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Grafting also known as the kitchener stitch

Grafting also know as the Kitchener stitch

hand knit sock

The kitchener stitch is a great knitting technique for joining two pieces of knitting together.

Grafting, also known as Kitchener stitch or weaving, joins two sets of stitches that are still on the needle (a.k.a. “live”) by using a tapestry needle threaded with yarn to create a row that looks like knit stitches between them.

It allows you to graft two pieces of knitting together seamlessly. I use the kitchener stitch to graft together the toes of my socks. I knit my socks from the top down.

The kitchener stitch, or grafting can be a little confusing at first, i had to do it while watching the video. Personally, I like this video by very pink knits.

The little sort of rhyme I got from one of my classes on Craftsy. It goes like this

Set up your grafting/kitchener stitch first by
  • go through the front stitch as if to purl
  • go through the back stitch as if to knit

Start with the front needle, then the little diddy goes like this

  • pick off as if to knit, prepare as if to purl
  • pick off as if to purl, prepare as if to knit

This makes for a very clean join of the back and front of the toes in my socks.

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Tennis Elbow from Knitting

I have TENNIS ELBOW FROM KNITTING!

Yup! I did it! I knitted myself right into tennis elbow. Apparently you or should I say I can’t knit for several hours a day every day without doing my arm some harm.

What exactly is tennis elbow you may wonder?

Tennis elbow, also know as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition of the elbow caused by overuse. Several other activities like knitting can also put you at risk.

Tennis elbow is an inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. The forearm muscles and tendons become damaged from overuse — repeating the same motions again and again. This leads to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow.

I guess you could say it’s like tendonitis in your forearm and elbow and it is very painful. There I was traveling round the country with hubby in a big truck, occupying myself for a few hours a day knitting up socks. And then one day, bam! My arm was killing me. I tried resting it and not doing knitting or much else with it, but it did not improve.

Out here on the road there aren’t always many options, so I decided to use the internet to see what I could find out about fixing this, or at the very least making it hurt much less. I know things like this can take a long time to heal.

My first search was on youtube and I was able to find several videos by physical therapists about how to work on tennis elbow. I was able to find a massage technique here in this video and started doing the massage across my forearm to break up the tight muscle and relieve some of the pain. And I have to say this worked pretty well. It is not healed yet but it does not hurt on a daily basis near as much.

It is also being irritated my my shoulder muscles which are very tense and also found some stretching exercises that help loosen that up also.

I also found this brace that is a 2 in 1 compression ice pack that got good reviews from buyers. With the ice applied twice a day and the massages I am feeling much better. I am not back to knitting yet, but the fact that I don’t want to rip my arm off on a daily basis is an improvement.

I do miss working on my sock collection, but hope to be able to get back to that soon. If you have tennis elbow, check out youtube and hopefully you can find some approaches that work for you.

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Making Custom Socks, things I have learned

Making customs socks , anyone can do it.

I love socks! There is only one thing better than ordinary socks! That is  making custom socks I can knit myself.

knitted pink socks

pair of handmade socks I knit for a friend

In this post I am going to share what I have learned so far about making custom socks. It is not hard to knit your own socks once you learn the basics. There are a few things you have to know about your feet before you begin.

Foot Measurements:

You will need a few key measurements of your foot. The chart below shows several key measurements you should know about your foot when making custom socks.

When making custom socks I feel 4 particular measurements are key.

  1. the circumference around the ball of your foot near your toes.
  2. the circumference around your leg and ankle
  3. the heel diagonal measurement.
  4. Length of your foot from heel to toe

The heel diagonal measurement is important if your feet are not standard. For instance I have high arches and this measurement is wider for me and I need to account for it if the sock is going to get over my heel when putting it on.

I like my socks to fit snug and often make them a bit smaller for that reason, except for the heel area that goes over my instep.

You should always have a 10% smaller sock than your measurements to allow for negative ease. Ease is the natural stretch of the fabric when knit.you want 10% less to have a snug fit on your foot.

So if the ball of your foot measures 9 inches like mine then I want to knit for an 8 inch size in that area, this insures a snug fit sock and not a loose one that may roll around your foot. And your stitch count can change in any area of your sock to accommodate your measurement changes along the way. All you need to do is either increase or decrease in that area to meet your sizing needs.

You may need to knit a few pairs to figure all this out. I had to knit a few pairs to refine my sock fitting needs.

Gauge:

You also have to know the gauge of the yarn and needle size you are knitting with. If you are knitting in the round then you should swatch your gauge in the round also. Knit a 6 inch swatch in the round, then using your ruler take a 2 inch sample from the center and count the stitches in 2 inches and divide by 2. Include half stitches. This is your gauge.

