Kniftybits's Blog

All knitting, all the time.

Crochet Cast On August 27, 2011

The thing about following a pattern as opposed to knitting whatever I feel like is that occasionally there are new techniques that I don’t know. The glass half full perspective is that I get to learn something new. The glass half empty perspective finds me stomping away shouting, “As if I have time to find a video and learn something new! I wanted to KNIT, not LEARN!”  I am sure I can pause Army Wives and find the time to do this, since I am incapable of learning through written or drawn instructions, and I finally did.

Did I mention that I don’t even know how to crochet? So technically I will have to learn two new things. Not that I’m bitter.

I checked out the three YouTube videos that came up with my google search. My favorite was from Lucy Neatby. You can also check out her useful knitting website:

My second favorite was this one, which offers some good tips.

So, in the theory of see one, do one, teach one, now that I’ve learned how to do a crochet cast on, however awkwardly, here are my instructions for those of you blessed with the ability to learn from written instructions (for those of you who aren’t, like me, check out the videos above):

1) Do a slip knot on the crochet hook.

2) Hold the crochet hook to the right of the knitting needle parallel with the needle. Hold the yarn in your left hand behind the needle.

3) Crochet a loop over the needle (bring the hook over the top of the needle).

4) You now have a loop on the needle and the yarn over the needle. Bring the yarn to the back of the needle.

5) Repeat steps 3 & 4 until you have the number of stitches needed.

6) Crochet a few more stitches off the needle.  Tie a knot in your leading edge so you know not to unravel your cast on from that side.

Knit into your cast on and you are off the the races.  See, learning is fun! (Said without a hint of sarcasm. No. Really. I mean it.)


Spiral Toes = Not So Much June 27, 2011

I like to experiment with different elements in socks. That’s how I came across my favorite heel – the double-stitch short row heel.

And also how I came across my new least favorite toe – the spiral toe.

I’m not really sure what purpose this toe serves, since it ends up pointy like a carrot. And I don’t have carrot shaped feet. And don’t know many people who do.

Spiral toe, perfect for the carrot people.

To make the spiral toe, not that I think you should, but just in case you have very pointy toes, or maybe an extra long second toe.

Divide stitches evenly over four needles.

Rnd 1: ssk at the beg of each ndl, K rem sts.

Knit one rnd even between each decrease rnd.

Each additional rnd add one more stitch before the ssk. When you get to the end of the needle, start again at the beginning until 8 sts rem. Cut yarn, weave through sts, pull tight. Weave in ends.

Have you ever knit this toe? What did you think?


Double Stitch Short Row Heel Tutorial February 28, 2011


After research and careful consideration I’ve decreed the Double Stitch Short Row Heel above all others, however many knitters don’t know how to work it. So, here’s a photo tutorial on this fabulous heel so you too can become a convert.


Knit to the stitch you want to be a double stitch; to begin the heel you would knit to the last heel stitch, then knit that stitch. I have three double stitches completed in this photo so you can see what a completed double stitch looks like.


Knit the last stitch before your double stitches. This is your next double stitch.


Turn your work and slip the stitch you just worked onto the right needle purlwise, keeping the yarn in front of the needle.

Pull the yarn to the back hard, bringing the legs of the stitch over the needle.

Bring the yarn between the needles and purl across to the other side.

Once you've purled across to double stitches on the other side, purl your last stitch. This will be your next double stitch.

Turn your work and slip the stitch you just worked onto the right needle purlwise, keeping the yarn in front of the needle.

Pull the yarn back hard, bringing the legs of the stitch over the needle. As you can see the double stitches aren't as loose on the right side of the work. Knit across to the double stitches on the other side of the heel.

This is what your heel looks like at the halfway point. The pattern called for 10 double stitches on either side and 10 regular stitches in the middle, totaling 30 stitches. Now you knit two rounds, working the double stitches together. (Note: the number of heel stitches you have is determined by how many stitches in your sock. This is just an example, follow the numbers given in your pattern.)

Knit the two loops of the double stitch together.

Once you’ve knit your two rounds you need to finish turning the heel by working your double stitches in reverse i.e. working your way back out to the edge of the heel. So, instead of your first double stitch being at the end of the heel it will be at the beginning of your heel.

Row 1: (RS) Knit the stitches of your center panel, knit a double stitch into the next stitch, the first stitch of your side panel. Given the sample numbers above you would knit 5 stitches and work a double stitch into your 6th stitch.

Row 2: (WS) Purl all the stitches of your center panel, work a double stitch into your next stitch. Given the sample numbers above you would purl 10 stitches and work a double stitch into your 11th stitch.

