Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Knit Along Progress

Here is the first cuff from one of our sock knitters. It's knitted by Kathleen of A Bag of Olives. You go girl! Chances are good that the yarn she's using is hand spun and completely her own, unlike mine, which was Paton's Wool. This qualifies this up and coming pair of socks for a "home spun hand knit" award when they're finished!!

Here is the latest in the ongoing cupcake projects. There was a girl's slumber party here this past weekend and these are Abby's offering for the refreshments. Aren't they adorable?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sock KAL-The Toe and Kitchener Stitch

The last task to complete your fabulous socks is upon us. It's time to finish the toe and weave it together for a seamless and perfect ending. You've knitted down the foot until about 2" of length remain. We'll be doing a striped toe in colors B and C, so if you like more color and a longer toe, you can start the stripes well before we begin to decrease. The color stripes pattern is where the clock pattern ends so you can remove your markers.

We're going to change colors at the bottom of the foot where it won't show as much. After you knit one round in the new color, there will be a jog where the first round ends and the second round begins. To minimize this, we're going to reach down into the previous color row and pull a stitch up one row and knit it together with the first stitch of the round. It will look like a slip stitch when finished, being two rows tall. This floating stitch only occurs on the second round after the color change.

Change to color B and knit around.

At the beginning of needle #1, reach down with the tip of your right needle and pick up the right side of the stitch directly below (it will be in color A)...

and put it on your left needle without twisting it.

Knit this stitch and the first st. on #1 together. Knit around.

Change to color C and knit around. Repeat the second round as above, picking up the stitch below in the previous color and knitting it together with the first stitch on needle #1.

The stripe pattern is two rounds wide in each color, unless you want something thinner or wider. Substitute however you like. Floating the first stitch from below always happens on second round (and only the 2nd round) after the color change. If you don't care whether you have a jog in your stripes or not, knit happily around and disregard the directions for addressing this jog.

Next round: Change to color B and knit around.
Next round: Knit (floating the colors st. if you like) and decrease as follows:
#1: k to last 3 sts., k2tog, k1
#2: k1, ssk, k to last 3 sts., k2tog, k1
#3: k1, ssk, k to end.

If the toe were laying flat on the table, the decreases take place one stitch in from the edge on both sides of the toe, top and bottom, so there will be four decreases each round. It helps me to get a visual for this so I don't have to keep looking at the directions.

Next round: Change to color C and knit around.
Next round: Knit a decrease round as above, (floating the color st. if you like)

Continue striping and decreasing on every other round as above until 32 sts. remain, 8 on #1 and #3 each.
Work a decrease round on every round until 16 sts. remain.
Using needle #3, knit across the sts. on needle #1 so that the remaining sts. are held on 2 needles only with 8 on each.
The join with the floated stitch is visible in the photo above, but once it's blocked, it will be much less visible.

Kitchener Stitch

We'll finish the toe by weaving the stitches together using a technique called Kitchener Stitch. I don't know how it got it's title. Basically, Kitchener Stitch reproduces the knit stitches, creating what looks like a continuous knit fabric. There are no seams and it looks for all the world like the knitter knit the toe from back to front without stopping. It's brilliant and very useful in all kinds of garments. Here's how it works:

Cut the working yarn into a long tail (18 in. or more) and thread it onto a tapestry needle. With all of the stitches held on two needles, hold the needles together, one in the front and one in the back with the working yarn tail coming from the back needle.

Set up row: Using the tapestry needle run the yarn through the first stitch in the front as if to purl. Then run the yarn through the first stitch on the back needle as if to knit. Pull snug.

Row one: Slip the first st. of the front needle onto the tapestry needle as if to knit, enter the 2nd st on front needle as if to purl, leaving it one the knitting nee both dle. Pull the yarn through stitches. Snug up yarn, but not tightly.

Slip the first st. on back needle as if to purl. Enter the 2nd st. on back needle as if to knit. Pull yarn through both sts. and snug up the yarn, but not tightly.

Row two up to last row: Repeat as above. There will be one less st. on each needle each repeat until only 2 sts. are left.

Last row: Slip front st. as to knit, slip back st. as to purl. Snug up yarn, weave in end.

Knit, purl, purl, knit. That's how I remember the order. Always slip the first st. off the needle, thread through the second, front and then back. slip knit, purl front. Slip purl, knit back. Once you get the first couple of repeats finished, it all falls into a rhythm.