I know I get 8 stitches to the inch. Also keep in mind different sock yarns may give you different gauges. Some yarns are thicker than others, so knitting a gauge is important.

I am also a looser knitter so I knit with needles a size or two smaller than what may be recommended. I knit with 2 mm double pointed needles. I also prefer a denser woven fabric and smaller needles will also do this for me. Denser fabric when knitting socks will help them wear better and last longer.

My first pair of socks

Picking Sock Yarn

Fingering is a great yarn for socks. There are many different kinds of fingering yarns.  What should you look for.

  1. yarn with more plys. Multiple strands make yarn more resistant to abrasion and wear.
  2. be careful of softness in yarns, this can indicate a fragile yarn. You don’t want fragile yarn when knitting socks. Socks get a lot of abuse being on your feet all day.
  3. You don’t want to buy loose spun yarn for socks. It will not wear well
  4. Soft yarns tend to pill more also
  5. good sock yarn should include a blend of nylon for strength. And super wash yarns are good for socks also. Just check your blends of yarns to make sure they are suitable for socks.
Making custom socks; Figuring out where to start!

I like to knit cuff down socks using double pointed needles (dpns). You can knit socks from the toe up, using 2 circular needles or magic loop. I prefer dpns and I prefer the wood ones.

Now I have to consider my measurements to begin my sock.

  1. I have a 9.25 inch leg measurement and a 9.25 ball of my foot measurement. My heel diagonal is 13 inches. That’s a big difference, so I have to allow for that both in the ribbing I knit and the heel area.
  2.  I take the 9.25 and multiply it by my stitches per inch. ( 9.25 x 8 =74). Typically in other areas of my foot I can knit with 68 stitches for the leg area, this gives me room to account for ease ( stretch) in the fabric. But in my cast on for ribbing I need to make room for my high arch, so I will need more stitches here.

I begin with a cast on of 72 stitches for the ribbing and then decrease as I work my way down the leg area to 68. Why 72? Because 72 is a multiple of 4, my ribbing is k2p2, also a multiple of 4. So I round down to 72. I don’t want my leg part to be too loose all the way down so I decrease here to 68 for a better fitting leg.

I knit a 15 row ribbing. I like that size for sock tops. Then I knit down about 7-10 rows and I decrease to my 68 stitches and knit the rest of the leg.

Sock Heels

There are many heels out there one can knit on a sock and since you are making a custom made sock you can choose whichever heel you want. There are heel flap heels, wrap and turn short row heels and quite a few others. I suggest you look around the internet, watch a few videos and try a couple of heels to see which one you like and which one gives you the fit you want.

Typically a heel will be half the stitches of your sock leg. so for me my leg is 68 stitches my heel would be 34 stitches. But since I have a wider arch I make my heel 38 stitches.

Which heel do I like? I like the smooth operator sock heel by Susan B Anderson Smooth Operator Socks on Ravelry. It is what they call an afterthought heel. That means you can knit in waste yarn to keep the place of your heel and keep knitting the foot of the sock until you want to go back and knit the heel.

In her pattern for the heel she picks up 2 stitches on each side of the gap in the beginning the heel. That means I now have 4 extra stitches in my heel count. For me I now have my 38 stitches.

Now I must say that she decreases those extra stitches on the first round of knitting the heel. I do not decrease them right away. Because of my high arch I knit them and decrease a standard 2 stitches for each decrease round on each side of the heel. This gives me a couple of extra rows in the heel and makes a bit more room for me in my instep to account for my high arch.

With making custom socks you can adapt these parts of the sock to fit you! You are the creator. Don’t be afraid to increase or decrease stitches where you need more or less room. Make notes along the way as to what you change so when you knit sock #2 you remember what you did and where in the sock you did it.

Knitting the foot of the sock

The length of the foot of your sock you also want to allow for ease. My foot is 9.5 inches long and I knit it for 8.5 inches long.

Knit the foot till it is about 1.5 inch short of that measurement and this is where you will begin the toe decreasing.

I also decrease my foot stitches from 68 to 64 stitches after I have knit about 2.5-3 inches past the heel. I don’t want to decrease to early because of my arch. I decrease to 64 stitches because I want a snug fit in the foot of my sock.

I did not know all this at first, I had to knit a few pairs of socks to see what works for my foot.

I knit till about 1.5 inches before my total length measurement (8.5 inches) then I decrease my toe.

I do the grafting stitch (kitchner stitch)  then I have a sock.

