So you want to knit 3: How to follow a pattern

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Now that you have been practicing your knit and purl stitches, it’s a good time to learn how to read a pattern. There are lots of patterns out there. And by lots, I mean LOTS. You can find them at places like Ravelry or Lovecrafts. The beauty of these sites is that you can search all the patterns that people have listed based on what you want. You want a dishcloth made with size 6 needles, on cotton yarn? Sure! How about a scarf that uses bulky yarn, and size 10 needles, but it’s free? Sure! And yes, there are quite a few free patterns out there for everything. If you don’t know what you want, other than perhaps a scarf pattern that is easy, and can be purchased online? Well, you can search for that too. It can really help you to narrow down your options, and get rid of perhaps some of the more complicated projects that you do not feel comfortable with yet. Once you have your pattern, though, what do you do with it? How do you follow a pattern that someone has written? Thankfully many patterns follow a very similar scheme, and will mostly only vary for a designers stylistic choices. For example, every pattern should have a glossary that tells you what their abbreviations mean. This glossary can be nearly anywhere in the pattern. So, before you begin, it’s a great idea to read the entire pattern. Look for the glossary, where the actual pattern directions start, and look for the details on gauge. I’ll get to the definition of gauge as we read through this simple dishcloth pattern that I have created for you.

This dishcloth is made using a pattern of stitches that is called “Waffle Stitch”. It’s a series of knits and purls that will give you raised and sunken areas to give your dishcloth some texture. But, it uses no techniques that you have not been introduced to you. It’s all knits and purls. 🙂 Okay, so here is the pattern:

Beginner Dishcloth

Yarn: Knit Picks Preciosa Tonal Worsted, 100% Merino Wool (273 yds/100 g): 30 yards, colorway “Pluot”.

Needles: US 8 / 5.00mm straight or circular needles.

Notions: Tapestry needle (for sewing in ends)
Stitch marker (to mark Right Side of work)

Size: 6″ x 6″ square

Gauge: 18 stitches / 26 rows per 4” in stockinette after wet blocking.

Stitch Glossary:

K – Knit

P – Purl

RS – Right side of your work.

WS – Wrong side of your work.

Edge:
Using the Long-tail cast on, cast on 36 stitches.

Knit 4 rows.

Body:

Row 1 (RS): K4, *k4, p4; to the last 8 stitches, k8.
Row 2 (WS): K4, *p4, k4; to the end.
Row 3: K4, *k4, p4; to the last 8 stitches, k8.
Row 4: K4, *p4, k4; to the end.
Row 5: K4, *p4, k4; to the end.
Row 6: K4, *k4, p4; to the last 8 stitches, k8.
Row 7: K4, *p4, k4; to the end.
Row 8: K4, *k4, p4; to the last 8 stitches, k8.

Repeat Row 1-8 3 more times.

Edge:

Knit 4 rows.

Finishing:

Bind off. Weave in your ends, and block as desired.

Phew, that’s a lot of weird stuff in there. Okay, let’s start at the top. I start all my patterns with a list of materials. You will see lines for Yarn, Needles and Notions, but also Size and Gauge. The yarn listed is what I used to create this dishcloth. This yarn is a worsted weight, and I used 30 yards of it in the Pluot colorway. You don’t have to use this exact yarn, but it does give you a starting point. You will want to find a yarn that is listed as a medium weight, it might have a symbol on it with the number 4, and you will want to have at least 30 yards of yarn. How much you need will vary a bit, so you will want to have more than that, just in case. Next is the Needle section. I used size US 8 / 5.00 mm needles for this project. This directly correlates to the section title Gauge. Gauge is how many stitches or rows you have worked to get to 4″ in length or height. This isn’t as important in a dishcloth, but it is great to understand, because if you ever want to advance to garments, then it will be extremely important. When you are measuring your piece for gauge, you place a tape measure, or a gauge tool (picture 2) on your work. You can then count how many stitches are in that 4″ measurement. Now, when I am making something smaller, like socks, I will actually only measure the stitches in a single inch and then multiply it by 4 to get an approximate 4″ measure. The 1″ method is not as exact, but when you have a sock that is barely 4″ across, it can get very cumbersome. When you get to the skill level of making a piece that is going to require you to measure gauge, I highly recommend the gauge tool. It allows you to place the gauge and measure both stitches and rows at the same time.

