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Sock Basics Part 2: Heel and Gusset

Now that the leg of our sock is completed, it’s time to consider the construction of the Heel and the Gusset. The Heel part of your pattern will usually form the strip that goes down the last part of your leg to the ground, and then will magically turn into a little triangle for the back of your heel to sit in to. The Gusset will then come off that flap and triangle to create the part that goes along your ankle bone. Both are very important, and may take some trial and error to find the heel and size that works for you. The Gusset also provides the space for your instep, so that the top of your foot has the room it needs, and will also help with the sock being able to slip up over your ankle.

The Heel: Every pattern will give you instructions for the heel. Depending on the type of construction they are using, you will typically get a section for a Heel Flap and a section for Heel. The Heel Flap is that strip going down the back of the leg I was talking about. This is normally knit back and forth over a certain amount of stitches, while the other stitches just sit around doing nothing for a while. So, you will have knits and purls going on here, and you will have both a right side and a wrong side. The right side will be the part of the fabric that will go on the outside. The wrong side will be the part that touches your foot on the inside of the fabric. Many patterns use a variation on knitting, purling and slipping stitches to create a thicker and more durable fabric. But, there are many different ways of doing this. If you are working on a very detailed pattern, you might find that the pattern runs down the heel flap as well. It may help for you to take a measurement to see just how long you want that heel flap. I tend to measure from the top of my ankle bone to the floor, and since my feet are two different sizes, I make sure to measure both. They are both actually 3″. However, the socks do have some stretch, so I typically will take off about 20%. That ends up being 2.4″. Since the patterns tend to suggest 2.5″, I will go with that number. If you have a high instep, you might want to consider making your heel a bit longer. The biggest reason is to allow the sock to not only go over your ankle, but to give you room to have your foot feel comfortable.

As you knit socks, you will start to learn what feels most comfortable for you. This can be a bit of trial and error, because there are different heel constructions. The heel flap and heel tend to be short rows. That means you will be knitting part of the row, and then turning your work and leaving some of the stitches of the heel unworked. However, there are other options. I found a great page with information on all the various heels that are available here. As you will see there are many. You can knit the heel as you work the sock, or you can do an afterthought heel, which means you put in a piece of spare yarn and keep knitting a tube. Then later you come back and pick up the stitches on that spare yarn and make your heel. You can also consider doing the heels and toes a different color, for a contrast heel. There are so many ways to spruce up those heels!

Gusset: When you work the gusset (and I’m going to continue on the assumption that we are going to work a basic short row heel), you will be picking up stitches along the heel flap. You are going to end up with a lot of stitches on your needles at first. In general, you will be picking up about 16 stitches on each side of that heel flap (the exact number will always appear in your pattern). This will make things fiddly and bulky for a bit. If you are knitting on circular needles, then you’ll just have a lot of stitches to work with, and you’ll find your way through. This is how I normally will work. If you are using double pointed needles, then you’ll have just a couple needles stuffed full, but you’ll also just have to work your way through. Make sure that you follow the pattern very closely when arranging your stitches. There is a particular line up of stitches, because you will still have one set that is for the top of your foot (instep), and you will be decreasing stitches in your gusset on either side of that just before and just after those instep stitches. You don’t want to decrease within the instep itself. These decreases all happen on what will become the bottom of your foot (sole). The gusset decreases in the sock will create a little triangle along both sides of your ankle.

The great thing is that once you have completed those gusset decreases, you are in the home stretch! You are now onto the foot! I think one of my first recommendations is to follow the pattern exactly as written for that first sock. The heel is going to seem very strange at first, but I promise that if you follow it exactly it magically turns into a heel. One my first sock I was really nervous. The instructions seemed so strange! And then suddenly…poof heel! It was pretty cool, actually. I felt very accomplished. πŸ˜€ Also, be prepared to not have a well fitting sock at first. All patterns are written for what I will call the average foot, and goes off the sizings written by places like shoe companies and manufacturers. The best place to start for any knitwear sizing is the Craft Yarn Council. They have a great chart here. But, again, these are average sizes.

