Saturday, October 14, 2017

Feather Lace Socks Tutorial: Toe Increases

My last blog post had you casting on your 24 stitches to begin the Feather Lace Socks. Now, let's get ready for the toe increases. We are working on two 16" circulars, but you can also work this on one long circular, or the Magic Loop.

Pull the needle holding the second half of the CO stitches so that those stitches lie on the flexible cord with its tips resting. Bring the working tip of the first-half stitches into place to be ready to work.

Before we get started, though, flip to the back and wrap the tail end over the working yarn to secure it. Otherwise, it could unravel and make you cry.

Knit across the first half of the stitches on needle one.

When you come to needle two, knit the first stitch. Then you will see that the rest of the stitches are mounted backward, so knit into the back of those to correct their mounts.

Now we're ready for our first increase. Next round, knit the first stitch, and then pick up the running thread between the first and second stitches with the right needle, front to back, and place it onto the left needle. Alternately, you can pick up that running thread from back to front with your left needle, but I often do it with my right needle because I find it easier. Either way--just so you get it onto the left needle positioned correctly.

You want it to to sit like this.

Now knit into the front of the picked-up stitch. You made a new stitch! And it's a right-leaning one, at that.

Knit the next stitch and take a second to look at your new stitch between the first and third ones. Nice! Now, knit all the way across to the last stitch. We want to add another stitch there before we knit the last one.

This time you want to pick up the running stitch between the next-to-last stitch and the last stitch front to back and knit into the back of it. If that little move is giving you fits, read on.

I have a little trick for this. Bring the two needle tips more in a parallel position, slide the right needle into the front of the stitch, then over and behind the left needle, and knit into the back. It seems easier to me. Maybe it will to you, too! You just made a left-leaning increase, by the way. Now knit the last stitch and get ready to work the same increases on the second needle.

Work this same set of increases every other round until there are 32 stitches on each needle.

It will look like this after the first set of increases. It will become more apparent that you are knitting rounds the more stitches you have on the needles.

Once you have increased the toe to 32 stitches on each needle (64 total), you are ready to begin the lace pattern. Have fun!

I'll be back next post to show you how to knit that double-wrap, short-row heel.

See you then!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Feather Lace Socks Tutorial: Judy's Magic CO

This post is specifically written for the Mirth Feather Lace Socks, but it will help you with any toe-up sock with a plain toe. 

The Feather Lace Socks call for one of three CO methods--the figure-eight, the Turkish, and Judy's Magic CO. The last one is my favorite, and makes a very fine beginning to any toe-up sock. I thought I'd show you some tips. If my "tips" get muddy, you can always refer back to the link for the original "Judy's Magic" above.

Because I don't like the bump caused by a slip knot at the toe of my socks, I usually start this CO with the tail toward the back, and just lay the yarn over the needle.

Then, holding the tips of two 16" circular needles together, I wrap the yarn over the top needle, keeping the tail toward the back. I slip my pointer around the front strand with the back strand laying over it. Yes, I am about to twist it once to secure the yarn over that needle.

I then grab the two yarn strands and poke my pointer and thumb between them with the tail over my thumb and the working yarn over my pointer while twisting the tail toward the front. This secures the tail so that it does not get loose while I cast on the rest of the stitches. It also makes it stay in place when it's time to work the toe increases without having to make a slip knot.

We already have one stitch on the top needle, so it's time to cast on a stitch to the bottom needle to match. At this point, I take the working yarn on my pointer finger toward the front under the bottom needle and then over it and between needles. Then I give it a pull to secure it, but not TOO tightly that I cannot work into it later.

Tada! One stitch on each needle. 

Time for more! I take the tail that's over my thumb toward the back, over the top needle, and through the two needles to cast on the second stitch to the top needle.

Second stitch on top needle secured! After this, my pointer goes back in place to wrap the yarn under the lower needle and up and between the needles again to cast a second stitch on the lower needle.

I keep doing these two motions until there are 12 sts on each needle (or however many your pattern requires).

The Feather Lace is worked with superfine sock yarn, so it begins with 12 stitches on each needle and increases to 32 stitches on each.

I am eternally grateful to Judy Becker for "unventing" the Magic CO! It's my absolute favorite.

Next post I will show you how to set up for and work the toe increases.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Show Us Your Iains!

At last I've come to the "Show Us" post I've been wanting to write for years! So many fantastic sweaters have been made from my Iain pattern that it was almost impossible to choose, but I went with the best pictures. Sometimes it was a case of good picture AND good story. I love reading all the notes and even the twists and turns and calamities of your projects. It helps me so much!

The Iain Hoodie Pullover pattern was first published back in 2008 as hard copy sold in yarn shops only. In 2010 I started selling my patterns as PDF downloads, and in 2013 I published an upgrade to the Iain, followed by another upgrade in 2016. 

Let's look at some of the Iain projects completed in the past eight years.

photo credit: Andi
Andrea knit this Iain for her boyfriend, and she used Cascade Eco Wool. She had few notes on her Ravelry page, but wrote three blog posts about it.  It's beautiful, Andrea!

photo credit: knittingocd
The dapper fellow on the right is Cathy's husband and he's posing with his brothers, who certainly must wish they had an Iain like Mike. Cathy made Mike's sweater with Cascade Eco Wool in Gray.  It looks great on Mike!

photo credit: Callalily
This Iain was knit by my tech editor Tracey after she knit the Iain, Jr. for her daughter. Tracey started out test knitting with me, and then transitioned to one of the best tech editors ever. I am so lucky to be able to work with her. Your Iain looks great on Renzie, Tracey, even though he never gets to wear it down in Florida. It's made with cozy Patons Classic Wool Merino in oatmeal.

photo credit: bethstar
This lovely Iain was knit by a knitter who does not give her name on Ravelry, but let's call her Beth. Her project page says she knit it for MaryAnn, so I have to assume that is who is in the picture. If so, it looks great on you, MaryAnn! (Sometimes this stuff requires detective work.) This Iain was made with Cascade Eco Wool and "Beth" says she would make another one. Yea!

photo credit: AbsintheYarn
Here's Kathy's husband, who she calls "Captain Romance," in his Iain made with Cascade Eco Wool in Charcoal. Kathy made lots of notes on her project page, so if you want to read those, follow that link. I think it looks just fabulous on Captain Romance, don't you?

photo credit: wish2knit
Elena's project page says this was made for Ross. Well, hello, Ross! You look great in your Iain made with Cascade Eco Wool in natural. Elena has no notes nor blog posts on her project page, so the details of the project remain a mystery. Looks like a success to me, though!

photo credit: knitacat
Louise gets props for most imaginative picture, and I hope Kermit likes his Iain! You can see that Louise subbed ribbing for the garter stitch as edging and it looks fine. This awesome Iain was made with Knit Picks City Tweed HW.

photo credit: christen
And now we come to the best Iain story of all time, and I doubt that it will ever, ever be bested. This is Christen's first Iain, which was for her husband. She completed it in 2009, but the next year he wanted another one, so she complied (true love!) and made another one, but in a lighter color.  Then she got the insane idea to make a third one for her husband's brother later that year. He saw his brother's Iain and wanted one, too. Saying no was just not an option, I guess. The real problem came when she decided to make Iains for her husband's other two brothers as well. Yep, she ended up making FIVE Iains in the course of just two years--two for her husband and one each for brothers-in-law Steven, Daniel, and Kevin. She said she wanted to burn the pattern and never make another one after that. But then I sent her the 2016 update and she has it parked in her Ravelry library. She is thinking she might have to make her husband another one if he gains weight. She's a saint! Oh, and I'm still waiting for that group shot, Christen. Just sayin'...

As you can see, most knitters use Cascade Eco Wool to make the Iain, like the original version. It's because it's the best yarn for this sweater! It's been used in 49 of the reported 73 projects on Ravelry. All the other yarns used except Cascade 220, which is a little too lightweight for this sweater, have only been used once each.  The pattern has 109 projects reported on Ravelry, but some folks neglect to add yarn info on their project page. I urge you knitters on Ravelry to flesh out your project pages--it helps all of us when you add all the pertinent information!

I want to make another one myself someday. And if I do, I'll use Cascade Eco again. 

Bravo to these knitters!