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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Being Organised

This should come as no surprise to me, but there really aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do everything I want to do, let alone those things I need to do but don’t really fancy (cleaning windows definitely falls into this category!).

The answer is simple, of course.  Do fewer things.  Or live in a underground house with no windows.  Neither of these is particularly practical, despite my New Year’s Resolution this year.  There is nothing for it but to be More Organised. 

Being More Organised is something that fills me with hope, enthusiasm and optimism – until I realise that I’ve got to wade through my Unorganised Life to get there.  No matter how hard I try to keep on top of them, there are always piles of paper, post, books, small daughter’s toys and the various other debris of family life either waiting to go upstairs or downstairs to be put away.  It seems that as soon as I clear one space, there’s another one waiting.  They pop up like those Whack A Mole games you see at fairgrounds.


Don’t get me wrong, my house isn’t a complete tip and I like to think that I’m reasonably close to the Flylady aspiration of being no more than 30 minutes away from having a house ready for visitors, but I have to confess that cleaning and tidying isn’t my favourite thing to do and so I am easily distracted from these tasks. 

My plan is to make a concerted effort to try to get through the tide of my Unorganised Life to reach the banks of a More Organised life.  My Bullet Journal is still working for me and I’m very glad that I started it this year.  It’s needed a little refining to get it to how I need it to be, but I’m very pleased with it.  I need to jump back onto the “swish and swipe” bandwagon and most of all, I need to get rid of lots of paper! 

I think my biggest problem is that I don’t like to throw something out that might be useful later.  I don’t think I’m in any danger of becoming one of those people whose houses are teetering piles of yellowing newspapers, but I do tend to hang onto those spare packets of brackets and screws that you get with IKEA furniture, and catalogues that are past their seasonal dates.  Cables are another thing; phone chargers, landline extensions, TV scart leads – they congregate together in a drawer, getting in the way when I don’t need them and becoming invisible when I do.  It’s time to sort all these things out.  What if I was to get run over by a bus tomorrow?  How would my family cope?  They would have to deal with my Unorganised Life without me being able to interpret for them.  It is a concern, wouldn’t you agree?


Baby steps are required here.  I’ll start with the place that’s going to make the biggest impact (so not the attic, then) and work my way around the house.  Put all those unwanted things onto Ebay and put the money in big daughter’s Peru fund.  Don’t even think about going into small daughter’s bedroom just yet, which is Beyond Unorganised.  (“But it’s fine, Mum, I know where everything is.  It’s in that pile in the middle of the floor …”)

Clearing out all of the clutter will give me so much more time to do the things that I’d prefer to do.  Like gardening.  Or baking.  Or knitting.  I’ll be able to work my way through my yarn stash and that will be tidy as I knit all the yarn into socks.  In fact, that might be a good place to start ….


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Sockalong - Week 3 - Foot, toe and grafting the toes

Well, we've made it!  It's the final tutorial of the Sockalong, and I can't tell you how delighted I am that so many new pairs of socks are nearly finished!  Thank you so much to everyone who's taken part, I've loved seeing your progress photos - and hope that you'll post pictures of your finished socks in our Flickr group so that they can all be admired!  I also hope that you're not going to stop at one pair - there's so much sock yarn and so many fabulous patterns around that it would be a shame to stop now!

Right, then.  The home stretch this week - working the foot section, decreasing for the toes and then grafting with Kitchener stitch to make a nice seam-free toe.  Shall we get started?  Remember that this pattern is written for 60 stitches so if you've got more or less, you'll need to make adjustments to accommodate that.

Foot - short circular

Once you have 60 stitches again after decreasing for your gusset, continue to knit each round until you reach approximately 5cm before the desired length ready to start the toes. It's best to measure your foot whilst you're standing up so that your foot spreads to the size it will be when you're walking.  Just to give you an idea, for my size 5 feet, this is about 42 rounds.  If you want to take one of the stitch markers off your sock so that you’ve only got one to slip across, then now is the time to do that and it’s best to keep the one that indicates the start of your round (that's the side where you made your first decease stitch for the gusset).  Don't be afraid to try your sock on again  before decreasing for the toes!


