My preferred cast on for top-down socks with a 2×2 rib is the Double Start or Estonian cast on. Here is a video to show you how to do it.
My preferred cast on for top-down socks with a 2×2 rib is the Double Start or Estonian cast on. Here is a video to show you how to do it.
The thing that puts a lot of people off knitting flap and gusset heels is having to pick up the stitches along the heel flap. If done right, though, this can be really simple.
Here’s a short video showing the process. And if at the end you still hate it, try knitting toe up, then a flap and gusset heel doesn’t require picking up stitches at all.
In knitting, there are two main types of decreases involving two stitches – right-leaning and left-leaning. It’s really useful to be able to tell these apart and know which action will produce which result.
The first decrease most people learn is knit two together (k2tog). This results in the left-hand stitch on top, causing the stitch to lean to the right. The first stitch the needle enters is the one that ends on top.
Left-leaning decreases are a little bit more complicated. The two most common ones are slip one, knit one, pass slipped stitch over (skp) and slip one knitwise, slip one knitwise, knit two slipped stitches together through the back loop (ssk). In all cases, this results in the right-hand stitch on top.
Decreases can also be worked in purl and similarly, a p2tog is right-leaning and an ssp is left-leaning.
However, purl decreases are most commonly worked on the wrong side of the work. When you look at the back of a left-leaning increase, you also get a left-leaning increase, but it will point towards the opposite side of the work, which is something to bear in mind.
The most common way to finish a top-down sock is by using the Kitchener stitch. This video tutorial takes you through how to work it for perfect looking socks.
Cables can be quite intimidating when you first start knitting them and there seem to be a lot of different variations to learn. If you are using a pattern with a chart, this can make things a lot easier as the cable symbols often look the same as the end result. If you’re not familiar with knitting from a chart, try reading my How To Read Knitting Charts: The Basics post first.
There are two main ways of naming cables, depending on whether the focus is on the action taken to make the stitch or the desired end result.
Slip next 2 stitches to cable needle and place at back of work, k2, then k2 from cable needle.
This symbol is usually called either C4B or 2/2 RC. C4B means that the cable uses four stitches in total and the cable needle is held at the back – the opposite stitch is the C4F where the cable needle is held at the front. 2/2 RC means that the cable is formed from two stitches crossing over two stitches and the cable crosses from left to right – the opposite stitch would be the 2/2 LC.
In the C4B notation it is easy to see how to make the stitch, but if a cable is unbalanced, e.g. with three stitches crossing over one then it would still make four stitches in total but have a different look. That is why in my patterns I prefer the 2/2 RC notation. I also find it easier to visualise the end result from just the name.
While you can consult the key every time you come to a cable, it’s easier and quicker to be able to work out what to do based on the symbol itself.
The first step is to determine how many stitches are involved in the cable. While the cable is made from one symbol, it will cover multiple boxes of a chart, as it uses more than one stitch. Use the boxes of the row below or above to count how many stitches are involved. In this example, the cables on the top row use two stitches and the cables on the bottom row use four stitches. I have superimposed the grid lines onto the symbols on the left to make this clearer.
If the cables are uneven, the symbol shows which side uses more stitches by wider or narrower symbols and the diagonal lines meet the gridlines to show how many stitches are used for each side. Here on the left is a 1/2 RC, with the one stitch in front of the two stitches and on the right a 2/1 LC with the two stitches in front of the one stitch. In this notation, the first number is always the number of stitches at the front.
A cable is made of two or more parts. When you look at a cable symbol, you need to identify which part is on top. Here that part is shaded in green, with the part below in blue. Remember in a chart the stitches are building on the row below, like in knitting. Therefore the next stitches on the left-hand needle are the ones in the bottom right of the symbol because in knitting we work from right to left.
If the lines coming from the bottom right go behind the lines from the bottom left, like in the 2/2 RC, then you need to hold the cable needle at the back. Similarly, if the lines from the bottom right cross over the lines from the bottom left, like in the 2/2 LC, then you hold the cable needle at the front.
Cables do not have to just use knit stitches, especially in patterns using travelling cables they often involve purls or twisted stitches. This is shown by taking the basic symbol and adding decoration to show which stitches to use.
I create all my charts using Stitchmastery. This software has two main options for how symbols look.