As I said, for the dishcloth, and for starting out gauge is not going to impact what you are doing. But, it is still good to know what it means if you don’t match the number of stitches or rows. For this pattern, I have 18 stitches per 4″. What happens if you have 15 stitches? If you fit fewer stitches in your 4″ block, that means your stitches are actually bigger than mine. In order to shrink your stitches, you will need to decrease your needle size until you get 18 stitches per 4″, perhaps only needing to go down a single size, such as a US 7. If you have more stitches, let’s say 22 per 4″, you have too tight of a stitch, and will need to increase your needle size, perhaps only to a US 9, or perhaps more. You will hear people talking about swatching, and this is where the gauge will be measured before you even start your piece. This is to see how your fabric turns out with the yarn you chose. You will knit a 4″ x 4″ square and measure your rows and stitches. And honestly, it’s like you just made a mini dishcloth! A swatch is very important to do for every single project where size is important, because your knitting can change based on the yarn you are using, and even your mood, or if you are like me and have a painful condition, my pain levels will dramatically change how tight or loose my knitting is.

Okay, so shove that bit of information into the back of your brain for later. When you go to something more advanced, hopefully your brain will remind you that you need to come back and look at how to get gauge. 😀

The next part of this pattern is the Stitch Glossary. As I mentioned before, this can appear in various locations on patterns, and is purely the stylistic preference of the designer. I tend to have mine on page 2 of my patterns, so that you get to it faster. This will give you the definitely of every abbreviation I have used that is important for you to know. As you can see, this one is pretty short, but some can be pages long, depending on the complexity of the pattern. Some of the stitches, if they are specialized, may also include instructions on how to work the stitch. Be sure that you are familiar with everything in the glossary, and have ready through anything with instructions.

Then you get to the body of the pattern. This can be broken down in many ways, but this one is simply the edge, body, edge and finishing. Simply start at the top and work your way through line by line. Step one is to cast on the number of stitches in the method you are told. Some patterns will say specific kind of cast ons, and some will just say something like “using your favorite stretchy cast on”. After your cast on has been completed, move on to the Edge section, and Knit 4 rows. This means Knit every stitch across the entire left needle. Then turn your work, and knit across all the left stitches again. Each time you go across all the stitches is one row. So, you will knit across, turn, knit across, turn, knit across, turn, knit across, and turn, ready to move to the next section.

The body section has instructions for 8 rows. Since you already have your piece ready to work the next row, you will follow the instructions as written. You knit 4, and then that little asterisk there? That tells you that you have stitches that will be repeated between that asterisk and the semi colon. So, knit 4, then purl 4, until you have only 8 stitches remaining on the left needle. You will actually be repeating this twice for this pattern, so Knit 4, purl 4, knit 4, purl 4, and then go to the next part, which says to knit 8. That uses up all your stitches, and you can now turn your work. I have also specified that Row 1 is a RS (right side) row. In order to keep track of whether you are on the right side or wrong side, I recommend placing a piece of yarn or a stitch marker on to the right side of your work. That is a great visual reminder. Continue on to Row 2, working it as written, doing the repeat again between the asterisk and semi colon until it tells you to stop, which in the case of Row 2 isn’t finished until you have completed the entire row. Work until you have completed Row 8. You will see after Row 8 there is instructions to “Repeat Row 1-8 3 more times”. This means that you are going to go back to Row 1 and knit those 8 rows all over again, 3 more times. After this, you are back at the Edge, and will do the same as you did for the first Edge section, and you will knit 4 rows.

Next is your bind off. You can use the same bind off that I mentioned in the last section, and it will work totally fine for this. So, you now have a finished dishcloth, but you have 2 ends that are dangling off. You will need to use a tapestry needle, and weave them through the stitches on the back of your work. I usually will sew them in through about 4 stitches, going down the work, then 4 up and then 4 down.

