35.5 cm long at center
Large size (not shown) is approximately 61”/155 cm at widest point and 17”/43 cm long at center

Line by line written directions are included.

Materials Needed:

Twisted Owl Fiber Studio 2-Ply Sock (100 g, 400 yd, 80% Merino, 20% Nylon), (1, 2) skeins in Tin Can (MC), or (80, 120) yd of another fingering weight yarn

Twisted Owl Fiber Studio 2-Ply Sock mini-skeins (25 g, 100 yd, 80% Merino, 20% Nylon), (6, 8) skeins or at least 14 g/56 yd in each of (6, 8) contrasting colors of another fingering weight yarn. Sample uses Green Tea (Color A), Grouch (Color B), Pine (Color C), Emerald (Color D), Teal (Color E), and Azure (Color F)

US size 4 3.5 mm 40” 100 cm circular needles or size to obtain correct gauge

Stitch markers (optional)
Tapestry needle

Gauge:

20 sts and 48 rows = 4” 10 cm in garter stitch, blocked
Gauge is not critical to this project but will affect the amount of yarn used and the overall size of the project.

You can purchase this pattern on Ravelry in my shop.

Introducing the Diamond Lace Headband

Introducing the Diamond Lace Headband

This weekend I released a new pattern– a simple lace headband that can use up a bit of worsted weight yarn you have leftover from another project.  It’s an elegant little gift that you can complete in a few hours and the pattern includes information to custom fit the size.

Both written and charted instructions are included for the lace pattern.

You can find the Diamond Lace Headband on Ravelry and it is free through April 20th when you use the coupon code “SPRING” at checkout!

Sock Talk

Sock Talk

I make both hand cranked socks and hand knit socks and I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s nice about socks.  Many (perhaps most) people wear socks on a daily basis, so that makes them one of the most wearable items you can knit.  When knitting socks on my antique reproduction sock machine or by hand, I feel connected with the past.  Machine made socks are relatively new, hand made socks have been around at least since the Egyptians in 1000-1400AD.

I like the fact that there are so many choices when making a sock: what type of needles you use, whether you start at the toe or the cuff or somewhere in between, how you shape the toe and heel area, what kind of patterning you use.  The possibilities are endless!  If you are in the Santa Cruz, CA, area, and you want some motivation to try different kinds of socks, I’ll be hosting a monthly sock club at Yarn Shop Santa Cruz on the first Sunday of every month.  Call the shop for details and to register!

Once you have a pattern, especially a “vanilla” sock pattern, that you like, it’s easy to memorize the steps involved.  (A “vanilla” sock is one with no special patterning.)  For a cuff down sock, just know how many to cast on and how many stitches to start with to turn the heel, and the rest pretty much takes care of itself!  Make the first sock to your liking lengthwise and carry it around to compare to the second sock as you make it!

My biggest tip: always start the second sock right away!  It’s easy to get “second sock syndrome” where your first sock never gets it’s mate, but if you’ve got it cast on, usually, it gets done!

 

Looking for Test Knitters

Looking for Test Knitters

Creating a pattern is a many step process.  I’ve recently been playing with the project management tool Trello and setting up a master list of all the steps it takes to get a pattern from concept to publication.  I created 17 items that need to be to be completed for test knitting alone!

This post is step 7 or so: announcing the test knit on my blog.  So, on that note, I would like to show you the Vedru Shawl.

Vedru is a classic top down crescent shawl design perfect for using a special collection of mini-skeins.  There are no complex stitches or purling in this lovely, peaceful garter stitch lace knit. The design works well with solid yarns, tonal yarns, or yarns with subtle variegation.  The pattern includes directions for two sizes with six or eight stripes.  All directions are written.

If you are interested in participating, please visit my Ravelry group, Heddi Craft Designs, and sign up in the test thread.

Comfort Knitting

Comfort Knitting

Like many knitters, I often have several projects going on at once.  I always have a dishcloth going that I keep in my car for emergency knitting.  I usually have a sock project that I take with me on trips.  I have whatever I’m currently designing in another project bag.  I usually have some project (often a garment) that was designed by someone else that I’m working on.  And I often have some comfort knitting.

basket of knittingWhat is comfort knitting?  For me, it’s a project that is easy but pleasant in pattern, soothing to work because it’s simple enough that I don’t have to think, and the end result is going to be enjoyable.  Right now, that project is the Hue Shift Afghan from Knit Picks.  I’m calling mine the Love Still Wins Afghan.  In the end it will be 100 mitered squares in all the combinations of ten rainbow hues.  Once you do the initial cast on count to establish a square, the rest comes pretty easily.  The alternating colors and ever shorter rows make each square quite satisfying to finish.

