How to Work Judy's Magic Cast-On in Knit and Purl

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

Judy’s Magic Cast-On burst into the knitting scene in the Spring 2006 issue of Knitty. The technique has become my default way for starting toe-up socks and other center-out projects because of it’s versatility. This cast-on is fast, seamless, and makes a great provisional cast on (but that’s another tutorial). And, if you change how the yarn is wrapped, the stitches won’t be twisted on the needles.

I recently cast on for a pair of toe-up socks that would need a princess sole - where the smooth side of stockinette is against the foot - and didn’t want a noticeable “seam” across the toes. Would it be possible to use Judy’s Magic Cast-On to get started entirely in purl? After a little fiddling and experimentation, I found that it is possible and just as easy to start Judy’s Magic Cast-On in purl as it is to knit.

Let’s start at the beginning. If you know how to work the knit version of the cast-on that doesn’t twist the stitches, skip ahead to Step 8.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

Materials: You’ll need your yarn and a set of circular needles. It’s also possible to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On with double pointed needles, but it will be more finicky to work the first few rows.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

1. Arrange your needles so that both tips are together and pointing left.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

2. Pull the yarn between the needles - leave yourself enough of a tail to create the required stitches and weave in later. 8 inches, or about 20 cm, is usually enough to start a pair of socks. The working yarn will lay over the top needle and the tail will hang down in the middle.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

3. Twist the tail and working yarn together around the top needle - this counts as the first stitch. The yarn will now form a V between the needles and your hand. The tail, which was at the bottom, will now be held at the top over the pointer finger. The working yarn will now be held at the bottom over the thumb.

How the stitches are wrapped is very important. When wrapped as demonstrated here the stitches will sit untwisted on the needles. If wrapped as shown in the original Knitty tutorial, you’ll have to knit through the back of the stitch to seat them correctly on the needle during the next round.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com
Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

4. To make a stitch on the bottom needle, wrap the top yarn up and into the gap between the two needles.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com
Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

5. To make a stitch on the top needle, bring the bottom yarn into the gap between the needles and then up and around the top needle. The movement is like working a yarn over.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have the required number of stitches on your needles. Pushing the stitches together as you work will help keep them the same size. When a pattern calls for casting on 20 stitches with a toe-up cast on, that means to make 10 stitches on each needle because this cast-on creates pairs of stitches.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

7. Take the tail yarn and tuck it between the needles next to the first stitches. It should sit on the same side as the purl ridge created by the cast on. You’ll have to hold in place until the first few stitches are worked, but then it will be secure.

8. Turn the work so the tips are now pointing right. The first stitch on the new top needle is the beginning of the round. If you’re starting a pair of socks, the top stitches form the top of the toe and the bottom stitches form the sole.

Here’s where things change depending on whether you want the knit or the purl side as the right side of your project.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

To start with the usual knit side out, make sure the smooth side of the cast on is facing you and knit as usual.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com
Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

To start in purl, keep the purl ridge facing you. The tail end of the yarn will be laying across the front of the stitches. Instead of knitting, purl the first round and continue as stated in your pattern.

If you’re working with circular needles, pull the bottom needle out and start working the first stitch of the top needle. If you used double points, bring in a third needle for half of the stitches on the top needle. After you’ve worked a few rows and created more structure, you can add additional needles.

One additional note: When starting a pair of socks, I like to work one plain round and then begin the toe increases. The extra row creates a smoother edge and gives a better base for increases.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

Here’s what a finished sock toe looks like with knitting as the right side.

Learn how to work Judy’s Magic Cast-On to seamlessly start knitting in knit or purl. It’s a great cast-on to use for toe-up socks and other projects that start from the center out. #knitting #knittingcaston #knittingtutorials | withwool.com

Here’s what the purled sock toe looks like after all the increases are done. Not a seam or bunched up stitch in sight. I had already wove in the tail before taking this photo, but it will be hanging from the outside of your work when starting in purl. You’ll have to bring to the other side before weaving it in.


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The Last Knits of 2017 and Then Some

You wouldn’t know it by the snow falling outside, but it’s 2018 and the frenetic season of gift knitting is over and done. Well, not done for me. There’s still a few unfinished projects still on the needles, but they’re smaller things. Still, I am happy with what I did get finished, and it’s no small amount of knitting.

Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com
Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com
Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com
Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com

This is the second time I’ve knit the Elder Tree Shawl as a gift. One of these days I’ll make one for me. The pattern can be subtle or so so dramatic, especially if you add beads to every leaf. I used a single skein of Colinette Jitterbug which made a shawl-ette perfect for wearing tucked in to a coat. I also added beads to the picot bind off for extra sparkle.

Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com
Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com

I wasn’t sure what to make for a friend of mine, so I asked her what she wanted. She requested baby socks. Funny how well asking works. I picked up 2 skeins of Patons Kroy Socks FX, each a different color, and got to work. The charts in Kate Atherley’s Custom Socks where really helpful for getting the measurements I needed once I knew the length. As for the pattern, I used my my own basic toe-up recipe and sized it down. Both pairs came out pretty cute if you ask me, and there’s room to grow too.

Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com

I tried something a little different last year and put something for myself on the gift list too, the Owl in the Thicket hat. It wasn’t a reward for finishing everything else, but a gift for myself because why not. I bought the pattern and the yarn a year ago and never made it to casting on. So I pulled out one of my favorite knitting bags and made a kit. I wound the yarn, printed the pattern, got the right needles, put the beads on my Fleegle beader, and gathered all the notions. While I didn’t actually cast on until after New Year’s Day, it was so nice to have that kit ready and waiting. I’ve finished the brim and am a few rows into the body charts. It’s been awhile since I’ve knit such a complicated chart, and I’m enjoying the change of pace. The yarn is lovely too. Why did it take me a year to get started!?