You may have noticed that I used some rather fluffy yarn for my sample. One reason is I don’t have any cotton yarn right now, and I had this hanging around as a leftover. The other reason, is that you can actually make these squares and stitch them together later for a blanket. You can also do this with all your swatches that you will eventually have. They can be sewn together for a patchwork type of blanket. That way nothing goes to waste. 😀

Here is how your finished dishcloth should look:

Okay, now that you know how to read a pattern, I’m going to pause here, before this post is super crazy long, and in the next post I will go into how to count your stitches. Because, inevitably you will get distracted and lose count. It happens to everyone…a lot. lol It’s important to know how to count your stitches of what you have done, so you can figure out where you left off. I’ll see you then! Thanks for reading!

So you want to knit 2: Casting on and basic stitches

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Now that you have your materials, I’m sure that you are sitting there trying to picture how it goes from this piece of sting and a stick to these pieces of fabric. The basics of it are easy, but like anything it will require practice to get it just right. The first step of any project is casting on. This is the process of getting the yarn onto your needles, so that you are all set to start knitting. I don’t have a video camera set up yet, and honestly, this is one of those processes where a video is so much more helpful than pictures. I did a little searching and found this video that seemed pretty good:

The great thing with a lot of things knitting is that you can do a quick search for “knitting cast on for beginners” and you will find lots. If this video doesn’t quite work for how you learn, because let’s be honest, we all learn differently, then definitely do a search and watch other videos, or look at pages with pictures until you understand it. Then whatever one you find that works, bookmark it, because you will want to refer back to it until you are comfortable enough to cast on a new project without it. This is also one of the reasons I like to start people off by knitting dishclothes. They get a lot more experience with starting and finishing their projects, than they would with a longer project, like a scarf. Long-tail cast ons, named for the long length of yarn you leave to be able to work those cast on stitches, is one of the most commonly used cast ons, but not the only one. I’ll give you more information on alternatives in a later post. But, this is a great place for you to start.

Once you have a bunch of stitches on your needles, you can just eyeball this. Stretch them out just a tiny bit and see how wide it is. This will be your project width as you work. You will probably want it to be about 6″ wide for a dishcloth, which if you are using the size US8/5mm needles and the worsted weight yarn I mentioned in the first post of this series, you will end up with about 30 stitches.

Knitting:

The first of the two main stitches you will need to know is the Knit stitch. This will give you a smooth side with “v” looking stitches. For this example, we will call this the Right Side of your work. You will find that everything you make will have a Right Side and a Wrong Side. While this isn’t important for our dishcloth, it is good to look for these now, so it will become second nature as you work. As you knit, you will find that your yarn is always sitting behind your needles/work.

To start out, all of your stitches will be on the needle that is in your left hand, with the point of the needle pointing to your right hand. Your right hand will be holding a needle, that has the point directed to the left needle. Using your right needle, slip the point under the very first stitch. This will look as if you are going through the stitch from the left to the right.

Once you have that needle slipped under the stitch, wrap your yarn around it from behind the needles to in front of your needles.

Using your right needle, still, slip the needle out from the stitch, while keeping the yarn you wrapped around it and pulling that yarn through. You will then let that stitch on your left needle, which now has a loop of yarn going through it, slip off that left needle.

You now have a new loop on the right needle, and that left stitch just drops down and is locked down below. And that is it. 😀 You’ve now knit a stitch! As you work through your dishcloth, you can definitely just keep knitting. When you run out of stitches on your left needle, take the right needle, and move it to the left hand, and turn it so the needle tip is pointing right. Then that empty left needle, will now become your new right needle. And you can knit all the stitches on the next row, and just keep turning and switching those needles. 😀 Or, if you would like to have just a smooth piece of fabric on one side, you can choose to purl the next side. Each time you switch those needles around after knitting or purling across all the stitches, you have completed one Row.

Purling:

Purling is your second main stitch. Nearly every stitch you make will use either the knit or the purl stitch, so this is also very important to learn. When you see the fabric from the purl, it is very bumpy. Each bump on the fabric is one purl stitch. As you work your purl stitches, your yarn will always be in the front of your work (in front of your needles and fabric).

