Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My latest pair of socks or how I create my afterthought heel socks.

I was inspired to make this pair of socks when I saw the pair my friend Monika (http://stricklinse.de) knit, from her handspun, during her last trek to Mt Everest. I totally stole this picture from her twitter feed.

So I picked up one of my drop spindles and a wool and silk blend of fiber, dyed by Cloud Lover http://cloudlover.bigcartel.com and got to work.

To get the yarn to stripe I needed to Navajo ply the single. I wasn't in any hurry to get the project done so I used my nostepinde to wind the yarn into a ball. Winding onto my nostepinde is a slow process for me but I like it that way.



I was trying for a fingering weight. As with all handspun there is some variation to the yarn but on average I created a heavy fingering yarn that is 14 WPI and 7 SPI on US #2 needles.

I started these socks, working both at the same time, from the toes up using a figure 8 cast on. I cast on a total of 24 sts, 12 for the instep and 12 for the sole. I was working with 4 DPNs, 3 to hold my stitches and the 4th to work with. After the cast on I distributed one half of the stitches, the sole, on 1 needle and one quarter of the instep stitches were on the other 2. If you prefer to work with 5 DPN's that's just fine too. 

Here is a very good tutorial on how to do this CO from Knit Picks https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=o-KW8Eavd-w

Then I increased to a total of 60 sts by knitting into the front and back of the first and last stitch on the instep and sole every other round.

Then I just knit until the sock was 1.5" less than the total length I wanted the foot to be. A good rule of thumb to use when placing your heel is to measure how long your toe is after you finish increasing. That will also be the length that your heel turns out to be so you just subtract that measure from the total length of your foot. My foot is 8.5" and when I reached 7" from the cast on I placed the lifelines and waste yarn for my heel. At the begging of the round I thread a lifeline using dental floss through the heel stitches. Then I knit across the heel stitches using waste yarn leaving about 2" of yarn hanging out at each end. Try to use a color of yarn that is different from the sock yarn your using so you can easily tell which is which (unfortunately for the purposes of this tutorial I didn't do that because I didn't know I would be creating a tutorial). Then I knit across the waste yarn using the sock yarn. When I get to the beginning of the next round I place another lifeline across the heel stitchs. 

I then I knit until the socks were the right length. To figure out what this measurement is for yourself measure from your ankle bone up to where you want the sock to end. For this pair of socks I worked 1" of knit 1 purl 1 rib at the top of the socks. When you bind off you want to use one that's stretchy. Two options are a sewn bind off or a Russian bind off. For these I used a Russian bind off which is very simple. All you do is knit two stitches in pattern. *Then slip those two stitches back onto the left hand needles then knit or purl them together. To determine which stitch to use, if your second stitch was a knit then knit the two stitches together, if the second stitch was a purl then put he two stitches together. Knit or purl the next stitch to be bound off and repeat*. 


Now your ready to work the heel. With the tip of a darning needle remove the waste yarn by pulling out each stitch. You may find that you've caught the lifeline in the waste yarn. If so then *carefully* cut your waste yarn near where it's caught in the lifeline to free it up. Use the tip of your daring needle to lift up the waste yarn so you can clearly see what your cutting. The lifelines assure that you won't loose your now live stitches.

Insert your knitting needles into the live stitches. If you find that your stitches are tight try using a needle that is a size or two smaller to pick up the stitches then redistribute them onto your regular needles.


I place 1/4 of the stitches onto 4 needles using a 5th to work with. Using 4 needles to hold your stitches at this point makes it easier to work your decreases. After your needles are in place then slip the lifelines out. You may find that you've caught the lifeline in the sock yarn. If so *carefully* cut the lifeline near where it's caught in sock yarn to free the lifeline up. Use the tip of your darning needle to lift up the lifeline to clearly see what your cutting.

At this point in the sock your sort of just knitting another toe as if from the top down.

To prevent a hole from forming at the sides of the heel do the following:

Starting at one side of the heel stitches (which one does't matter) Knit across one half of the heel stitches. Make one stitch by lifting the bar between the stitches.




Knit across the other half of the heel stitches. Make one stitch. Your now back at the beginning of the round. Place a marker to indicated the beginning/end of the round. Knit one round.

Now your ready to decrease the heel.

Decrease down to the original number of stitches you had at your cast on + 2 stitches (these are the two stitches you just made on each side of the heel) by doing the following 2 rows:

Row one: *knit one, SSK, knit across one one half of the stitches to just before the last three stitches, K2Tog, knit one, repeate from *
Row two: knit all stitches in the round.

When you are back to the correct number of stitches do one more decrease round but just decrease one stitch across each half of the heel stitches to get back to your original number.

