Blog, Patterns, Sales

New Products!

Today I launched another key chain. This one is a Mini Rosary and is available in two colors: Pink and Blue. I have to say that after a lot of trouble getting beads I like, I fell in love with the blue. The blue beads I ordered never arrived, so I had to find something else. These were sitting upstairs just waiting to become these key chains. πŸ˜€

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Also! On the design front, the test for the Scarf of Many Colors is wrapping up and that pattern will be launched in the next couple days. So, keep your eyes peeled for that one. πŸ˜€

I also have a new sock design that is in progress. I’m hoping to get this finished soon because I have a couple pairs of socks to make for a donation, and those will take priority when the yarn arrives for them. But, either way, these socks will be heading off for testing in the next month or so. I am really liking how they are turning out. πŸ˜€ Right now I am going back and forth on the heel color. I think I might do green for the heel, since the toes are grey. I think that will make a nice statement.

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And speaking of socks, I am hoping to get the third installment on How to Knit Socks up in the next few days.

How To

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!!

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

New Things

Goodness I have been busy lately. Most of it has been things behind the scenes that isn’t visible. Over the past year I’ve had the debate raging in my head of where to go next with my designs. Do I open my own store? Do I go back to Etsy? Do I keep going as normal? Then Craftsy changed things up, and all my stuff was gone from there, and I was pretty annoyed at the idea of uploading everything again. That made the debate go even more. So, the decision was made to go ahead and set up a store on here.

Once my choice was made, it was all about dealing with the logistics. Tax numbers needed to be obtained (that was being taken care of by other places). Once I was legal all over, I could start the store for reals. I listed everything and was all set. But, now what? At this point, I am looking at making sure I have some sort of advertising campaign going.

Of course while I was doing all this, I needed to make sure that the designs didn’t fall through the cracks. No point in having my own store if I have nothing new to put into it. Right now, I have three projects in testing. That means August will be busy with launches. πŸ˜€ Here are some pics of what is coming down the pipe!

Socks:

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Hooded Cowl:

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Scarf:

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And a sweater (about to go to editing and also get a proper photo shoot):

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I also have a couple other things in progress. One is a scarf made with mini skeins:

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And a Game of Thrones inspired snowflake shawl:

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I can’t wait to get these all out to everyone. πŸ˜€ I think I need to do a brain storming session soon, though. I’m hoping to get these latest in progress items finished in the next 3 weeks to get them all out for editing. πŸ˜€ I will be sure to post in the patterns page when these each launch!