My thought about making custom socks

You can find videos on youtube for all parts of sock knitting. There is also lots of other info on the internet if you search for the things you would like to know.

I suggest you watch several  videos from different people and find the techniques you like best. Try them out. It’s just a pair of socks and you can make another and refine things to suit your needs. Don’t be afraid to experiment. And once you can knit a plain pair of socks then you can learn to incorporate different knitting stitches in your socks or even color work designs into your socks. The possibilities are endless.

Remember this is a custom sock and you can incorporate any parts you like or need into making custom socks. And you can ask questions here, or even share your finished projects on the blog. Just post in the comments.

my second pair of socks

Books on sock knitting I like

A great book on making custom socks is Custom Socks by Kate Atherly. She gives a ton of information on how to customize every part of sock making. You may want to knit a few pairs first to get familiar with the construction of a sock before you venture into this awesome book.

There is also a sock book customized for knitting socks for big feet. It is a great book with lots of information. It is called Big Foot Knits by Andi Smith

Ravelry is an online knitting group where you can find lots of patterns, groups and information pertaining to knitting. Some patterns are free and some you can buy right from the designer. It is a great place for all kinds of knitting patterns and camaraderie with other knitters.

You can also look on Facebook for knitting groups where you can share your knitting projects and also ask for help.

Here are some Facebook groups I enjoy.

Addicted to knitting socks on FB, request to join

Knitting on FB request to join

Strictly Knitting request to join

Sock Knitting FB

Knit your socks off FB

Addicted to knitting socks and gloves

Craftsy classes

My newest adventure in socks is a class on Craftsy by Lucy Neatby. After knitting several pairs of socks I decided I was up for a real challenge. This is the fiesta sock class.

fiesta sock class by Lucy Neatby on Craftsy.

My fiesta sock.

my funky sock cuff and leg

my fiesta sock leg

my cabled sock heel

my fiesta sock heel so far

This is a fun class with lots of information and well taught. If you are up for a fun sock then try this class.

Craftsy also has several other sock knitting classes that will walk you through making a sock. They often have sales on classes so if you want a bargain then wait for a craftsy sale.

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Lucy Neatby Craftsy Sock Class

This is Lucy Neatby, she is quite a fun colorful lady and she is an excellent teacher of knitting.

Lucy Neatby

I am currently taking the Lucy Neatby Craftsy sock class.

Or just buy the pattern direct from her site. It is now 50% off.

This is one colorful funky pair of socks and I love them. I have knit several pairs of socks for myself and thought it was time to try something new and different. I decided to sign up for this class and give it a whirl. There are new stitches to learn and a new way of constructing a sock. Having only ordinary simple socks is not enough.

I love the corrugated rib look of this cuff. It is not knit in the corrugated rib fashion. The cuff is a long width of garter stitch knitting in two colors that has lots of stretch to it and works better as a sock cuff.

Then there is the star stitch leg section which is pretty simple once you learn the stitch. And I thought the heel cable pattern would be harder but Lucy writes very clear and easy to follow instructions that even a beginner can follow along. And of course there is the class videos to guide you if you need some visual to watch to understand better.

This is my funky sock so far. I choose a jewel tone variegated contrasting yarn with a cream color as the main color. I am having fun learning new stitches.

my funky sock cuff and leg

Now I am onto the heel of the sock and i was worried the cabling section would be more complicated. But Lucy writes excellent instructions and it was easy to follow. I love the way it is coming out.

my cabled sock heel

Don’t that just look cool!

I also took Lucy’s class on double knitting. Being interested in two color work I thought this would be a good technique to have more understanding of.

link to class here

Cant wait to try a project in this. I would also love to get her book on this, it is on my wish list for sure.

But living in a truck I have limited room for excess things so I will have to think about this one a bit. In the mean time I will buy a few patterns so I can store it all digitally for now.

On to more knitting, have a sock to finish!

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Fairisle colorwork mitts

I love fairisle. And am working on these Fairisle colorwork mitts

All the colors and the patterning just appeal to my sense of design. I came across this pattern that I just love. It’s called How cold is it, mittens on Ravelry. Find the link here

How cold is it mittens by Drunk Girl Designs on Ravelry

As I mentioned we are over the road in a big truck and spend too many winter days up in northern Illinois where it is exactly that. Cold as Fuck! Last week for example it was -11 degrees with the wind chill it was colder than that.

So I have decided to take this project on and knit my first pair of fairisle colorwork mitts, only I am going to edit the pattern a bit and make fingerless gloves. I am not much of a mitten person.

First I started with corrugated ribbing. It looked nice but it does not have much give to it at all. So I took it all out and started over.