Redistribute your stitches so you have each half of the heel stitchs  are on one needle and graft them together using Kitchener stitch. Here is a good tutorial from Knit Picks illustrating Kitchener stitch: 
http://tutorials.knitpicks.com/wptutorials/kitchener-stitch/

No matter what kind of sock I knit I always use my darning egg to help me weave in the ends on the heels and toes.



Here is a finished sock!

A note on doing a truly afterthought heel: you can dispense with using waste yarn altogether by just knitting a tube sock and figuring out the placement of the heel later. After your done knitting the tube sock measure where you want to place the heel then use a daring egg place lifelines, across half the stitches In your sock, above and below the row to be unstiched. The egg helps to assure you don't pick up any stitches from the side of the sock opposite from the heel.

A note on the spinning: you may have noticed that the stripes on my socks are much narrower than the stripes n Monika's socks. How a Navajo plied yarn stripes depends a lot on the way we prepared our fiber prior to spinning and a little on the number of stitches we used in our socks. The full explanation for this will come in another tutorial.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful. If you have any questions or need clarification on a step please feel free to leave a comment.

After rereading this post I realize I sort of wander from first to second, and possibly even third person perspective. Sorry about that. I'll try harder to stay constant in the future.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

It's World Wide Knit in Public Day! Of course everyday is a potential knit in public day for me just as everyday is Caturday at Casa de Cheeky.


Miss Storm

Mr Frank

Friday, June 13, 2014

I started World Wide Knit in Public Day a bit early (it's tomorrow). Cider at The Blue Dog Pub with the sock for my new Kindle.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

I need to restart somewhere

I've been meaning to start blogging again, really I have. I felt that I don't have anything worth saying. So today I'm going to start showing.

About a month ago I started knitting Emerald by Isabell Kraemer. Today I bound of the body and I'm about to start on a sleeve. This, for me, is a fast moving project. 


I've needed to be gentle with myself for the past couple of days as my mom died on Tuesday. I'm OK with this because she's not in pain any more and hopefully she's with my dad.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weaving with RA

Back in the days before I was sick I could wind a warp and dress my floor loom and be ready to weave in just a few hours, depending of course on how big and complicated the project was. These days its quite a different story. I wound the warp on Sunday then did nothing else the rest of the day, but part of the reason for that is I work a craft fair on Saturday with my friends Sarah and Sharon and I was just tired. This morning got the warp prepped onto the loom so I'm ready to beam it. It was a good place to start because my back decided that it really needed some quality time with the heating pad. I don't feel bad that I'm having to take the project and break it down into small increments mainly because I don't have a choice. Its do it small or not at all so I'll take small. At the craft fair I spoke to a woman who is a weaver and wants to learn to spin who also happens to have RA. I told her that I would be happy to work with her and we would decide together just how much it was going to be possible for her to do. I spoke to her about the whole concept of "Do it small or not at all" (taking things down to small bites not small projects) as much as could while also trying to sell spinning fiber for my friends. My new attitude towards my illness is taking shape. I will never be happy that I'm sick but I can be accepting of it and I will find a way to do all the things I used to do one way or any other because I just can't not do those things. Small it is.

ETA: My back is still not at all happy with me and my hips are in complete agreement with my back. So for the rest of the day I'm either going to knit on a sock or read while communing with my heating pad.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A new mindset

Right from the very beginning of be sick with RA my attitude has been that I needed to fight the disease. I needed to fight my way thru the pain, fatigue, and brain fogs. If I'm being very honest I never really accepted that I'd be sick for the rest of my life. I was hoping if I just did everything the Dr's wanted me to do I'd eventually go into remission and get back to who I was pre-RA. That approach, while it got me thru a lot of things in the past is not going to be the best for getting me thru the rest of my life. I'm trying a new mindset now, how do I just simply live with the disease and all that comes with it. I'm doing this because over the long term I just can't power thru the pain and fatigue and have a good quality of life. What this new mindset means for me is that I'm accepting that I'm in with this for life. I'm never going to completely pain free again. What I need to do is work with the ebbs and flow of the good days vs the bad. For example yesterday was a great day. I paced myself really well to get a lot of things done (nice long shower, walking to the market to do my food shopping, cooking enough of a meal to have plenty of left overs if don't want to or just can't cook at some point this week). By the end of the day I had enough energy and mental focus that I could knit and spin for a little while. Today I feel like crap but I'm not beating myself up about it. I need to be gentle with myself today so that I can get done the few thing that have to get done and have enough energy to get to some Dr's appointments tomorrow. So the short answer is that I have to be motivated to use the limited amount of good time wisely so that I don't feel emotionally bad when I can't just power thru the bad time.

