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Friday, 11 August 2017

Addressing the mess

Even during the school holidays, my determination to get to grips with the clutter we have in our house has endured.  It's been so tempting to say "nah, leave it, I'll do it in September", but I know that in September I'm going to be busy with a new sock workshop at Black Sheep Wools and then Yarndale so the mess will get pushed to one side and before I know it, it'll be Christmas and I'll have done nothing about it.  

A month or so ago I showed you a book that I'd bought on Hygge decluttering which really kick-started the process (and I found the skirt that I'd thought I'd re-homed by accident - under another pile of clothes ... oops!).  By coincidence my husband, already inordinately impressed by the progress that I'd made, had been talking to a friend who had recently moved house and recommended a book that my husband thought I would like.  My husband is a pretty ruthless declutterer himself and finds my inability to part with stuff quite frustrating at times although he never feels the need to step in and sweep all of my mess into bin bags, something for which I am very thankful!  



I must confess that I had read about this book although I'd never actually read the book itself, and despite not having read it I had already decided that it was too extreme for someone like me who struggles to let go of stuff that I think might be useful in the future (cue photo of our garage, full of stuff that might be useful one day ...)  



Anyway, I thanked my husband for buying it for me, thought I might as well look at the first pages whilst I had a brew before storing it neatly on the bookshelf never to be looked at again ... and oh my life, what a revelation!  I had finished reading the book within the day!  Not only that, I had been back into my wardrobe and now understanding the whole concept of "spark joy", I understood exactly why I regretted giving away certain things during previous decluttering missions and why I still had stuff that I shouldn't really have been giving storage room to.  And, as the icing on the cake, I can now do the origami clothes folding thing and there is space in the drawers that previously wouldn't shut!  The folding may not be perfect but it works for me and I am beyond excited.  And what's really interesting is the "life changing magic" effect started almost immediately, not least as big daughter decided that she would sort through her clothes and fold them in the same way.  


After my success in the wardrobe, I decided to ignore the recommended decluttering path to follow in the book and headed straight into the garage.  That mess wasn't quite so quick to resolve and after two days and several trips to the tip it still wasn't finished, but at least this time I can see a proper purpose to what I'm doing and why I'm keeping the stuff that I have.  I will get there!

I've also been decluttering in the garden.  I spent a lovely weekend in the Cotswolds with one of my best friends a couple of weekends ago.  Naturally, we looked for a yarn shop in the area ...


This is TheFibreworks in Chipping Norton, packed full of all kinds of delicious yarns including lots of local Wensleydale and alpaca yarns.  They run lots of great workshops too, and even have their own fibre festival every year so if you're in the area, it's definitely worth a visit.

The best thing about a grown ups' weekend away is that we were able to have a fantastic time doing exactly what we wanted to do - which usually when we get together, as we're both gardeners, is to head to big gardens to see what we could adapt for our own.  

My garden is currently a bit of a jungle; the recent rain has not helped either as overnight the grass looks like a field and the borders are full of lush greenery but not many flowers as they've all been smothered by the leaves or eaten by the slugs and snails which clearly multiply more rapidly in relation to the amount of rain that falls.  Anyway, having admired the beautiful borders of Hidcote and Kiftsgate, I have come home inspired to do something about ours and have already started clearing out some of the overgrown vegetation.  I'm keeping myself inspired by having plants ready to go in once there's space for them - ones that slugs and snail are not that tempted by too.  It will mean quite a rethink of the borders but that's actually quite a nice thing to contemplate and will make the garden a nicer place to sit out in.  If it ever stops raining.



In the pictures above are Heuchera, Fuschia, Dianthus, Lavender "Hidcote" (of course!) and Phlox.

Fancy a quick whizz around the garden whilst we're talking about it?  There's not a great deal to show you (see above) but my Dad's rose bush has flowered ...


It's called "Braveheart" and was originally bought for him in memory of my Mum so I couldn't leave it at his house, no matter how much I was tempted to and I was tempted ... it's a bit of a vicious thing ...