Toes

You might want to read this whole section before you start!  You'll need stitch markers in to help you set up the decrease rounds.  Don't worry if you've taken both of yours out, it's not a big job to put them in again.  Look at the foot section of your sock and find your last gusset decrease stitch.  Then, follow the line of stitches straight up until you reach the top your sock and slip a marker onto your needle.  Your next marker will be 30 stitches around your knitting, but you can add that marker during your first toe round.  (If you have cast on more or less than 60 stitches, your next marker will be at the half-way point of whatever number you cast on.)


Create the toes as follows:

Round 1:        K1, SSK, K24 sts, K2tog, K1, place marker, K1, SSK, K24 sts, K2tog, K1
Round 2:        Knit one round, slipping markers as you come to them
Round 3:        K1, SSK, K to 3 sts before marker, K2tog, K1, slip marker, K1, SSK, K to 3 sts                                          before marker, K2tog, K1

Repeat rounds 2 and 3 until you have 28 stitches left and divide these between two needles so that the front and back of the socks match.  You can leave more or less stitches on your needle if you prefer, as long as you have an even number for grafting, but do make sure that you try your sock on before making this decision.  If you need a reminder of how to do the SSK and K2tog stitches, you can find pictures on the heel tutorial.  

If you cast on more or less than 60 stitches, you will need to adjust the number of stitches you are knitting between your decreases.  As long as you decrease and K1 at each end, it doesn't matter how many stitches you have between; just make sure you that you have the same number on both needles.  You can try your sock on to make sure that it is comfortable and check that you want to decrease as far as 28 stitches - as long as your toes aren't squashed you can stop at any point.


At some point whilst decreasing for the toes, if you are using a small circular you will need to change back to DPNs as the number of stitches becomes too small for the circular.   You might find it easiest to do this at the start of a round, arranging your needles like this:


Now we're going to graft the toes using Kitchener stitch.  This is another part of the sock-creation that some people aren't so keen on, but again, it's not too bad if you take it slowly. The best thing about Kitchener stitch is that there is no seam across your toes - I'm like the Princess in the story of The Princess and the Pea and can feel the slightest bump in my socks so it's always been very important to me that my socks are smooth!  One thing that I would definitely recommend is that you find a time when you won't be interrupted - you'll need to concentrate and trying to pick it up again mid-row after a break is not easy.

Start by leaving a long tail from the end of your knitting, then cut the yarn and thread the end onto a wool needle.  I'm giving you right-handed instructions here, and I have used a different coloured yarn so that you can easily see how the Kitchener stitch works, but you will just keep using the yarn from your ball.

1  Hold the two DPNs with your left hand.  Insert the wool needle purl-wise into the first stitch on the front DPN and pull the yarn through.  Don't take the stitch off the DPN.  


2   Next, insert the wool needle knit-wise into the first stitch on the back DPN. Don't take the stitch off.


3  Insert the wool needle knit-wise into the first stitch on the front DPN and slip it off. 


4  Insert the wool needle purl-wise into the second stitch on the front DPN and don't slip it off.


5  Insert the wool needle purl-wise  into the first stitch on the back DPN and slip it off.  


6  Insert the wool needle knit-wise into the second stitch on the back DPN and don't slip it off.


You can see how this process creates a new row of stitches which bind the two edges of the sock together.


Repeat steps 3 to 6 until you get to the last two stitches on the DPNs.  You will already have taken the yarn through the front stitch so after you have taken the yarn through the back stitch, you can slip both stitches off the DPN.  The single yarn thread through the first stitch will be strong enough to hold it and it will sit flatter when you weave the end back into your sock.


Weave the end securely into the sock and cut the yarn.


This is how the end of your sock should look once you have completed the grafting process.  You can see that the end of the sock is neat and straight, and there is no seam to rub against your toes.


It is worth remembering that the grafted row adds an extra row of stitches to your finished length.  You can see here quite clearly how the stitches blend into the original knitting.