A very important part of this new mindset is making sure I eat right. I feel that I really shouldn't eat as much processed food as I had been. One of the ways I've started to deal with this is to drag out my bread machine and bake a loaf or two of bread each week. No artificial crap and preservatives which could on some level be elevating my immune response, which is part of what RA is. With the machine its really easy. You just measure out the ingredients and press a button. No kneading. A great breakfast for me lately has been a nice piece of bread with honey drizzled on top. Very tasty and its just enough food in my tummy to help get my meds down and not give me a stomach ache. I'll be cooking a lot more simple foods in greater quantities so I can freeze the leftover for those time when I just can't stand up long enough to make something. I'm also going to the people who I know love to cook, my friends Wendy and Geoffrey for example, and asking them for ideas on simple healthy recipes that will fit my criteria. Why rack my brain when I have wonderful people in my life that are experts at cooking which really isn't my favorite thing in the world to do. This also gives me a chance to talk to my friends and that has been helping with feeling not so isolated. Basically I've been a hermit for the last 6 months and that has to stop too.

I'll be keeping y'all posted as to how well I'm doing with this new mindset.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A finished pair of socks for SOS 2010

I got one pair of socks done for the Summer of Socks 2010 Knit-A-Long. Go me! Considering how awful I've been feeling for the part few weeks this really is an accomplishment. The picture isn't the greatest but my hands are shaky and this was the best of the lot that was able to take in the fading light. Perhaps I'll take a better one tomorrow.


Hey Moni! Thanks for the support!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

An update

My RA has gotten worse, again. I was doing really well there for a while, but then I took a tumble out of my bathtub over a month ago and that started a set back that I'm still dealing with. Even getting an infusion of Remicade wasn't able to calm down the pain I was in. I'm back on steroids and am limited in what I can do. I have to admit that deaing with this flare has been kind of tough but that may have something to do with the fact that I have nothing to look forward too. No plans for trips or anything of the like to help me move forward each day. To force myself to look forward in a positive way I've started to do some knitting for Christmas. I can't do much each day but I do some and that helps pass the time. I can't show you anything that I'm working on because the two projects I have on the needles are for people who might see this post. I can't even tell you the kind of knitting I'm doing because these two people are smart and know me well. It wouldn't take much for them to guess who I'm knitting for.

As for my progress on my various Spin- or Knit-alongs, not a whole lot more progress was made since I posted about them. I did finally finish plying the yarn I was working on my wheel but I didn't do that until after the Tour de Fleece was over. I'm still working slowly on the same fiber I had on the drop spindle and I'm in progress on the second sock of the pair I had on the needles for the Summer of Sock '10. Summer isn't over yet so there's still hope I'll get the pair finished but feeling the way have been I'm not going to hold my breath. I always start these things with the best of intentions but I have the attention span of a gnat and am easily side tracked.

I also fell off the wagon with my intention to only work from my stash this summer. There was some fiber and yarn that was just too "Ooooo, shiney!" for me to pass up. Oh my, this summer really isn't working out the way I had planned. Well today is another day and I am renewing my intention to only work from stash. To that end I'm NOT going to be spending time surfing Etsy when I'm board and I have enough knitting patterns to last me a life time, including a program, Sweater Wizard, that will allow me to design my own sweaters to exactly my measurements. Not to mention all the projects I have unfinished. Yes, I think I have reached my limit and need to stop with the consumerism and get to the end of something besides my wallet.

I know this update sounds pretty negative but know that I'm still fighting the good fight. The steroids are starting to bring down the inflamation. So I'll be able to do a little more each day. I've even entertained notions of planning a new weaving project. I need a bit more time on the steroids and to finish something on the needles first but its a nice thing to think about when I am stuck doing nothing in bed or on the couch.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A commitment to working down my stash

One of the things I'm working on this summer, since I'm not working "a real job", is work down my yarn and fiber stash. My reasons aren't some much about money but the fact that I have have an astounding stash. If I manage to spin up all my fiber then I certinly wouldn't need any more yarn for a long time. To that end I've been working everyday on the SAL and KALs I've joined.

Tour de Fleece:
This spindle is slowly filling with what eventually be a fingering weight yarn. After I've finished this yarn I'm going to dig out my other (many) spindles to work off what I have on them.


On my wheel I've finished the first 4 ozs of this BFL. I'm not sure as of tonight if I'm going to spin the next 4 osz or switch to another batch of fiber just to have a change.


Sock Knitters Anonymous July KAL and Summer of Socks 2010
This is a fair isle sock designed by Chrissy Gardiner for Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravlery.

This is a design by Anne Hanson of Knitspot. I've only been working on this sock for a couple of days but I'm loving how the sock is knitting up. I'm almost done with the first repeat.