Woo Hoo! the toe is finished. It may look a little rough in the picture but after blocking, it will look perfect. Now we have to go back to the cuff, sew the edges of the twisted edging together and weave in all of the ends. After that, it's done!!

Try on your sock.

Admire your handiwork.

Start on the second one if you haven't already.

Send me the pictures at woolyworks@odysseyrockranch.com along with your own story and comments or your own blog or web address. If you've got something to share, please send it along and I'll post if for you here and on our website and/or link to your site.

Finally, wear your socks proudly, present them as gifts to only the most important people in your life, or sell them on Etsy.com .

Write your own patterns and dream up your own designs.

Design new and better ways to accomplish knitting tasks.

Write a book.

Become famous!!

What a difference a Sock KAL can make!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jack's Rowdy Cowboy and Company

Well, the jury is in on the baby's name. We've decided on.....

Jack's Rowdy Cowboy.

Thanks for all the input. We labored over the name and I hope this is the one that sticks. We've been known to change names all the way up to sending in the registration papers. He's such a character and such a trouble maker that we had to choose something to reflect that. Rebel was very tempting and Lone Star was discussed for quite a while. In fact, every name that was suggested painted a different image for us to consider. It's so much appreciated. There are 9 more babies due in the fall, so we'll need lots more help.

I thought you should have the chance to meet the jury:

Aren't they an intelligent and attentive looking group?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sock KAL-Turn the Heel, Work the Gusset OR Knit a Massive Bump on Purpose

Welcome back for more of the Wooly Works Sock Knit Along. Have you finished your cuffs? Are you ready to knit down the leg and--gasp!--turn the heel? This time we're going to really kick things into high gear, so here we go, ready or not. We left off at the end of 8 round of ribbing.

You know, if you don't like the color pattern or didn't feel up to tackling it, you could work 12-16 rounds of ribbing and call it good. You'll have a fabulously luxurious sock when you're done no matter what you do.

The next step is to knit the leg portion. This is where the bulk of the knitting happens and to make it just a little more interesting and to add some class, we're going to work a clock pattern. A clock is a small insertion that runs the length of the leg and foot and is worked at both ends of needle#2. It's usually 3-5 sts. wide and can be as simple as 3 purl sts. to break up the stocking stitch or as complex as a cable or simple lace insertion. For ours, we will do a mock cable twist with a purl stitch on each side.

To set up, knit across the sts. on needle #1. On needle #2, p1, k2, p1 and place a marker. Knit across to the last four sts., place a marker, p1, k2, p1. Knit across the sts. on needle #3.

This is the pattern for the clock:

Row 1: p1, k2, p1
Rows 2-3: Repeat row 1
Row 4: p1, k2tog but do not slip off of needle. Insert right needle tip between the 2 sts. and knit the first st. again. Slip both off of needle together. P1.
Repeat these four rows at both end of needle #2 for the length of the sock. The markers will remind you to work the pattern.

Knit on down the leg until it's the length you want it to be.

I made mine 4 inches from the bottom of the ribbing for a total length of 8" from cuff to beginning of heel flap. If you want to make knee socks, there is some shaping for the calf that needs to happen. Let me know if you need help with this.

Now you're ready to knit the heel flap. This is done back and forth on two needles and knit over 1/2 the total sts. So, knit across the sts. on needle #1 so that they're all on one needle.

Put a point protector on the ends of needle #2 or wrap a rubber band around the ends so you don't lose your sts. while you turn the heel.

Turn the work, change to color B and purl back. Turn.
Next row, sl1 as if to purl, k1, sl1, k1 across. Turn.
Change to color C and purl back. Turn.
Next row, sl1, k1 across.

Repeat these 4 rows, changing colors every two rows, or as you choose, until the heel flap measures about 3 inches and ending in color C.

Now you're ready to...ta dah!...TURN THE HEEL!

We'll be using the short row technique, which is how most Americans I know learned to turn their first heel. Relax, it's easy. I'll give you a recipe just in case you've been dreading this part.
Change to color B and purl across 14 sts. p2tog, p1, turn. You'll be turning the work before you reach the end, leaving some sts. unworked--7 of them to be exact.

Sl1, k5, ssk, k1, turn. If it's easier, you can k2tog, instead of the ssk. No one but you will know the difference, I promise.