As for the stuff I didn’t finish, the first projects was a pair of socks for the Bearded One. Still working on the cable design for that one. The other is a hat which I’m halfway through designing. Plus, there’s a handful of ornaments from previous years which I haven’t started yet. At least I have a plan. Is anyone else finishing up their gift knits in January or getting on with the new 2018 knits instead?

Sock Knitting Tutorials & Tips for #Socktober

Happy #Socktober! Check out these tips and tutorials to knit comfy, well-fitting socks. | withwool.com

And it's Socktober, a month all about knitting socks. I've written a few tutorials demonstrating different sock knitting technique. If you have any questions, ask away! And happy knitting!

As for my own sock knitting, I've got a pair on the needles, but haven't made it past the toes. Still have to figure out out to combine cables, ribbing, and a princess sole. More on that later as I figure it out. 

Afterthought Heel Tips & Tricks

A Knitting Conundrum

I can’t settle on a stitch pattern for this sock. Cables? Texture? Ribbing? 

This is a sock toe, and the first of a pair that I’m making for the Bearded One. It also happens to be one of my most confounding pieces of knitting I’ve got going right now. Not because it took frequent try-on’s to make sure the stitch count is correct. Not because of its 76 stitch circumference. Not because I’m knitting the sock inside out so I can skip purling a princess sole. Nope, all of that stuff is stuff I’m used too - even knitting a pair of socks inside out.  The problem is that I can’t decide what stitch pattern to use over the top of the foot and up the cuff.  

My original back of the envelope plan was to work an alternating 2x2 rib for the entire sock. For example, *k2,p2* for 8 rounds, and switch to *p2, k2* for another 8 rounds. Repeat until bind off.  Now I’m not sure. 38 stitches for half the sock is a lot of space to cover, and I wanted to add some interest both for the eye and my fingers. And of course I want the Bearded One to like them too. Does that mean cables? A simple texture pattern? Some sort of edge detail going up the side of the foot? I have no idea. Good thing the yarn is pretty and nice to look at while I ponder my choices.

Any tips to help me solve this knitting conundrum? 

FO: Meadow Multi Socks

Toe-up socks with afterthought cuffs make perfect travel knitting. | withwool.com

It’s March and it feels a little strange to be thinking about holiday parties right now, but that’s when I cast on for these socks. I needed something to keep my hands busy at a potluck last December and a pair of toe-up socks were just the thing. Then the pair was my constant companion, even if I didn’t always take them out of my purse. They flew cross-country and back, went to movies, binge watched tv, and went skiing with me too. I’ve got a lot of memories knit into these socks even if they are just a simple 2x2 rib.    

Toe-up socks with afterthought cuffs make perfect travel knitting. | withwool.com

The pattern is my own default toe-up vanilla sock with an afterthought leg. Ever since trying Cat Bordhi’s Houdini Socks pattern, I really prefer it over working an afterthought heel. When you bind off the cuff, you’ve got a finished sock - aside from weaving in ends - that’s ready to wear. That beats having to come back and add a heel any day of the week. 

Toe-up socks with afterthought cuffs make perfect travel knitting. | withwool.com

The weather’s been on the weird side for the past few weeks. It snowed for a couple of days, and by the end of the week temps were in the 70’s. I didn’t need a jacket, let alone a pair of wool socks. And now it’s chilly again. Weird. At least the socks are ready to warm my toes when it does get cold. 

Toe-up socks with afterthought cuffs make perfect travel knitting. | withwool.com

The Specs

Pattern: My Default Toe-Up Sock with an Afterthought Cuff

Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Multi - Meadow Multi

Needles: 2.25 mm circulars

Dates: December 13, 2016 - February 18, 2017 

@Ravelry

Handspun Experiments: Opposing 3-ply Sock Yarn

Is handspun 3-ply opposing sock yarn more durable than a traditional 3-ply construction? | withwool.com

The end goal for this yarn was always going to be a pair of socks. So I followed the internet’s advice which recommended spinning a high-twist opposing 3-ply construction. What makes this construction special is that one ply is spun in the opposite direction which is supposed to add elasticity and increased durability. I started with 8 oz of Louet Northern Lights Top, color Blue Spruce, which is space-dyed and a blend of similar wool types. It’s not as soft as Merino, but seemed much more durable. 

A post shared by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

I split the top lengthwise into 3 more or less equal sections for each of the 2 skeins. I spun each ply with a fairly firm twist to stand up to the extra wear and tear of socks. 2 of the plies had Z-twist, and 1 had S-twist. Plying a balanced yarn was a trial since the S-twist skein took in even more twist and would kink up when given half a chance. Next time, I’ll experiment with putting less twist on the opposing ply and make up for it during plying. You can read more about how I spun the yarn here.

Is handspun 3-ply opposing sock yarn more durable than a traditional 3-ply construction? | withwool.com
Is handspun 3-ply opposing sock yarn more durable than a traditional 3-ply construction? | withwool.com

I didn’t photograph the pair (find all the knitty details here) when I finished them, and the socks got about a month of regular daily wear before camera time. While spinning the yarn, I was worried about holes. Now I’m pretty sure the socks will felt before a hole even thinks about opening up. The stitches on the bottom of the sole have already started felting together and loosing some of their stretch. The stitches on the side and top are still distinct and flexible though. Any eventual repairs I have to make will probably be more difficult because of the felting, but at least I’ll notice the holes before they get too big. 

