Thursday, November 24, 2016

the season turns...

Today is Thanksgiving, tomorrow is the open studio day... We've had a little snow to remind us we're  transitioning towards winter and the holidays, so here is a stocking to hang for someone moderately good.  Not quite a joke...  haven't you noticed that stockings seem to get bigger and bigger, so that they're either filled with lumpy, not-very-significant gifts or they're stuffed like sausages, distorted and weigh a ton? 

Call this an elegant step backwards.  I knitted it on four needles - large ones - size 9s,  using Paton's Shetland chunky, one of my favorites of the commercial yarns I carry in my shop.

.  Cast on 36 stitches - 12 on each needle, and knitted down five inches, mostly in the main color, though I noodled around with changing colors a bit - two of each color for the first three bi-color rows, offsetting the stitch by one each round.  Then a round that was just the second color, and a final, fifth bi-color round alternating colors every stitch.  I was going for a random pattern, but someone saw it as a string of reindeer.  cool.

After another inch and a half (this was part of the original 5 inches), I divided the stitches with half of them (18) on one needle, 9 on each of the other two.  I added the second color in for the heel.  Because this is a Christmas stocking, not one to wear, it could be straight back-and-forth, knit-and purl  for two inches, then I knit 12, knitted two together, turned, purled back and when there were six stitches left on the other needle, purled two together and turned, repeating the process with 5 on the other needle, then 4, 3, 2 and then the last stitch was knitted or purled with the stitch before it.    At this point, the second color is temporarily finished.

Returning to knitting in the round, pick up stitches from the side of the heel using the main color, decrease one stitch on either side of the heel until you're back to 12 stitches per needle, (with a little redistribution).  I knitted straight for about 2 1/2 inches or so - your choice, if you'd like to make the foot longer - then end the main color and switch to the second color to finish the toe. 

For the toe, redistribute the stitches so half (18) are on each needle.  The toe and heel should line up.  In the photo, the heel is shown at the bottom, the finished toe at top.  Decrease one stitch on each side of each needle (4 decreases per round).   It took me five rounds to complete the toe - I Kitchener-stitched the toe, but if the idea frustrates you, you could simply draw the yarn needle through, pull all the stitches together, secure and sew in the end.  

All that's left is the cuff and hanger.  I'll admit I began this stocking by knitting five rounds of the cuff, but I didn't like it.  I'd recommend picking up and knitting the cuff, I think that might be neater.  I finished it with a shell stitch round, then chained up through both layers, crocheted a round of reverse single crochet and chained a hanger-loop. 

This leaves enough yarn for a second stocking.  Or, a hat.  I decided to crochet mine.

Just for a change, I began at the brim by chaining 9 stitches.  Leave at least a six inch long "tail."  Single crocheting in the back loop only, I kept going until un-stretched, the band measured 19 inches.

I threaded the tail yarn through a yarn needle and connected the last row to the first, then crocheted around a long, now connected, side.   Switched to the second color for the body of the hat, adding in the first color, just noodling around, so no one would think I'd forgotten about it.  I think this alternating two stitch pattern looks like flying birds, but it was purely geometric and random.

When the hat was about 5 inches from its beginning, it was looking a little large to me, so I began decreasing by sc two together above every second bird.  Then 3 rows were sc even, before I did the decrease round again.  Added a stripe of the first color for a few rows, and began the decreasing in earnest, over the same places I'd previously decreased.  Finally, I pulled the last few stitches together with a yarn needle and ended it off. 

The finished hat can be worn with its brim up or down - the crocheted ribbing is pretty much as stretchy and as versatile as a knitted one.   And there's still some yarn left for tying packages...

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