This is attempt no. 2. I decided to do a regular ribbing and wanted more white than I did blue, so I just made a blue cast on and knitted one row for accent.

This has been fun so far, the repeatable pattern in the first part wasn’t too hard. I could even manage to do it while we were driving down the road. But the next part with the lettering takes a bit more paying attention. I will have to be knitting the next section when we are parked.

Visit her shop Drunk Girl Designs on Ravelry.com she has a few other cool designs you may like.

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Perfect thumb gussets

Perfect thumb gussets, we all want them.

 

I wanted better thumb gussets and so set out on a mission.

fingerless mitts

fingerless mitts

After knitting a couple of pairs of fingerless mitts and several pairs of socks, you can’t seem to avoid the hole that you get at the point where you connect the pieces back together.

I went searching for solutions.

fingerless mitts

fingerless mitts

I wanted to minimize the hole portion of the sock knitting. I figured it had to be possible. Where to look? Youtube of course!

I was also in search of a video on thumb gussets since I didn’t particularly like the one I did on the last pattern I knitted. After cruising youtube I came across a video by Suzanne Bryan. You can find the video on perfect thumb gussets here. It’s a nice long video where she takes you through the whole process of making a nice thumb gusset.

At one point in the video where she brings together the glove section back to the knitted thumb she picks up a stitch in between connecting the thumb to the glove. Then knits the two together. It made a much smaller hole. I like this technique.

perfect thumb gussets by suzanne bryan youtube

This particular part happens at about the 16 minute mark of the video. The whole video is worth a watch.

So today while knitting these socks, I finished up the heel and as I came around to knit the whole tube of the sock together again, I got to thinking. Would it make a difference here if I applied the same principle as she did in the glove. I did not make a stitch since I usually decrease a few stitches as I knit the foot of the sock.

knitted pink socks

my knitted pink sock

Instead as I came to the join,  I knit to the last stitch of the heel and them moved it over to the next working needle and then I knit two together. I repeated the same thing on the  other side where the heel joins with the sock again. It made a much much smaller hole. I was very happy with the results. I will be using this technique in all my sock knitting from now on.

If you didn’t want to lose stitches you could always knit two together and then increase 2 stitches to make up for the two you decreased.

Here is another great video on knitting a thumb with no holes by aknitica on youtube. You can find it here.

youtube video on thumb with no holes by akintica

 

Whether you are looking for perfect thumb gussets or simply looking to minimize the holes in a project where things join you may want to consider incorporating this into your next project.

 

 

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Stretchy bind off knitting technique you need to see

A great stretchy bind off knitting technique you may want to try for yourself.

If you have knit anything in which you want a nice stretchy bind off then you need to see this video.

My fingerless mitts I have made for myself pictured below. One of my issues with regular bind off techniques is that they just aren’t stretchy enough. I used a regular technique on this items and was not happy with the final result.

               

Not totally satisfied with the limited stretchy result prompted me to go in search of a bind off that I liked and that would not limit the amount of stretch you get in the end. This stretchy bind off technique by VeryPinkKnits on youtube looks great and will probably wind up in my next project.

stretchy bind off by VeryPinkKnits on youtube

I came across this video on youtube by VeryPinkKnits and I like it a lot. It is a simple and easy stretchy bind off that will not limit the amount of stretch to an item.

At the tops of fingerless gloves this will be the perfect technique to finish with.

Check out the video here.

I will be using this in my next pair of fingerless mitts.

I also found on her youtube channel a matching cast on with lots of stretch. It would make a great match to the stretchy bind off. It is called German Twisted cast on and will also probably be on the next pair of socks i knit.

German Twist cast on by VeryPinkKnits on youtube

Check out that video here.

Similar to a regular long tail cast on only with a bit more stretch. I may have to watch it a few times and try it as I go along to remember how to do this one, but it’s well worth the effort.

She has a lot of great tutorials on everything from techniques to projects and tutorials. Check them out here

There will be more posts on the subject of casting on and binding off in the near future. I want to learn more of them so I can incorporate them into my knitting projects. If you have a favorite one you would like to share please comment or send me an email and I will post about it here.

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Ponytail hat pattern for knitters and crocheters

These Ponytail knitted hats came to my attention via Facebook. Several friends I have who know I love to knit tagged me in them. I am sure they would like to hope I make a bunch of them and send them out. LOL

So I decided to look into them a bit because several people were looking for links to patterns and I found quite a few. They are adorable and great for those of us with lots of hair that we wear up in ponytails.

I am going to give you all some links to a few patterns, some free and some for a low cost.