I've also picked up a sock I put down last fall but I don't have any current pictures of it. I'll get a shot when I get the first sock done which Ithink will be tomorrow. There is one other sock on my needles but its a surprise for someone so you'll just have to wait until I gift the socks to see them.
Another thing I want to get going is a new weaving project but I'm not sure what I want to do yet.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Not quite a year

I'm about 3 months short of not having posted in a year. Its been intresting in that "OMG we're all gonna die!" sort of way. My RA had been getting progressively worse. To the point where I had to give up spinning, knitting and weaving. In the middle of November '09 my husband asked me for a divorce. A month later my Rheumatologist added a new medication to my regimen that finally did the trick of getting rid of most of my daily pain. By shortly before Christmas I was in my own apartment with divorce proceedings underway. Some time between January and February I started to feel strong enough to start knitting again.
Since one of my dreams (being married to someone I loved) was coming to a close I didn't want I decided to pursue another dream, that of traveling. From the middle of April 2010 to the middle of May 2010 I was sight seeing and hiking in Nepal and Tibet. Other than finishing college this was the best thing I have ever done for myself. The trip was hard and satisfying. I was in a lot of pain at times but there were times when I could put the RA thing aside and truly be happy in the moment. I made new friends that will be with me for the rest of my life. I've got a lot of pictures and memories of the trip that I want to share but I'll do that in other posts. My divorce became finale the week before I left for the trip.
After I returned home I bought myself a new spinning wheel and have been back into my fiber life. The wheel is a Schact Lady Bug. For those not familiar with it this is a double treadle wheel which means you use both feet to keep the wheel in motion. From an ergonomic standpoint this is a much better wheel for me since I'm not using just one foot the way I had been with both my Ashford Wheels. Yes, I could have gotten a new double treadle for my Ashford Traveler wheel, and I still might, but the Lady Bug also has bigger bobbins and well I just wanted something really new.
I'm still not working but that's not entirely due to my having RA. Now that I'm so much healthier I've been enjoying my time. I have to be careful that I don't over due anything. I've spent to much time knitting or spinning and have felt the pain for many days afterwards. The fatigue from the disease and the side effects from the medications I take are still with me. Most days I need to nap in the afternoon or else go to bed early in the evening. Eventually I'll start looking for a job but with the economy still in the tank and the fact that with some frugality I can live one my alimony payments I'm not in a hurry.
To keep myself busy this summer I've become involved with two knit-a-longs (KALs) and a spin-a-long (SAL). For all of them I interact with my fellow a-longers on Ravelry. The first KAL is an on going one thru the Sock Knitters Anonymous group. There are several choices for knitted socks each month. For July you can either knit a pattern by Anne Hanson of Knit Spot or do a Fair Isle sock. One of the choices is a mystery design, which this month is in the fair isle theme. I'm doing an Anne Hanson design called Flaming Desire. If I get that pair done then I want to do the mystery sock. As soon as I have something started I'll post pictures.
The other KAL is also about socks. Its the Summer of Socks 2010. From June 21 to September 21 you knit as many pairs of socks as you want. Some folks are doing a "wedding" theme. Something old, new, borrowed, and blue. I'm not sure how much that has to do with the fact that the founder, Jessica (AKA Zarzuela) who I am very happy to say is a friend of mine, is getting married this year. My something old is a sock I started before the whole divorce this started. I'll post info and pictures soon.
The SAL is the Tour de Fleece which goes along with the Tour de France. The idea is they spin so we spin. There are various teams inspired like the actual TdF such as Sprinters and the Peloton. In our case the sprinters work on fast spinning and or high mileage yarn like lace weight. The Peloton is the main group and we're all in this one at some point. There are also Wildcard teams which are just groups of people who are friends or are working with a certain type of fiber. I'm on Team CrankyPants because we're cranky, Team Schact Spinners because my Lady Bug wheel and one of the drop spindles I'm using are made by Schact, and Team Spindlers because I'm doing some of my spinning on a drop spindle. We are suppose to spin every day that the TdF is riding. There are rest days on July 12 and 21. I've done my spinning for the day so here are pictures of my progress:
The fiber is Superwash Blue Faced Leicester dyed by Spincerely. The colorway is called Raina. I've got 8 ozs and I'm planning on doing my usual navajo ply. I think this might become a small knitted shawl when it grows up.
This fiber is a merino silk blend dyed by Freckle Face Fibers. Again I'm planning on navajo plying. I havea similar colorway also in a silk blend that I bought from Pigeonroof Studios that I've already spun up. I want to combine the two some sort of project because each on its own might not be enough. I'm not sure what that project will be yet.

So there you have it. My not quite a year in a nut shell. I don't think I'm going to mention my divorce or my ex-husband except in passing because I need to put all of it behind me. I'm going to be going back to Nepal and Tibet next year for a hike around Mt Kailash, more details as I get them. I'm moving forward in my life and I'll try to share all the happy details.