There will now be a gap between where you turned the knitting and the unworked sts. on both ends. You'll knit up to the gap, work the sts on either side of the gap together (p2tog, ssk, or k2tog), work one more st. and turn. It's easier for me to turn a heel with this in mind than having to count every time. The number of unworked sts. should decrease with every row until you run out of sts. to work. When you run out, you're done.

Sl1, p6, p2tog, p1, turn.
Sl1, k7, ssk, k1, turn.
Sl1, p8, p2tog, p1, turn.
Sl1, k9, ssk, k1, turn.
Sl1, p10, p2tog, p1, turn.
Sl1, k11, ssk, k1, turn.
Sl1, p12, p2tog, turn
Sl1, k12, ssk, turn (14 sts left on needle)

Heel turned! Congratulations!

Now rejoin color A and pick up 13 sts. along the left side of the heel flap. The right side should be facing you when you pick them up. If you aren't sure how to pick up sts. let me know and I'll send you some help. Now knit across the sts. on needle #2--remember needle #2? Don't forget to work your clock pattern. After you're finished with needle #2, pick up 13 sts. along the opposite side of the heel flap.

These picked up sts. will run vertically along the sides of the heel flap and perpendicular to the heel flap sts., so you don't want gaping holes in the knitting. Thirteen stitches is not a magic number, and it may not be enough for your heel flap. Be sure to pick up enough sts. to close any gaps and make sure you pick up the same number of sts. on both sides. I actually picked up 17 sts. on each side.

All of your needles are now back in use, but you have a rectangle with one needle holding the heel flap, one needle on each side holding the picked up sts., and needle #2 intact with its original 24 sts. With the working yarn on needle #3, knit across 7 of the sts. on the needles holding the heel flap sts. Slip the remaining 7 sts. onto needle #1.

You're back to your knitting triangle and at the starting point at the back of the heel. It's time to work the gusset.

The gusset is when you decrease your sts. back to your original count so the sock fits the contours of the foot and you can knit on down the foot.

Begin by knitting the sts. on needle #1 up to the last 3 sts. K2tog, k1.
Knit across the sts. on needle #2, remembering work the clock pattern.
On needle #3, k1, ssk, knit to end of needle. One round completed.
Knit one round plain--don't forget your clock pattern on #2.

Repeat these two rounds, continuing to decrease at the end of #1 and the beginning of #3 on every other round, until 24 total sts. remain--12 sts. on needles #1 and #3, and 24 sts. on needle #2. When you're done, you'll see that you've inserted an enormous bump in an otherwise neat and tidy tube. Don't forget to work the clock pattern throughout.

So, is it obvious that I've forgotten to work my clock pattern more than once? If you forget and end up with the clock stopping at the ankle, who's going to tell you that you didn't plan it that way? If you make a mistake once, you fix it. If you make it twice, you say a few nasty words while you fix it. If you make the same mistake three times, it becomes a design element. AND, if you make a mistake and don't know it until after you've knitted 12 rounds, it STILL becomes a design element. I'm the lord of my knitting, right?

Well, it's all down hill now. Knit down the foot (remembering the clock pattern, of course) until you're 2 inches short of the desired foot length.

We'll finish the toe next time!! Maybe you'll leave the toes off so you can wear your flip flops with them, eh? As always, if you're fast, you can always work on that second sock. They match better when they're worked as close to the same time as possible. The techniques for using long circular needles to do two socks at once are brilliant and make nearly perfectly matching socks. I just prefer the old fashioned way, I guess. See you in a few days!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sock KAL

It's time for the Wooly Works sock knit along! I have one knitter knitting along with me so if you'd like to join us, grab your needles and yarns and let's go. I'll be posting the pattern a little at a time here, but if you'd like to have it all at one shot, check our website at http://odysseyrockranch.com . It's posted there under Free Patterns.

We're starting with something simple but fun and I think you'll be pleased with the results. No comments please about my color choices or lack of color coordination. I'm using some wool with contrasting colors so you can see the work progress. My skill at taking pictures is limited so I need all the help I can get. Besides, I want your socks to be the highlight of our KAL, not mine.

You'll need US #3 (3.25 mm, UK #10) straight needles and #3 dpn's. You'll also need three colors of yarn, with the main color A, and the others designated as B and C. Cast on 48 stitches onto the straight needles and knit 2 rows in color A. Join color B and knit 2 rows. Join color C and knit 2 rows.