Lets start with the one I like best.

This is the Tea cozy Ponytail hat pattern by Woolly Wormhead on Ravelry. It has a simple look and I like the colors and the little curly part up by the ponytail.

Maybe I will knit this one up. Link to the pattern is here and it is free.

Tea cozy ponytail hat pattern by Woolly Wormed on ravelry

Next  is the Opal Ponytail Beanie Hat Pattern by Bead and Opal Wool Queen. It is also free and I think its cute. The colors in this one are quite appealing to me. The lacy top around the point tail is adorable.

You can find the pattern here and it’s free.

 

Opal ponytail beanie hat pattern by Bead and Wool queen

This ponytail hat pattern is called the Urban Homesteader hat by Christy Varner. It can be found here on Ravelry. It is also free. Great design, the back kind of remind me of the back of a baseball cap. Depending on where you wear your ponytail this is a great hat if you wear it low.

Urban Homesteader Hat
by Christy Varner

 

Another adorable Ponytail Hat pattern, called Hannah, by Blake Ehrlich on Ravelry. It is also free. Knit out of a more chunky wool it has a great design and also looks like a fun knitting project. You can find the pattern here.

Ponytail hat pattern by Blake Ehrlich called hannah found on Ravelry

Here is a Ponytail hat pattern for those of you who would rather crochet than knit. It looks adorable and simple. The pattern is on Ravelry and its by Amy Musick. You can find the pattern here. This one is not free but worth the small price if you want to crochet a cute ponytail hat for yourself or someone.

Ponytail hat pattern by amy musick

Now this one is a bit different with a brim, much like a baseball cap. It is a Ponytail hat pattern by Bead and Wool Queen on Ravelry. It is available for free on ravelry and quite a cute looking hat.

ponytail hat pattern with brim by bead and wool queen on ravelry

There are also quite a few ponytail hat patterns on Etsy, some similar to the ones above and some a bit different.

This one I quite like a bit.

This ponytail hat pattern is on etsy and is by CozyCappuccino the pattern page can be found here. This page is for the pair and they are one great pair of hats. I love color work and so this one appeals to me a lot. I don’t know if I will ever get around to making one, but if I did this would be the one.

You can always go to Etsy and type in ponytail hat pattern to see all the different style patterns available.

I figured  I would round some up and this seems to be a popular hat and a useful style too. Ponytails often don’t work in regular hats, and this would be a great alternative. There are many cute designs to choose from so lets start knitting up some cute hats and share them in the comments, I would love to see what you create.

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Carolinian Hat by Kate Oates

Carolinian Hat by Kate Oates is going to be the next hat I knit for myself.

by kate oates

by kate oates

I chose Carolinian Hat pattern for several reasons. First I only have one ball of this yarn. And this pattern works with the amount of yardage I have.  Second I just love the spiraling pattern of the hat. The pattern is on Ravelry and it is by Kate Oates. You can find her shop here.

Browsing through the projects tab on the pattern page to see other peoples interpretation of pattern and yarns they choose, is always interesting to me.

This is my ball of Malabrigo yarn.

by Kate Oates

Malabrigo yarn bulky

I recently went to visit family in Pa for the Thanksgiving holiday and got to do some yarn shopping in person. That is something I don’t get to do much being on the road all the time. So it was a real treat.

I came back to the truck with 3 large storage bags full of yarn for all kinds of projects. They are all stuffed at the foot of my bunk and its fun to have so much yarn on the road.

 

 

 

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Fingerless mitts

I prefer fingerless mitts. They are my go to hand covering for winter.

by Susie Rogers

by Susie Rogers find on ravelry.

I knitted a pair of these for a friend for xmas. This is an easy to knit pattern and free on Ravelry. They are a fingerless mitts pattern by Susie Rogers and you can find her shop here.

I also decided a need a quick and easy fingerless mitt for myself. We do a lot of traveling up in the northern states like the Chicago area and it gets quite cold.

by me

by me

Now this is just a simple pattern knit in stockinette stitch with a ribbing at the top and bottom. They knit up quick and are soft and comfortable. Knit out of 100% merino. Knit in two colors to match my new winter jacket which is chocolate brown.

It was knitted from this delicious soft hand painted yarn.

20161123_073058

A thumb gusset was my personal preference on thumbs as I find them more comfortable.

If you don’t know how to do a thumb gusset here are a couple of videos of the process.

thumb gusset video one

thumb gusset video two

Now these are not my videos. They are videos I found on Youtube.com. You can learn a lot about knitting techniques on youtube just search for your topic.

You can also find lots of knitting classes on Craftsy.com

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