Monthly Archives: September 2017

An Interview with Anna Friberg (Yarnesty)

Anna Friberg

As part of the Level Up Your Socks KAL I thought it would be good to hear from some other sock designers. I did an interview with Anna Friberg, who uses the brand name Yarnesty, about her experiences of sock knitting and designing.

Introduction

RG: Tell me a little about yourself and your designs.

AF: I have known how to knit since I was very small, I don’t even remember who taught me to knit. But I think it must have been either Mum or my maternal Grandma, as I remember that I knit my purl stitches as a Norwegian when I was young, and they grew up close to the Norwegian border.

RG: That’s really interesting, when did you stop using the Norwegian purl?

AF: That was when I was working on getting the same gauge with knitting and purling. Early teens, I think.

I knit a lot until I started uni. After that, I knit a little bit here and there, but not many things were finished. I came back to it in a serious way around ten years ago, and then I became an everyday knitter five or six years ago. That was when I discovered Ravelry and began to read patterns in English.

My first pattern in English was a free pattern from Ysolda: Garter Stitch Mitts.

RG: I think those garter stitch mitts have been in my queue for as long as I’ve been on Ravelry.

AF: They are a really fast knit 🙂

Today I prefer English patterns. Even if they are available in Swedish. The instructions are more defined in English.

RG: How hard do you find it to follow patterns in another language?

AF: Well I think English is easiest. I can follow Danish and Norwegian as well if I must 🙂

My day job is as a quality software engineer for software that is used in aircraft. And that includes a lot of inspections and knowledge of processes. Not as much coding anymore.

I live in a house in Ljungsbro, a small village outside a town called Linköping. That is about 2hrs south of Stockholm. I live there with my husband and our two teenaged children.

Designing

AF: It all started out with me listening to the iMake podcast and Martine lured me to participate in a challenge to knit on a sock every day. After a while, I found a way I liked to make my vanilla socks and someone asking me to write down my Vanilla Sock pattern.

I could have written it down on a blog but I like doing things thoroughly. So I wrote down a pattern and put it up on Ravelry. Then I did two or three more sock designs that summer.

Then my friend Jannika told me about Joeli’s Designer Bootcamp on Periscope. And that was when I started to take my designing to a new level. I also used a Tech Editor: James Bartley and that has improved my designing immensely!

RG: That’s great.

You design a lot of stranded socks, what is it about that style that attracts you?

AF: I suppose that is a part of my Scandinavian heritage 🙂 At the same time I think it is a bit of a challenge to have stranded knitting on the leg of the sock, as it can be difficult to get the sock over the heel and arch. So that is why I often have patterns around the sock’s foot instead.

RG: That’s a good way to take the limitations of stranded knitting into account, without losing the lovely designs you can make with it.

You’ve just done your first Mystery KAL, the Town Wall Socks. How did that go and did you find it was different to a normal KAL?

Town Wall Socks as made by ChaiKnits

Town Wall Socks as made by ChaiKnits ©ChaiKnits

AF: I was blown away of the response. Of course, it helped that MoodsOfColors, a very appreciated Swedish indie-dyer sold kits for the socks in her sock yarn subscription. But even without those kits, many knitters from all over the world was interested in participating. Many who never have tried my patterns before. That was really fun.

A normal KAL is also a good way to get the word out, but I think the MKAL attracts even more. Knitters like to get a pattern in clues and not knowing what comes next.

I also enjoyed all the secrecy! I was very careful not to give away anything beforehand. I only had one test knitter. Of course, the dyer had seen the prototype. And I never gave away if there should be a colour change or not for the next week. Well after a while, the knitters probably saw a pattern, that the colour changed each clue, but they never knew 🙂

It is a fun way to design as well. It can be a little bit of a franken-sock, but at the same time the yarn and the colours kept it together.

RG: That sounds really fun. Might you do another one in future?

AF: Yes I will definitely do more of that. Not this year, though 🙂 The chatter on social media has been super fun to follow and participate in!

I am super grateful that so many have participated and knit them. And even people have started them after all clues have been revealed. That is lovely to see!

RG: I’m always a bit hesitant with mystery patterns because sometimes I love the beginning but then they go in a strange direction halfway through.

AF: I agree, I have done maybe 6-7 MKALs so far. I have actually loved most of them.

Sock Knitting

RG: So tell me the biggest problem you’ve ever had when knitting a sock and did you manage to fix it?

AF: Most of the surgery I have done on sweaters or shawls. Socks are so small items, so I usually rip back and start over instead of fixing it with surgery.