If you are making socks for someone with a high instep you have a couple options. When you work the heel flap, consider increasing it by a half inch to an inch. For example, if you measure your heel at about 4″ (mine was at 3″), then you subtract 20% from that, you will get 3.2″. I would knit the heel to 3″ instead of the patterns typical 2.5″. This will mean that you will also be picking up more stitches than the pattern suggests. You will pick up every single stitch along the side. So, if you worked 20 right side rows and 20 wrong side rows, you will be picking up 20 stitches on each side of the heel flap. This will also mean that you will do more Gusset decreases. However, this is where you can adjust for a higher arch, as well. If you have a taller foot at the arch, then do not decrease as much as the pattern suggests. Stop with about 4 more stitches remaining than they recommend. And easy way to calculate what you will need in terms of numbers of stitches, is to take the number you are given in the pattern for stitch gauge. It should be written as a number per four inches. Divide that number by 4, and that will give you the number of stitches per inch. If you feel like you need an extra inch, then leave about that many stitches not decreased. If you do not get a whole number, round up or down to the nearest inch. I’ll explain how to deal with that change in number for the toes in the next installment. πŸ˜€

I know this is a lot of information, but this really is the most complicated and adjustable part of the entire sock. Once you get this part figured out, you will be well ahead of the game! Be sure to check out the link above for heel construction options. But, as with anything, there is no number one thing that works for everyone. A lot of people adore the Fish Lips Kiss Heel, but a lot of people also find it doesn’t fit them well. Also, many of these heel variations are their own pattern, and are available for sale by the designers. They will also provide their own instructions on how to blend it into any sock, and how to properly take measurements to create the best fit possible.

I hope you are enjoying working on your new socks! The best thing is that hand knit socks can be worn all year round. If you find the legs too warm, then shorten that cuff down to only 1-2″ before you start the heel flap, and you have a wonderful ankle sock. If you want them to be more airy, then find a nice lace pattern for the leg and top of the foot, and you’ll get a wonderful breeze through those socks.

Hopefully I have given you enough information to work through that first heel. πŸ˜€ Stay tuned for the next edition, which will be all about those toes!

Thanks for reading!!

Blog

Cactus Keychain

I have just listed my next keychain. This is my Cactus Keychain. It is a Kumihimo braid that is finished with a few beads and a cactus charm. I have used industrial strength glue on any knots and on the end cap to make it as strong as possible. There are only 4 of these little guys, for now, until I can get more charms.

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The finished length, including the keychain hardware is 7.25″. I hope you love it!

Blog

More Keychains

I launched another set of keychains yesterday. These ones are my critters line. I have a cat, a shark, a killer whale and a panda. πŸ˜€ I’m hoping next week to get some other ones made up. These next ones will be a beaded/Chinese knot style. I am waiting for some supplies to arrive, and then I can start the R&D on those ones. I am thinking of perhaps a Kumihimo version as well. I’m just not sure of the design yet. I have something in mind, but I have to work up the prototype to see if the vision in my mind can be recreated in real life. πŸ˜€

But, for now, here are the critters. I really need to figure out a better way to photograph them. I think instead of hanging them, I will skewer them on the nail I have in the wall for these and get them to sit properly. I’m going to work on that this weekend, and then I can update my listings with the best version.

This little guy is my absolute favorite so far. It’s my killer whale. I gave him just a single fin on top to make him more stream lined, but I think he’s just adorable. πŸ˜€

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This is my cat critter keychain. πŸ˜€ I had a lot of fun figuring out his face. hehe

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This is my happy little shark. His gills make it look like he has hair. hehe But, he’s super cute. πŸ˜€ He has the single fin on top, just like the killer whale.

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Then we have the panda. He is mostly white, with a stripe of black around his middle, and then back to a white bum.

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All these little critters are a lot of fun to make. Although, I will admit that even though the killer whale is my favorite, working with the black yarn is not my favorite. lol It’s so hard to see! But, he’s so cute that I’ll overlook it just for him. πŸ˜‰

Blog

Keychains!

I have finally made enough progress to list my keychains/bag tags for sale. These little guys are hugs. They are designed to give you something to send to a friend or loved one to let them know you are thinking of them, or to even get for yourself to remember you are loved! I tried to chose a range of colors for different tastes, while keeping them mostly bright to be uplifting. They are between 2 and 2.5″ in width. The width will vary based on when I have made them, and the yarn I used. I use all the same brand yarn, but it still has variation in thickness. That is the joy of handmade! They are all 100% unique.

These are each made with acrylic yarn for durability, and have polyester fill. They are meant to be soft and squishy. I have used safety eyes for each of them, but they are still not meant to be toys and are not safe for children. Each one comes with the key chain hardware already attached, so they are ready to go!

I haven’t quite figured out the shipping logistics for these on the website yet, so I have chosen to list them on Etsy for now. I may change things up later, but for now this is a great solution.

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Blog, Patterns, Test Knits

Open Test Knits!

I have two patterns that are accepting test knitters. First up is my Scarf of Many Colors. I have a group started on Ravelry, but you can also work with me via email. This scarf uses fingering weight yarn, in a variety of colors that are completely up to your choosing. I’m not picky. I personally used Miss Babs Advent 2018 kit in the Midcentury colorway. I used all 25 colors, but did repeat a couple. You’ll want to be able to make 29 triangles, if you want to match the sample. Of course, you can always adjust the size up or down, but I recommend an odd number of colors to get a squared end scarf.