Finally, sew the seam together at the cuff of the sock where you knitted your first two rib rows on DPNs, tightening it up if you need to, and your sock is finished.  You've done it!  Huge congratulations on a job well done!  Now all you need to do is make a second sock and you’re ready to wear your first pair!


Foot - DPNs

Once you have 60 stitches again after decreasing for your gusset, continue to knit each round until you reach approximately 5cm before the desired length ready to start the toes.  It's best to measure your foot whilst you're standing up so that your foot spreads to the size it will be when you're walking. Just to give you an idea, for my size 5 feet, this is about 42 rounds.  Don't be afraid to try your sock on again  before decreasing for the toes!


Toes

Once your sock foot is the right length, it’s time to start decreasing for the toes.  Your DPNs will already be in the right place, although you will find that as you decrease the stitches you may wish to go down to four needles.  It really doesn’t matter whether you do or not as long as you decrease in the same place every time.  If you're already on four needles, make sure that either you finish a DPN row where you need to decrease or you place stitch markers in your rows to help you keep your toes straight.


If you need to put stitch markers in, it's not a big job to work out where they should go.  Look at the foot section of your sock and find your last gusset decrease stitch.  Then, follow the line of stitches straight up until you reach the top your sock and slip a marker onto your needle.  Your next marker will be 30 stitches around your knitting, but you can add that marker during your first toe round.  (If you have cast on more or less than 60 stitches, your next marker will be at the half-way point of whatever number you cast on.)


Create the toes as follows, starting with needle 1 and assuming that you have 15 stitches (60 in total) on each needle:

Round 1:        (Needle 1) K1, SSK, K12 sts, (Needle 2) K12, K2tog, K1, (Needle 3) K1, SSK                                       K12 sts, (Needle 4) K12, K2tog, K1
Round 2:        Knit one round
Round 3:        (Needle 1) K1, SSK, K to end of needle, (Needle 2) K to 3 sts before end of                                           needle,K2tog, K1, (Needle 3) K1, SSK, K to end of needle (Needle 4)                                                K to 3 sts before end of needleK2tog, K1


If you have more than 60 stitches on your needle, make sure that the number of stitches is evenly divided across your four needles and work the decreases as above, knitting the extra stitches at the start and end of the needle as you come to them.

If you are working on four needles, you need to make sure that it's easy for you to see where your decreases need to be, so use a stitch marker if necessary, or position your needles so that the row always ends at a decrease.

Repeat rounds 2 and 3 until you have 28 stitches left and divide these between two needles so that front and back of socks match.  You can leave more or less stitches on your needle if you prefer, as long as you have an even number for grafting, but do make sure that you try your sock on before making this decision.  If you need a reminder of how to do the SSK and K2tog stitches, you can find pictures on the heel tutorial.

If you cast on more or less than 60 stitches, you will need to adjust the number of stitches you are knitting between your decreases.  As long as you decrease and K1 at each end, it doesn't matter how many stitches you have between; just make sure you that you have the same number on both needles.  You can try your sock on to make sure that it is comfortable and check that you want to decrease as far as 28 stitches - as long as your toes aren't squashed you can stop at any point.


Now we're going to graft the toes using Kitchener stitch.  This is another part of the sock-creation that some people aren't so keen on, but again, it's not too bad if you take it slowly. The best thing about Kitchener stitch is that there is no seam across your toes - I'm like the Princess in the story of The Princess and the Pea and can feel the slightest bump in my socks so it's always been very important to me that my socks are smooth!  One thing that I would definitely recommend is that you find a time when you won't be interrupted - you'll need to concentrate and trying to pick it up again mid-row after a break is not easy.

Start by leaving a long tail from the end of your knitting, then cut the yarn and thread the end onto a wool needle.  I'm giving you right-handed instructions here, and I have used a different coloured yarn so that you can easily see how the Kitchener stitch works, but you will just keep using the yarn from your ball.

1  Hold the two DPNs with your left hand.  Insert the wool needle purl-wise into the first stitch on the front DPN and pull the yarn through.  Don't take the stitch off the DPN.  