It's in a pot at the moment as there's no way I'm putting those thorns in my border - I'm bound to forget it's there and get my arms ripped to bits as I'm weeding.  Still, it does make the name rather apt as it's certainly no shy and retiring rose plant!

In the greenhouse, I have an abundance of tomatoes and yes, they're all green.  They've been green for quite some time and despite my leaving ripe tomatoes from another plant in there to encourage them to ripen, they're not having any of it.  I will look forward to a glut of them as they all ripen at the same time and we have tomatoes coming out of our ears! :)


A solitary poppy in amongst the courgettes.  I've no idea how that got there.


Teasel heads.  I let these grow in one of my veg boxes one year as I know the goldfinches love them, and now I have them every year.  They're huge and spiky and although they might be a bit of a mistake in a small veg garden, I love them too!


These also look very spiky but actually, they're quite soft to the touch.  Echinops ritro these are, also known as globe thistle, and a favourite of the bees.  I was quite surprised not to see them covered with bees when I went to photograph them but there's a hover fly on the middle flower instead, obviously taken advantage of the opportunity to get in there whilst it can.


You wouldn't expect me not to have got some knitting time in during the holidays as well ... the other day small daughter and I headed off to an indoor trampoline park, so that she could burn off a bit of energy.  You'll note that I said that she could burn off a bit of energy.  I sat and watched her with my cup of hot chocolate and my Bumpy, Curved Trail sock.  It's not been going quite as well as I want it to; the pattern isn't the easiest to follow and now I've had to unpick the heel as the pattern wouldn't fit properly across the top of the foot.


I also ended up having to unpick the start of the gusset several times because of the way the pattern moves and disappears into the decreases (see, even those of us who've knitted socks for years can have problems with a pattern!), and I even transferred it all over onto a magic loop until I got it sorted so that I could keep the gusset and heel stitches more separate than on a short circular.  This is why it's handy to be able to use all types of needles when you knit so that you can swap and change to make life easier for yourself.  Once I'd got the pattern set again I intended to go back to my short circular as it's faster for me to use that, but in the meantime this did the trick.  


Or maybe not.  After spending more time on it, I came to the conclusion that I wasn't enjoying this sock and even though I was over half way through it, I decided that I was going to frog it (technical knitting term for when you rip-it, rip-it, rip-it out :) ) and I'm going to find a different pattern instead. I never used to give up on a pattern (in a similar way to how I would drag myself to the end of a book even if I hated it) but I've decided that life's too short and if I'm not enjoying it there's no point in spending my time on it.  Obviously, there are some exceptions to this rule but this sock is not one of them.  I might choose to go back to it later (especially after having worked out how the pattern actually worked) with a different yarn, or I might not.  It doesn't really matter.  Goodbye Bumpy, Curved Trail socks.

I do have some happy knitting to show you though.  This is a new sock - surely I'm not the only one who casts on something new when I've been getting cross with an existing project?  It's a pattern called Magic Mirror and although it's designed as a toe up sock, I'm knitting it top down because that's what I prefer to do.  The pattern works either way up so although I initially thought I would have to knit the pattern upside down, that hasn't been the case.  


This very gorgeous sea glass turquoise-coloured yarn is Whistlebare Cuthbert's Sock, a blend of Wensleydale and mohair and yes, this will be another no-nylon yarn review.  It's beautifully soft to knit with and I'm hoping that doesn't mean it's going to wear through too quickly, although the mohair content (also known as nature's nylon) should help to stop that.  I bought this yarn at Woolfest last year and now that I've come to knit it up, I am slightly concerned that there are only 250m of yarn in my skein - Whistlebare have since changed their skeins so that they now contain 300m of yarn - but it is knitting up a little bigger than commercially produced 4ply and this sock has a cast on of 56 stitches rather than the usual 60 that I would cast on so I'm hoping it will be OK. Anyway, I shall keep knitting and weighing my ball of yarn and if I have to make adjustments to the pattern to get two socks out of the ball then I'll do that when I need to.  Isn't that one of the best things about knitting socks?  They're usually very easy to alter to suit your own foot and yarn needs.