To purl, you will be using the needle in your right hand to slip into the stitch on your left hand by going through the top of the stitch. This is the exact opposite of the knit stitch. This will look like you are going into the stitch from the right to the left.

Once again, you will wrap the yarn around. This time, you will put the yarn in front of that right needle, around behind it, and back out to the front.

Then slip out your right needle, grabbing onto that yarn you have wrapped around it, and pull it through that stitch. As with the knit stitch, you will let the stitch on the left needle drop off. It is now locked in place by the loop you pulled through, which is now living on your right needle.

Finishing:

These stitches will give you what you need to get started. However, if you are making dishclothes, it probably won’t take you long to finish one. 6″ can go surprisingly fast. So, you will need to know how to finish your work. That is called the Bind Off (or Cast Off). I found a video that you can watch for a very simple bind off, which really will be your go to for a while. In a future post, I will talk about Bind Off’s in more detail, because there are alternate ways to do it, and tricks to make it work better for your project.

The key now is to practice. You will find initially that you have very tight stitches on your needles. It will probably be very hard to move them. This is completely normal. As you practice, you want to loosen your grip on both your needles and your yarn. The goal is to have your stitches be snug, but glide across your needle with no effort. As you loosen up those stitches, you will find that your fabric will be bigger even though you are using the same number of stitches that you used on dishcloth number one, and you will not need as many rows as you did on the first one. Again, this is completely normal.

I hope you find this helpful! I would love to see your dishclothes or scarves as you work through them. Please comment on the post, or you can join me over on my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/tlcraftsanddesign/ I would love to see your creations!! In the next post I will introduce you to a pattern and teach you how to read it.

Thank you for reading!

So you want to learn to knit 1: Materials

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A lot of people are taking the opportunity to learn a new skill. With so many people not able to work right now, we need to occupy our time with something right? And keeping our brains active will help a lot with what we are all collectively going through. I have picked up both my guitar and my violin, which I haven’t touched in about 2 years. Poor things. I have them both tuned up and sounding great….until I start to play it and then well, you know how that story goes with a beginner on an instrument. Let’s just say I keep my windows closed when I practice, because the neighbors don’t deserve that. haha! But, a lot of people are picking up knitting and crocheting. Which, I of course, think is a great idea. That raises the question of, where do I start?! You could spend hours just watching You Tube videos, or you could just dive right in. I learned most of the basics when I was a kid, from my grandmother. After that, I put it all away and didn’t pick it up again until I was almost 30. It was like starting over. When I started, I picked up a little “How to Knit” kit from Michaels. It came with a little booklet and needles. Just the basics.

When you are just starting out, it is important to not put pressure on yourself. It can seem daunting. A lot of people will say to start with making a scarf, because it’s just a long rectangle. And while it is easy, it can seem like it is never going to end. Honestly, I prefer to start people off with a dish cloth. Just a little 4X4 square….ish. It will vary depending on how many stitches you want to start with. Really, you just want to end up with something kind of square. No pressure here, remember? Having the knitting needles in your hand, and controlling your yarn can seem very cumbersome at first. Depending on the needles you have, they can get tangled in your clothing, stuck in the arms of your chair, and just make you feel like you are fumbling through things. That is because most people start with those long straight needles. And there is nothing wrong with them, but they are longer than you need. That is because needles have to be multi-taskers to allow you to make a variety of things on them. So, those long needles you are using for your skinny scarf also get used for blankets. If you are using those needles, just be patient, and know that it’s not you. 🙂 I still use them from time to time and they still get caught in my clothes, or on chair arms, or even my own arm. haha! One of the things you will find with knitting, is that there are a lot of things that come down to personal preference. These needles are great to start with, even though they are fiddly, because they are super easy to find at craft stores that sell yarn. As you learn and progress, you can investigate other needle options that could make it much easier to knit, but when starting out you don’t want to have to invest a ton of money to get going. Also, there are a lot of needle sizes, in terms of how big around the needle itself is. You will find that most have a US size and then a MM measurement. When you get to the stage of looking at a pattern, be sure you go with the MM sizing, because the US sizing isn’t as strict. The MM will be an exact measurement and will give you a better result. When you start out, one of the best sizes to buy is the US 8/5mm. This is a very common size, that you will use a lot for larger yarn. It is large enough that you will be able to get a good grip on the needle. It also creates a fabric that is much easier to see the stitch definition, which will help you learn.