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This scarf is a pretty easy knit. The main stitches are simple knit and purl stitches. The only complication to it, are the wraps. I have included detailed instructions on how to work the wraps, but you can also search for ‘knitting wraps’ or ‘purling wraps’ and you will get some great videos on how to do these. This is done to create short rows and make the triangle shape.

The deadline for the scarf completion is September 20, 2019. And for testing for me, you will get the finalized pattern for the scarf as well as a coupon code for a free pattern of your choosing (not including kits or ebooks) that is valid for one full year.

The second test knit that is open is for my Middleton Pullover. There is also a group on Ravelry for this, but just like the scarf, we can work together via email if you prefer. This sweater uses sport weight yarn. I chose Miss Babs Killington in the Dahlia colorway. One of the requirements for this test is letting me know how much yarn you used to complete your size. The sizes available are 30 (32, 36, 40, 44, 48, 52)β€œ Bust. I have built in 2″ of ease, so the finished measurements will be 32 (34, 38, 42, 46, 50, 54)” Bust.

This pullover has lace at the bottom of the body as well as at the bottom of the sleeves. The construction is bottom up for the body. Then for the sleeves, the stitches are picked up and the sleeves are then knit down to the cuff.

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The deadline for the sweater completion is October 15, 2019, which means it should be finished in time for the cooler temperatures. For testing, you will get a copy of this finalized pattern, as well as a coupon code for one free pattern of your choosing (not including kits or ebooks) that will be valid for one full year.

If you are interested in testing either of these patterns, you can message me on Ravelry, or you can email me at tlcraftsanddesign at gmail dot com.

Patterns

New Release! Harvey Wallbanger Scarf

This scarf was inspired by a cake that my family makes. It’s called a Harvey Wallbanger cake. It’s an orange cake with a creamy icing that’s nicely boozed up. :slightly_smiling_face: I designed the scarf to have the nice orange color in the middle, just like the cake with the browned up exterior and the icing sitting on the outside.

The great thing with this scarf is you get this honeycomb effect that makes the scarf come alive, but it doesn’t take very long to memorize the pattern. It makes for great TV knitting, or perhaps when travelling. But, it will start to get long and cumbersome. hehe The texture also makes the scarf feel more full and fluffy, and will give it a nice warmth in the winter.

Patterns

New Release! Port George Socks

These socks are the next installment of my Hometown series. They are named after the beach down by the Bay of Fundy, where we would go to have a camp fire to roast hot dogs and make s’mores on those hot summer evenings. There are rocks to walk across, which is what made me go with this design. The yarn overs create a look that mimics finding your way over all the rocks. The lace also makes for an airy sock that is much lighter to wear on a warm summer day.

The pattern is one that will require more attention, so it’s not exactly a TV knit, but it’s not so intricate that you need to have your eyes glued to the pattern at all times. It makes for a knit that stays interesting.

Blog, How To

Sock Basics Part 1: Your Cuff and Leg

Okay, so you have decided you want to make yourself a nice pair of knit socks. But, they look so complicated! And those heels…how do those even work?! The good news is that socks are not as complicated as they look, and they use some of the skills you probably already have at your disposal. They can be a bit fiddly though. I will try to give you all the tips and tricks that I have learned over the years, to help make your first pair of socks be just the first of many!

If you would like to work along with me as I walk through these steps, definitely try using a worsted or bulky yarn at first, with about a size US 8 needle. This will give you a much better visual of how all these steps come together. Many sock patterns use a sock weight yarn, with about a size US 1/2.25mm needle. That makes for tiny stitches that can be tough to see when you are starting out. Going big will make things look much clearer.

Now, there are two ways you can make socks. You can either start at the Cuff of the sock and work down towards the ankle, or you can start at the toes and work up. Neither of these is necessarily better for learning, but many find that the cast on for toes can be overwhelming, so lets start with the cuff. It’s a simple procedure that will get you going quickly. As you work through making socks, you will be able to decide for yourself which way you like to knit your socks…toe up or cuff down.

When it comes to needles, you can use either double pointed needles, or circulars. My patterns are all written for circular needles. I will do my best to break the steps down to accommodate both. If you are interested in giving circulars a try, you will want a long cord, about 40″ long for the Magic Loop Method, or if you are really bold, you can try the 9″ sock circulars that people are using now. I haven’t tried those yet, but a lot of folks love them.

To start, you will want to cast on the number of stitches listed for your pattern. In this case, I’m going to use my standard size small numbers, and cast on 56 stitches. When casting on your stitches, you need a stretchy cast on. You can use a long tail cast on, but it does run the risk of being too tight on the calf. If you can do a loose cast on with the long tail, then great, go ahead and use this. However, if you are like me and cast on like your life depends on it, and your first row is crazy tight, then perhaps try the German Twisted cast on. It’s a bit looser, but does create a different edge than the long tail. But, I still like it. There are lots of great YouTube videos that can walk you through how to do this cast on. It’s very much like the Long Tail cast on, but adds an extra little twist in there, that gives a bit stretch.