What is your comfort knitting?

Making Mitts on the CSM

Making Mitts on the CSM

So far I’ve made two sets of mitts on my circular sock machine and they are quickly becoming my favorite project. There are no heels to turn and they are smaller than a sock so there is less cranking.  I make a hole for the thumb using this technique and do a bit of hand work to finish them with a hand knit thumb which is a comfortable thing for me to do as a hand knitter.  They have also taught me a lot about using my ribber.

You can take a look at the checklist I developed to make these mitts.  I’ve been using checklists like this for my projects because they help me remember to do all the steps for both items in a pair, and if I’m pulled away from the machine by family needs, I know where I am when I can return.

Since the mitts are ribbed from top to bottom and require starting with the ribber and then changing to less ribber needles and then back to more ribber needles, I had to really get more comfortable with my ribber.  In no particular order, here are some things that helped me:

  1. Slow down!  Stockinette on all cylinder needles pretty much behaves itself at all speeds as long as your tension is right and the yarn is feeding correctly.  At least on my machine, when the ribber and cylinder needles start working together, I need to slow down so the yarn feeds back and forth between those needles evenly.
  2. Watch the first round or two carefully after switching needle formations.  In addition to going more slowly, I carefully watched each needle close around the yarn after putting in the new needles.  Although I carefully check the latches to make sure they are open, by watching each needle, I can make sure each one is going to do its job and I didn’t accidentally brush a latch closed somewhere.
  3. Learn to do the needle transfers from cylinder to ribber as shown here.  At first I was using a pick tool to move the stitches and it stretches them out just enough that they were more prone to dropping.  This method leaves the stitch tight on the new needle.
  4. Watch the latches carefully when switching to and from waste yarn.  The other place I would drop stitches was when moving between waste yarn and project yarn because the knot would get in the way of a needle latch or the long tail pulled into the cylinder would change the angle of the yarn.  So I’ve learned to watch those areas carefully and help the yarn into a latch if it misses.

(Some of the links in this post are to Ravelry forums.  If you are working with a circular sock machine, there are several friendly and helpful groups on Ravelry– and joining Ravelry is free!)

Favorite Sock Knitting Books

Favorite Sock Knitting Books

Last weekend I taught a class on learning to knit socks. One of the things I love about socks is how they are so easy to customize and that even a plain sock can be interesting to knit. I gave my students a list of favorite sock knitting books, so I thought I would share them here as will with some additional annotations.

(Note: all links are affiliate links and if you purchase the book through that link, I’ll get a few cents at no extra cost to you!)

Knitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

This is not strictly a sock book but rather a book of  humor and recipes for knitting a variety of items including a great chapter on knitting basic top down socks.  What I love about it is the conversational style that Stephanie uses to describe the process of making a sock and how she shows that you can’t really do it too wrong.  I’ve tried to model my class a bit after her style– that socks are something that can make sense and everyone can do it!

Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet by Kate Atherley

This book is sort of the opposite in some ways to the previous book.  It’s a very detailed and precise explanation of exactly how to make a perfect fitting sock with tables and charts for knitting both top down and bottom up socks with measurements and stitch counts ready for you to plug into a master pattern based on your gauge. It includes some variations on heels, toes, and leg styles and has extensive information about how to make a sock for all kinds of special fitting situations.  Kate has a very scientific approach to sock making.

The Sock Knitter’s Workshop by Ewa Jostes and Stephanie van der Linden

This book is a compendium of a wide variety of heels and toes and construction methods.  It contains a collection of charts with numbers for different sock sizes from children to adults in a standard sock gauge.  You can mix and match your favorite heels and toes with the standardized numbers included.  It also information to help you decide which methods to use based on the shape of your foot.

Sock Architecture by Lara Neel

Similar to The Sock Knitter’s Workshop, Lara’s book describes a wide variety of toe and heel variations, including some that are not part of the book above.  Lara’s book does not give as much information about sizing and construction, but is a great resource for exploring new methods.