2   Next, insert the wool needle knit-wise into the first stitch on the back DPN. Don't take the stitch off.


3  Insert the wool needle knit-wise into the first stitch on the front DPN and slip it off. 


4  Insert the wool needle purl-wise into the second stitch on the front DPN and don't slip it off.


5  Insert the wool needle purl-wise  into the first stitch on the back DPN and slip it off.  


6  Insert the wool needle knit-wise into the second stitch on the back DPN and don't slip it off.


You can see how this process creates a new row of stitches which bind the two edges of the sock together.


Repeat steps 3 to 6 until you get to the last two stitches on the DPNs.  You will already have taken the yarn through the front stitch so after you have taken the yarn through the back stitch, you can slip both stitches off the DPN.  The single yarn thread through the first stitch will be strong enough to hold it and it will sit flatter when you weave the end back into your sock.


Weave the end securely into the sock and cut the yarn.


This is how the end of your sock should look once you have completed the grafting process.  You can see that the end of the sock is neat and straight, and there is no seam to rub against your toes.


It is worth remembering that the grafted row adds an extra row of stitches to your finished length.  You can see here quite clearly how the stitches blend into the original knitting.


Finally, sew the seam together at the cuff of the sock where you knitted your first two rib rows on DPNs, tightening it up if you need to, and your sock is finished.  You've done it!  Huge congratulations on a job well done!  Now all you need to do is make a second sock and you’re ready to wear your first pair!


Foot - long circular

Once you have 60 stitches again after decreasing for your gusset, continue to knit each round until you reach approximately 5cm before the desired length ready to start the toes.  It's best to measure your foot whilst you're standing up so that your foot spreads to the size it will be when you're walking. Just to give you an idea, for my size 5 feet, this is about 42 rounds.  If you've been using stitch markers and want to take one of them off your sock so that you’ve only got one to slip across, then now is the time to do that and it’s best to keep the one that indicates the start of your round.  Alternatively, you can line your needles up so that they're at the point where you need to start decreasing for your socks.  Don't be afraid to try your sock on again before decreasing for the toes!  


Toes

You might want to read this whole section before you start!  It’s very easy to create the toes using your long circular needle; you just carry on knitting as you would do normally but decrease at each side.



If you have moved your needles around, you might need to find the point where your decreases start.  Luckily, it’s not a big job to work out where they should go.  Look at the foot section of your sock and find your last gusset decrease stitch.  Then, follow the line of stitches straight up until you reach the top your sock and slip a marker onto your needle.  Your next marker will be 30 stitches around your knitting, but you can add that marker during your first toe round.  (If you have cast on more or less than 60 stitches, your next marker will be at the half-way point of whatever number you cast on.)


Create the toes as follows:

Round 1:        K1, SSK, K24 sts, K2tog, K1, K1, SSK, K24 sts, K2tog, K1
Round 2:        Knit one round
Round 3:        K1, SSK, K to 3 sts before end of needle, K2tog, K1, K1, SSK, K to 3 sts before                                         end of needle, K2tog, K1

Repeat rounds 2 and 3 until you have 28 stitches left and divide these between your two needles so that the front and back of your socks match.  You can leave more or less stitches on your needle if you prefer, as long as you have an even number for grafting, but do make sure that you try your sock on before making this decision.  If you need a reminder of how to do the SSK and K2tog stitches, you can find pictures on the heel tutorial.

If you cast on more or less than 60 stitches, you will need to adjust the number of stitches you are knitting between your decreases.  As long as you decrease and K1 at each end, it doesn't matter how many stitches you have between; just make sure you that you have the same number on both needles.  You can try your sock on to make sure that it is comfortable and check that you want to decrease as far as 28 stitches - as long as your toes aren't squashed you can stop at any point.



Now we're going to graft the toes using Kitchener stitch.  This is another part of the sock-creation process that some people aren't so keen on, but again, it's not too bad if you take it slowly. The best thing about Kitchener stitch is that there is no seam across your toes - I'm like the Princess in the story of The Princess and the Pea and can feel the slightest bump in my socks so it's always been very important to me that my socks are smooth!  One thing that I would definitely recommend is that you find a time when you won't be interrupted - you'll need to concentrate and trying to pick it up again mid-row after a break is not easy.

