Thursday, February 26, 2015

The things you do for love, and the birdfoot heel

I decided to use up the leftovers in a couple pairs of socks.  These are always the socks that I experiment with, and some of my best, and worst, ideas have been tried out in leftovers.

My socks are knit in the round, on a superba double bed.  Recently, I was using my CSM in the comfy company of several CSM people, and I took a few minutes to expound on why I like the double bed knitting machine for socks more ;than the CSM.  It all comes down to flexiblilty.  I can have more or less stitches whenever I want.  It made me think.

I want to make socks that have more room around the heel and the arch of my foot- where things get stretched out the most when I wear my socks.  I mean, I want there to be more stitches around the sock in that area,
I also wanted to try out a couple of modifications to the short-row heel.  I wanted the heel to actually use MORE THAN HALF of the stitches.  I think I have figured out how to do that.  I also wanted to use a short-row that put all the needles back into work at one time, instead of one at a time.  Okay, then.

I managed to get these experiments into the socks, and I am pretty satisfied.

I started out by knitting 3 x 2 rib over 72 stitches- so 90 actual stitches in the ribbing- .  (see my recent blog entry for all the details on this. )
Then, I set up the rest of the sock in the round, 36 stitches on each bed.  I knit 4 rounds and increased 1 stitch on each side on both beds, by moving out the outer 2 stitches by one needle, and filling the empty needle with a crossbar from the row below.  Then I **knit 8 rounds, increased 4 stitches** two times.
Now I had a total of 84 stitches, 42 on each bed.  I knit 8 more rows after the last increase row.
Here's a graphic represention of the stitches that I added and, after the heel was complete, subtracted.

Now for the heel- I wanted a heel that used a total of 48 stitches, so I would be shortrowing the 42 needles on the back bed, along with 3 needles on both ends of the front bed.
Here's how that works.  With carriage on right, set up your carriages to knit the back bed, but pass the front bed.
Before you knit across the back bed on the first row of the heel, I handknit the three rightmost stitches on the front bed, wrap the yarn in the hook of the next stitch, then handknit the three rightmost stitches again to get back to the edge.  Now, I knit the back bed- moving the carriages to the left side, where I hand knit the 3 leftmost sttiches on the front bed, wrap in the hook of the next needle, and handknit back to the end.  For the next two rows, I handknit 2 stitches,wrap, handknit back, on both ends, and for the net two rows, that's right! handknit i stitch, wrap, handknit back on both ends.
Now, carriages on right- wrap the yarn in the hook of that rightmost needle on the front bed, and set my back carriage to hold position.  On the first row, pull the end needles on both the left and right ends.  On each row, pull both the right and left next needles into hold position until there are 12 stitches left in the middle, and the carriage is on the right.  (You have knit 12 rows of the heel).  
For the next row,  on the left side, I put all but the end needle back in work position, and knit to the right.
For the next row, on the left, pull  the next (2nd) needle into hold position, and on the right, I put all the needles except the end needle back in work position and knit across.
Now, the carriage is on the right, and I pulled the end needles to hold position on both ends every row until there are 12 or 13  (I forget, lol- something close to that) needles left and carriage is back on left.  I put all the right side needles back in work position and knit to the right.
I set up the carriages for circular knitting.   I make sure that the carriages are no longer set for hold position.  I put the needles that are still in hold position on the left side of the back bed back into regular working position.  I used a transfer tool to put the stitches back in the hooks, and the hooks lined up in regular working position, ready for the carriage.
I knit the first circular row- first right to left across the front bed, then left to right across the back bed.
I was now done with this heel.
This stripe really allows you to see how the heel is done.  By the way- this short row heel is very smooth on the inside- no ridge.  And no holes.

Now,  it was time to reduce the number of stitches, so I knit 4 rounds  and decreased by moving the outer two stitches in one needle, doubling up the 2nd and 3rd stitches from the ends, on both beds and both sides.  **Knit 8 rounds and repeat the decrease**  until back to a total of 36 stitches on each bed.
Then I completed the sock, making the toe by shortrowing on the back bed only on 36 stitches down to 12, and back up, using a self wrap on the on the way down, and 1 up, 2 down on the way back to 36 stitches.

So, how do I like them?  Well, the fit is exactly what I was after.  My socks, going forward, will have a wide load section.  My feet will be happy for it.
As for the birdfoot heel, I like how smooth it is.  Also, since the fussier part, for me, of knitting the heel is putting the stitches back into work, this heel simplifies that part.  I find I do not need to move around the weights as often as with a conventional shortrow up and shortrow down heel.  The birdfoot heel using more that 50% of the stitches, has the effect of moving the pivot point for the heel higher up the ankle, and more forward.  This, combined with the additional stitches, means that the front of the sock over the arch doesn't need to stretch quite as much.  Now for some wear testing.

Gretzsky's shawl finished!

Came out very cozy.
I finished the edge with a wrap-a-round knit-on plain edge.  I cast on 9 stitches, and on every second row, I put one edge stitch on the 5th needle.  Tension was tighter than the original shawl- around 4 on the Bulky.  Started at one corner,  and grafted the stitches when I got all the way around.  The edging curled around both sides, making for a a very neat finish on both sides.  I buried a lot of ends under the curl on both sides.
Here are a couple closeups of the purl side and the knit side.
purl side of gretzsky's shawl

And here are more complete updated directions for the shawl:
First things first- You need a foundation to start.
Cast on with waste yarn- a multiple of 9 stitches.  Each 9 needle section will make a foundation triangle.)  Knit 10 or 12 rows of waste yarn, ending COL, then knit 1 row ravel cord ending COR.  
If you want closed cast-on, then e-wrap and knit each needle.  If you don’t mind open cast-on, just knit row 1 with your garment yarn.  This row needs to be at a loose tension, I used T7.
Set your carriage for holding position.  Set tension for 6 or 7.
Set up for the first triangle.  On the carriage side, leave 9 needles in work position, and move the rest of the needles to hold position.  The 9 needles in work position are the base of the first triangle.  You might need a small claw weight to help, and to move up as you knit the triangle.  
*Now put the right most needle of these 9 into hold position, and Knit 2 rows.  Put the right most of the 8 needles and Knit 2 rows….until there is only one needle left.  Knit 2 rows on that one needle.  Now put the other 8 back into work position (total of 9 in work position) and knit to the right.  Now, put those 9 needles into hold position.  All the needles are now in hold position.  Move the carriage to the left past all the needles in hold. **
Put the second set of 9 needles into work position and follow the directions from * to **.  Put each subsequent set of 9 needles into work position and follow the directions from * to **.
When all the triangles are made,  move the carriage back to the left side, and again taking each set of 9 needles into work position, take each triangle off on waste yarn separately.

The individual entrelac block ( for this pattern)  is 9 stitches by 17 rows.  
The stitches for the blocks of the first row will be picked up from the long edge of the triangle, and will incorporate the open stitches of the next triangle.  One of the triangles has it’s open stitches on the end of the piece.  This is the triangle you will start the row with.  
With purl side out, hang the long edge of triangle on 9 stitches.  Your carriage will be on the side of the triangle’s open stitches.  Again, use a small claw weight and move up as needed.
Now, locate the nearest open stitch on the next triangle and put it on the 9th needle.  Knit 2 rows.  Put the next open stitch on the 9th needle, and knit 2 rows.  Repeat until you are down to the last open stitch.  Put the last open stitch on the 9th needle (go for the part of the stitch that ‘wraps around’), and knit 1 row.  (17 rows knit). You can now pull out the waste yarn that held the stitches that you have transferred to the 9th needle, and use it to  take the 9 stitches of the last row of the block off on waste yarn.  
One block down.  Now finish the row.
The second row will be knitted in the opposite direction.  If your knitted left-to-right on the first row, you will knit right-to-left on the second, and all even rows. You will be able to knit from block to block without breaking the yarn, except for when you end one row of blocks and begin another.

To knit the shawl, The first row of blocks  will be 23 blocks.  You will need three sections of foundation.  Each section will be 72 stitches, making 8 triangles each.  Make sure they are all knitted in the same direction.  The sections will be joined by the blocks of the first row.
Each subsequent row of blocks will be have one  block fewer than the row before.  
The Double-idiot-roll edge:  Cast on 9 stitches on waste yarn, knit a few rows, knit a ravel cord row, and begin with garment yarn and a tension that is tighter that the garment tension.  I used T 4.
On every other row, pick up an edge stitch and put it on needle 5.   When you have knitted around, graft the last row to the first row.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Entrelac Shawl needs a border!

Okay, we got this far finally.
Gretzsky likes it.
This shawl is made from a shrug that I finished and frogged.  The yarn is some walmart 1 ply synthetic, that has a big tendency to collect static and while the color transition really works well in this entrelac, it did not do the same in the shrug.
However, now I need a border and No, it won't be worm, i cord, piecrust.  It needs to be at least as wide as the blocks are: 9 stitches, and it will be knit as you go, so 2 rows for every stitch.  Probably plain stockinet around 15 rows ( to allow some curl and still have some width) would be just fine. Maybe 16 or 17 stitches with a needle or two out of work in the middle.   I'll let you know.
Here are some close ups of the purl side and the stockinet side.

There are also quite a few loose ends, mostly on the edges, so I will be able to take care of them as I do the border.
If someone needs the details, here they are:
Brother 260, tension 6.  (This technique will work on any midgauge or bulky, I am sure. )
The entrelac block is 9 stitches wide and 17 rows long.  Each new block is picked up from the side of a block on the row before.  If you have never done this technique, I recommend Dianne Sullivan's You Tube intro to Entrelac.
The foundation row of triangles to set up this project had to be done as three 72 stitch strips.  Once the foundation triangles are done, the first row of blocks links them together, and you are off- completing rows that are each one block shorter than the one before.  Each block takes (after all that practice!) around 3 minutes.

Entrelac is a great handknitting technique that can easily be adapted to many knitting devices.  You can, of course, use a flatbed knitting machine.  I'm pretty sure you can use a circular sock machine (getting a vision of how you could do that, and will report here with pics when I try it out.)  You can use knitting combs, all kinds of peg knitters and knitting looms.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

3 x 2 industrial rib: How I do it and Why I bother

3 x 2 half-pitch ribbing- using racked cast-on
I have always been a fan of what the old ribber manuals refer to as ‘industrial rib’- which is a 2x2 rib set up half-pitch, such that you use 2 out of every 3 needles on both beds, and the beds are offset so that you get a very deep, 2x2 rib.  The rib uses 33% more needles and yarn than a conventional 2x2 rib (Full pitch, 2 needles in, 2 needles out of work across both beds).
One reason I am such a fan is that this rib makes a sock that has a very neat appearance when worn- the rib is not stretched out, and the cast-on edge stretches nicely to accommodate the less-than-slender leg.   


Note: These pics and directions are for the White/Superba double bed. If you are working on Japanese machines, check your ribber manual for the industrial rib directions. You will be able to adapt them to do the 3 x 2 rib.

The 2x2 industrial rib is an easy set up:
  1. set your beds for full needle rib- half pitch.
  2. put up into work 2 out of every 3 needles on both beds, such that the 2 needles in work on the front bed are between the sets of 2 needles on the back bed.
  3. rack 1 (left or right) to get your zigzag.  (pull up an extra end needle if you need it)
  4. zigzag row : tension 1 Hang comb and weight.
  5. 2 rows circular tension 3
  6. rack back to rib setup.  tension 4.5.  carriages both set to knit.  transfer the orphan stitch if you had to add one at the end of the row to make your zigzag come out.
  7. Knit your ribbing.

Lately, I have been using a 3x2 rib, based on the industrial rib set-up, for a lot of socks.  It’s a bit of a yarn saver for me, as this rib only incorporates 25% more needles and yarn than the stockinet rows.  I does involve one more step than the 2x2 industrial setup.

3x2 industrial rib setup:
  1. set the beds for full needle rib- half pitch.
  2. put up into work position 3 our of every 4 needles on both beds.  
                      Back Bed:      0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1
                     Front Bed:         0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1
3.       zigzag row - tension 1, and hang comb and weight.

Here's my zigzag row.

4.  2 rows circular - tension 3
5.     Rack front bed 1 space to the right
                      Back Bed       0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1
                      Front Bed            0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1
6.  In each set of 3 on the Front bed, transfer the left-most stitch to Back bed , doubling  the right-most stitch on the back sets of 3.

Here's what it will look like when you have transferred the stitches.

7. Tension 4.5.  carriages both set to knit.  Knit your ribbing.

For bigger combinations (3x3, 3x4) the racked cast-on doesn’t work in most applications.  You have to rack 2 spaces, and that tightens the edge too much for many applications.  You can cast on 1x1 or FNR, but then you have to transfer a lot of stitches to set up your rib.  You can always ewrap, but I have not been happy with ewrap on the top edge of a sock.  

This is my cheat-sheet for the 3 x 2 rib cast-on

Now go make some superb (ah!) socks.