Is handspun 3-ply opposing sock yarn more durable than a traditional 3-ply construction? | withwool.com

The jury is still out on whether or not the opposing ply yarn construction is more durable than a traditional 3-ply. I will keep you updated though as things develop. And when I spin a traditional 3-ply as sock yarn.

There’s one other skein of opposing 3-ply sock yarn stashed away for me. This skein is my first attempt at an opposing ply sock yarn. It’s a true fingering weight spun from Falkland top. Once I’m ready to whip up another pair of vanilla socks, I’ll give this yarn a try. I can’t be the only one without handspun socks in this house after all.

FO: My First Handspun Socks

My first pair of handspun socks is off the needles and on to happy feet! | withwool.com

When I was first learning spin, one of my far way goals was to spin durable yarn for socks. It took me a few years to reach the point with my skills and confidence to try and actually succeed. Then it took me another year (or was it two?) to spin more sock yarn and finally use it for socks. This pair was for the Bearded One, which is why I finally took the plunge and cast on. When I knit to keep my own toes warm, other sock yarns and fun patterns somehow keep distracting me.

My first pair of handspun socks is off the needles and on to happy feet! | withwool.com

The yarn was always going to be the star of the show. When I sat down to design the pattern, I knew that the striping and mottled colors would only obscure a more detailed stitch. So I went with my standard vanilla sock with 2x2 rib which would also make for a well-fitting sock. I also added a princess sole, where the stockinette side of the fabric is against the foot, to smooth out any bumps that might have come with using a sometimes thick-and-thin yarn. The downside to the princess sole was that it slowed me down since I had to purl a big chunk of every row. That changed when I knit the second sock inside out, and worked the reverse of pretty much every stitch. Take my word for it, it’s much easier working lifted increases on the knit side of a fabric. 

My first pair of handspun socks is off the needles and on to happy feet! | withwool.com

I had a few worries when I cast on for this pair. One, would the half pound of yarn I spun be enough? It’s not like a I could go to the store and buy more. Two, would knitting smooth out the unevenly plied and unruly sections of yarn? Now I know the answers to both those questions are an obvious yes, but figuring that out definitely kept me on my toes. I have a few yards leftover for darning. Plus, I can’t point out the sections where the yarn was more snarled than smooth. 

The best part is that all that work - picking a yarn construction, spinning the yarn, setting the twist, designing the pattern, and then knitting two huge socks - has been rewarded. This pair is the Bearded One’s new favorite out of the many pairs of socks I’ve made for him. Knowing that does a spinner/knitter’s heart good, and makes sure the hand knit socks keep coming. 

My first pair of handspun socks is off the needles and on to happy feet! | withwool.com

Pattern: My own basic vanilla sock with 2x2 ribbing and a princess sole

Yarn: Tour de Fleece 2016 Sock Yarn 

Needles: 2.75 circulars

Dates: September 22 - December 11, 2016

@Ravelry 

Knitting Handspun Socks Part 2

I’m knitting a sock inside out! | withwool.com

I’m still knitting my first pair of socks from handspun (you can read part 1 of the tale here). It’s also the first time I’ve tried adding a princess sole - the smooth side of stockinette stitch is against the sole of the foot instead of the bumps - to a pair of socks. The socks have been great purse knitting, but the making the first sock was slow going because off all the purling on the sole and gusset increases. 

I’m knitting a sock inside out! | withwool.com

Why is so easy to overlook the simplest solution to a problem and instead go with a more complicated fix? After I turned the heel and knit the heel flap, a light bulb went off in my head. I could knit the second sock inside out! The only purling I’d have to do would be for the top half of the toe and the ribbing. I used the same cast on at the toe and the same increases. Instead of purling the sole, I purled the top half of the toe. I reversed the rib pattern from *k2, p2* to *p2, k2*. I’m glad I went with a simple stitch pattern over the foot otherwise knitting the sock inside out would be a little more complicated. 

I’m knitting a sock inside out! | withwool.com

The little bit of effort I put in upfront has been worth it because the second sock is zooming along. It’s almost time to knit the gusset which will actually be easier to work inside out. The combination of purled increases and marled yarn made it really hard to tell if I’d correctly worked an increase row on the first sock. Or if I was even on an increase row. Happy to have solved that problem this time around.

Okay, now it’s time to double check my gusset math and get back to the gift knitting. 

Knitting A Handspun Sock

I’m knitting my first pair of handspun socks. It was a nervous cast on, but the first sock is going really well even though I ripped out the gusset. Knitting A Handspun Sock | withwool.com

On one of the rare occasions when The Bearded One went into a yarn shop with me, he found a half pound of spinning fiber that he liked. Second to me, he has the greatest appreciation for my fiber goodness, so I was all to happy to promise him something made from handspun. We eventually decided on a pair of socks. Tour de Fleece came along this year and I got spinning. 8 oz of Louet Northern Lights turned into 2 matching skeins of opposing 3-ply sock yarn

The yarn didn’t turn out like I’d planned. Instead of solid stripes, the yarn marled. Instead of fingering weight, I got sport weight. Instead of a smooth 3-ply, the opposing ply made a kinked up and uneven yarn. Plus, I didn’t get anything close to the yardage I was expecting. Ugh. 

