Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'll share whats in my knit kit, if you share whats in yours ...

Toys or tools - call them what you will, these little additions to a knit kit can make knitting easier. Today I'm talking my favourite knitting toys. Some times these toys are the simplest things, take two of my favorite knitting tools, one barely a week old, the other part of my knitting kit for a few years. Both of these are now firm favorites. This Post I explain how these two little things work in my knitting. My Fana inspired Cardigan progress slowly. I've got a sock up date, and working on a simple percentage formulae for a toe up widdershins sock variation.

So what toys do you like to use in your knitting? This last week I realised that two of my essentials were not in every one elses knit-kit. At the lace weekend, we used markers to indicate specific repeats or pattern lines in our knitting. Our kit instructions told us to bring 2 safety pins, which we were then asked to mark certain stitches. Cumbersome and ugly. I used my little silver jump rings, and ended up loaning a few to other knitters in the room.

I then found my little knit box, a little plastic 'tin' which one held french liquorice candy, did a trip around the table as I watched people discover the things it held. What was so fascinating? Well it has silver jump rings in two sizes, 3mm and 5mm, a broken 5" brittany dpn, a fine and larger wool needle, 4 or 5 markers made from old drop earrings, and a weird paper clip. The paper clip is just a simple loop of metal with rounded ends that hold a few stitches easily. You can spot it in the first photo if you look closely. I find the little jump rings from some sources better than others, look for ones that join neatly, not overlap - those ones can catch and snag yarn. Jump rings are narrow enough to leave no trace, as some larger plastic markers insist on shouldering a space between stitches, a little like that beginner ladder when you start using dpns.

I also have nice nice jewellery stitch markers, these really were real jewellery. Once these were earrings in the 1980's and 1990's, and have been reformed into stitch markers. I wound the earring hook around a metal knitting needle, size 4.5mm, and then trimmed away the extra with wire cutters. The broken britteny dpn - well it feels like jewellery, I can't bring myself to throw it out. I am sure it has a use some where in my knitting.

My new essential tool. We were asked to bring a magnetic pattern holder to the lace weekend, if we could afford it. Being of shallow purse, I trotted off to the local mega craft store to price magnetic craft boards. I told myself, if they were less than $39 I could maybe buy one, that if hinted these could be a major purchase. Oh My God! These little treasures are priced between $8 and $13! Talk about cheap. I bought the delux large size, slighlty shorter than A4. Before the end of that day I had mine put to use in tracking the star colour work on my Fana cardigan, what did we use before? I can't remember. Today I bought another, now I have four places for project charts, as each has two sides. I bound the edges of each, one with trimming elastic, and one with narrow bias binding. The manufacturer suggests using masking tape - but it goes sticky. Remember that $13 NZ is probably around $8 US, given our dollar holds it value like toy money. If you work from charts, this little treasure of a tool makes knit life easier.

Progress report on my Fana inspired cardigan, and while I have not been knitting much on it given the lace weekend - it has grown. From 9cm last time to 13 cm this time. I am finding the silk merino a real challenge to knit fair isle with evenly, especially on the stars with longer floats. This yarn is slippery, and I am hoping the blocking will relax it a little. Look close and you can see little bubbles in betwen the star points where I wove the floats. The Bohus was much easier to fair isle, with its slightly fuzzy angora yarn. This yarn also is photo shy, while the first image is around the right colour, the 2nd is not. Notice I have stitch markers every 15 stitches - as repeat markers, little silver jump rings. Those save my sanity. There is a thread on KR right now asking if it is ok to use stitch markers to identify repeats, I say yes, yes YES!

And socks, these regia stripe socks are for Toby, my nearly 8 yo young man. My own version of a toe up, widdershins variation. My new favorite sock pattern. I have not made a lace sock yet, I want to, its on my list to do. But for Toby, manly ribbed instep, plain sole, ribbed leg socks. I'm working out a simple formulae for my own Widdershin variation.I know widdershins math is a hot blog topic, I know Squeeky has posted a formulae but I'm math challenged. I specialised in physics in high school, held down an engineering cadet job for 4 years, have a university stats paper under my degree and a PhD which involved much much statistical planning, testing and analysis. I even lead authored a paper on the stats behind representative sampling of garment leather. But some how I'm still maths challenged. Go figure ...

