Books · Craft · Knitting

Knitting socks (which actually fit)

Yesterday I picked up my knitting and started a new sock. It’s for a friend from yarn they bought. I have their foot measurements already, so I did a gauge swatch (I know, shocking for me!) and figured out the maths of the whole thing. This is much, much more organised than I usually am in sock knitting, but there’s a reason for it: if I’ve worked it out right, they’ll actually fit my friend.

In the past I’ve been lax about this, bizarrely. I’m a bit of a lax person when it comes to fine details anyway, so it’s not a shock that it transferred over to my knitting. Relaxed, that’s what I am. That sounds a lot better than ‘absent-minded and all over the place’. Sometimes I’ve knitted socks that barely fit my foot and are too loose around the leg, but I don’t care. I kept them, I wear them. I’m stubborn that way, and I still love my creations.

However, it is possible to make socks that actually fit, and I learnt that last year.

I think I mentioned that my friend and I went to a class with Kate Atherley at The Purple Purl. We turned up late because Toronto traffic is evil but even in that time we learnt so much.

Kate Atherley has very strong feelings on socks. I respect that. She showed us how to measure our feet and what gauge to aim for and what yarn is best for socks. By the end of the night I was so inspired by the awesomeness that is knitting and maths that I went out and designed my own shawl – not sure how that is what my brain took out of it, but you can’t account for the little grey cells.

If you want to learn about this magic and set your knitting brain aflame, you should check out Kate Atherley’s book Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet. No, this is not a sponsored post; I do not yet even own this book, though it’s on my wishlist and one day I shall have it, it shall be mine, my precioussss. However, I’ve had enough looks at it to know that it’s incredibly useful.

Even better, it’s logical thinking that’s tricked my illogical mind into actually planning ahead when knitting something. Sometimes. Okay, occasionally at best, but it’s a start.

Do you use unmodified patterns for socks or do you do your own thing to make it fit perfectly?

Craft · Knitting · Needles · Tools

How I Avoid Ladders on DPNs

Whenever I talk about how much I love knitting with double-pointed needles (DPNs), people who aren’t converts talk about the ladder. It’s that awful run of loose stitches you get where you switch needles, and it does make your knitting look less than tidy.

It took me a long time to get the hang of avoiding that ladder and sometimes even now I’ll end up with one if I’m working at an unusual gauge, but I’ve mostly got the hang of avoiding it and this video shows you what I do.

I wasn’t feeling chatty so you get slightly sarcastic, extremely silly captions instead (which is basically my natural speaking tone anyway).

Oh, and you also get some old timey music to cheer you along. You’re welcome.

Craft · Knitting

Switching to Continental

Knitting barged into my life nearly six years ago now. Though a large portion of that first year or two was taken up crocheting, I still knitted occasionally and since then I’ve knitted almost every day. When I learned, I learned English – not surprising as I lived in England at the time. Now, after six years, I’m thinking of switching to Continental.

What’s the difference? For my readers who don’t know, a quick explanation.

English knitting is also called throwing. You tension the yarn in your right hand and ‘throw’ the yarn around the needle for each stitch.

Continental knitting is also called picking. You tension the yarn in your left hand and ‘pick’ the yarn with the needle through each stitch.

There are dozens of videos online about how to do both, so it’s easy to learn if you feel like switching. I wish I had learned Continental to begin with; it’s quicker and kinder on your hands, or at least it is for me. My right hand once had a severe RSI as a teenager (believe it or not, from making pixel dolls) so knitting English is sometimes a strain.

When I knitted the obscene mitts, I knitted two-handed. One hand English, one hand Continental. That’s how I learned Continental, though not on that project. However I can’t seem to get into the habit of knitting one-handed when doing Continental.

After finishing those mitts and the baby sweater (pictures coming soon!) I started getting hand pain again. Fed up, I decided to try a project completely Continental. I picked up the yarn I bought a few days before and cast on a stockinette cowl for a friend. Easy, rhythmic, and perfect to practice. It’s so much faster and because the movements are so small and confined it’s not nearly as hard on my tendons.

English knitters, I highly recommend trying it.

What method do you use when you knit? English, Continental, other? Is that how you learnt or did you make a conscious choice to switch?

Knitting · Tools

Five Ways to Do The Thing – General Knitting Edition

Okay. You’ve got yourself some needles and some yarn. You’re all set, right? You can get yourself knitting in no time at all, except now you’ve cast on you don’t know where to go from there. Or worse, you’re most of the way through your project and you have no idea what to do next. Oh, man. This is some hard stuff.

Thankfully you don’t have to start screaming into the void because there is good news: you are on the interwebs! I know this to be true, because the chances are you are reading this from a screen rather than directly from my mind. If you’re doing the latter, sorry about all the Robert Downey Jr. stuff floating around in my grey matter. He’s kind of a big deal.


Here are some places I go when I’m stuck on the whole knitting thing with a brief explanation of why they’re so useful. Please let me know about your favourites if I’ve missed any – we could all stand to learn some more hints and tricks, right?

How To Do The Thing

  1. YouTube. Okay, okay. Predictable start. But seriously guys, this is like having a knitting teacher who doesn’t get frustrated when you ask her to show you the purl stitch for the twentieth time in a row. It’s like magic. Whenever I don’t know a stitch, this is my first stop. And there are so many awesome YouTubers helping us out!
  2. Knitty. Yes, they do some awesome patterns but that’s not all. If you need to crack out the kitchener and can’t remember how to start, Knitty has a great post on that (and many other awesome things).
  3. Ravelry. This should probably be first in line. If you can’t find an answer for something online, head over to the Ravelry forums and find a thousand useful answers for your troubles and woes. Plus, awesome people and awesome fun!
  4. TECHknitting. So you’ve got the basics down and now you want to figure out the fun fiddly bits. Perfect! Hop on over to TECHknitting where your mind will be blown and you’ll feel like a genius in no time. It hasn’t been updated in a long while but the archives are fabulous.
  5. Knitting Fool. I would argue that beyond Youtube this has been my most useful site. The stitch galleries mean I can get a taste for all the things that are possible, and was what originally prompted me to be daring and try knitting something without a pattern. Excellent site.

Yay! Five ways to do the thing, knitting edition, should help you on your way to a more comprehensive knitting ability. It helped me, anyway, and what’s the internet for if not sharing our knowledge?

Oh… it’s for porn? I’ve got it so wrong all this time.