I’m knitting my first pair of handspun socks. It was a nervous cast on, but the first sock is going really well even though I ripped out the gusset. Knitting A Handspun Sock | withwool.com

I wasn’t sure what would happen when I cast on. To be completely honest, I didn’t think the yarn would work as a pair of socks. Happy to say I was wrong though. I only ripped out once and that was because I messed up the gusset increases. The marl is beautiful with subtle stripes. Knitting with sport weight means even a US 14 sized sock works up fast. There’s enough yardage too - my fingers are crossed though just to make sure. Of everything that that could have gone wrong, I was worried the most about the yarn making a bumpy, uncomfortable sole. That would have a deal breaker for sure. So I’m working a princess sole, and it seems smooth and comfy. Definitely worth all that purling. 

I’m knitting my first pair of handspun socks. It was a nervous cast on, but the first sock is going really well even though I ripped out the gusset. Knitting A Handspun Sock | withwool.com

After being nervous that my handspun sock yarn wouldn’t make a good pair of socks, I’m relieved thateverything is working out better than I planned. Here’s hoping the second sock and the second skein do as well together. 

New Socks For Winter

There’s a new pair of socks tucked away and waiting for a snowy Winter.  New Socks For Winter | withwool.com

Yesterday was an autumn day when the wind didn’t stop. It roared outside my walls and took all but the most stubborn leaves off the trees. I’m going to miss waking up and seeing branches covered in red and yellow.

There’s a new pair of socks tucked away and waiting for a snowy Winter.  New Socks For Winter | withwool.com

When I started these socks, it was summer and and they were good travel project. When I bound off the cuffs, the weather still felt like summer. I washed them and tucked them away in my sock drawer for winter. Now that the days are getting chilly I’m glad I didn’t slack off and keep putting these aside for more interesting projects. This pair is another of my basic ribbed vanilla sock pattern. To keep them from feeling like a complete slog since my last pair of socks had a 2x2 rib, I went with a 3x1 rib. It’s not as stretchy, but shows off the random patterning of the colors much better. Also, I’m really glad I don’t have to make all my socks match perfectly. It would have been impossible with this yarn and would have driven me up a wall. 

There’s a new pair of socks tucked away and waiting for a snowy Winter.  New Socks For Winter | withwool.com

Ya know, knitting socks is an awesome thing to do any time of year. They were one of the things I wanted to make when I first learned how to knit. Even my rage-inducing first attempts with DPN’s could not persuade me otherwise. I’ve lost count of how many pairs I’ve knit over the years and in climates where wool socks weren’t exactly a necessity. Now that I live in the land of snow, wind, and really cold winters, all these wool socks I’ve made seem even better than they did before. 

There’s a new pair of socks tucked away and waiting for a snowy Winter.  New Socks For Winter | withwool.com

WIP Parade

Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com

Finishing the Turtle Purl socks a couple of weeks ago has put me in the mood to finish the rest of my lingering works in progress. Add on plenty of nights spent watching movies and catching up on tv, and I’ve been a very busy knitter. 

Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com

I picked up the Vertigo scarf again thinking that it’d be nice to have a new scarf/cowl thing for the winter. Temps are still in the 80’s, but there’s going to be snow on the ground soon enough. And I will be ready. I’d probably still be working on this thing and working lots of “p2togtbl” if this weren’t knit in bulky weight yarn. I mostly work with worsted weight yarn and finer, so it’s always a pleasant surprise how fast bulky yarn knits up. 

The stitches are bound off and the ends are woven in. Blocking the scarf will be simple (and entirely necessary) which means there’s just one more difficult step before I get to wear it. Which buttons do I choose? Do I go with the earthy, neutral buttons that will blend in or the bright blue buttons that will stand out? I cannot make up my mind. 

Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com
Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com

Now that Vertigo is bound off, I’m back to adding squares to my Garterlac kitchen towel. It’s not growing as quickly as the scarf, but entrelac is addicting to knit anyway. I can’t knit just one square at a time. Plus, it’s a simple project that I can pick up and put down without loosing my place so the towel is great for keeping my hands busy. I haven’t decide how long it’s going to be yet, but I don’t think that I’m far from binding off. 

Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com

Here’s another pair of socks for purse knitting. I pulled the yarn out of deep stash, #coldsheep, and started a toe. I wanted to knit a slightly more involved pattern since the last two pairs were basic ribbed socks. The stitch pattern for the Escalator Socks caught my eye so I gave it a try. While I liked the pattern, it didn’t mesh well with the yarn. Plus, I like how the colors knit up in stockinette much better. Ripped back to the toe, and going with a 3x1 rib this time. I’m will knit a complicated pair of socks eventually. I hope.

A video posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

FO: TurtlePurl Socks

Self striping yarn knits up into great afterthought socks. This pair is going away to wait for cold snowy days. FO: TurtlePurl Socks | withwool.com

I rarely walk out my front door without knitting in my purse. Having a simple project to keep my hands busy while I’m in line or killing time in a waiting room is a must. Plus, I enjoy it more than playing the same game over and over on my phone. Vanilla socks are my favorite purse projects, but a pair can hang out for so long that I get incredibly bored with them. I try not to chuck the offending socks into a WIP bin never to be seen again though. Instead, I make myself finish knitting, so I can start something new guilt free. Need fewer needles that way too. That’s why I finished this pair of socks, which I cast on way back in March. Going Cold Sheep and #YarnFort definitely had something to do with it too. 

Self striping yarn knits up into great afterthought socks. This pair is going away to wait for cold snowy days. FO: TurtlePurl Socks | withwool.com

The yarn, Turtle Purl self-striping Absinthe, was a gift from a good friend of mine, and caught my eye when I was rummaging through the stash. The stripes seemed like the perfect thing to keep a pair of vanilla socks interesting. I didn’t even have to do any work to make sure the socks matched since the dyer did all that work for me. I made a lot of progress because I kept telling myself to finish just one more stripe. And when I was figuring out when to bind off, the stripes made it so easy to make sure each cuff was the same length. Self-striping yarn keeps getting better and better. 

Self striping yarn knits up into great afterthought socks. This pair is going away to wait for cold snowy days. FO: TurtlePurl Socks | withwool.com

This pair followed my default vanilla sock pattern: toe up, a simple rib, about 6.5” of leg, and Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. I wanted the stripes to look the same over the entire socks, so I skipped the heel flap and gusset for an afterthought construction. However, instead of adding an afterthought heel, I worked an afterthought leg with instructions from the Houdini Socks by Cat Bordhi. Knitting the toe, foot, and heel in one go was so much less work than making the usual tube and adding a heel later. I didn't worry about having enough yarn for the heel or have to find the right spot in the stripes to join. The technique worked even better than I hoped too. Not only was I able to bind a ready to wear pair, the heels used enough of the stripe repeat to put me back on the green I needed to start the cuff! Adding an afterthought leg is going to be my default method to make afterthought socks from now on. 

Self striping yarn knits up into great afterthought socks. This pair is going away to wait for cold snowy days. FO: TurtlePurl Socks | withwool.com

Before I get started on the next pair of socks, I’m stepping on my soapbox to talk about blocking for a moment. Blocking works wonders for knitting, even on a basic pair of socks. I soaked the socks in cold water - the water turned a little blue, but the color didn’t fade in the slightest - with a little Eucalan and hung them up to dry. That’s it. I didn’t worry with sock blockers or shaping the socks at all. Once dry the stitches were much more even, and the yarn had relaxed and softened. The socks look better, fell better, and fit better. Okay. Getting off the soapbox now, and putting this pair in the drawer to wait for a cold snowy day. 

A video posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

Knitting For Cold Sheep

The second rule of Cold Sheep: Knit and spin from the stash. No feeling guilty about the stuff you don’t like anymore either. Knitting For Cold Sheep | withwool.com

Since I went Cold Sheep in June, I’ve only had one rule: Don’t buy yarn or spinning fiber. I’ve mostly followed that rule with the exception of 88 yards of t-shirt yarn joining the stash 18 days later. I made it another 30 days before buying 6 oz of fiber to play with on my new-to-me drum carder. I don’t feel guilty about either of these purchases because, while they were impulse buys, there was a project waiting for them. I’m going to use the t-shirt yarn to make a basket. And that fiber is for my first attempt at making blended roving/batts on my new-to-me drum carder. I haven’t used the carder yet so my new bundles of goodness won’t be sitting around for long. 

It’s a month and half later I’m adding another rule to my Cold Sheep: You actually have to knit and spin with the stuff you have in stash. Yarn Fort isn’t going to get any smaller if all I do is look at it and I look at it a lot. It’s a looming presence in my studio that is impossible to miss. That means I actually have to finish the projects I cast on. On the top of the WIP list is the Vertigo Scarf and the TurtlePurl Socks. Don’t worry, I’m not forcing myself to knit these things. I’m enjoying the process of knitting just as much as I want to wear them. So I’m knitting instead of playing time suck games on my phone. I’m knitting instead of aimlessly scrolling through Instagram. I’m knitting instead of looking down at my phone in general. Seems to be working too since the socks are getting closer and closer to the bind off. 

The second rule of Cold Sheep: Knit and spin from the stash. No feeling guilty about the stuff you don’t like anymore either. Knitting For Cold Sheep | withwool.com

There’s one other project on the current WIP list, this Garterlac Kitchen Towel. It’s an upsized version of the Garterlac Dishcloth with a few other mods for easy knitting. I couldn’t decide if I liked the size 7.5 rows in and promptly ignored it for a couple of months. I even stole the needles for another project. A knit the stash rule also means that I don’t have to finish WIP’s that I don’t love anymore. Garterlac ended up making the list and will be perfect for tv knitting.  

There’s one other benefit to the knit/spin the stash rule. If I’m not going to use it, I don’t have to keep it or guilt myself into working with yarn I don’t like. I haven’t gone through the stash in years and I’m sure there’s more than a few skeins that won’t make the cut. Maybe even more then I expect. I’m not looking forward to culling the stash, but I do want a 100% knit-worthy one. 

Self-Striping Travel Goodness

Simple, self-striping socks are a perfect travel project, especially with afterthought heels or legs. Self-Striping Travel Goodness | withwool.com

It’s almost surprising how much knitting I get done when I actually work on a project. I’m traveling this week and somehow convinced myself to only pack one project, a pair of toe-up socks. Unlike my last sock project which lingered for months, this pair is going pretty fast since I'm not just carrying them around in my purse.  Some credit for my voracious knitting goes to the the self-striping yarn by TurtlePurl Yarns. I keep thinking that I’ll finish just this stripe. Then that I might as well start the next one. And repeat. Add in bits of down time and a simple 2x1 rib - my favorite for self-striping yarn - and I've got most of a sock. Or parts of two. I’ve been jumping back and forth between the two and working on whichever was shorter. It’s how I combat second sock syndrome which seems to work most of the time. 

Simple, self-striping socks are a perfect travel project, especially with afterthought heels or legs. Self-Striping Travel Goodness | withwool.com

Since this is self-striping yarn, I don't want skew the color repeats with a gusset and heel flap. The plan when I cast on was to knit a toe-up tube and drop in an afterthought heel. For whatever reason, matching the stripe pattern and coming back to knit the heel seemed like a lot of work. So, I’m doing an afterthought leg instead a la Cat Bordhi’s Houdini Socks. An afterthought leg and an afterthought heel are the same amount of stitches and the same steps, but a different order. What seemed like work was continually checking if I had enough yarn to knit the heel starting with the right color.