OK, I couldn't find my #3 straights, so I used #2 (2.75 mm, UK #12) straights. I already broke my own rules--just so you know. I'll still use #3 dpn's.

Rejoin color A, knit 1 row and then work a twisted edge as follows:

K4, rotate the right needle 360 degrees, K4, rotate, K4 and continue across to the end.

At the end of this row, transfer all sts. to dpn's and join into round by working K2 P2 ribbing (2x2 ribbing).

Work 8 rounds of ribbing. Purl two rounds and knit one round plain.

The next step is to work the color pattern. Work it as follows:

K2 in color A, k2 in color B. Repeat around three times.
K2 in color B, k2 in color A. Repeat around three times.
Repeat first three rounds.

This is how I knit the pattern, but the posted pattern says to work vertical stripes. I broke my own rules again, but isn't knitting about being creative? Isn't it about creating a work of wearable art that suits the maker? In my world, a pattern is just a blueprint, a suggestive guide and an idea builder. I don't write or use patterns as if they're a recipe or a code of conduct. They're always a work in progress and the knitter gets to decide what the progress looks like and where it ultimately goes. I hope your socks look completely different from mine!!

Knit one round plain in color A.
Purl two rounds in color A.
Work 8 more rounds of 2x2 ribbing.

OK, that's it for now. Go and work on that much and come back in a couple of days for the rest or go to our website for the complete pattern and work on ahead. You can put your cuff stitches on a string and start the second sock, which isn't a bad idea if you want to have both socks be an exact match. See you in a couple of days!!

P.S., just in case you're curious about the shawl progress, here it is on a string so I could check the pattern. So far so good. It will still take me the rest of the summer. I'm at 576 stitches now and it's getting good!! I'm still promising to get better directions and pictures up soon for those who want to knit along but couldn't follow my sketchy directions!

Friday, July 11, 2008

More Stuff From a Very Hot Farm

It's 102F today. Whew! We got the chores done early and ran to the house where we've been hunkered down in the air conditioning. The irrigation water will run all on its own until it cools off this evening and the animals all have plenty of shade and water, so we're fiddling with our own little projects.

Yesterday, a nice thunderstorm rolled in around 3:00. We're hoping for the same today.

Did I mention that I'm spinning dog hair for a woman from the Boulder area? She's saved the hair from her four dogs for 13 years. I'm working on just over 8 ounces of Golden Retriever undercoat and will start on a blend of black standard poodle and black alpaca next week. There is also a white poodle and something called a labradoodle (?). Interesting stuff. It's coming along well, but the stink--even after washing--is something else. It all smells like old dog, which will probably be a great comfort to the owner, but is just stinky to me. The black poodle died just after I collected the hair from the owner, so she's looking forward to having something from that animal. I don't blame her. I'm pretty attached to my animals as well.

My Abby is again creating cupcakes and cookies with her decorating skills and once again I'm impressed with this youngster's ability and eye. She worked with a recipe this time instead of just a boxed mix, so they taste good this time.

This is the latest bear in our growing collection. It's turned out to be a girl. Since I haven't gotten around to knitting any clothes for it, we used my daughter's doll clothes to cover the "bearness". No name for it yet, as it's gender could change with a simple change of garb. This one is made of handspun alpaca mohair blend, silver gray alpaca, and some bits of gray angora bunny. The ears and paws should fuzz up significantly with time and handling. However, I think it's time for something a little more traditional in the bear department. Jean Greenhowe has some very nice bear patterns and so does Debbie Bliss. I'll start there.

The summer cold finally caught me. The rest of the family had it last week as I gloated over being more hardy and vigorous than they. I've been fighting with a sore throat for three days, although I wouldn't admit it was actually sore--just a little tight is all--and today I have the running nose, slight fever and puffy eyes. Yuck. I hate that feeling when you're not sleepy, but your eyes and head say to lay down and sleep. As I lay there, my mind says, "The windows need washed. The weeds need sprayed. The website needs updated. The floors need scrubbing. What about the painting project? When are you going to clean the carpets? Weren't you going to sort through the storage shed?" Oh my. Why can't I remember all those things when I'm feeling good?

It's a good thing it's HOT today and I have a good excuse to give myself to neglecting all of those things, eh?