Monday, November 25, 2013

Chunking your Socks

Do you have a problem completing the second sock? Do you dislike doing socks two at a time?

When I first started knitting socks, like many of you, I had second sock syndrome. I just couldn't see myself starting a whole new object once the first sock was complete. When I thought about the technique of knitting two socks at a time, it seemed tedious. Completion of any portion of the sock would take twice as long. I wouldn't see progress.

So I came up with an idea (or re-vented the idea) that solves both problems. I knit two socks at a time, but in chunks. What is a chunk? Its any portion of the sock you want to complete. Typically, I chunk my socks as follows: Cuff, leg, heel flap & turn, gusset, foot, and toe. I start the first sock and complete the first chunk, in my case the cuff. I then move on to the second sock. I knit the cuff, completing the first chunk and then move on to the leg. I complete the leg and then move back to the first sock. I complete the leg of the first sock and then move on to heel flap and turn. I move back to the second sock, well you get the idea. The method works equally well for toe up and top down socks.

Other Chunking Ideas:

  • Chunk on a chart repeat. If your sock repeats the same chart multiple times, you can chunk on the repeat.
  • Chunk based on charts. If your sock has multiple charts, the chart can be a logical chunk.
  • Chunk based on a specific number of rows.
  • Just do what works for you and the pattern.

    To knit socks in this manner, you will need two sets of needles. If you use magic loop, you will need one needle for each sock or two needles. If you knit on two circulars, like I do, you will need two sets of two needles or four needles. If you knit on double points, you will need two sets of double points.

    Adapting Chunking to Get a Good Fit

    Sometimes I find that the sock I'm knitting may be trickier to fit. This is typically true of stranded socks or of highly cabled designs. In this case, I adjust my chunking strategy to create larger chunks based on where I perceive a potentially questionable fit. In this case my goal is to not have to rip out two socks -- I want to minimize having to back out work (Hey! who doesn't!).

    Freeing Myself from Second Sock Syndrome

    What I have found is that using this technique has mostly freed me from second sock syndrome. Once I started completing pairs of socks, the goal of completing any pair of socks became easier. Of course your mileage may vary.

    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Maintaining Tension when Stranding between 2 Circular Needles.

    I love knitting stranded socks. I knit my socks using 2 circular needles and have had an issue of getting appropriate tension when moving from one needle to another. One trick that I discovered was to catch the float just before and just after changing needles. This technique helps but I still had tension problems. Then by accident, I discovered a solution that works pretty consistently.

    To insure a clean float at the join, I wrap the “back” needle to the front, positioning the stitches as if they are on the “front” needle. This allows me to stretch the stitches and lay the float correctly.

    Here's how its done:

    This is the most important step. You hold the cord from the back needle (B) parallel and in front of the front needle (A). Spread the stitches in the same manner that you would for a float in the middle of the needles.
    Maintain the position of the back and front needle and knit into the stitch. My next stitch is green in this example and I need to catch the yellow yarn. If you need a catch do it now.
    Bring the yarn around the needle to form the stitch, maintaining the position of the front and back needles.
    Knit the stitch, maintaining the front and back needle position.
    The finished stitch. I typically continue to maintain the position of the front and back needles through a few more stitches before releasing the back needle.

    This may take a little practice but it will help maintain a more consistent tension when moving between needles.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits.

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Brioche, Brioche and more Brioche

    I have always wanted to try Brioche knitting but never had the time to sit down and experiment, so I took the easy way out and took several classes at Knitting Lab to give me a jump start.

    Brioche is an interesting technique. Each row requires two rows of knitting where you slip alternate stitches on a row while knitting the other stitch. The process is reversed on the second row; stitches knitted on the first row are now slipped and slipped stitches are now knit. The technique differs from double knitting in that a yarn over is wrapped around each slipped stitch and when knitting the slipped stitch, the stitch is knit together with its yarn over. As a result, the symbology is is different. Knit a stitch together with its yarn over is considered one stitch called a 'brk'. Purling a stitch together with its yarn over is a 'brp'. The most important thing to remember is that the brk and brp stitches are just that, single stitches and you must always treat them as such.

  • brk and brp consist of the stitch and its yarn over. the yarn over wraps the stitch and is knitted or purled together with the stitch
  • syok creates the slip and the yarn over wrap -- this is a single stitch. It is important that the yarn over wraps the stitch and doesn't just sit next to the slipped stitch as this seems to deform the stitch
  • Increases and decreases must be paired in order to maintain pattern
  • Cables must in multiples of 2 on each side of the cable to maintain pattern
  • Two rows of knitting equals 1 real row of knitting
  • Flat 2 color brioche requires working on a 2 double points or a circular needle. You knit a row, slide the work back and knit the second half of the row; turn; knit a row, slide the work back and knit the second half of the row.

