Technique

Under the Bright Lights

I spent a good part of last week taping what will be my third (3rd!) class for Craftsy. This class is titled Knit Like A Master and includes as much information as I could cram into the two-hour format. For this class, I deciphered all the techniques that I feel are most important for any knitter to know.

As usual, I arrived the first day to find a star on the door of “my” studio.

I posted an Instagram expressing my delight and was pleasantly surprised that some of my followers thought it was a little lame. According to paolo_vino, “This image is not exactly expressing permanent ‘star status’ on the owner, is it? I mean: Who was chalked-in before … and Who gets chalked-in next. Come on Craftsy … You need to UP YOUR GAME!”

Well, I showed that comment (and others expressing the same thoughts) to my crew. The next day, my star was “upped”.

But that wasn’t good enough. One follower said, “Better … at least it’s not smudged!”

 

The third, and final, day I got some color! What a difference three days make! Get a load of the balls of yarn in the “d”s.

 

 

 

 

For three days I was treated by royalty (with the exception of the temporary star) and had a lot of fun, despite the many re-takes. (Sorry guys!)

Thanks to Danica (on the left) for giving my hair and face a go-over. Danica has been in charge of hair and makeup for all three of my Craftsy tapings. She’s cute as a button, thoroughly talented, and a whole lot of fun to boot. I wish I could have taken her home.

 

 

 

 

And thanks to my crew, from left to right: Rob (director of photography), me (the “talent”), Stephanie (producer), and Ivana (technical).

On the Road Again

 

Suitcases, reduced

Tomorrow I head east to Maine, where I’ll teach Design Your Own Pleated Skirt at KnitWits in Portland on Saturday, August 27.  Then I’ll head to Bath, where I’ll teach at Halycon Yarn on Sunday, August 28 (Intro to Sweater Design; Fixing Mistakes), and Monday, August 29 (Socks At Any Gauge; Shadow Knitting). I believe there are still spots in some of the classes if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

After that, I’m going to head up the coast for a week of relaxation. Bring. It. On.

Harlequin Socks — Getting Started

For my second pair of socks in New Directions in Sock Knitting, I’ve chosen Harlequin by Anne Berk. NDSK_Berk2

Shown on page 70, these socks involve Anne’s ingenious “Annetarsia” technique for knitting intarsia “in the round.” I use quote marks because the socks are really knitted back and forth in rows as for regular intarsia, but the first and last color block of each row are linked so that a “seamless” tube is formed. This technique allows you to work any color-block pattern (such as argyle) in projects that you want to appear as if they were worked in rounds, such as hats, mittens, sweaters, and, of course, socks!

For my rendition, I chose five colors (Burnt Cinnamon, Berry, Merlot, Red, and Old Gold) of Elemental Affects Shetland (100% North American Shetland Wool; 118 yards/28 grams), a beautifully hand-dyed “toothy” wool that hasn’t been denigrated by the superwash process (a process that strips the natural scales off wool fibers). Although the yarn feels slightly scratchy in the skein, it blooms beautifully when washed and forms a knitted fabric that will hold its shape through dozens and dozens of (hand) washings.

These socks are worked from the toe up, so I have ample time to get accustomed to working with a single color of yarn while shaping the toe before the intarsia fun began. I’m using a marker to remind me where the turning point is, although it isn’t necessary once you figure out how the “in the round” instructions work.

toe and beg of foot

(I apologize for the bad photo — we had a beautiful sunny day and I forgot about the harsh light when I took the picture.)

I’m having a bit of trouble managing all the butterflies of yarn and four double-pointed needles so I think I’ll switch to a 40″ circular needle and work the rest of the sock using the magic-loop technique. If you’ve never tried this technique, I suggest you give it a try. It’s a great way to minimize the number of needle breaks when working in rounds.

Boomerang Socks — A Complete Pair

After knitting two of Louise Robert‘s Boomerang socks (page 112 of New Directions in Sock Knitting), I’m tempted to say that this may become a favorite sock construction.

completed pair

I absolutely love the unconventional construction that requires simple decreases and increases to shape the heel and toe. I also love how it showcases self-striping yarn. And, most importantly, I love how well they fit!