Start by leaving a long tail from the end of your knitting, then cut the yarn and thread the end onto a wool needle.  I'm giving you right-handed instructions here, and I have used a different coloured yarn so that you can easily see how the Kitchener stitch works, but you will just keep using the yarn from your ball.

1  Hold the two DPNs with your left hand.  Insert the wool needle purl-wise into the first stitch on the front DPN and pull the yarn through.  Don't take the stitch off the DPN.  


2   Next, insert the wool needle knit-wise into the first stitch on the back DPN. Don't take the stitch off.


3  Insert the wool needle knit-wise into the first stitch on the front DPN and slip it off. 


4  Insert the wool needle purl-wise into the second stitch on the front DPN and don't slip it off.


5  Insert the wool needle purl-wise  into the first stitch on the back DPN and slip it off.  


6  Insert the wool needle knit-wise into the second stitch on the back DPN and don't slip it off.


You can see how this process creates a new row of stitches which bind the two edges of the sock together.


Repeat steps 3 to 6 until you get to the last two stitches on the DPNs.  You will already have taken the yarn through the front stitch so after you have taken the yarn through the back stitch, you can slip both stitches off the DPN.  The single yarn thread through the first stitch will be strong enough to hold it and it will sit flatter when you weave the end back into your sock.


Weave the end securely into the sock and cut the yarn.


This is how the end of your sock should look once you have completed the grafting process.  You can see that the end of the sock is neat and straight, and there is no seam to rub against your toes.


It is worth remembering that the grafted row adds an extra row of stitches to your finished length.  You can see here quite clearly how the stitches blend into the original knitting.


Finally, sew the seam together at the cuff of the sock where you knitted your first two rib rows on DPNs, tightening it up if you need to, and your sock is finished.  You've done it!  Huge congratulations on a job well done!  Now all you need to do is make a second sock and you’re ready to wear your first pair!


Wow!  That's it!  Apart from knitting your second sock, you're all done.  I hope you're very proud of your socks, and I've love to see your photos.  As always, you can ask any questions either here, on Facebook or on Ravelry.  

Don't forget that we have a Flickr gallery to show them off - it's wonderful to see more pictures appearing every day!  If you want to join the Flickr group, you just need to click on +Join Group and then send me a quick note to say hello; once I get your message I can add you in.  As well as the Facebook group for the beginners' Sockalong, we now also have the Winwick Mum Sockalong Society - an online knit n natter for people to talk about other things than knitting a basic sock!  There's no need to leave the original Sockalong group as it's fabulous to have so many people share their knitting experiences and helping other people to work their way through their socks; but there are so many friendships being developed that I just know there are going to be lots more conversations going on!  Anyone can join in, whether you've finished your socks or not and you can find the new group here.

Finally, I thought you might like to see my pair of socks in their finished state rather than just bits of them for the photos!  Here they are!  They're actually for big daughter who probably would have liked her socks earlier in the year when it was cold enough to be wearing them, but had to wait because I thought the yarn would be good for the Sockalong.



Matching stripes - I couldn't do otherwise!


You can see the V of the heel here very clearly ...


and the way the heel joins seamlessly to the gusset.  


Big daughter was very pleased to finally get her pair of socks!



It's been wonderful to do the Sockalong with so many of you, I've absolutely loved it and I've been very grateful for all the questions as we've gone along as that's helped me to really think about how best to help you!  Thank you again for joining in.

I hope that this is just the start of your sock knitting adventures - you really can never have too many pairs of socks!




These sockalong tutorials are free and will always remain so, but if you have found them useful and would like to make a donation towards big daughter's social project trip to Peru next year (there's a PayPal link on the left) then we would be very grateful.  Big daughter will be away for 4 weeks next summer working on projects with people who have very little and has to raise all the money (£4,500) for the trip herself.  You can read more about her forthcoming adventure here Thank you! xx