    I took three classes:

  • Introduction to Brioche Knitting
  • Brioche with a Twist
  • Brioche colorwork
  • Here are my swatches from the classes:
    Swatch 1: Brioche rib, cast on Tilly’s Very Stretchy Cast On, Bind off: standard- K, K, psso. Lesson: Tilly's Very Stretchy cast on doesn't work with brioche!
    Swatch 2: Brioche cable: Long tailed cast on, start and end with 2 rows garter, elastic bind off
    Swatch 3: Increasing and decreasing in brioche rib: Long tailed cast on, start and end with 2 rows garter, elastic bind off.
    Swatch 4: Brioche rib in the round: Long tailed cast on, start with 3 rows standard rib, standard bind off.
    Swatch 5: Brioche stockinette: long tailed cast on, start with 2 rows garter, 4 rows brioche rib; brioche stockinette; end with 4 rows brioche rib, 2 rows garter; bind off with elastic bind off.
    Swatch 6: 2 color Brioche in the round: cast on Italian tubular; start and end with 2 rows corrugated rib, syncopated brioche rib technique used; bind off with elastic bind off - the bind off is too tight on this one, but its only a swatch.
    Swatch 7: 2 color brioche flat: long tailed cast on; 2 rows garter, 2-color brioche rib; 2 rows garter; elastic bind off.
    Swatch 8: 2 color Brioche stockinette, flat: long tailed cast on; 2 rows garter; 2 color stockinette brioche; 2 rows garter; elastic cast off.
    Swatch 9: Increasing and decreasing in 2 color brioche: long tailed cast on; 2 rows garter, 2 repeats (4 rows) 2 color brioche rib; 2 repeats increase/decrease chart; 2 repeats (4 rows) 2 color brioche rib; 3 rows garter; elastic bind off.

    Monday, November 4, 2013

    My Favorite Tools: Markers

    What can I say, I love my markers. They make my life so much easier when knitting just about anything. I use my markers for the obvious uses such as:
  • dividing pattern repeats
  • mark center lines
  • marking the beginning of round
  • Marking the RS
  • Marking stitches when working gussets in my socks
  • These uses can be combined with markers of different colors. And these are just the uses for the closed markers.

    Movable markers have many uses of their own.

  • counting stitches
  • counting rows
  • Japanese short rows
  • catching a dropped stitch
  • forming a "block" when dropping a stitch down for repair - I put it just below what needs to be repaired so I won't go too far
  • when ripping back, if I don't have a lifeline, I put a removable marker in a stitch before where I want to stop
  • Cable Needle. I put the stitches on the removable marker to move them behind or in front and then return the stitches back to the needle to finish the cable.
  • Stitch holder. The large clover markers can hold stitches for a thumb when knitting mitts.
  • Temporary Marker. I can place one of these in my knitting while on the needle and then replace it with a ring marker when I get there
  • So which are my favorites?

    Knitifacts Ringlets. These are my goto markers. I usually knit on needles smaller than US 7 and I like to move my markers from needle to needle with the tip of the needle. I prefer metal over plastic, since they don't drag or stick to my needles. I have these in a slew of colors. I use color to define the meaning of the marker in the project. Typically, green is start of round or my right side marker. The silver ones mark pattern repeats. Red marks the center line. Well, you get the idea.
    When my needles get bigger, I move on to Ringers.
    And when I get really even bigger, I move on to Ringos X/L. These come from fripperies & bibelots. The shop is from England.
    Sometimes I need a marker that hangs, doesn't get in my way and doesn't interfere with my knitting. For these, I grab my HiyaHiya Dumpling case markers. I've seen these hanging off a soft loop and off a hard ring. I prefer the ones with the soft loop.
    Clover Locking Markers (small). I prefer these to the HiyaHiya version because the angle of the "safety pin" makes them easier to use. The "pin" section is also tapered which makes it easier to insert the marker into a stitch. I use these when counting stitches on the needle, as "cable needles" for sock knitting and as small stitch holders. I also use them to hold a small group of markers to carry with me. They are also useful when ripping out or when dropping a stitch. I catch a stitch in the marker and then drop or ripp stitches. The marker stops the process so I don't go too far.
    Clover Locking Markers (Large). For knitting larger than socks, I use these as cable needles and stitch holders. I also use these to organize my marker colors.
    HiyaHiya Knitters Safety Pins. I use these to count rows in lightweight knitting. The pins are lightweight and don't pull the stitch out of shape. I hook the pin around the stitch to mark a spot in my knitting for counting. Note: these do have a point, so be careful using them.
    Bsryspun Small Knitters Safety Pins. These have a regular safety pin look without the spiral hinge. These are most useful when doing japanese short rows. They are light and don't stretch my knitting. Note: these do have a point, so be careful using them.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits.