I’ve just about finished my Kelmscott cardigan. After joining the shoulder seams and backstitching the sleeves into the armholes, I then had to sew up the long side and sleeve seams. I used mattress stitch, with the aid of a YouTube tutorial because I’ve never mattress-stitched reverse stocking stitch before. The result is not as invisible as mattress-stitching on the right side, but it doesn’t look too bad. Then I had to attach the collar. After a couple of false starts I settled on oversewing it with the right side of the collar uppermost.
All that remained was a little crocheting and covering the buttons. The pattern instructions say that it is essential to crochet up the fronts, to stabilise them and prevent excessive stretching. A 2.75mm crochet hook is specified, but that size is not to be had in these parts for love nor money. I’ve done the left front, with the aid of the designer’s picture tutorial, and it certainly has tightened up the edge even though I used a 3mm hook.
Before doing the right edge with its button loops, I thought I’d better cover some buttons so I knew how big to make the loops. I couldn’t make any sense of the part of the tutorial that explains how to make button covers, probably because a) I crochet very little these days, and b) the instructions use American crochet terms. Instead, I used an eHow crochet button tutorial which other Ravellers recommended, but I couldn’t make complete sense of those instructions either. Instead of just stuffing the crocheted shapes with the yarn ends, I’ve covered some pearlised plastic, dome-shaped buttons I once cut off a purchased garment. I replaced them because they look cheap and nasty, but I’m glad I kept them because they are the perfect colour and shape for this.
Thanks to my lack of crocheting skills, no two of the four covered buttons are the same, but I don’t care. I think it adds to the homespun, Arts & Craftsiness of this cardigan. They might be a bit big though, I haven’t decided yet whether to use them.
Fish Lips Kiss Heel sock
While my Arne & Carlos slippers are in the process of going through several wash-dry cycles until they felt to the right size, and I’m summoning the enthusiasm to crochet up the right front of Kelmscott, I need another knitting project. If I sit down without something in my hands, it just feels WRONG, like I’ve put something down and forgotten to pick it up again, and it might get lost unless I find it straight away. (In this household, that’s a distinct possibility. Anything woolly is generally to be found under the cat if left unattended for long.) I’ve been conditioned by decades of working long hours to make use of every free minute by multi-tasking. Now that I work for myself and have more downtime, I still feel the need to be doing a productive activity at the same time as watching TV, listening to music or the radio, or just chatting to long-suffering family members.
I have quite a few balls of sock yarn in my stash, and I’m always in need of more socks. Sock projects are easily portable and, apart from the toes and heels, are very straightforward, meaning that a sock is an ideal thing to pick up and put down in a spare 10 minutes, take to a knitting group or work on while commuting. So I shall knit a pair of socks next. I’m going to use some sock yarn from Drops in a mixture of plain orange and multi-coloured orange. I fancy plain toes and heels and possibly some plain ribbing at the top.
To make these socks, I’ve bought the Fish Lips Kiss Heel pattern for the princely sum of 86p. The designer takes the view (probably sensibly) that if she charges a modest price then everyone will be happy to pay it rather than infringing her intellectual property rights by unauthorised sharing. She deserves every penny because she’s put a lot of effort into developing a novel (as far as I’m aware) short row method for sock heels which – she says – is both foolproof and good looking. She claims:
Heels will now be the easiest part of the sock, so you can knit them at knit night or while watching TV without ever getting lost or messing up.
Wow. I’m more than capable of messing up plain stocking stitch when I’m catching up on the latest local gossip with fellow knitters, so I can’t wait to see if that’s a claim that will stand up. Watch this space.
The designer also says:
It’s blindingly obvious where you make your short-row turns, so no guessing where the gaps are!
Oh, I do hope so. Heels are (appropriately enough) my Achilles heel when it comes to socks. For some reason I am completely unable to “read” my knitting when working a short row heel, in order to work out where to turn. I suffer from heel blindness. Despite diligent counting and making copious notes, I generally get round the heel with either a stitch too many or a stitch too few, and/or a hole somewhere in the diagonal heel line. I then curse and have to pull out the whole heel to start again because I’m incapable of recognising which are the non-working stitches. Sometimes I end up doing this more than once per sock. I’ve taken to putting a lifeline in when I get to the halfway point, which helps a bit, but working a heel still causes me much frustration.
Why do I persist with knitting this type of heel when there are much simpler methods? Because I like the look of a perfectly mitred “join” on either side of the heel, and that’s what the Fish Lips Kiss method promises. The A&C slippers used an easier technique that involved picking up stitches down each side of the heel flap after turning the heel, which seemed suitable for a stranded pattern in thick yarn that was destined to be felted, but not for proper socks that need to fit closely within a pair of shoes and look good. I still managed to end up with an extra stitch after finishing the heel of one of my A&C slippers – don’t tell anyone, but I got rid of it with a sneaky K2tog.
Actually, the name of this pattern doesn’t do it justice, because the 16 page PDF covers a lot more than just how the heel is worked. It contains detailed instructions for getting a perfectly fitting sock, a method that can even be done remotely as long as the sock-wearer can be trusted to draw around a foot and locate their ankle bone. So when Great Uncle Henry in Australia announces he’d like a pair of hand-knitted socks for Christmas, all you have to do is email him the instructions and then get him to scan the drawing – with a ruler to check dimensions when printing – and email it back.
This is my foot outline. There’s a problem with it, in that the black “heel hinge” line (labelled 1) drawn across at the ankle bone is 8mm behind the red, calculated line. They should be coincident, or at least very close. So apparently I have most peculier feet. Looking on the bright side, that makes knitting my own socks all the more important, to achieve that elusive perfect fit.