Get it right the first time, that’s the main thing!

As mentioned, I missed a pattern modification to add three inches of length to the Stockings with Clocks before the calf decreases and didn’t figure it out until after the first stocking was completed. Rather than rip back something on the order of 18 inches of completed knitting, I decided to insert the extra three inches into the leg instead. I figured I had a decent enough understanding of the structure of knitting that snipping a stitch, putting stitches back on needles, and then grafting it all together again wouldn’t be beyond my skills.

1) The first step was to work in “life lines” so that as I began unraveling the line of stitches that would be removed, I wouldn’t have to worry about dropping any stitches. I chose a row two rows above the first calf decrease for the lower life line, and then left one row to unravel and worked a second life line the row above that. I used a smooth cotton yarn in a contrasting color and knotted the ends of each loop together so they wouldn’t get accidentally pulled out.

I didn’t try to figure out getting the stitches on the life line without twisting them, but instead picked one “leg” of each stitch and ran the life line through the same leg for all stitches in the round. The hardest part was not jumping up or down a row and I often had to pull the life line back out a few stitches to adjust accordingly.

2) The moment of truth was in snipping the yarn to begin unraveling the sacrificial row. I selected a stitch at the center of the front of the stocking, which meant I’d have to unravel it half a round in each direction to get the two pieces separated and ready for the next step. To be sure that I only cut the piece of yarn I wanted, I pulled the loop of the stitch out slightly with an extra needle.

3) Once the stitch was snipped, I used the extra needle to unravel the sacrificial row. Unlike when you rip stitches back, you can’t just grab the yarn and unravel it because there are still stitches holding the yarn on both sides, so each stitch has to be pulled out separately; it turned out that snipping a stitch half way through the round meant that I didn’t end up having to pull a whole round of knitting’s worth of yarn through the last few stitches. As the stitches are unraveled, the life lines catch and hold the stitches on the two resulting pieces and prevent them from unraveling further.

4) Once the unraveling is finished, you’ll have two separate pieces, each with live stitches held by live lines, and each with a tail of yarn connecting to those live stitches.

5) These stockings were knit from the top down, so in order to make sure that the stitches all line up without jogging, I wanted to add the extra length to the cuff piece. Using the life line as a guide, I placed the live cuff-side stitches back on the same needles I used to knit the stockings and knit an extra three inches, maintaining the seam stitch patterning through every round. Because the seam pattern is two rows and I’d be adding a row in when I grafted the two pieces back together, I ended on the same pattern row as the next piece begins with. To be sure that the two stockings would end up the same length, I laid the pieces of the first stocking over the completed second stocking.

6) The trickiest part with the patterned seam stitches was lining them up so that when I grafted everything together the seam wouldn’t jog. The first time I did this, I was off a stitch and had to pull out the entire row of grafted stitches and re-do them! Learn from my mistake and pay attention as you start grafting to make sure the stitches on the two pieces will line up.

(You’ll also notice in the second picture above the “indented” row – that’s where the original stitches were “picked up” to start the added section; washing and blocking will make that go away.)

7) When you’re ready to start grafting, you’ll need to put the stitches from the second piece on to a needle and make sure they’re not twisted. You can leave the rest of the stitches on the life line yarn until you need them.

8) Using instructions from any of a variety of places – Interweave Knits usually has grafting or kitchener stitch instructions in the back, as will most sock pattern books; I used the instructions from The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancie Wiseman – graft the two rows of live stitches together; when you need to work a purl stitch, you’ll want to work the grafting “backwards” from the instructions. As you work, gently tug the working yarn after every stitch to avoid leaving the stitches too loose; you can monitor this as you work to be sure you’re not grafting too tightly or too loosely. When you’re finished grafting, work in all the ends securely.

9) Washing and blocking the finished piece after you’re finished grafting will help remove any unevenness left from picking up stitches and grafting. As I mentioned, the first time I grafted the two pieces together, I was off a stitch and had to pull out the row of grafting. When I re-worked the row, I must have picked up some dust on the yarn that darkened the row slightly. The stockings are mostly dry now and the darkened part is still noticeable, so I’ll have to wash them again using some wool wash to try to get it out.


Stockings with Clocks & SP9

The stockings with clocks, from Nancy Bush’s Folk Socks, with a pattern modification as requested by the largesse project organizer to add three inches to the height of the leg before the calf decreases, are finished and blocking:

You can see the pattern a bit better now that they’ve been soaked a bit, but it’s still hard to get it to show up very much in a picture. Also, if you look closely you can see the graft line on the front stocking – I had to rip out the graft once because the seam stitches weren’t lined up properly and in so doing, must have picked up a bit of dust that got worked in with the second graft line, which is also slightly tighter than the rest of the stocking. I expect with a little wear, it will become less noticeable.

I took a series of photos of the process I used to add in the extra three inches in the first stocking (I was reminded of the pattern modification after the first stocking was already complete and decided adding in the three inches would be faster than reknitting almost the entire stocking – which it was) and will likely post a sort of “tutorial” type thing on it in a day or two.

Oh, and I’ve revealed myself to my Secret Pal from SP9! Everyone stop in and say hi to Barb! She knits and crochets, has just learned to knit socks, and can’t refuse her two gorgeous little girls, even when she’s making something that she really wants for herself. *smile*

Things that suck

Grafting 88 stitches around the leg of a stocking, getting to the end and realizing you’re one stitch off. (The stockings have a seam pattern that runs up the back of the leg, making the shift rather noticeable.)

*sigh* At least when I pull it all out to re-do, I’ll know how to keep the tension even from the start this time.


*stretch* Yes, I’m still here. I’ve been quiet mostly out of being busy at work and not wanting to spend any more time in front of a computer when I’m at home. There’ve been half a dozen thoughts that almost became posts last week, but I never managed to find the thought at the time I had a moment free in front of a computer.

That said, I turned the heel on the second stocking this afternoon and will likely have a good deal of the foot finished by the end of the evening. I’ll post pictures once it’s finished. I also need to add three inches to the leg of the first one because I missed an alteration in the directions posted a couple months ago. I’ll likely talk about that process in a separate post and try to do it like a sort of tutorial since I’m essentially just cutting the stocking at the point I need to add the length, knitting in the extra bit, and then grafting the two pieces back together. At least, in theory. *smile*

It was an odd week, otherwise. We filed our taxes, which is usually a good thing (and this year is no exception), but then Friday night I lost a crown, which I don’t think is ever a good thing. While I’m not in pain, I’m also not particularly looking forward to having it fixed (I’m terrified of the dentist; so much so that if the tooth weren’t so sensitive to cold the way it is that I might consider just ignoring it), but I will. The timing is moderately fortuitous – a month earlier and we’d have ended up paying for it all out of pocket as we hit our insurance maximum last year when they redid the crown in front of this one; now we will only have to pay half of it out-of-pocket and we’re in a more financially robust position to do so since we just got Jack’s spring tuition reimbursment check and will have the tax return money in the next week or so.

First stocking

I finished the first stocking with clocks this afternoon:

The seam and clock detail makes the stocking very scrunchy unless modeled. I thought about trying to block it, but opted instead to try to get shots from a couple different angles instead. The first is the outside of leg, and you can see the clock detail, the seam, and the star toe. The second is the inside of the leg and I think it shows the clock detail a bit better. The last shows the back of the stocking and the heel.

I shortened the heel flap from that called for in the pattern because my row gauge is slightly larger than that called for. I adjusted for this slightly in spacing the calf shaping, also, but I think it would have been fine there if I hadn’t. The heel flap, though, is four rows shorter and I think it would have been far too long if I hadn’t adjusted.

These aren’t being made for me and are a smidge smaller than I would prefer – the fabric is quite stretched over my (rather shapely) calf and the foot is a smidge shorter than would be comfortable for me.

The second has been started and I’m through the top band and almost to the start of the calf shaping.

As promised..

I didn’t manage to do it with natural light, but here’s a picture of the first of the baby camel/silk tussah top singles:

I tried to get it from a couple angles as it’s sort of shiny and the flash does funny things. I also wanted to get a shot to compare the lighter bottom whorl from Pixel with my top whorl from Cate. The bottom whorl has a longer shaft, so I’ll have to remember to try to spread the singles out up the shaft so it doesn’t get too “bottom heavy”. I also managed to get two shots of what I assume are the makers mark on my top whorl.. I don’t recognize it, though, and keep forgetting to ask Cate who made it! Oh, and I believe Pixel did the carving on the bottom whorl, which is really quite lovely.

I’m still trying to figure out the best way to draw this stuff. The silk seems to want a long draw, but then I end up with unevenness in the yarn, so I’ve been working with a shorter draw, but then I get occassional clumps where I draw a bit too much. There’s lots of this, though, so I imagine by the end of it all I’ll have figured it out. I’m also giving this quite a bit of twist; I don’t know how much crimp camel has, but I know the silk has none and I don’t want the yarn to fall apart when I try to ply it.

And the progress to date on the Peek a boo sleeve:

The sleeves are going much quicker than the front/back, which is very nice. This is getting set aside for the moment, though, because these:

.. have an earlier deadline. It was really difficult to get a picture that showed any of the clock detail. I’ll have to try with natural light and no flash to see if that makes it better, but by the time I managed to get time to take a picture in natural light, I suspect at least one of these will be finished. I’d be a little farther if I hadn’t had to rip back through three of the calf decreases because I didn’t read far enough in the directions and didn’t start the clock where it should have been the first time. Even so, this is going pretty quick, even on US 2s.

Bed time.

Hopefully I’ll be able to find time tomorrow during daylight* to take pictures of the following:

  • The first singles from the baby camel/silk top roving I got from my Secret Pal. I found one of the spindles I was given a while ago by Pixel that was light enough that I thought I could give it a go. It’s a bottom whorl spindle, so I had to remember how to do the half-hitch thing, and the shaft could use a once-over with some fine-grain sandpaper, but I was still able to get a decent start on it.
  • The first of the largesse stockings. I cast on for it Sunday and except for some adventures in spacing the calf shaping decreases due to slightly larger row gauge and completely forgetting to start the clock pattern at the appropriat time, I’m finished with the calf shaping and the clock.
  • The first Peek a boo sleeve, to date. I worked on it through Friday and it’s about half finished I think. The stockings will likely go faster than I suspected they might, though, so I’m not too concerned about finishing Peek a boo in time for the intended birthday.

Tomorrow night I also need to package up my last package for my Secret Pal. I’ve rather enjoyed spoiling her, but I can’t go into it more until she gets the last package. *smile*

* This is, unfortunately, unlikely. I’m in meetings from 8 until 4 straight, without even a break for lunch, and I suspect that the last half hour there might be spent trying to put out whatever fires might have erupted during the day. I will try, though.