Simple, self-striping socks are a perfect travel project, especially with afterthought heels or legs. Self-Striping Travel Goodness | withwool.com

The first foot is almost finished and the only thing left to do is close up the heel with kitchener stitch. It’s a happy coincidence that the heel used most of a stripe repeat and I’m almost back to the the green I need to start the leg. This afterthought leg thing just keeps getting better. 

Giving 2-At-A-Time A Second Shot

My first attempt at knitting two-at-a-time felt like wrestling an octopus. I gave it another try and decided the technique wasn’t that bad if paired with the right project. Giving 2-At-A-Time A Second Shot | withwool.com

I've tried knitting two-at-a-time before. The exact details of the project are fuzzy - maybe it was a pair of socks - but I do remember not being fond of the technique. Learning to knit with double pointed needles felt like holding an ornery hedgehog. Trying to knit a pair of socks at the same time on one long circular needle was like wrestling an octopus. After that initial attempt, I didn't bother trying two-at-a-time again as it seemed more frustrating than useful. 

Let's jump to 2016 when I was in the middle of knitting the Gramps cardigan. When I cast on, it seemed like a great idea to start with the sleeves and skip second sleeve syndrome. That first sleeve went quickly, but I couldn't finish it until I knew what cable row I'd have to match on the body. So I started the sweater body and knit to the join. Then I added the necessary rows to the sleeve and put the two together. My satisfaction of having something that looked sweater-like was short lived because the sleeve was too long. Ugg. I tinked back, removed the sleeve, and ignored the whole thing for a day.

My first attempt at knitting two-at-a-time felt like wrestling an octopus. I gave it another try and decided the technique wasn’t that bad if paired with the right project. Giving 2-At-A-Time A Second Shot | withwool.com

There was a fair bit of math involving gauge, cable repeats, and cuff ribbing, but I figured out how to get a perfectly sized sleeve. Then I ripped out sleeve #1. Knowing that I was essentially knitting three sleeves didn't appeal. For once, trying to knit two sleeves at the same time seemed more appealing than slogging through them one at a time. I'm blaming The Knitmore Girls podcast for putting the idea back in my head.

This video tutorial from KnitFreedom about how to cast on for two-at-a-time was the least fiddly that I found. Still, the first couple of rows were like wrestling with an octopus. There were strands of yarn and dangling cables everywhere. A needle tip even flicked up and winged me in the face. This only made me more determined to wrangle the sleeve beast. Thankfully, things did calm down after the first couple of rows. Knitting the sleeves went reasonably quickly and wasn't a complete slog either. The thought that I'd essentially be knitting 5 sleeves if I messed up this pair did occur to me. Fortunately, the sleeves turned out the right length this time around.

A photo posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

Since working sleeves two-at-a-time went so well, I decided to try knitting a pair of socks the same way. To be fair, the only reason I did was because I couldn't find my second 2.0mm circular. Casting on would have been easier if I'd started both socks at the same. I added the second sock to the needles when the first toe was almost finished. By the way, I do not recommend this. I've since put a few more rounds on these socks and I'm not loving the process. Maybe it's the stitch count. Maybe it the cable on the circular needles I'm using. Maybe it's how often I have to untangle yarn. All of these frustrations are adding up and it feels like wrestling an octopus again. These socks are supposed to be purse knitting: easy to pick up and work on for a minute or two at a time. This pair is anything put. The good news is that I found my other 2.0mm circular so each sock will get it's own needle ASAP.    

Knitting two things on the same needle has proved itself to be a mixed bag. It was great for making matching sleeves without having to psych myself up to make the second. Though trying to knit two socks at the same time is everything aggravating that made me ditch the technique in the first place. Two-at-a-time isn't going to become my default way of knitting pairs of everything, but I'm not throwing is aside either. It's great for knitting pairs of small things: baby sweater sleeves, ear flaps for hats, or softie parts. I'm definitely going to use the technique again, just matched with the right project. Octopuses are awesome but I don't want to wrestle one every time I knit.  

FO: Colorado Socks

After months of knitting I’m so happy to have these socks on my feet instead of my needles.   FO: Colorado Socks | withwool.com

The yarn I used for these socks has taken a very long, circuitous journey. I bought it on a trip to Denver way back when in 2012 and it came back home with me to Birmingham. It hung out in my stash for years and made good friends with all my other sock yarn. I can’t remember whether it was the part of the travel-stash I hauled cross-country when I moved to LA or if I hauled it out later. Either way, it was a beautiful part of the stash. However, it wasn’t until I knew The Bearded One and I were moving to Colorado that the yarn was ready to be a pair of socks. 

After months of knitting I’m so happy to have these socks on my feet instead of my needles.   FO: Colorado Socks | withwool.com

I had this grand idea that I’d cast on, knit the pair up in a flash, and wear them the day we drove into the state. I totally could have done it too if I’d actually worked on them more than once in a blue moon. The yarn was gorgeous and the pattern simple so the socks hung out in my purse. They made pretty good waiting in line knitting and stuck in traffic knitting too. I put a few rounds on them and turned the heels while binge watching Netflix, but they were mostly purse knitting. Other yarn and patterns kept me busy at home. When we finally did drive across the Colorado state line, one sock was finished and I was lackadaisically knitting the cuff of the second. Then there was there that 2 week period where I couldn’t knit at all. Boo. 

