Top-Down Knee High Socks

img_20200819_070428Well, it finally happened. My first pair of knee-high socks is officially in the books! The inspiration came from a yarn club set up by my local yarn shop, the yarn reminded me of winter hiking and the need to keep warm. The tricky thing, it turns out, is finding a sock pattern that is top down. Admittedly, this is probably because knitting toe up gives you the ability to use half your yarn on the first sock and the other half on your second sock — in other words, you can be confident that you’re going to have two finished socks and you’re not going to run out of yarn. Knowing this going into this project, I still opted to write a top down pattern. My toe up socks never hang quite right no matter how I bind them off (I either have too loose or too tight of a bind off).

img_20200819_070457I came so close to using only one skein of yarn (463 yards) when making these socks and needed less than a yard to finish the toe on the second sock. This means that if your foot is smaller than mine (I’m an 8.5 or 39) and you don’t need to make any modifications, then you should be able to get away with one skein. If your foot is the same size as mine or bigger, or if you want to make your socks longer, I recommend grabbing a second skein or using some scrap yarn to knit the Cuff, Heel and/or Toe.

This pattern is meant to be more of a recipe, so please feel free to use the Cuff, Heel and Toe of your choosing. I enjoy the Fish Kiss Lips Heel (FKLH), but think an afterthought heel would be a fun way to add a pop of color (which you could totally do with the FKLH). Another thing that’s great about this pattern (but requires more yarn) is that you can extend the length/width of the leg by increasing the number of decreases you have to do. For reference, my:

  • Calf = 14.5 inches
  • Leg = 13 inches
  • Foot = 8 inches before toe decreases

If your leg/calf is larger, you can modify the pattern by adding 10 rows + a decrease row for every inch. Keep in mind, this means adding 4 stitches for every inch you need to add to the 84 that fit me. You can also remove a decrease row for every inch you need to subtract from the 13 that work best for me.

Knee high socksTop Down Knee High Socks:

  • Gauge: 32 stitches and 40 rows = 4 inches
  • Suggested Needle size: US 2 (2.75 mm)
  • Yarn requirments: 264 (more if your foot is larger, less if your foot is smaller)

CO 84

[r1: k2, p1 across
r2: k1, p2 across] repeat until cuff measures 2 inches

[k2tog, k19] 4x (80 sts left)

K40 rows
Decrease row: [k2tog, k18] 4x (76 sts left)

K10
Decrease row: [k2tog, k17] 4x (72 sts left)

K10
Decrease row: [k2tog, k16] 4x (68 sts left)

K10
Decrease row: [k2tog, k15] 4x (64 sts left)

K10
Decrease row: [k2tog, k14] 4x (60 sts left)

K35 rows

FLKH

Foot 8 in or 1.5 inches short of desired length

Toe decreases until there are 12 sts per needle (24 total)

A Christmas Stocking Pattern

Christmas StockingsThough I can only speak towards the weather we’re experiencing, I think it’s safe to say that the cool rainy days are not the reason that I’ve started working on a Christmas stocking for my niece. Though I do typically start my holiday knitting in the summer, the real reason I’m writing up this pattern is that I need to knit a third stocking to match the ones I made my sister and her husband two years ago (I can’t believe that it was only two years ago).

Back when I made the first two, I noticed there didn’t seem to be a simple stocking pattern that I could use to get the effect that I was hoping for. In the interest of making what I wanted, I took notes and created my own stocking pattern. In addition to the yarn required to make the stocking, I also used about a yard of fabric to create a lining so that the stitching wouldn’t stretch as gifts were added to it.

Simple Holiday Stocking

img_20200721_170125Materials needed:

  • 400 yards fingering weight (held double) or 200 dk weight (held single)
  • Size 7 knitting needles (or size needed to get gauge)
  • 1/3 yard of fabric (I brought my finished stocking and had them cut the fabric against it)
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine (although you could stitch this by hand)
  • Fish Lips Kiss Heel (one of the best dollars I’ve ever spent)

Gauge:

22 stitches and 28 rows = 4 inches
in Stocking Stitch (Stockinette)

Knitting Pattern:

Cast on 60 (place at beginning and middle of round)

Knit 80 rows

Fish Lips Kiss Heel

Knit 36 rows

Work toe:

  • row 1 (K1, K2Tog, knit to 3 stitches before next marker, SSK, K1) twice
  • row 2: K

Repeat these two rows until there are 12 sts left

Kitchener stitch to finish toe

Braid some of the leftover yarn to make a loop for hanging.

Sewing Pattern:

Stocking on paper template for cutting.To sew the lining, fold your fabric lengthwise with the right sides facing in and place your finished stocking on top of it. Using a marker, trace your knit stocking and then cut out the fabric. Alternatively, you can make a template for your stocking by tracing it onto paper.