Boomerang completed first sock

Now that I’ve completed this relatively simple pair of socks, I think I’ll challenge myself with a pair of socks that involves a slightly more difficult technique. Stay tuned!

Boomerang Socks — A Finished Sock!

The home stretch on Louise Robert’s Boomerang sock from New Directions in Sock Knitting was a breeze! With only 20 stitches per row, I marched up the instep and front of the leg in record time.

completed sock

The sock has a bit of an odd shape, with the turn at the heel appearing greater than 90 degrees, but when put on my foot, it fits beautifully!

Boomerang completed first sock

The upper edge has enough elasticity to hug my calf without binding, and the foot feels snug and comfortable. Who would have guessed that a sock without a heel flap, gusset, or short-rows would fit so well? And I love how the self-striping yarn showcases the two different knitting directions.

Now that I’ve worked my way through the instructions once, the mate will be a breeze to knit!

Boomerang Socks — Making Progress

Welcome to the second installment of my progress on Louise Robert’s Boomerang Socks from New Directions in Sock Knitting.

NDSK_Robert2

Can I just say that these socks are proving to be a lot of fun to knit! I’ve completed the bottom of the back of the leg and the bottom of the foot, including the toe (on the left) and heel (in the center) shaping.

completed sole

Although the rows are long, the stripes keep my attention and make me always want to “knit one more row.” The next step is to work the toe stitches in a lace pattern while joining the foot and leg stitches on each side as I make my up the instep. I suspect that I’m going to have even more trouble putting down my knitting when the broad, lacy stripes start appearing!

I encourage you to join me in this adventure. Post your progress under New Directions in Sock Knitting on my Ravelry group, Budd’s Buds.

 

Boomerang Socks — Getting Started

Today’s the day! I’m starting to knit my way through the patterns in New Directions in Sock Knitting.

NDSK Final Cover.indd

Rather than working through the book from cover to cover, I’ve decided to let chance be my guide. The first design I’ll tackle is Louise Robert’s Boomerang on page 112.

NDSK_Robert2

The back leg, heel, and sole of these socks are worked in one piece that’s shaped like a boomerang, then the top of the foot and front of the leg are worked in a lace pattern while the sides of the boomerang are joined into a foot-shaped tube. This construction is ideal for self-striping yarn.

The socks pictured are worked in Biscotte & Cie Felix Self -Striping (80% superwash merino, 20% nylon; 365 yd [334 m]/100 g) in a green/rose/lavender colorway. The first two sizes require 1 skein, the largest size requires 2.

It just so happens that Louise sent me a skein of the same yarn in a black/gray/red colorway to knit my own pair. I’m making the middle size, so a single skein will be sufficient.

The instructions say to use Judy’s Magic method to cast on a whopping 258 stitches, beginning at the top of the cuff, down the back of the leg, around the base of the heel, along the bottom of the sole to the toe, across the end of the toe, back along the bottom of the sole to the heel, around the heel, up the leg, and ending at the cuff. Markers designate where the shaping will occur at the heel and toe. Although the pattern doesn’t specify it, I’ve added markers between the cuff and leg to remind me to switch between seed stitch at the cuff and stockinette stitch on the leg.

Boomerang first row after CO

Now it’s just a matter of working around and around, shaping the heel and toe as I go, to fill in the back and sides of the leg and foot. Thankfully, the shaping involves a lot of decreases so that I’ll be left with 168 stitches when all the shaping is completed.

This is going to be fun!

Sweet 16

Today as I was shoveling the driveway (it’s snowing again), the UPS truck risked getting stuck to deliver a box filled with copies of New Directions in Sock Knitting!

NDSK advance copies

Not just another sock book, New Directions in Sock Knitting includes designs that deviate a little to a lot from traditional top-down or toe-up constructions. From the imaginative ways that heels, gussets, and toes are formed to the ingenious directions of the knitting, this book is intended to change the way you think about knitting socks.