Now that you have needles, what yarn should you get? You will find that there are numerous sizes and types. Yarn has improved a lot over the years. Acrylic, while it still has a bad wrap has improved greatly. It’s not as plastic feeling as it was in the 80’s, although some of the cheap ones can still be like that. However, when you are starting out, you don’t want to go super expensive on the yarn. I like acrylic for a few reasons. One is the price. It is much cheaper than a lot of the fancier yarns, which is great if you are doing a large project, like a blanket. Next is that it is super washable. Again, this is fantastic for blankets. If you are able to get in to a store, or when you are able to get back out to one, the best thing to do when choosing yarn is to touch it. Yep, get your hands on it. If it feels scratchy, it will stay scratchy. Walk away from that one. If you touch it and it’s soft feeling, then give that one a try. The feel of it in it’s balled state at the store, is what it will continue to be. You might be able to make it softer by soaking the finished project in hair conditioner, but you will have to work with that scratchy yarn during the entire time you are knitting. In case you are not able to get out to a store, here are a couple yarns I like that are a great price tag: Knit Picks Brava Worsted, is a great price tag. It’s very washable, and it’s soft to work with. I use this a lot for large blankets. This is labeled as a worsted weight yarn, which is a good all around yarn for scarves. It’s a medium weight, and depending on the length of your scarf, you will need 2-3 balls of this yarn. If you are wanting to go with the option of making dish clothes, then a great option is either Dishie or Dishie Multi. The difference between these two are the colors. Dishie is a line of solid color cotton yarns, and the Dishie Multi is a multi colored cotton yarn. One ball of this will get you a couple dish clothes, depending on how big you want to make them.

So, this is your material basics to get you started. But, now you need to know HOW to knit. I plan to put up a post in just a couple days on the act of knitting. I will be posting pictures, and links to videos on how to knit. For now, you can definitely head over to YouTube, and search How To Knit, and you will find many many videos. My goal is less about reinventing the wheel on the basics, and more about giving you a lot of the details that I found were missing when I came back to knitting. I will continue to get more in-depth on how to knit, to help you progress in your skill.

Thanks for reading!

Sock Basics 5: Toe up Gusset and Heels

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Well, it has taken me longer than anticipated to get back to my Sock Basics series. Things have been fine here, but quarantine really set me back a bit mentally. I am finally feeling like myself again, and feeling like there is a point to doing normal things again. I hope everyone is well, both physically and mentally. I know what a struggle it is for many people, and it can be hard to keep pushing through. But, the more we can get into a routine, the better. One thing I was finding was that I was unreasonably bored. Like super bored, sit on the couch doing nothing bored. It was bizarre. I was likely having some depression symptoms, which is a very common occurrence for people right now, and is totally understandable. To combat it, I pulled myself up by the boot straps, so to speak to get after it. That meant getting up at my normal time, alarm set and all, making the bed when I got up, getting out of my pajamas, showering, shaving all that. Then I had to find something else to get my brain engaged. So, the hubby and I set about making a music space. We have instruments that have been ignored for quite some time. We were going to have our spare bedroom remade into the guest room, until we got the basement renovated, but since no one is visiting in the near future, we took over that room. Instruments are set up and ready to go, still in their cases as needed for safe keeping, but there and accessible. Music stands are set up, music books are out, and chairs are in place. We can walk into the room, grab an instrument and just play. No having to look for anything. I have moved my guitar downstairs and that is what I have been working on. It’s down here so that the hubs can be in the music room and play, and I can just randomly pick up the guitar at various times of the day, without an extra trip up the stairs. My legs are pretty bad right now, so not going upstairs is a good thing. Fender was offering 3 months of lessons, so I jumped on that. 🙂

But, enough about what is going on. That is for another post! ON to the socks!!

