Working the angles

graham hat-3I had some fun moving my bathroom mirrors around today to get a picture of Graham from different angles. The bathroom is the brightest and whitest room in my house, so it seemed like the perfect place for some slouchy hat selfies. graham hatI’m pretty fond of this hat already. I downsized the brim by 4 stitches for a more snug fit. I knit until the hat was 9 inches before I did decreases, and then I did them as written. graham hat-4The yarn is Manos del Uruguay Maxima in Highlighter. I love it. graham hat-5This feels like a hat I could keep on my head nonstop. It’s comfortable. It stays in place. It will be easy to locate. graham hat-2Enough said. Go make one.

Just the highlights

This is an eye popping bright highlighter yellow color in person. I don’t know if my camera can’t quite handle it, or I can’t make my editing software express it, but this picture doesn’t do it justice. grahamImagine the brightest highlighter you’ve used and then you have it. On Friday while home with a sick kiddo I decided I needed to cast on a new hat that very minute and it should be in this Manos Maxima Highlighter (2060) I had in my stash. I love this yarn. It’s not practical for everything since it’s a single ply, but it’s buttery soft. I recommend a blunter needle to accompany it for knitting.

A quick Ravelry search brought me to a hat I’d had in my favorites already, Graham. This is a free pattern, so I don’t mind sharing more specific edits. I cast on 96 sts as the pattern calls for, but that seemed too large, so I ripped and went with 92 sts and increased by 4 when I got to the broken rib texture.

So far it’s been a lovely knit and I will surely be easily spotted in a crowd.

A half mile of purple deliciousness

keaton blockingRemember this old thing? I’ve been steadily working on a Keaton pullover since the end of September and I finished another big chunk: the front! This seems like it’s taking forever, but I am putting it down on a regular basis to work on smaller, more instantly gratifying things. Last week I was somewhere around the waist decreases and I decided to give it some major love. We’ve been monogamous for about a week now and things are progressing more swiftly.

I decided to go ahead and block these pieces so they would be as finished as possible, and just to make sure everything would be at the correct measurement. I was a good little knitter and did wet block my swatch before casting this on, but doubts can still creep in when one is whiling away in single ply fingering weight (about 800 meters in) and it’s not looking quite as large as it’s supposed to. Everything blocked out beautifully, so I confidently cast on the sleeves. I will have a little time off next week and maybe I can turn this into a finished object if I’m really lucky and dedicated. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!


charlotte kitty-2This post has too many pictures because I just can’t help myself. I made this hat for Zooey, really, but it fits Charlotte too, and she was such a willing model. There are only so many times you can bribe a 3 year old to do stuff to earn her Halloween candy in one week before you begin to feel like a crappy parent, but I digress.

charlotte kitty-9I stuck some kitty ears on my Magic Hat. The threat to hand off unworn items to Charlotte will now be real for Zooey, because this hat is so dang cute on Charlotte. charlotte kitty-12The hat has 8 fewer stitches than in the pattern, and I knit for 7 inches before doing decreases. Someday if I’m feeling super motivated I’ll write up the information for the ears, perhaps. This is not one of those days. charlotte kitty-10When Charlotte actually saw our outside cat and the grumpy ol’ thing meowed at her she immediately started crying. Our cat does have this ancient and curmudgeonly meow sound, so I don’t blame her. charlotte kitty-13She can’t believe she’s 7 months old in 5 more days! Crazy. charlotte kitty-23Smells like fall. charlotte kitty-24No leaves were consumed during this photo session, despite her best efforts to explore everything with her mouth.

Anatomy of a toe-up sock heel

This is a very picture heavy post, meant to be a sort of tutorial for my favorite way to do socks. Making socks toe up is my favorite method by far. I also make them two at a time and write most of my sock patterns that way. If you’re unfamiliar with this method it can definitely be confusing the first time around. Today I was working on a sock heel and musing about the first time I ever turned a heel, helped by the wise and wonderful owner at my LYS, and I remember how much it blew my mind at the time. I had never done short rows, so I was very confused. Cynthia talked me through the whole thing, and I’m eternally grateful for my endless sock obsession. These photos are meant to serve as an explanation for the transition from the heel flap to heel turn to picking up all the gusset stitches. See one of my patterns for more details in some areas.