In the Stitchmastery Dot font purls are represented by dots, whereas in the Dash font purl sections in cables are solid black. Once you know how the pattern you are using represents purls and twisted stitches, you can apply that to all the cables in that pattern.
The additional symbols are shown at the top of the cable symbol, as that represents the stitches being worked. The bottom of the cable symbol represents the stitches from the row below. This means that the first stitches worked are the symbol from the top right. For the 1/1 RPC this means the first stitch is knit and the second (from the cable needle) is purled.
There are always exceptions to any rule and sometimes designers are forced to create non-standard cables. However, this guide should help you understand most cable symbols and allow you to knit without continually consulting the key or looking up definitions.
Realising you’ve crossed a cable the wrong way is a common problem. This video shows you how to fix cables, even if the problem was a few rows down.
This tutorial was created as part of my Level Up Your Socks KAL. Use it to help you knit patterned socks and enter to win prizes.
Reading your knitting means being able to look at a piece of knitting and recognising what stitch was used. Learning how to read your knitting will make it a lot easier to keep track of where you are in a pattern and help prevent mistakes. If you can see where you are in a pattern by looking, you’ll save yourself from lots of counting and it might make it easier to memorise a pattern.
The basic knitting stitches are knit and purl, so learning to tell them apart is the first hurdle. All knitting is made of rows of loops. If the loops on the row below are behind or in front of the current yarn is the difference between a knit and a purl.
Here we have three columns of knit stitches. You can see that the knit stitches form a v-shape, with the sides of the current loop in front of the loop from the row below. You can see the top of the blue loop is behind the black stitches on the needle, that have just been knitted.
Here all the stitches are purls. Now the sides of the loops are at the back and the top and bottom loop are at the front. This causes purl bumps to be seen, as horizontal bars.
Every time you work a stitch, you are influencing whether the top of the loop from the previous row is at the back for a knit, or the front for a purl. This means that if you turn a knit stitch over it looks like a purl stitch because what used to be the back is now the front.
When worked flat garter stitch is knit every row, but the rows of loops alternate between being at the front and the back. Here the blue stitches were knit, but they look like purl stitches, with the top of the green loop in front. That’s because we’re looking at the back of them.
If garter stitch is worked in the round, you alternate between knit and purl stitches. This is because you are always looking at the knitting from the same side.
Reading your knitting takes practice. In ribbing, the columns of stitches should all look the same, either v-shaped knits or bumpy purls. In order to practice telling the difference between knit and purl stitches, try starting with a random sequence and see if you can repeat it every row.
Choose a smooth, plain coloured yarn and cast on at least 15 stitches. Then use one of the methods below to work the first row.
For each stitch, toss a coin and make a knit for heads and purl for tails.
Alternate between knit and purl, making the number of stitches on the die each time until you run out of stitches.
Now the pattern has been set (don’t keep notes), repeat the row trying to match each stitch to the one below. Remember you’re trying to match how they look, not how they were worked. So if the last stitch was purl, when you turn it over it looks like a knit, so you knit the first stitch.
You should end up with something that looks like this, with identifiable columns of knit and purl. The edge stitches always end up looking a bit distorted, so don’t worry if you struggle to read those.
Once you’ve mastered the ribbing, try this instead. Cellular automata is a mathematical concept where a rule is used to determine the next row of a grid depending on the state of the previous row. Ribbing is an example of a simple rule where the next row is equal to the previous one.
Elementary cellular automata use the cell below and the two cells either side of that to decide on the value of the current cell. There are 256 possible rules to choose from, some of which are more interesting than others.
Start by generating a random sequence of knits and purls as before, set knit as 1 and purl as 0. Then pick a rule and use that to decide whether to knit or purl each stitch depending on the three below it. Assume all stitches outside your grid are knit.
My patterns tend to have a lot of cables because I really like them. However, if you’re using a cable needle, this can make it slow and awkward. Here’s a video on how I cable without a cable needle.
This was produced as part of my Level Up Your Socks KAL. Join in the KAL for more tips like this.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are a small chart and the corresponding knitting, to help you see how the two compare.
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.
This is that chart knitted up, with a garter stitch border. You can clearly see the holes made by the yo’s.
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.
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.
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.