One of the great things with toe up socks is that you don’t have to pick up stitches for the heel. Yay! However, you will find that your edge stitches look a bit loose. So, we’ll try to find a way to fix that. 😀 But, before you get to that, you have the gusset. As I explained in the cuff down socks, the gusset is that triangle on the side of your sock. You’ll see it in store bought socks as well. You will see that about 3/4 of the way up the foot to the heel there starts to be an increase in stitches that will follow your instep up to the top of your foot. It creates a little triangle, which gives you extra room in your sock for the thickest part of your foot. In order to do this, you just need to increase stitches as you go. In my patterns you will see that I specify that you should start your gusset when the foot of your sock is 2.25″ or 2.25″ (depending on the size you are knitting) shorter than your desired length of the sock. This means, that if you want the foot of your sock to be 9″ long when finished, you will start your gusset increases when it measures either 6.75″ or 6.5″, again depending on the size sock you are knitting. This gives enough room for your gusset increases and the heel. The gusset increases are pretty standard. You will increase on the sole of your foot, so only the needles holding your sole stitches will get increases. For example, in my patterns I tend to write for the magic loop method. I will instruct you to knit across needle 1, which is the instep or top of your foot. Then on needle 2, you will knit 1, make 1 right leaning stitch, knit until you have 1 stitch left on needle 2 that is unworked, make 1 left leaning stitch, and then knit 1. The next row will be simply knit across needle 2. I prefer to do the decreases every other row to create an even angle to the gusset. It also helps smooth out the increased stitches, and keeps them from getting too tight.

This sock picture shows that triangle of the gusset:

If you are unfamiliar with how to make the right and left leaning stitches, it’s actually pretty easy, and I’ll walk you through it now. The right leaning stitch, often written as M1R, means that you will pick up the bar that is between two stitches. Insert your needle from the back to the front, picking up that bar onto your left needle. Knit into this thread as you normally would, going through the front. When you do this, you want that bar to twist on itself. That will close up any holes that could have been created. The left leaning stitch, often written as M1L, means that you will pick up the bar that is between the two stitches, going in with your left needle from the front to the back, this time. To knit this stitch, you will be knitting through the back loop. Again, this will twist that stitch and close the hole. If you need to have a visual aid for this, Purl Soho has a great page on these stitches, with pictures and videos. They have some great resources. I highly recommend checking out their website!

The gusset may feel a bit fiddly as you start to get to your stitch numbers. You will be increasing on the sole of your foot until you get to the required stitch count, but needle 1 will just be worked as normal, either in pattern or plain, depending on the pattern you are following, and will not get increased. This means that as you work between the needles, you will want to take a little extra care to tighten up that second stitch. Just to make sure you don’t get extra gaps at the needle ends. I like to keep my needles very close together for the first 3 or so stitches, which helps keep your stitches more even.

As with the cuff down socks, you do have some heel options. There are a number of them that you can purchase the patterns for, such as the Fish Lips Kiss heels, that can be substituted into a pattern. However, keep in mind that you will need to know how much space this heel will take, because this will change when you need to start your gusset. The gusset I described will go with the heel flap, which tends to only take up about 1/2-3/4″ of space. If you are using a heel that will create more space them that, you’ll have to calculate accordingly. I will give you the details on the heel flap, which is very commonly used.

The first part of the heel is the heel turn. This is what creates the little triangle pocket for the back of your heel to fit into. It gives it a little cup. 😀 This will be worked on just that second needle, with all those extra gusset stitches on them. You’ll pretty much ignore needle 1 for a while. You are going to be working back and forth as if this is a flat piece, so you will be knitting one side and purling the other. The knit side is going to be the right side, as this is the side that is going to be facing out to the world. The purls are inside the sock, and are the wrong side of your work. You are going to be working fewer and fewer stitches on this needle, and you will be creating wraps. These wrapped stitches are what will give you a little pucker to make that little cup.

Here is how you wrap and turn:

w&t – wrap and turn. Right side (knit): Bring your yarn to the front of your work. Slip the next stitch purlwise onto your right needle. Move your yarn to the back of your work. Slip the stitch back to your left needle. You can now turn your work, and the yarn is in position to purl.
Wrong side (purl): Bring your yarn to the back of your work. Slip the next stitch purlwise onto your right needle. Move your yarn to the front of your work. Slip the stitch back to your left needle. You can now turn your work and the yarn is in position to knit.