Ok, let’s assume you’ve been eagerly working on a pair of socks. Maybe you did them both at once, or maybe one at a time, but either way, they’re toe up. When the tube of the sock reaches your ankle it’s time to make your heel flap. If you’re using one of my patterns this is the point I tell you to aim for. I like socks about 24.5 cm from toe to the end of my heel flap with about 7 cm of that being the heel flap. Heel what? This means you leave the instep (top) stitches alone for awhile and work back and forth on the heel stitches only. In my patterns that’s half of the stitches and this should be an odd number. Sometimes you might have to do a decrease right before you start the heel flap (or on your first row of the heel flap if you forget about it until the last minute). Heel flaps are made by combining knit stitches and slipped stitches to make the flap thicker for more durability. The WS row stitches are all purled. The slipped stitches are made by slipping purlwise with yarn in back (sl purlwise wyib). You make a beautiful thing that looks like this:heel anatomy-3See the stitch markers there? This heel flap has 31 stitches and the markers are around the center 11. You need to mark off the center 1/3 (in my opinion) to get a good heel shape.

Now we’re going to turn this heel flap with some short rows. First you work in pattern (keep slipping and knitting on the RS and purling on the WS). Work until you get to the second marker. heel anatomy-7You are going to remove this marker and ssk, then k1. If those abbreviations are unfamiliar to you, go get some knowledge and come back. Then you turn your work. This is the beginning of a short row. I was so confused the first time I did this. Turn my work? I didn’t finish the whole row. What the heck? Flip it over, people. Check out the purl side. heel anatomy-8Congratulations. You just turned your work. Sometimes you might not expect the instructions to be that literal, but sometimes they are. Now you purl back to the other marker, slipping the first stitch on your way. heel anatomy-9When at that marker, remove it, p2tog, then p1 and (maybe you guessed already) turn your work again. Work in pattern until you get to what looks like a big gap where you turned last time. heel anatomy-11You close that gap by doing your ssk across the gap. Then k1, and turn again. Slip that first purled stitch and purl across until you come to another gap on the purl side. heel anatomy-12This time you p2tog across the gap, then p1, and (now you know it for sure), turn again. These are short rows. They’re not rocket science, and different versions deal with ways to avoid a gap. They are a very cool and useful tool to be sure. You can repeat these rows until you come to the very edge of the flaps working in this way. Sometimes you might end with an ssk rather than a k1 on the RS. It all depends on how many stitches are on your flap. It doesn’t affect the next step. After your final WS row, go ahead and work one more RS row in pattern. heel anatomyStop and admire the beautiful little curved heel flap you just made. Now, you need to pick up your left (as worn) gusset stitches. What the heck is a gusset stitch? Well, when you were making your heel flap and slipped the first stitch on every row, that formed some beautiful pick up spots. heel anatomy-4In the picture shown above I’ve placed the marker at the left edge of the heel flap and you can see 3 stitches picked up already. The other needle is poking into the example of a slipped stitch. I pick up under both strands of the slipped stitch and knit into that. It’s lovely. Try it. Keep track of the number of gusset stitches you have to make sure you match that on all sides. heel anatomy-6When you get to the last slipped stitch (the number depends on how long you made your heel flap), you might notice a bit of a gap between your heel flap and instep. heel anatomy-5Pick up the right legs of a couple of stitches below and knit them together, working through the back loop. heel anatomy-13Let’s call the sock on the left side of the picture Sock A. If you’re working both at a time, you should have done both heel flaps at the same time, followed by a heel turn and left gusset pick up on Sock A, then a heel turn and left gusset pickup on the next sock. If working both at once you’re ready to work across the instep of both socks. heel anatomy-15Following that, you pick up the right gusset stitches on Sock A. Don’t forget to pick up some legs of stitches below to close the gap between your instep and gusset stitches. heel anatomy-16In the picture above we’re looking at the sole, so Sock A is on the right. You have your right gusset stitches picked up, so you can place a marker between these and the back of heel stitches like you did for the left gusset. Then go ahead and work the back of the heel stitches. heel anatomy-17To stay in pattern you’re now going to be having an all knit row alternated with your slipped stitch row. Right now you’re knitting. If you forget just look at the last row and see if it is a nice neat row or a slightly more jumbled slipped row and do the opposite. heel smushAfter working the back of heel stitches, go ahead and work the left gusset stitches on Sock A (sock on the left). Your Sock A is going to have a whole lot of stitches smooshed on the needle like shown above. Pick up the right gusset on the next sock. Let’s call that one Fred. heel anatomy-18Place a marker between the gusset stitches and back of heel stitches on Fred as well, and work across until you’re at the instep stitches on both socks. heel anatomy-20Look at the beautiful thing you’ve done. Get a drink. Some of you might need one by now. heel anatomy-19Here’s the flip side of that gorgeousness. It’s starting to look like a sock, right? The rest of the pattern is much easier from here. At this point you alter a decrease row (making a decrease on each gusset one stitch away from the instep stitches) with a plain knit row. I like to make it so that my plain knit rows are also plain knit rows across the back of the heel stitches to require less concentration (therefore less ways to f@#k things up). Any of my patterns can take the rest from here.