Finally, if you've not already seen it then Lucy's Creative Project for Yarndale - crocheted hearts - is now on the Yarndale blog with more about the patterns on her blog and if you have socks and hearts to send up for Yarndale, it's fine to put them both in the same envelope.  I'll be going back up to Skipton in a week or so to collect the parcels that Lucy says are coming in daily - thank you so much! - and if you've not seen them already, the socks that have come in so far are up on this year's Pinterest board here.

Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, 4 August 2017

No-nylon sock yarn review: Northern Yarn Poll Dorset Lambswool

It seems like such a long time ago now that I posted my Easy Cable Socks pattern which I knitted using Northern Yarn Poll Dorset Lambswool 4ply.  In fact, it's six months ago which is a good amount of time for me to have given the socks a proper road test so that I can tell you everything you want to know about it (and if I've missed something out, do leave me a comment!).


Before I start, there are a couple of things you need to know:

  • I am tough with my no-nylon socks, perhaps tougher than I am with socks knitted with nylon yarn.  This is because I want to know that this yarn is equally as good for socks as commercially-produced yarn and provides good value for money. 
  • Being tough with my socks means that they'll get worn for a few days at a time; there's less need to wash natural fibre socks anyway even though we're in the habit of wearing our socks once and then washing them - you don't see sheep showering all the time, do you? :) .  It also means they'll be worn in boots on long dog walks whatever the weather and will probably go into the washing machine because that's how most people choose to wash their socks.
  • I've got pokey toes so unless I reinforce the toes of my socks, there's a good chance that I'm going to go through them faster than many other people - this isn't always helpful in a yarn trial but on the plus side, I can test that aspect out more quickly! :)  


What's the yarn made from?

This yarn is 100% Poll Dorset Lambswool.  This is what the sheep look like: 

Source: www.dorsetsheep.org.uk

They're very woolly, aren't they?!  They look to me like they've got armour on with all those tight curls!

And I bet you can't resist saying "ahh" when you see these lambs!  They're like teddy bears!

Source: www.northernyarn.co.uk

Where does it come from?

Kate at Northern Yarn sources her Poll Dorset fleeces from a local farm in Quernmore, Lancashire. They're pedigree sheep which are raised bioenergetically (a modern form of homeopathy) alongside conventional farming techniques and are very well looked-after.  Kate knows the owners and has spent time on the farm so she knows that the sheep get the best of care.  You can read more about the sheep and the fleece here and about the process once the fleeces reached the mill here.


What does it feel like and - most importantly - how soft is it?

On first touch it feels quite woolly and perhaps not as soft as you'd assume lambswool to be, but it's very springy and actually gets softer the more you handle it.  By the time I'd finished knitting my socks, the yarn did feel different to how it had felt in the skein.  Washing and wearing has had an effect too, and this is not an uncomfortable yarn to have on your feet.  In fact, I liked the fact that it changed in texture (not massively, but there is a difference); it made me feel more connected to the yarn and the fact that it's a natural product.



What's it like to knit with?

It feels sturdy to knit with, which might sound like an odd thing to say, but it feels like a proper natural product in your hands.  It's not one of those very smooth yarns which slide off your needles at every opportunity, and with every round of sock that you knit it feels as if you're constructing something that's designed to withstand whatever you're going to throw at it.  I felt very connected to the whole sheep to sock process when I was knitting with it - perhaps it's because I know the story of how the yarn came about, perhaps it's because I could imagine those woolly sheep out in all weathers, or perhaps because I know that there's nothing but Poll Dorset fleece in this yarn - I don't know the answer to that but this feeling is something that does seem to happen the more no-nylon yarns I use.  Although it feels a little thicker than most 4ply yarns, I didn't need to make any adjustments to the number of stitches that I cast on to accommodate this.


Did you do anything to make it more hardwearing?

I used a different stitch for the heel flap with this sock - this is a crossed rib stitch which still provides a cushioned heel as a heel stitch flap would do.  In hindsight, I should have used something similar for the toes, but more on that later.



How does it wash?