After months of knitting I’m so happy to have these socks on my feet instead of my needles.   FO: Colorado Socks | withwool.com

When I could knit again the urge to finish all the things took over. The last few inches went fairly quickly at fiber guild meetings, in line at the DMV, and binge watching Haven. I didn’t even even in the ends before I pulled the pair on. After all the waiting, they were just as warm and cosy as I’d hoped.

I did eventually weave in the ends and wash the socks. The pair went on a set of blockers after I squished out all the water which I don’t usually do with non-patterned socks. The ribbing definitely wasn’t as giving when I put them on afterwards - expected, but surprising annoying. Turns out I really like pulling on snug socks. I’m hoping another bath will return the ribbing to a stretchier state. 

After months of knitting I’m so happy to have these socks on my feet instead of my needles.   FO: Colorado Socks | withwool.com

Even through I didn’t finish these socks in time to wear them for the move, I’m really glad they’re done. Now the grand plan is to wear them tromping around Denver.  

After months of knitting I’m so happy to have these socks on my feet instead of my needles.   FO: Colorado Socks | withwool.com

The Specs:

Pattern: My own toe-up vanilla sock with 2x2 ribbing and an alternating band on the cuff

Yarn: 364 yds Sleep Season Goods Sock Yarn - Two Sugars

Needles: 2.5 mm circulars 

Dates: December 13, 2015 - May 9, 2016

@Ravelry 

After months of knitting I’m so happy to have these socks on my feet instead of my needles.   FO: Colorado Socks | withwool.com

Knit All The Things!

There was a terrible, no good, absolutely rotten time when I could not knit or spin because of stitches and doctor’s orders. Thankfully that time is now over! To make up the two weeks when all I do was longingly pet yarn and plan what to do with it, I’ve been finishing and casting on for all the things.

I’m celebrating being able to knit again by finishing lingering WIP’s and casting on for a bunch of new projects.  Knit All The Things | withwool.com

My almost finished Fructose Hat was the first thing I picked up after my stitches came out. I was working my way through the crown decreases when I had to put it down. Knowing that I was so close to a finished hat that I could’ve been wearing was incredibly annoying. All that was standing between me and a finished hat was a few rows of decreases. It was so tempting to finish the hat during my knitting hiatus - doctor’s orders be damned - but I didn’t. Thought about it though. 

Anyway, the hat and I went out to lunch Friday. I was 4 rows away from cutting the yarn and pulling it through the last stitches when my food arrived. Hunger and tasty Indian food won out so the hat had to wait until I got back home. Worth it. I still need to wash and block the hat but at least the knitting is done. 

I’m celebrating being able to knit again by finishing lingering WIP’s and casting on for a bunch of new projects.  Knit All The Things | withwool.com

With the hat off the needles, I pulled out a cone of cotton and cast on for the Garterlac Dishcloth that I’m modifying to make a kitchen towel. I’ve knit this pattern before and it does great things to variegated yarn. The last cloths were a gift and it’s past time to make some for my own kitchen. 

This is only the second or third time that I’ve knit entrelac and it’s still addicting to make square after square. I don’t even mind picking up stitches to do it. Shocking, I know. Plus, each square has been pretty good bribery. Whenever I cross something of my to-do list, I get to knit a square. Makes for slower knitting, but a completed list at the end of the day.  

This time around I cast on using the increasing base triangle method which starts with just one stitch. It’s not any easier than casting on all the stitches for the bottom edge in one go, but it is a lot more flexible. 

I’m celebrating being able to knit again by finishing lingering WIP’s and casting on for a bunch of new projects.  Knit All The Things | withwool.com

These socks have been hanging out in my purse for way too long. They’re still purse knitting for the time being because there’s still a few inches to put on the second cuff. If I can put in a few rows between garterlac squares, this pair should be on my feet soon enough. 

I’m celebrating being able to knit again by finishing lingering WIP’s and casting on for a bunch of new projects.  Knit All The Things | withwool.com

And the most recent cast on. I’m swatching for a secret project so this is all I can show you for a bit. I can say that it involves some fun cables.

I’m celebrating being able to knit again by finishing lingering WIP’s and casting on for a bunch of new projects.  Knit All The Things | withwool.com

I might be going overboard with the knitting to make up for the two week hiatus, but I regret nothing. I had a winding party Monday night and wound these three skeins of Malabrigo Chunky in Frank Ochre. The plan for them is to knit the Vertigo Cowl; I feel in love with the shop sample years ago but didn’t get the yarn until last week. Once I finish that green swatch, casting on for Vertigo will be my reward. Sounds like good bribery to swatch right?

How To Do The Math For Toe Up Sock Gussets

How To Do The Math For Knitting Toe Up Sock Gussets | withwool.com

I am a toe-up sock knitter. There are lots of reasons why I made the switch to toe up socks after knitting a few pairs of cuff down socks but the main reason is pretty straightforward. I, and most of the people I knit socks for, have big feet. Working from the toe-up means I can increase until I reach a stitch count that fits at a gauge that will make a comfortable, durable sock.

There are plenty of options for heels to work on toe up socks: heel flaps, short rows, afterthought heels, and all manner or hybrids. I usually go for a heel flap with a gusset because that style fits me the best. Luckily, the math to figure out where to start a gusset is easy-peasy.  I do this math for every pair of socks I knit, whether I working from a pattern or making it up on the fly, and it takes less than 5 minutes. Those 5 minutes are worth it to get a great fitting pair of socks. 