I hope you have enjoyed this knowledge.


Warm creatures

warm creaturesI recently made a rash of toddler hats. The base of these are very similar to my Magic Hat pattern (with fewer stitches). I decided Z’s friends with September and October birthdays needed warm hats with ears. The ears were a little freeform. I knew what general shape I wanted and made them one at a time, taking notes after the first of each ear. warm creatures-2I’m pretty happy with the outcome, although I think I’d make the ears slightly smaller on the ear width at the base for the darker hat. These were all made with Cascade 220 Superwash for the body of the hat and Madeline Tosh DK in Flour Sack for the inner ear. warm creatures-3I apologize for these super dark pics. I snapped these at the last second before heading out the door to give them away so I would at least have some evidence of their existence. I hate when I can’t get pics in natural light.

Let me distract you with a cute baby to make up for it: warm creatures-4Check out that major drool, y’all.

Feeling tweedy

My Keaton sweater progress is slowly plodding along. I’ve interrupted this sweater so far to make two pairs of baby pants, and two toddler-sized hats. A fingering weight woven stitch (aka super slow) large project has my hands hungry for more immediate gratification, so I have to take breaks to feel like I’m making progress on things.

I finished the back on Monday night, then started on the front on Wednesday during a work meeting. I haven’t made any changes to the pattern so far, aside from adding a little bit of length to make it the same length as some other sweaters I love to wear. I’m really enjoying this Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal Tweed. It seems to be holding up well for a single ply, and the advantage of this single ply is that my spit splicing is completely invisible. Yes, my knits are full of spit and I don’t mind a bit.

keatonIt hasn’t been cool enough yet for me to feel like I have to finish this right now, but has been cool enough for me to want to work on some toddler and baby garments and accessories. They’re smaller folks that are growing all the time and I do have an excellent chest full of sweaters to keep me warm already.

Nakniswemo is soon approaching. This is the first year in quite a few that I’m considering not participating. I do so very much love a knitalong, but I don’t feel the urge to put myself under that pressure right now. I completely forgot about Socktober (knitting a pair of socks in October) and I sort of don’t mind. Knitting is my relaxation, not a job. I don’t want it to ever really feel that way. That’s why I say no to commission projects 99.9% of the time. I knit for love, not money. I love the idea of gift knitting, but I never really rally and try to make a bunch of things for Christmas. Occasionally I will make something especially for a person’s birthday, but I’m more likely to just decide a friend should have a lovely pair of socks that I didn’t know was for that person until it occurred to me halfway through knitting the piece.

Thanks for all the lovely comments on my last post. They made me feel all warm and fuzzy.