Anna's finished Kilt Hose

Anna’s finished Kilt Hose ©Yarnesty

But, I knit kilt hoses for my son, and I had a simple cable on each side of the leg. (same as on the Fergus pattern). And after having knit half a leg I realised that I had done the cables too wide. Then I ripped only those stitches over the cable pattern (10 stitches or so) and re-knit the cable pattern correctly.

RG: Ripping back can be very useful. That must have been quite fiddly fixing those cables.

AF: Yes a bit fiddly, but with a pair of extra needles, it went quite well.

RG: You mentioned earlier that English patterns tend to be more detailed than European ones, do you think this leads to different types of problems for knitters?

AF: I tend to write very detailed patterns. Most people appreciate knowing whether to, for example, slip a stitch purlwise or knitwise.

On the other hand, if they are used to patterns with open directions, they might skip reading instructions that are crucial for the next section and that can become a problem. I have only had one or two customers with those kinds of problems.

When it comes to more traditional Scandinavian patterns, they are sometimes so open (a bit like vintage patterns) that you have to be a very experienced and advanced knitter to be able to follow them.

Even if I regard myself being an experienced knitter, when I knit other designer’s patterns I want them to be very detailed and especially I want to know what to do next. Of course, I make changes in patterns, but that should be my own decision. Not that I have to, due to a pattern lacking in instructions or if the math is wrong in the pattern.

RG: It can definitely be frustrating if you can’t understand how the pattern is supposed to work.

AF: In that case, I’d rather make it up myself 😉

RG: What’s your best tip for knitting socks?

AF: I think that if you want to be able to enjoy your socks as long as possible you should knit them with quite a tight gauge. That makes the socks more durable. Personally, I think that 9 sts/inch is nice for fingering weight sock yarn. And the socks will be thin enough to wear in your everyday shoes.

RG: That’s a very good tip 🙂.

What’s your favourite resource for sock knitting?

AF: I have learnt loads by reading Sock Architecture by Lara Neel. It is quite a technical book and my engineer brain likes it 😉

RG: I like that one, it has formulas in.

AF: Exactly 🙂. For new techniques, I often look at VeryPink Knit’s youtube channel.

RG: To finish I have some quick-fire questions.

  • Toe up or cuff down
  • DPNs, magic loop, tiny circulars or two circulars
  • Cables, lace or colourwork
  • Two at a time, in parallel, or one at a time
  • Metal, wood, bamboo or carbon fibre needles

Find Anna Online

You can find out more about Anna at her website Knitway, see all her designs on Ravelry and follow her on instagram @yarnesty.

 

New Pattern: Pangolin Socks

Pangolins are pretty special creatures. They’re the only mammals with all-over keratin scales and are believed to be the world’s most trafficked mammal. Although I have to admit that I’ve only heard of them because of the Ubuntu release named Precise Pangolin, which I didn’t realise was named after an animal until one of my colleagues pointed it out.

A young ground pangolin

A young ground pangolin Photo credit to Maria Diekmann of Rare and Endangered Species Trust

I named my newest sock pattern after the pangolin because of the cabled pattern reminiscent of overlapping scales flowing down the leg.

Pangolin Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

Pangolin Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

The unisex socks come in three sizes, to fit leg circumference of 8/S (9/M, 10/L)”/20 (23, 25.5) cm and feature a flap and gusset heel. This makes it easy to adapt for a high instep. The pattern has written and charted instructions, whichever you find easier to use and the digital pattern features bookmarks, making it easier to navigate.

Toes of Pangolin Socks

Toes of Pangolin Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

The pattern utilises transition charts to help the pattern move seamlessly into the toe and heel flap. The smallest size is made on a size smaller needles, due to design constraints.

Side view Pangolin Socks

Side view Pangolin Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

The sample is made in Phileas Yarns Explorer in the Reynisfjara colourway. This is unusual in being a black yarn that doesn’t hurt your eyes to work with. It’s a semi-solid yarn, but doesn’t have enough varigation to disrupt the cables.

Thanks to all my testers and my tech editor who helped make this pattern even better.

Visit the Ravelry pattern page here for more information and buy Pangolin Socks for £3.50+VAT directly here.

If you like this design and want to be notified of future pattern releases, sign up to my newsletter.

How to Read a Knitting Chart: The Basics

Charts are really useful for knitting because they look the same as the finished knitting, so it’s easier to know what you’re doing and if you’ve gone wrong. However, they can be a bit confusing if you’ve not used one before. This blog post is going to help you learn how to read a knitting chart.