Row 3: (RS) Knit across to your double stitch, then knit that stitch. Work a double stitch in the next stitch.

Row 4: (WS) Purl across to your double stitch, then purl that stitch. Work a double stitch into the next stitch.

Keep repeating Rows 3 & 4 until you’ve worked double stitches into all your side panel stitches. Then start working in the round again. Pick up the loose strand on either side of the heel when you reach it, give it a twist, and knit it together with the first upper foot stitch to avoid a hole.

Completed double stitch short row heel.

Here are sample instructions for a double stitch heel:

Double stitch – to make a double stitch (dbl st) knit the last stitch before you turn your work. Turn your work. Then holding the yarn in front of the ndl, sl the st you just worked pwise onto the RH ndl. Bring the yarn over the ndl to the back hard, pulling the two legs of the st below the slipped st over the ndl, making a dbl st.  Continue knitting. If a purl row, bring the yarn between the ndls to the front.

Begin working back and forth on Ndls 1 & 3:

Row 1 (RS): K all sts on Ndl 1. Turn your work.

Row 2 (WS): Work dbl st. Bring yarn forward between ndls, P to end of Ndl 3. Turn your work.

Row 3 (RS): Work dbl st. K to last st BEFORE dbl st on Ndl 1.  Turn your work.

Row 4 (WS): Work dbl st. P to last st BEFORE dbl st on Ndl 3. Turn your work.

Repeat Rows 3 & 4 until there are 10 (10, eight) dbl sts on either side (your side panels) and 10 (10, eight) ‘regular’ sts in the middle (your heel).

Work 2 rnds circularly, knitting dbl st loops together as a single st, and cont. foot pattern stitch on Ndl 2.

End your 2nd rnd between Ndls 1 & 3. Work back and forth:

Row 1 (RS): K 6 (6, 5) sts. Turn your work.

Row 2 (WS): Work dbl st into the first st of side panel. Bring yarn forward between, ndls P 11 (11, 9) sts. Row 3 (RS): Work dbl st. K across to dbl st on Ndl 1, K dbl st, K1. Turn your work.

Row 4 (WS): Work dbl st. P across to dbl st on Ndl 3, P dbl st, P1. Turn your work.

Repeat Rows 3 & 4 until all your side sts are added back in as regular sts.

(For abbreviations check out KnitPicks standard abbreviations.)




A Double Knit Twist February 5, 2011

Filed under: Techniques — kniftybits @ 10:57
Tags: ,

To complete my toe up sock I decided I would stick to the theme of trying new techniques and end with an untried bind off.

I flipped through my sock knitting book and decided on the Double Knit Twisted Bind Off, which was described as both ‘very stretchy’ and ‘reinforced’. Sounds ideal, I thought, especially since I am notorious for binding off too tight.

Basically, you knit two stitches, then slip them back onto the left needle and knit them together through the back loop. Knit the next stitch, slip back onto the left needle, knit together through the back loop. Etc.

It’s straightforward and easy, which I like. What I also like about it, which was probably emphasized by the multicolored yarn I knit with, is the decorative little bumps you get across the bound of edge.


The little bumps are so fun! (I think the sock kind of looks like a cobra in this photo.)

The edge does curl out some from the ribbing in its relaxed state, but since the point of socks is to wear them it doesn’t matter to me.

Unfortunately, it is still possible to bind off too tight, so my first attempt had to be tinked. But, the second attempt was a sock-cess! Oh, that was so bad of me. Sometimes I just can’t help myself!

What bind off do you prefer for toe up socks?


Wrapped Stitch vs. Double Stitch February 2, 2011

Wrapped stitch and double stitch short row heel turns go toe to toe (get it, hehehahahoho) in this blog post.  Who will be the winner?

Part of the reason I ventured into toe up sock territory is because my last few socks were knit with a boomerang, or short row heel, and I thought that gave me a leg up on toe up already. (I am so punny today! Sorry, I’ll stop.)

But, never one to sit idly by and repeat the same technique, this time I wouldn’t do the double stitch short row heel turn. You might be wondering what a double stitch short row heel is, and I will blog about someday, but at this moment am boycotting because the ill-fated computer crash of November lost all my hard won double stitch heel turn pictures! In the interim, this blog has pictures, and I think it’s best described thusly; when you get to the stitch where you turn your work you knit that stitch, turn the work, slip the stitch purlwise onto the needle, and then yank the yarn hard until the two legs of the stitch wrap over the needle and form a double stitch.  You later knit these two legs together eliminating the need for a wrap.