These socks have been so easy to look after!  Most of my hand-knit socks go into the washing machine; I put them in a laundry bag and they go in with everything else.  They've been washed at 30 degrees and 40 degrees and they're fine - not something that you would normally do with hand-knits, perhaps, but most commercially-produced yarns can cope with this so I feel that I need to try it with my no-nylon socks too.  These Northern Yarn socks have also been washed at 30 degrees and 40 degrees in the washing machine and have come out none the worse for it.  They even went into the tumble dryer by mistake for a few minutes and you would never know.  These are proper socks made from yarn produced sheep that take no messing!  I'm really delighted with how they've changed after being washed - the yarn has bloomed and has a soft halo, and it's remained lovely and plump which makes a nice comfy sock on your foot.


How does it wear?

They've been brilliant!  As I said at the top of the post, I'm tough on my no-nylon socks and these have been walked for miles!  This is what they looked like after nearly 6 months' wear.  They haven't fulled at all, there is no thinning of the yarn anywhere and you can't really tell that they've been worn as much as they have.




Are there any holes?

Just before the six month's trial was up, I put my toe through one of the socks - the downside of pokey toes!  As you can see, it's in a purl section of the pattern and I am quite sure that if I had reinforced these toes with a stitch similar to the one I used on the heel, there would not be a hole. However, these socks have had probably twice as much wear as most of my other pairs so it's not like they went through on the first or second wearing.


Would you do anything differently next time?

I'd reinforce the toes.  These are brilliant boot socks, comfy and springy to wear and I'll definitely be darning that hole so that I can carry on wearing them.


Would you buy this yarn again?

Yes!  In fact, I've got another skein of the 4ply and a skein of Poll Dorset Lambswool DK in my stash and I would be happy to use either or both for socks in the future.


I want to try it out!  Where can I get it from?

You can get it from the Northern Yarn website here, or alternatively, if you are in the Lancaster area you can visit the new Northern Yarn yarn shop which will be opening it's doors on Saturday 2 September 2017 at 74 Penny Street, Lancaster, LA1 1XN from 10am-4pm.  I'll be there too so do bring your socks to show off or ask questions about if you're stuck - and try out the Lancashire gin whilst you're there!  What else would you want to do on a Saturday morning? :)


Sunday, 30 July 2017

Easy Lace Socks - free pattern and tutorial

Hello again!  It's lovely to see you back again, I hope you're all ready to start your Easy Lace Socks! Please note - this tutorial is picture-heavy!  



This post follows on from yesterday's where we talked about the basics of the Easy Lace Socks (if you missed it, you can catch up here) and I tried to answer some of the questions I thought you might have.

Although it looks quite complicated, this lace pattern is much easier than you might expect. It's worked in blocks of six stitches over four rounds, and the six-stitch blocks are repeated around the sock.  The lace pattern is created by knitting increases and decreases so no extra needles or special techniques are required - there's nothing in here that you probably haven't already done in other projects.

What I like about this pattern is that although it's lacy, the lace sections form ribbed stripes which make it easy to see where you're up to.  They're a bit more feminine than a plain sock but aren't so floaty that you can lose your place (and your temper) when you're knitting them.


The heel is a heel flap and gusset-type heel knitted in heel stitch - just the same as the one on the Sockalong sock.  I felt that there was enough going on with the rest of the sock to not want to create a "busy" heel as well.



This year's tutorials are slightly different from the others I've done as there are short videos to go along with the written instructions and the photos and you'll find those at the bottom of each section.  I've made the assumption that you've already knitted a basic sock so you know about the construction but you can always take a quick look at the Sockalong tutorials if you get stuck. Before we get started on knitting the sock, let's take a look at the lace pattern.  I'm going to give you written and charted instructions, and don't worry if you've never read a chart before because I'll show you how to do that.  Think of it as a road map to give you directions so that you can visually see where you are as well as reading instructions.  Here's the chart for the lace pattern ...



I know it looks like some kind of Battleships game but it's really not that complicated when you understand how it works.  Firstly, you can see that there are four rows (the numbers going up the right hand side) and six stitches (the numbers going along the bottom).  The numbers go outwards from the first square on the bottom right hand side which is always the first stitch and that's where you'll start from, but we'll talk about that in a minute.


Every chart is created by showing a combination of symbols to represent each stitch.  Once you can read a chart, you'll see that it's faster to do that than having to read written instructions all the time and just like using a road map when you're out and about, you need a key to tell you what each of the symbols mean.  There are some differences between symbols on patterns but for the most part they are a universal system and the pattern should always tell you what the symbols on the chart that is being used represent.  Here's the key for the Easy Lace Socks:


There will also usually be written instructions for how to complete each stitch if it's not a knit or purl stitch so don't worry if you don't recognise a symbol, the designer should make everything clear!

Remember I said that you always start from the bottom right hand corner?  You read the chart from right to left and upwards one row at a time.


For row 2, you'll go back to the right hand side and read along the row 2 line, and the same for row 3 and so on.  Some people like to mark off the rows as they go along so that they can see where they're up to - you can use a ruler or write on the pattern.  If you're using a pattern with a chart (paid for or free) and don't want to write on your original pattern, it's OK to make a copy of the chart for your own personal use as long as you don't share it with anyone else for copyright reasons. 

Using the key above to tell you which stitches to knit, you'll complete the first row of the chart like this: 



You may be wondering how this 6 stitch pattern is going to work with our 60 stitch sock and that's very simple too.   If I was to write the pattern out for more than the six stitches it covers, it would look like this:


You simply repeat the pattern for the whole 60 stitches of the sock; it works in such a way that the pattern fits perfectly with 30 stitches for the front of the sock and 30 stitches for the back which makes it easy to fit in your heel flap.  Can you see how it works with the basic lace pattern?  Once you've worked the first six stitches, you just keep repeating it until you get to the end of the round.  This is based on a 60 stitch cast on so if you cast on more or less there will need to be a change to make the stitches fit.


Have another look at the knitted pattern and you can see how the blocks fit together so that there's a purl section between each lace section.  You might even be able to see how the stitches relate to the chart now, but don't worry if it all still seems like a game of Battleships, it should make sense when you start knitting.


OK, let's take a look at how we adjust the pattern for a bigger sized sock.  Because the pattern is six stitches wide, you'll find that if you increase (or decrease) the number of stitches in your sock then the pattern won't fit evenly.  This isn't a problem - you can just knit or purl the extra stitches at the sides of your sock and they will look like they were always meant to be there. Let me show you:

Here's the stitch pattern for 60 stitches:


This pattern will be repeated right across each half of the sock (the front half and the back half, both of which are 30 stitches).  If you cast on 64 stitches then you'll have 32 stitches across the front and back of the sock so that will be one extra stitch on each side of the front and one extra stitch on each side of the back (a total of 4 extra stitches = 64).  You need to do something with the extra stitch at each end but you can't fit a whole pattern block in so you just need something that is in keeping with the rest of the pattern.  In this case, I've suggested that you knit the stitch so that you don't get a big block of purl stitches:



It's very similar for 68 stitches - this time I've added a knit and a purl stitch ...



but when you get to 72 stitches, you have 6 extra stitches on each side which means that you can fit another lace pattern block in on each side so it goes back to the same pattern as the 60 stitch sock. If you want to make your sock smaller than 60 stitches you'll need to do the same thing with the pattern but in reverse so that you take out a block of the lace pattern but still do something with the stitches.

OK, I think that's everything before we get started - let the fun begin!  



Easy Lace Socks - you can download a PDF copy of the pattern here.

These lace socks are constructed as top down socks with a heel flap and gusset heel.  The heel is knitted in heel stitch, which creates a durable, cushioned heel.  This pattern will create a medium-sized sock. 


Materials


2.5mm needles – I use a 30cm circular needle but DPNs or an 80 cm circular for magic loop will also work
1 x 100g ball of 4ply sock yarn (or 2 x 50g depending on brand) I used 1 x 100g skein of Doulton Flock Border Leicester 4ply (
www.borderleicester.com) in shade Cringle Moor
1 set DPNs size 3.0mm (optional) 1 set DPNs size 2.5mm
stitch markers
wool needle


Abbreviations
K               Knit
P               Purl
Sl1            Slip 1 stitch purlwise
yo             Wrap the yarn once anticlockwise around the needle
SSK         Slip the first stitch on the left hand needle knitwise onto the right hand needle, slip the second stitch on the left hand needle purlwise onto the right hand needle, slip both stitches back onto the left hand needle and knit together through back loop.
K2tog       Knit two stitches together
*                Repeat everything written inside the asterisks

Note: It is often easier to cast on using DPNs before changing to the 30cm circular needle.  If you want to use magic loop you will be able to cast on with the larger circular needle if you prefer to do so, but remember not to pull your cast on stitches too tight.  If you use DPNs, you might find it easiest to cast on and work 2 rows before dividing the stitches across the needles.

Adjusting the size: To adjust the size for this sock, just add or remove stitches in blocks of 4 from the cast on total.  You will need to make adjustments to the heel turn if you use extra stitches.  The lace pattern is 6 stitches wide and will work with any weight of yarn and any number of stitches that you cast on; help is given on adjusting the lace pattern to accommodate extra stitches in the sock.

Pattern

Cast on 60 (64; 68; 72) stitches using 3.0mm needle.
1st row:       K2, P2, repeat to end, turn
2ndrow:     K2, P2, repeat to end, turn

Change to 2.5mm needles.  At this point, change to a small circular, magic loop or divide the stitches across DPNs and join into a circle, place marker.Continue in K2, P2 rib for 14 more rounds or until desired length of rib (I knit 16 rounds of rib).

Here's the video for the cable cast-on, transferring to a short circular and joining into the round:



Lace pattern

Start the lace pattern on the next round.  I'm going to give you the chart instructions first and then show you how the lace is worked below.  The lace pattern block is worked in sections of six stitches over four rounds:


As you can see from the key above, there's nothing more complicated here than a yarn over increase and decreases which you've already used on other pairs of socks.  Here's how to complete that first lace block, and then when it comes to your sock you're going to pick the pattern section that fits with the size you're making - I've put those after these photos.

Round (row) 1

1  Purl the first stitch ...




2  Knit two stitches together ...


3  Wrap the yarn around the needle in an anti-clockwise direction, so that it's back in the right place for you to knit the next stitch ...



4  Knit two stitches ...


5  Purl one stitch




Round (row) 2

Purl the purl stitches and knit the knit stitches


Round (row) 3

1  Purl the first stitch ...




2  Knit the next two stitches ...

 


3  Wrap the yarn around the needle in an anti-clockwise direction so that it returns to the back of your work ready to knit the next stitch ...



4  Now you're going to do a SSK decrease so slip the first stitch knitwise from the left hand needle to the right hand needle ...




slip the next stitch purlwise from the left hand needle to the right hand needle ...



Now slip both stitches back onto the left hand needle and knit them through the back loop ...



5  Purl the next stitch.



Round (row) 4

Purl the purl stitches and knit the knit stitches.

Here's the video for working the lace section:




Here are the written instructions for the lace chart - choose the size that fits with the size of sock you're making.

60 stitches
Round 1:         *P1, K2tog, yo, K2, P1* repeat to marker
Round 2:         *P1, K4, P1* repeat to marker
Round 3:         *P1, K2, yo, SSK, P1* repeat to marker
Round 4:         *P1, K4, P1* repeat to marker


                


64 stitches
Round 1:         K1, *P1, K2tog, yo, K2, P1* 5 times, K2, *P1, K2tog, yo, K2, P1* 5 times, K1
Round 2:         K1 *P1, K4, P1* 5 times, K2, *P1, K4, P1* 5 times, K1
Round 3:         K1 *P1, K2, yo, SSK, P1* 5 times, K2 *P1, K2, yo, SSK, P1* 5 times, K1
Round 4:         K1 *P1, K4, P1* 5 times, K2, *P1, K4, P1* 5 times, K1






68 stitches
Round 1:         K1, P1 *P1, K2tog, yo, K2, P1* 5 times, P1, K2, P1, *P1, K2tog, yo, K2, P1* 5                                 times, P1, K1
Round 2:         K1 P1, *P1, K4, P1* 5 times, P1, K2, P1, *P1, K4, P1* 5 times, P1, K1
Round 3:         K1, P1, *P1, K2, yo, SSK, P1* 5 times, P1, K2, P1 *P1, K2, yo, SSK, P1* 5                                       times, P1, K1
Round 4:         K1 P1, *P1, K4, P1* 5 times, P1, K2, P1, *P1, K4, P1* 5 times, P1 K1







72 stitches

As for 60 stitches

Continue to knit each round in pattern until desired length before start of heel ending on round 4 of the pattern (for me, this is 14 repeats of the pattern giving 72 rounds in total including the rib).  If you want to make the leg longer or shorter, you don't have to finish on round 4 but do make a note of which round you finish on as you'll start on the next round when you work on the gusset.

Lifelines

You may want to use a lifeline whilst you're working your lace section to give yourself some added security in case you go wrong.   Have you ever seen a rock climber securing themselves to the rock they're climbing so that if they fall they will only go as far as the last place they attached themselves to?  That's exactly how a lifeline works and if you've never used a lifeline in your knitting before, you're going to love them - they're not just for socks, you can use them for any project.  


You'll need a strong thread or thin yarn (some people like to use dental floss but if you choose to do this, don't pick the waxed minty variety!) - I use quilting cotton because I happen to have a large reel of it - and a wool needle.



Thread your wool needle with a length of the cotton and thread it into the stitches on your needle.  Try to go right through the stitch rather than catching the yarn, and take the thread right around your sock.



Once the cotton is threaded through all of the stitches, leave a long end so that it doesn't come back through again.  I usually knot the two ends of the cotton together if I'm using a lifeline in a sock - it's not so easy to do that with a shawl!



There's no limit to the number of lifelines you can have; just put them in wherever you feel comfortable.  This sock is one that I'm working on with a ten row lace pattern and I've put a lifeline in at the end of each pattern block.



When you've finished with the lifeline, you just pull the cotton back through the stitches, and if you need to take your knitting out at any point you can safely take the needles out of your work and pull it back without needing to unpick it one stitch at a time.  The yarn won't go any further than the lifeline and you can pick the stitches up again and carry on as if nothing had gone wrong. Magic, eh? :)

Here's the lifelines video:


Heel Flap


Change to 2.5mm DPNs if you are using a small circular.  It is possible to knit the heel flap and gusset on the circular but it's fiddly, especially if you're using one of the really tiny circular needle sizes, so I usually swap to DPNs here.You are going to create the heel flap from half the number of stitches that you cast on, so if you have cast on more or less than 60 stitches, remember to adjust the number of stitches when you start the heel flap.                       

1st  row:     K2, *Sl1, K1* until you have 30 stitches on your needle, turn
2nd row:    Sl1, P  to end, turn
3rd row:     *Sl1, K1* to end, turn

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until heel measures approximately 2 inches, finishing on row 3 (approx 35 rows).  If you want to make the heel flap longer, continuing knitting rows 2 and 3 until you reach the desired length, but remember that you will need to pick up more stitches to create the gusset.

Here's the heel flap video:


Turn heel

Hooray!  This is the bit where the sock starts to look like a sock.  Some people worry about this bit but take it slowly and you'll be fine.  If you want to, put a lifeline in at the top of your heel flap so that you'll know that you can take the stitches back easily if you need to.


*For a larger or smaller sock, you will need to alter the number of purl stitches in the first row of the heel (marked in bold below), increasing by 1 stitch for each block of 4 stitches extra that you cast on, or decreasing by 1 stitch for each block of 4 stitches less than 60 stitches.  For example, if you cast on 64 stitches, your first row would be Sl1, P17, P2tog, P1, turn*

Row 1:            Sl1, P16 (17; 18; 19), P2tog, P1, turn
Row 2:            Sl1, K5, SSK, K1, turn
Row 3:            Sl1, P6, P2tog, P1, turn
Row 4:            Sl1, K7, SSK, K1, turn

Continue in this way, increasing one stitch between slip stitch and SSK or P2tog on each row until all of the heel stitches are used (ie, Row 5: Sl1, P8, P2tog, P1, turn; Row 6: Sl1, K9, SSK, K1, turn, etc).  

Note:  you're not making any new stitches, you're simply adding one stitch to the number in the centre every time you decrease. Knit across the heel stitches if required to bring you to the left hand side of the heel flap ready to pick up 1 stitch for every 2 rows knitted.  Remember that if you made the heel flap bigger, you will need to pick up more stitches.  Once you have picked up the stitches, place marker.  Knit across the top of the foot stitches in pattern starting with round 1, place marker, then pick up 1 stitch for every 2 rows of heel flap knitted up the other side of the heel.  Knit across the top of the heel and then shape gusset as below.

Note: If you are using DPNs and/or have placed your stitches on a stitch holder, you can arrange the needles as follows:  Needle 1 for stitches across heel, Needle 2 for picked-up stitches down side of foot, Needle 3 for stitches across top of foot (knit stitches off stitch holder if required), Needle 4 for picked-up stitches on other side of foot.  You may find that stitch markers are not required at first.





Shape gusset

Round  1:        K to 3 sts before the marker, K2tog, K1, slip marker, knit in pattern to next                                    marker, slip marker, K1, SSK, K to marker.
Round 2:         Slip marker, knit in pattern to next marker, slip marker, knit to 3 sts before                                    marker.
Round 3:         K2tog, K1, slip marker, knit in pattern to next marker, slip marker, K1, SSK, K                              to marker.

Repeat rounds 2 and 3 to shape the gusset.  Continue in this way, decreasing by two stitches at the gusset on every other row until there are 60 stitches on the needle.  

You can see the line of the gusset very clearly in this picture:



Here's the video for shaping the gusset:



Once you have 60 stitches again, continue to knit each round until you reach approximately 5cm before the desired length ready to start the toes.  For my size 5 feet, this is about 45 rounds.  Don't be afraid to try your sock on before decreasing for the toes, and make sure that you're standing up when you measure your sock as you need your full weight on your foot. Sometimes you have to do more rounds than you think to get to where you need to be, but it's always worth making sure that your sock is the right length otherwise it will pull against your toes and also pull the heel under your foot, neither of which are very comfortable!



Toes

I’ve chosen to knit the toes in plain knit but if you want to continue the pattern to the decreases you can do so.At some point whilst decreasing for the toes, if you are using a small circular you will need to change to DPNs or use magic loop as the number of stitches becomes too small for the circular.   It's up to you when you choose to do that, and how you distribute the stitches across the needles; just keep following the pattern as set below.  

Create the toes as follows:

Round 1:         K1, SSK, K24 (26; 28; 30)sts, K2tog, K1, place marker, K1, SSK,                                                           K24 (262830) 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 front and back of socks match (14 stitches on each needle).

The video for the toe decreases is here:



Finally, you're going to graft the toes using Kitchener stitch.  Again, this is another part of the sock that people worry about but as long as you take your time and try to pick a time when you won't be disturbed then you'll be fine.  If you want to see photos of how the Kitchener stitch is completed you can find them in the Sockalong tutorial and the video of how to do it is below.



All you need to do now is to sew the seam together where you knitted your first two rows of rib on DPNs, tightening it up if you need to, and your first sock is done.  Knit another one to match and you'll soon be wearing your pair of Easy Lace Socks! 

Don't forget to link your socks on Ravelry so that others can admire them, and if you would like to share them on other social media platforms there's a hashtag of #easylacesocks.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how you get on!





This pattern is free and will always remain so, but if you have enjoyed using it and would like to make a donation towards future projects, it will be gratefully received!  You can find the donation button on the sidebar on the left hand side.  Thank you! xx