To get started you need your stitch count, row gauge, and the finished foot length. When you do the math on the back of an envelope, this is what it looks like. Seriously, the hardest thing about the whole process is measuring the row count. 

Stitch Count x .5 = gusset rows

Gusset Rows / Row Gauge = Gusset Length

Foot Length - Heel Turn Length - Length of Gusset = Where to start gusset

How To Do The Math For Knitting Toe Up Sock Gussets | withwool.com

I’m working on pair of 2x2 ribbed socks that I’m going to use as an example. Here are the numbers and the math.

64 x .5 = 32 sts

32 sts / 13 rows = 2.46”

10.25” - .75” - 2.46” = 7.04”

Stitch Count: 64 sts

Row Gauge: 13 rows/inch

Sock Length: 10.25”

Step 1: The usual number to increase for a sock gusset is 50% of the stitch count. For this pair, that means increasing 32 stitches before beginning the heel turn. 

The typical gusset construction of increasing 2 stitches on one row and working a plain row the next makes figuring out the gusset’s row count really easy. The answer is 32 because I’m increasing 32 stitches. Here’s why:

32 stitches / 2 (because increases happen twice on increase rounds) = 16 increase rounds

Add an equal number of plain rows and: 

16 increase rounds + 16 plain rounds = 32 gusset rows

If you’re knitting a sock to fit a high instep, you’ll probably need a taller heel flap. Increase 60% of the stitches instead of 50%. The rest of the math is exactly the same. 

Step 2: Now to find out how long the gusset will be.

Gusset Rounds / Row Gauge = Gusset Length

32 gusset rows / 13 rows an inch = 2.46” 

Step 3: Now that we have the length of the gusset, we can figure out where to start it. I estimate needing .75” for the heel turn. If you’re making socks for smaller feet, .5” is a good estimate. For a more exact number, measure the length of heel turn on a sock you’ve already knit. 

Foot Length - Heel Turn Length - Gusset Length = Where to start the gusset

10.25” - .75” - 2.46” = 7.04”

After rounding down the final number to get something easier to work with, the gusset needs to start 7” from the tip of the toe. That's all it takes to figure out the increases and where to start a sock gusset. Happy sock knitting! 

How To Do The Math For Knitting Toe Up Sock Gussets | withwool.com

Rainbow Waffle Socks

My sock drawer might be close to overflowing, but it’s been awhile since I’ve knit myself a pair of cushy socks to wear to bed. At night, my toes can get painfully cold and thick worsted-weight socks are the only answer. My favorite pair of bed socks - they’re also the first pair of toe up socks I ever made way back in 2007 - finally saw enough wear to develop a few well placed holes. I have every intention of darning them. Eventually. In the mean time, I need another pair of socks in the rotation. So, hello rainbow waffle socks. 

Once there were enough stitches on the needles I went with one of my favorite stitch patterns, the waffle rib, because it’s stretchy, fun to knit, and good looking. It added just enough texture to keep the knitting from getting boring, especially during the larger color blocks. Since there was only 244 yards and I wanted a longer cuff, the afterthought heel was the way to go. I followed the steps in this tutorial to open up and knit the heel.

The one thing I did differently on this pair was changing up the order of ssk’s and k2tog’s on the heel decreases. Even though it definitely looks different, the fit is exactly the same. 

I’m glad I didn’t try to match up the stripes because the 2 balls weren’t even close to the same. Both were the same dye lot, and I had no idea they were so different from just looking at the balls. Somehow the heels matched up with no help from me. I like wearing mismatched socks though so this pair makes me extra happy. What more could a knitter ask for?

The Details: 

Yarn: 2 balls Classic Elite Yarns Liberty Wool - 7838

Needles: 2.75 mm circs

Date: June 18 - Aug 4, 2015

Full notes on the Ravelry page

Knitting Fail

I had to count on my fingers to figure this out, but I have been knitting for about 10 years. Over those 10 years I have learned a lot about the art of knitting and worked with a lot of yarn. I’ve knit small things, big things, geeky things, comfy things, and completely frivolous things. I’ve also knit things that I am incredibly proud of. Even with all that experience under my belt I still make silly mistakes. Example A, these socks.

They look the same, right? The stripes match, except for the heels. They’re the same length from cast on to bind off. But they’re different.

The first sock I knit on a 2.5 mm needle. I knit the second sock on a 2.25 mm needle, thinking that it was the 2.5 mm needle. I didn’t realize the difference until after the bind off when I had to cajole it on to my foot. The first sock is a half inch larger and much more cooperative. 

This week’s knitting public service announcement: If you ever have to snag your sock needles for another project between the first and second sock, do yourself a favor. Use your trusty needle gauge to make sure you’re using the same size needle for both socks.

After leaving the pair to its own devices for a night, I came up with two options for how to fix it. Option 1, unpick the bind off and rip right back to the toe. Nope. Option 2, wash the socks and stretch the second sock into shape over a sock blocker. That’ll happen as soon as I get my hands on my blockers, but it’s not as necessary as I’d first thought. In the few minutes I wore the socks to photograph them, the tighter sock (on the left) relaxed enough to be comfy. Snug, but comfy. All those stitches were not in vain and I still get a pair of socks!

So this knitting fail wasn’t a complete lose. Plus, I’ll get the added bonus of seeing how long each sock holds up. Will the looser knit but better fitting sock outlast the stretched sock with the tighter gauge? Only time and steps will tell. 

Pattern: Full pattern notes on the Ravelry page.

Yarn: 2 balls Patons Kroy Stripes - Spring Leaf Colors

Needles: 2.5 and 2.25 mm circulars

Date: January 29 - May 27, 2015