But, I am a glutton for punishment and decided I would try the more widely known wrapped stitch short row heel turn.  This technique is oft maligned and I was curious if it warranted the animosity.

I read the instructions in my go-to sock knitting book. And I thought, ‘Ok, this makes sense.’ Slip, wrap, continue.

And then I got to the part where it was time to add the stitches back into the heel. There was a lot of wrinkle deepening brow furrowing at that point. Wrap it again? Two wraps on a single stitch? That’s just insanity! And then I got it. Or, at least, I think I got it. Judging by the finished result I am not sure if I did it right. What do you think?


This is how the heel turn looks on the knit side of the short rows.



This is what is looks like on the purl side of the short row turn. It's weird to me that they don't look the same on both sides, which is why I think maybe, just maybe, I did something wrong.

The thing that bothers me about this heel turn is the following 1) You can see the extra wrapped stitches. Error on my knitting part or just the nature of this heel turn, either way, I don’t like it. 2) Once you start dealing with two wraps it is really cumbersome and I got to the point where I couldn’t even tell if the original stitch was facing the right direction on the needle as I struggled to pick up both wraps.

Enter the double stitch short row heel. So elegant in it’s simplicity and I think the end result is more elegant in design also.

More elegant, easier, and the same on both sides. I present, the double stitch short row heel.

And the winner is? Double Stitch Short Row Heel!!!!!! Hoorah!!!

Like you didn’t see that coming. I am interested in your experiences. Have you tried both heels? What were your results? And, did I do something wrong on the wrapped stitch heel?


Heel Turn on a Toe Up Sock January 30, 2011

I was blazing away on my toe-up sock and then it struck me, when am I supposed to turn the heel?  I am so accustomed to knitting top down socks that I would know how many inches of leg needed before the heel turn blindfolded. And if I was a little off, as long as it wasn’t the second sock, no biggie, I would just have a shorter sock. And even if this error was on the second sock I may just call it a new fashion. (Have I mentioned how much I hate frogging?)

But, if my measurements are off for the heel turn on the toe up, I’ll end up with my toes curled under like the lotus foot of Chinese women of old.  Or worse, having to gift my fabulous socks, knit in my salivated-over-torturously-balled sock yarn and I just can’t (read – won’t) part with it. Or worse still, and highly improbably given my temperment, having to frog the heel.

So, I pulled out my handy dandy sock knitting book for guidance…

And what do you know, it says nothing on the topic. Harumph.

Fortunately there is always the internet. Source one says to knit to two inches from the desired length and then turn the heel.  Source two says to knit until the sock touches the base of your leg.  I figure that they’re are probably about the same, so since I’d rather go off fit than measurements, I will aim for the base of the leg. As a side note, what did we do before the internet?!?!?!

Wish me luck.  I will let you know how it turns out.

What is your experience with toe up socks? How do you know when to turn the heel?

*UPDATE: The foot is just the right length. Thank you fellow bloggers!*


Negative Ease Nuisance January 28, 2011

Today I bit the bullet (a colloquialism originating from military doctors giving soldiers a bullet to bite during surgery (fun!), see you just learned something new) and frogged my toe up sock to the round before the last set of increases.

As you may recall, I feared it was too large, so I trusted my unreliable gut and frogged.

I picked up the right strand of each stitch on the target round before letting her rip. If you don’t know this trick, check out the video titled “How to re-insert your needle” on the indispensable site (that may be two new things you learned).  All in all it went well, only a few twisted stitches (coincidentally, an awesome name for a knitting rock band) and I didn’t have any suicidal stitches make a jump for it.

I knit on with my five fewer stitches and am about half way through the foot now.  I am pleased to report that my faulty gut instincts were right on this issue and the sock is the right size, which makes we wonder about the general wisdom of the 10-15% negative ease guideline for knitting socks.

I am not sure what it is, but my last socks were also knit with 15% negative ease and frankly I have baggy old woman ankle going on. I am not pleased.

And this toe up sock was calculated with 15% negative ease, with a couple extra stitches deducted for good measure, and it was still too big.

At this point I think I need to increase to 20% negative ease as my standard, but I’m not sure why. Could it be that my gauge swatches, which I lazily knit flat for these circular projects, differs greatly from my in-the-round project gauge?  Could it be that I am a loose knitter and thus need more negative ease?  Could it be that I just am accustomed to a tighter sock?  Could it be something else entirely?

What do you think?  What is the culprit?  And have you ever had the same problem with negative ease?