Spread your stitches across your needles evenly. If you are using a set of 5 double pointed sock needles, then divide the stitches over 4 needles. If you are using a set of 4, then divide over 3 needles, and if you are using circulars split the stitches between the two needles. When using double pointed needles, the stitch count may not divide perfectly. Just divide as best you can, making sure that the number of stitches on each needle is as close as you can manage.

Now, you are going to join the stitches to work in the round. This is the same for any other in the round project you may have worked on. You want to make sure that all your stitches face in the same direction, so there is no twist. After you smooth them all out, and they are all in the same direction, join and begin to work your stitches in a knit 2, purl 2 repeated pattern around all the stitches. Most of my cuffs will use this or some variation for about 1″ of length. This will give the cuff a nice stretch to better hug your leg. If you find that you easily loose track of the beginning of the round, use a stitch marker that opens to just hook on to your yarn, so you can see it as you work your way around. Many folks will say to just use the marker, but honestly, if you are using any of the needles listed above, that little thing is going to slip off every time you get to the beginning. I like just clipping it to the fabric where I can see it, but I don’t have to keep moving it or finding it when it falls off my work.

After you finish the specified number of rounds for your cuff, you are now at the leg. This is one of the simple parts of the sock. You are just going to go around and around, following the pattern, until it is the length you like. Personally, I like to go until my whole leg from the cast on is 6″ long. If the pattern you use has a different heel than the standard, it should specify that you knit until the leg is ‘X’ inches shorter than your desired length. This will also depend on the kind of heel the pattern uses. It could be 2″, or if it’s an afterthought heel, which I’ll dive into next time, it will be less.

So, that is it for Part 1 of our sock construction. I’ll be back soon to get into the good stuff. Heel construction is up next!!

Tips and Tricks: When you are working in the round on something like socks, you will notice that regardless of the needles you choose, you can get what is called ladders between the needles. This is a stand of yarn that seems to be leaving gaps. The easiest way to deal with these, is when you are on stitch two of your needle, give an extra little pull on your yarn to tighten it just a tiny bit more. This will help to even things out. If you still have a little bit of a gap, this will even out after you wash your socks. As a note, if you tighten too much on the very first stitch of your needle, especially if you are using circulars, will cause the last stitch on the previous needle to be too tight. So, you want to stick to the extra tightening on stitch two.

Blog, Projects

Having some fun

One of the problems with trying to have your own business, is that sometimes it can get overwhelming and just not feel fun. You can feel like you are bogged down or stuck. That happened this past weekend. I started to feel very stuck. I was overwhelmed by everything going on. My sales have been in the tank, which can be very common during the summer, but it’s still really tough to deal with. So, as I usually do, I start thinking about plan B. That usually involves the thoughts of what I can do to make money via online sales. Perhaps I SHOULD look at getting into Lularoe (which I debate about every 3 months, even though I just don’t have the mental stuff to do it…just really not something I am good at), or perhaps focus more on the Young Living sales (which I might still push forward with), or search for something else. Then I remember that I’m just not the sales type. Which is funny, but I’m not. I need to work on this more, because obviously it would be beneficial for more things.

I ended up going back to the thoughts of my dormant Etsy shop. I thought, what can I put on there that could be good. I settled on keychains. A very specific thing, that I can make varieties of. Just keychains. Keychains with wood burned tags. Keychains with stuffed critters. Keychains with beaded creations. All keychains. I might add stuff later, but for now…keychains. haha

I started working on my prototypes this weekend, while I wait for some yarn to come in for these. Now, the stuffed critters will have safety eyes, but are still not for kids. They are specifically for keychains, and not for play, but are still super cute. πŸ™‚

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These are the three I have worked up so far. The kitty still needs whiskers, and his tail to be attached to his body. I don’t want to have a dangling tail that would get all tangled up. And the other two are getting some kind of mouth. I just need to dig out the embroidery floss to take care of that. πŸ™‚

Stay tuned for these little guys to be released. I have a bunch more options for critters as well (shark, bat, dolphin, a hug), but I need to get the right color of yarn first. πŸ˜€

Thanks to this helping to clear my head and give me some direction, I will have some designs coming down the pipe. I have a couple things that are finishing up testing, and will be released around the 15th. I also have my Scarf of Many Colors that is scheduled to go to the editor on the 12th. That should mean I can start testing of that the following week. Right now the scarf is blocking, and should be dry before too long, so I can get proper pictures. πŸ˜€

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Thanks for reading!!