The eighteen patterns represent the efforts of seventeen designers (Kathryn Alexander, Kate Atherley, Anne Berk, Cat Bordhi, Carissa Browning, Anne Campbell, Rachel Coopey, Hunter Hammersen, Marjan Hammink, General Hogbffer, Jennifer Leigh, Heidi Nick, Louise Robert, Betty Salpekar, Jeny Staiman, Nicola Susen, and Natalia Vasilieva) who have puzzled out new ways to knit socks. The designs range from quite simple socks that are appropriate for first-time sock knitters to quite challenging socks that may require a leap of faith for those accustomed to traditional sock constructions.

The socks use a variety of knitting techniques including mitered triangles and scallops,  double knitting, intarsia in the round, short-row shaping, mirrored color and texture pattern, and multidirectional knitting in both traditional and innovative ways. Many feature casting on at unexpected places, such as the heel, sole, instep, or side of the foot. As with all my books, the instructions are all written in step-by-step detail that will ensure success, no matter which design you choose to knit.

New Directions in Sock Knitting marks publication of my 16th book! Wow, what an amazing ride I’ve had.

Respond to this post to be entered in a drawing for FREE copy (I’ll even sign it if you’d like). I’ll draw a winner Monday, January 11, 2016.

If you’re interested, my other books (in alphabetical order) are:

Bag Style (coauthored with Pam Allen; 2007)

The Best of Interweave Knits (2007)

Color Style (coauthored with Pam Allen; 2008)

Favorite Socks (2007)

Getting Started Knitting Socks (2011)

Knitted Gifts (2009)

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns (2002)

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns (2004)

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters (2012)

Knitting Green (2010)

Lace Style (coauthored with Pam Allen; 2007)

Scarf Style 2 (2013)

Simple Style (2009)

Sock Knitting Master Class (2007)

Wrap Style (coauthored with Pam Allen; 2005)

Visit annbuddknits.com/books for details about all of these titles.

 

 

 

Gauge Demons

If you hate knitting and measuring gauge swatches, you’re not alone. Short of Kitchener stitch (which I happen to love), many knitters view gauge swatches as the most onerous part of a project.

I won’t go into why a gauge swatch is so important, especially if you’re knitting a project that has to be a certain size, but I will offer a little help when it comes time to measure your gauge.

The Gauge Ruler shown below is a clear plastic ruler with white and black markings of knitted stitches at 11 gauges from 4 stitches/inch to 9 stitches/inch in 0.5 stitches/inch increments. Simply move the ruler across your knitting until the images of the stitches on the ruler match the stitches in your knitting. If you need more stitches per inch, swatch with smaller needles; if you need fewer stitches per inch, swatch with larger needles. Of course, for the most accurate measurements, you’ll want to measure the number of stitches over 4″ (10 cm) of knitting.

(Note that the ruler is fully transparent; I’ve added a strip of white paper under the bottom portion for readability in the photograph.)

gauge ruler on knitting

For a demonstration on how to use this gauge ruler, check out Amy Detjen’s YouTube video on measuring gauge.

Contact me at annbudd@annbuddknits.com if you’re interested in purchasing the rulers, which retail for $5 each, with a minimum order of five, plus shipping. Wholesale inquires are welcome.

 

Fun in Edmonton

Yesterday I got home from a week in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where I taught for River City Yarns and Stix and City Retreat (Hosted by River City Yarns).

If you ever make your way to Alberta, this is a must-stop for knitters. The shop is delightful and carries a huge amount of yarn, including a few exclusive brands — one of which is dyed the colors of hockey teams (the newest is the colors of the Colorado Avalanche, which I’ll use to design a mitten)!

River City Yarns shop

As usual, I forgot to take photos of most the classes, but here’s a sampling of the miniature mittens knitted for Sunday’s class.

Mitten workshop

My favorite class was on Monday — Steeks and Zippers. Everyone made a cylinder (most used two colors) with steek stitches.

ready to cut steeks

Then we cut the steeks and inserted colorful 4″ (10 cm) zippers!

Finished zippers

These beauties will work as coffee/tea cup cozies. The techniques can be easily applied to sweaters or anything else that needs a zipper. How about leggings?!

I’ll be teaching the Steeks and Zippers class at my Knit For Fun Retreat that takes place in Park City, Utah, April 28 to May 1, 2016. There are still spots available. Click here for more information and to register. Click here if you have questions. It’s going to be loads of fun!