Knitting wraps -Right side (knit): Insert your right needle into the wrap from front to back, as if to knit, and then into the stitch as if to knit. Slip both onto the right needle together. Reinsert your left needle into the stitches and knit them together. Wrong side (purl): Insert your right needle into the wrap from back to front, and then place the wrap onto the left needle. Knit the wrap and next stitch together.

These instructions are the ones I use in my glossary for every toe up sock. They look intimidating at first, but once you see them in action, it’s awesome. From here, you will be working the heel flap. This is what will get rid of all those extra gusset stitches! You will still be mostly working on just that second needle. Although, you may find that you have to work across needle 1 to just get everything set up and aligned. Your pattern will specify if that is necessary for those socks. The heel flap is a pretty simple construction. The first row will have you knitting across a particular number of stitches, then doing a decrease. Some will have you turn here, which is what I do. Others will have you knit 1 after the decrease. Once you turn, you will knit a specified number of stitches, then again decrease. After this, you simply knit or purl to the gap, which you will find at your decrease. The decrease causes just a little gap between the worked and unworked stitches. Also, you will find that after your second row to get this all set up, you will always be working the exact number of stitches that you are going to be ending with. For example, if the sock you are working has 28 stitches on the instep, and had 28 stitches on the sole (before the gusset), you are going to have 28 worked stitches in your heel flap. That way, when your heel flap is done, you can transition right into the leg with the exact number of stitches you need. This will give you the little flap at the back of the heel, while finishing off the triangle of the gusset.

The beautiful thing about the heel flap, is that you can make it as decorative as you want. Since you will have a specific number of stitches, and a decrease on each side, you will always know where your pattern will be. A popular design is Eye of Partridge, which is a repeat of slipping a stitch and knitting a stitch, then purling across the wrong side. Again, since you know exactly where your stitches are, it can be easily worked across the flap. The first row would be “sl1, *k1, sl1; repeating from * to the last stitch and then decrease”. The second row would be “sl 1, purl across to the gap, decrease”. The third row would be “sl1, k1, *k1, sl1; repeating across to the gap, decrease”. And the forth row is “sl1, purl across to the gap, decrease”. Many people find that this does actually give a bit of extra strength in the heel, which is very important for wearability.

Now, I mentioned earlier about loose stitches on the heel flap. As you work across those decreases to make the flap, the last stitch on each side, where the decreases are can look a bit sloppy. One way to remedy that is to make sure your pull your yarn a bit tighter after you turn. After you work the decrease, you will be turning your work, and then slipping that first stitch. This action can loosen that stitch, and the one that was before it. So, before you slip the stitch, make sure that yarn is nice and snug. Then slip the first stitch, and when you knit the next one, give it a little extra snug to keep that first stitch from looking sloppy. Also, many times the purl side decrease is a purl 2 together. This can create a looser looking stitch as well. If it suits your knitting style better, try doing a slip slip purl. This can help with creating more pull on your stitches and helps cinch things in better.

That wraps up the gusset and heel section of our socks! You are in the home stretch now!! Very soon, I will put up the final details on how to work the rest of your sock, and how to finish your cuff so that it is comfortable.

Thanks for reading!!

Update!! I found a discussion a little while ago about decreases being sloppy, especially on the gusset. A video was mentioned about an alternate way to do the SSK. It’s worked more like a Slip 1, K1, PSSO, except that after you work the K1, you do not slip that stitch off your left needle, until you pass the slip stitch over, then you let it fall off the needle. Holding that stitch on the left needle pulls everything tighter and creates a very crisp decrease. Here is the video for you to watch and see what is being done! Another option that was given was to Slip one knitwise, slip one purlwise, then knit them together as a normal ssk. This twist in the stitch helps it to lay flatter. I hope these tips help!! Personally, I’m going to try the alternate SSK that is in the video on my next socks. I’ll be sure to post when I do, to show you the difference between the two options!