Next lay both pieces so that the right side of the fabric is facing the table, then fold the cuff area down towards you about a half-inch and pin. Sew across the top on both pieces, this will be the pop of fabric that you see at the top of your stocking.

Fabric sewn in the shape of a stocking next to a handknit stocking.Pin your stocking so that both right sides are facing each other and sew around the stocking (leaving the top open, I had ~.75 in between the edge of my fabric and my needle).

Sew your lining into the sixth row down from your cast on.

 

 

 

A baby blanket pattern

img_20200216_085640
Sublime Extra Fine Merino Worsted; Colors = 506, 507, 485, 553

Recently, I visited my Cioci to deliver a sweater that I seamed for her and a sweater that I made for her. During this visit, we both realized that we had assumed the other world make my sister a baby blanket and couldn’t help but laugh at the realization. We had both been enthusiastically working on different projects, oblivious to the idea that the other was doing the same. By the end of the visit, I had volunteered to purchase some yarn and to take on the blanket.

I have a very patient partner and very patient friends. Sure, they started in a different store while I went yarn shopping, but it’s important to remember that this trip was originally meant to be an “in and out”. Originally, I had a plan of yarn to grab and then we were going to grab lunch. Originally, I had not planned on taking over an hour and a half to pick out yarn. I’m very lucky to have friends who were ok entertaining themselves and were ok with me asking “what about this color combination” 300 times.

There are a lot of baby blankets out there, I should have been able to find a pattern that suited my needs. True, I blindly grabbed yarn and hoped I would have enough to make something and yes, I didn’t think about how to use four colors while I was selecting them, but I wanted a fun baby blanket that wasn’t pastel. Something that would grow with my future niece as she phased out of pastels. Something that wouldn’t drive me crazy to knit.

The problem is that I don’t find stripes particularly riveting. Stripes felt like a cop-out. Chevron was an exercise that seemed like a lot of work for a generic blanket. None of the alternative shapes really spoke to me (except maybe the Knitted Starghan, which since this blanket isn’t done yet there is still time to change my mind and knit it). I wanted bright, marled, and mindless.

So here’s what I’ve come up with, a bias blanket that is completely adjustable! It can be knit in any weight yarn on any size needle! Simply increase until you’ve used up about half your yarn and then decrease back down. Hold yarn double (or triple or whatever) if you want a marled look. Hold yarn against itself and then together with the next color(s) if you want more of a gradient. Don’t like garter stitch? Purl every other row. So. Many. Options.

My blanket specs:

  • Gauge: 14st x 12 rows = 4×4 inches unblocked
  • Needle size: US 11
  • Yarn used: 8 skeins of Sublime Extra Fine Merino Worsted or 874 yards (note: yarn held double)
  • Finished Blanket dimensions: 26×30 (note: blanket will grow when wet blocked)

img_20200223_064140

The World’s Simplest Baby Blanket

Yarn estimates (DK, Worsted, Aran, Bulky) in yards

  • Carseat blanket (~24x24in): (580, 410, 325, 230)
  • Stoller blanket (~30x30in): (1090, 770, 610, 428)
  • Receiving blanket (34x36in): (1480, 1050, 830, 580)
  • Crib blanket (~40x45in): (2250, 1600, 1270, 890)

Pattern

Set-Up
CO1
Row 1: KFB (2 sts)
Row 2: K
Row 3: KFB, K to end

Repeat row 3 until half of your yarn has been used

Row 4: K1, K2tog, K to end
Repeat until 2 sts remain

Row 5: K
Row 6: K2tog
BO

Weave in ends.

Looking back on 2019…

It’s that time of year again, everyone is reflecting on their previous year and setting goals for the current one. As I sit here reflecting on all that I have accomplished during 2019, it’s hard not to feel some pride at what I have done, even amongst the things I didn’t do.

In 2019 I:

  • Didn’t hit my knitting goal of 35 projects or 16,000 yards (whichever came first). But I did spend time experimenting with sewing, embroidery and weaving. Enjoying new techniques and the thrill of learning something new. I made my first dress and wove my planned project.
  • Didn’t use up my stash before investing in new yarn, but I did buy yarn sparingly and found creative ways to use up the yarn that I have. I’m currently working on the …against all odds (Max) sweater in two yarns that were gifted to me at different times. I never would have paired the two yarns together without the goal of using what I have, in fact they probably would have just become socks while I waited for my new yarn to arrive (which wouldn’t have been the worst thing).
  • Didn’t redo my kitchen or fix any windows, but I did repaint everything minus the kitchen and organize my space to reflect how I use it most. I found curtains to accent my guestroom’s walls and artwork to hang in my bedroom. While none of these things involved a major facelift and didn’t really teach me new home-owning skills, I feel more at home than I did when I first bought my house and feel confident that it will continue to feel like home.
  • Didn’t run the covered bridges half marathon that I fundraised for due to a foot injury, but I did run a race in Northern Maine that gives back to the town that it’s in (More on that in the next few weeks, it was so much fun! I can’t believe that I haven’t written about it yet).
  • Didn’t vacation in any new places, but I was able to visit Chicago for the first time due to a work conference and saw Hamilton (it was fantastic, thank you for asking). I was also able to explore a new part of Canada during another conference.
  • Didn’t swim in the lake I live on. While this is embarrassing, I did swim in the CT river for the first time and jumped in several brooks while hiking.
  • Was my sister’s maid of honor and gave a speech that I struggled to read because it was so heartfelt.
  • Tried and failed at the whole online dating thing. But I did meet some interesting people during the process and had a date for my sister’s wedding (which in hindsight means my family met someone way before they should have, and he didn’t even stay the whole time…). When it was all over, I found someone when I wasn’t looking who I am very grateful to have in my life.
  • Took measures into getting my debt under control and am feeling less stressed about money.
  • Attended my first Renaissance Fair and will maybe attend a different one in 2020. I’m told by one of my new friends that the one I went to was actually not that good of one.
  • Made new friends and made an effort to put myself out there more. As an introvert, this involved a lot of “putting on my party pants” and reminding myself that I would have fun when I got there and could always leave if was didn’t. This allowed me to meet more crafters, gamers and my first experience dyeing with natural dyes!
  • Tried out being a DM for Dungeons and Dragons. It was actually very fun, too bad the group didn’t last beyond the initial get together.
  • Participated in my first trail races, what a fun way to push your mind and body while being surrounded by like-minded individuals. Loche also ran his first race this year, I can’t wait to participate in it with him again next year.

I spent 2019 trying to slow down and enjoy my surroundings, something that I felt I struggled with following graduating from library school. After two years of go-go-go, it was easy to see that I had lost sight of why I found enjoyment in the things that I did and the places that I went. As I rediscovered who I am, I found myself coming out of my shell, having more confidence and being happier. I could not have asked for a better year, despite the challenges that 2019 poised.

A fingerless mitt pattern

upload_small2

There are pros and cons to making a lot of socks (let’s be honest there are mostly pros). Actually, this is probably a general con of project knitting: you always end up with an awkward amount of yarn leftover in the end. Sometimes it’s an entire skein and sometimes it’s less than a quarter. When it’s a significant amount, you can imagine that you are connecting two people. For example, I finished a sweater for one friend and am planning on using the leftover to make a baby sweater for my coworker. Two people, who will probably never meet connected by yarn. Somehow this makes the second project more special (minus the occasional situation when you’ve knit with something you don’t enjoy for someone you do enjoy, in which case I recommend donating the yarn so that someone else can make the yarn connection).

The con is when you’re left with an awkward amount of yarn leftover and suddenly have to play yarn chicken, which brings me back to sock knitting. The person I complete a pair of socks for absolutely effects the amount of yarn I have left, which makes sense because everyone’s foot is a different size. I’ve danced around with a few different ideas on how to use up the leftovers but have never found a good universal pattern that I can rely on. I’ve worked several pairs from the Knitting Squirrel, but the thumb gusset always works out a little wonky and I often find myself several yards short. There’s also Runners Pocket Mitts, which are awesome if you skip the pocket but fit just a little too snuggly.

This got me thinking about ribbing. 1×1 typically gives me a stiff rib and 2×2 starts to relax more but still has a lot of give to it. I started off this endeavor with nothing in mind but the goal of fingerless mitts with both give a texture. Initially the plan so I was to do something like this:

  1. [k2, p1] repeat to end
  2. [k1, p2] repeat to end

Unfortunately, I was talking and playing a board game and when I looked down at my knitting I discovered that I had knit 3 rows in a 3×1 rib. While a cast on and 3 rows of knitting is not enough to commit one to a project, I found myself enjoying the potential stretch and how the subtle ribbing allowed the yarn’s striping to pop.

A couple hours later I had my first mitt done and needed to write down what I did so I could repeat the action on the second mitt. The result is the pattern below, which used about 120 yards of yarn at a gauge of 40 sts and 44 rows = 4 finches (unblocked) on a US size 2. Enjoy :]

Cast on 56

Knit 3, purl 1 for 2 inches

Thumb gusset:
Row 1: K3, P1, M1R, K3, M1L, P1, K3 … knit 3, purl 1 until end of row.
Row 2-3: knit 3, purl 1
Repeat rows 1-3 5 times for a total of 10 sts increased

Row 4: K3, P1, M1R, K3, M1L, P1, K3 … knit 3, purl 1 until end of row.
Row 5: knit 3, purl 1
Repeat rows 4-5 3 times for a total of 6 sts increased

Thumb:
K3, P1, bind off 20 sts, knit 3, purl 1 until end of row.

Fingers:
Knit 3, purl 1 for 2.5 inches