The Grid

The basis of a knitting chart is the grid. This is a rectangle of squares, where each square represents one stitch. The columns will be numbered, either at the top, the bottom, or both and the rows will be numbered at the side.

How to Read a Knitting Chart: Flat Knitting Chart

A flat knitting chart ©Rachel Gibbs

A flat knitting chart is read from right-to-left on right-side (RS) rows and left-to-right on wrong-side (WS) rows. To help you remember this, the row number is always on the side where you start. It’s done like this so that the stitches line up as they will when knitted, with a turn at the end of every row.

How to Read a Knitting Chart: Circular Knitting Chart

A circular knitting chart ©Rachel Gibbs

A chart that is to be knitted in the round will have all the row numbers on the right-hand side, because every row is read from right-to-left. The columns are always numbered from right-to-left as well, to match the direction of knitting. If there are no increases or decreases, the column number is always the same as the stitch number. You can use that to help you keep track of where you are.

The Symbols

Every knitting stitch is represented by a symbol. These aren’t always the same for every chart, although there are some standards. In order to know what a symbol means, look at the key.

How to Read a Knitting Chart: Key

An example of a key ©Rachel Gibbs

The symbols are often designed to look like the stitch they’re describing, so a k2tog is a right leaning decrease, and the symbol slants the same direction as the stitch. If you find it hard to remember which stitch is which, you might find it helpful to highlight the stitches in different colours, so yellow is k2tog and blue is ssk, for example.

How to Read a Knitting Chart: Flat Key

A key for a flat knitting chart, showing RS and WS definitions ©Rachel Gibbs

A chart is designed to look like the knitting from the RS. So in a flat chart, the same symbol is often used to mean knit on the RS and purl on the WS. This is because a purl on the WS looks like a knit when viewed from the RS.

Example Chart

Here are a small chart and the corresponding knitting, to help you see how the two compare.

How To Read Charts: Example Chart

A simple chart ©Rachel Gibbs

The chart is a simple 6 row pattern, with purl stitches, yarn overs and decreases. It would be written out like this:

Row 1 (RS): k1, p1, k2, p1, k1. (6 sts)
Row 2 (WS): p1, k1, p2, k1, p1.
Row 3: k1, yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 4: purl.
Row 5: k1, yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 6: purl.

When you’re not sure how to read a chart, check it against the written instructions, if these are included in the pattern, or try writing them out yourself.

How to Read a Knitting Chart: Knitted Swatch

A swatch knitted from the chart ©Rachel Gibbs

This is that chart knitted up, with a garter stitch border. You can clearly see the holes made by the yo’s.

How to Read a Knitting Chart: Swatch with Chart Overlay

The swatch with the chart overlayed ©Rachel Gibbs

Here the chart has been placed over the knitting, to help you see where they line up. See how the yarn over holes match the circle symbol on the chart, with the purl bumps below.

No Stitches

If you increase a stitch in knitting, you’re creating an extra stitch where none was before. As a chart is grid based, when we add an extra stitch in the middle we need to create a space for it by having an empty column below. To do this we use something called a no stitch.

How to Read a Knitting Chart: No Stitch

A chart including No Stitches

In this chart, the first two rows have three knit stitches, separated by two no stitches, represented by grey boxes. When you get to the no stitch while knitting, you just ignore it. It’s a placeholder, not a real stitch. On row 3 there are two increases, bringing the total number of stitches to five. The no stitches are shown underneath the increases to make the chart line up the same as the real knitting.

On row 5, there are two decreases, bringing the number of stitches down to three again. This means that there will be too many boxes for the number of stitches we now have. Therefore, no stitches are used again.

Level Up Your Socks KAL

Today is the start of my Level Up Your Socks KAL. I created the Level Up Your Socks e-course to help give people more confidence knitting patterned socks and now’s the chance to see you put it into practice. There’s also be extra content all through the KAL, for even more support.

You can enter with any socks that are more complicated than just stocking stitch or rib, and you get an extra entry for each pair of socks that are made from one of my patterns. I’ll also be releasing two new patterns during the KAL, so look out for those. You can join in on Instagram with the hashtag #levelupyoursocks, in my Ravelry group, or in the new Level Up Your Socks Facebook group. Then when you’ve finished your socks, all you have to do is fill out this form to be in the running for the prizes.

To get things started, here’s a tutorial on my favourite way to start top-down socks, the Twisted German Cast On.