So here is my version of a widdershins based sock formulae. No gauge, no idea of what the total stitches are at various points, just knit to a formulae as you go. Very EZ. So far its fitting. Its worked for Poppy aged 4, Chris aged 50+, and Toby aged 7. I knit socks on 5 dpns, stitches on 4, knitting off onto the fifth, so I write for stitches dived onto 4 dpns. I like a firm guage, so knit sock yarn on 2mm dpns.

Using toe up method I figure-8 cast on around 20 stitches, for Poppy I cast on 16, for Chris around 24, it depends on how pointy their foot is. I trace the recipiants foot, and use it to measure my knitting against, toe width, sock width, sock length. Knit rounds increasing every 2nd round at each end of the sole and instep stitches until the sock is the same width as a tracing of the widest part of the foot, this became K, I put 1/4 K on each dpn. If possible make the K divideable by 4, it makes using a k2p2 rib instep and leg easier. Thats so easy on dpns, just make sure each of the four needles has the same number of stitches. I knit the instep in K2 P2 rib and the sole in plain knit. I also make Left and Right paired m1 increases. I'm fussy.

When the sock measures 3 1/4 inches short of the heel, I increase for the gusset.
The gusset increases are equal to 50% of K, or 1/4 K on each side, so m1 at each end of the sole every 2nd row until the sole needles have K stitches. or in plain English, double the number of stitches on the sole needles, if they each had 12, they now need 24. This is a much bigger gusset than most patterns but it is working for me and my clan. We got high arches - maybe we need a high gusset. At this point you have 150% of K stitches on the needles, 100% on the sole needles, and 50% on the instep needles.

Make the round heel on 50%of K stitches, 25% on each side of the centre sole stitches.

(note this is the number you originally had on each dpn)
Knit to 2 stitches before the end of the sole stitches, m1, wrap next turn,
purl to 2 stitches before the end of the sole stitches, m1, wrap next stitch, turn,
knit to 2 stitches before the m1 on previous purl row, m1, wrap one, turn,
purl to 2 stitches before the m1 on the previous knit row
continue until around the centre 6-10 stitches are left on the two sole needles.
knit one complete round, ribbing the instep stitches as worked, picking up the wraps and knitting in with heel stitches as you go.

Work slip stitch heel,
the heel flap is worked on 50% of K,
knit to 1 stitch before 1/4 of K stitches past centre of heel, ssk, turn
s1, purl to 1 stitch before 1/4 of K stitches past centre of heel, p2tog, turn
s1, k1, to 1 stitch before 1/4 of K stitches past centre of heel, ssk, turn
s1, purl to 1 stitch before 1/4 stitches past centre of heel, p2tog, turn
Repeat last 2 rows until all extra heel and gusset stitches are gone and you are back down to the original number of stitches, K.

Work the leg in K2, P2 rib, lining up the ribs with those already set on the instep. Fudge it if you need to get a number divisible by 4 for a K2 P2 rib.
Rib until its nearly long enough, for us thats 1-2 inches longer than the sole.
Switch to K1 P1 rib for around 2 inches and cast off using your preferred sock method. I use a sewn up bind off and do this loosly.

happy knitting,


Sylvie (the DogMotive 'gírl') - the Netherlands said...

That's SO funny; just a few hours ago - before I read your blog - I ordered exactly the same magnetic - what's - it's - name, because I'm making pomatomus socks from knitty.
Now I have the pattern sheet printed out, put it in a sheet protector and slided another page over it, so that it covers the rows I'm not knitting. It works, but still I was looking for something better.
As for my knit kit; , well, nothing special, I think; stitch holders, markers (I read someone cut drinking straws into thin markers, so I have those, as well as some beautiful beaded stitch markers), row counters, some needles, a pair of scissors, row counters and more stuff. O yes, I forgot even more markers; from electrical toothbrushes I take the colored markers which you can use to see which toothbrush is yours. Also in my knit kit is a pencil, a measuring tape and safety pins.

Tanya said...

I keep meaning to get a magnetic board. Where did you pick yours up? Thanks for reminding me!

Zeph said...

Thankyou for your explanation of how to do toe-up heel flaps. It was so clear I finally understand how to make em work!

auburn said...
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