Advent socks: stranded at the knitters’ party

I finished my socks last night:

I ran out of green yarn with the second sock. Hence the stripey toe.

The cuff was knitted on 2,5 mm because I feared I would knit stranded too tight.
The heel was done on 2 mm because tighter knit makes for a sturdier fabric.
For the gusset I then forgot to change back to bigger needles and it was very visible and also too tight over the instep:

So I had to rip back one sock back to where I pick up the stitches for the gusset. The other sock I had messed up by making the heel flap too short and it sat akward on my foot, so that one had to be ripped back too.
This was how Christmas looked over at my place:

Plus nice food and a film.

The feet were knitted with 2,25 mm. Mainly because I convinced myself I’d never knit a sock with 72 stitches on 2,5 mm, surely that would be way too loose. It was only when I got up to get the needle Trude lend me to knit at two socks simultaneously -one needs more rounds of plain stockinette when the Dr. Who Special is on- that I realized my mistake.
But the feet look good so I finished them on 2,25 mm needles, even with the stranding. I did keep an increased stitch count for the duration of the instep: 76 instead of 72.

Now I don’t understand socks at all anymore. I usually have 60 stitches on 2 mm needles. Here are socks with 72 or even 76 stitches on 2,25 mm needles and they fit great. It cannot just be the faux cables, those are negated by loose purl stitches at their sides.
Never mind. I’ll just stop and try to UNDERSTAND it. Don’t try and outsmart knitting. Stop knitting with your head, you silly.

Hey, I can do stranded knitting. In socks!

I did the stranded part of the second sock during the knitters’ party yesterday. It was a nice party!
Lots of spinners and treats and knitting slippers:


Meilindis brought a gift of genius:


It’s folded papers interlocking and it is a hollow sphere. In silvery, light, green papers.
3D shaping and maths and colours and magic? Origami! More of her paper and fibre creations on her site.


Swedish Advent MKAL: stretchy cast-on from Estonia

It’s the first of December and the Swedish Mystery KAL over at Jul met Tålamodspåsen has begun.

It’s going to be a pair of socks!
With colourwork!
oei oei

I haven’t done colourwork in ages, because of my shoulder. And socks should fit (be knitted kind of tight) but they should also fit (be kind of stretchy which means even stranding).
This is quite the task for me.

But I’ll give it a go. With one sock for starters. Or one wrist warmer if the leg turns out too tight/loose.
Just for the fun of it.

The fun starts right away because as I hoped EvaL8 introduces some European knitting traditions. A stretchy cast-on from Estonia, explained by Nancy Bush (in American English) in this link to video on youtube:

It’s a variation on the long tail which I don’t like on principle because I always have too long or too short a tail. But I’m putting away my perfectionism for this knit-a-long, I want to try out this technique.

It’s a very pleasurable cast on! Especially the decorative version which Nancy demonstrates halfway the video.
It gives a thickish cast on which makes that dreary first row easier to knit.

advent cast on

I cast on 56 stitches because there will be ribbing, 2×2 (which I also don’t like to knit but love to see in my finished objects).
I knit on 2 mm needles (alternatively it could be 1,5 mm needles and the proper cast on number of 64 st) in a light green yarn.

Sorry for the fuzzy picture, I’m sitting at the table with Lillepoes on my lap and can’t go to grab my phone. Photobooth wants to focus on my face, not my knitting, and is swapping things from left to right. Tsk tsk.

Over at a New Stitch A Day is a better picture of how this cast on looks and they have a great tutorial:

My, what an interesting site is New Stitch A Day!
Aimed to show people all kind of knitting and crochet techniques, all for free.
I plan to check it out. After one more row…

Advent Voorpret


I’m just zooming by to share that the fun in the Swedish Advent Mystery Knit has begun.

It’s over on Swedish blog “Jul med Tålamodspåsen” from Eva-Lotta Staffas. The knitting designer/teacher who focusses on traditional knitting from Europe, I talked about her Mystery Advent Knit from last year here.

One of her designs:

Pattern for last year’s advent mystery found here.

This year is still a mystery. But today she’s fired up the blog and she’s saying we should gather sock yarns in various fun colours:

Hmmm…. (semi)solids in striking colours. What a delicious clue!

Sock yarn = sock???

I’m so looking forward to this!
Usually I hate Mystery Knits. I’m so often critical of and disappointed by the design. But for this one I’m looking forward to knit just a little bit each day, to enjoy the togetherness and hopefully get exposed to some of those traditional knitting techniques.

Project 2014 certainly had those:

I may even combine the two and knit last years mitts alongside this year’s project…

But first: colour selection!
What luck that we’re at the cabin for the weekend, this is where the sock yarn lives. The skeins that aren’t entered into my Ravelry stash. Because sock yarn doesn’t count as stash, dontchaknow?
Word! It’s been the law since 2007:

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 16.41.41

I’m filled with glee. (Is that the right word or has it been tainted by media productions? I’m not singing, if that helps.)

In Dutch we have a word particular to joyfull anticipation: “voorpret”. Literally “pre-fun” with the empasize on the “fun”part.

I think the English language should have a word like that. “Anticipation” doesn’t cut it. It lacks the thrill that sings inside the chest, the rubbing of hands, the mental preparing to dive into the colours of the stash:


Reed dyed yarn, Estonian ribbing, Advent MKAL and laddering.

I’ve casted on for cuffs with the reed dyed yarn:

I’m going for some colourwork that only requires to change colour every 5 rows yet still gives stacked diamond shapes. (The yarn is a bit sticky to knit with, this darkest green. Perhaps it’s the alum?)

The colourwork is a new-to-me technique, called Estonian Rib or Estonian Spiral. It’s a way to make diamond shaped colours stack up without the need for short rows, entrelac, stranding or purl stitches.

I found inspiration on this wonderful blog by a Swedish knitting teacher and designer who loves to preserve the rich knitting traditions from Europe: Eva-Lotta Staffas.
She used Estonian Rib in this wonderful pattern that features 5 knitting techniques from North-east Europe:

Fingerless mittens pattern Alva, by Eva-Lotta Staffas

The Estonian rib is at the bottom, changing to a new colour after a few rows, cutting the previous colour. No stranding. So easy! Here’s another picture:

 pic by Staffas

It’s all knit stitches! Interspersed with k2tog and Yarn Over and suddenly there are slanting columns and checker board colours.

As an aside: Eva-Lota Staffas runs free Advent knit-a-longs on her other blog Jultalamod, in two languages, English and Swedish.

The advent designs are free and the one from last year were gloves featuring some of these wonderful traditional techniques. I asked and she runs a MKAL this year again.
But only in Swedish this year. But I think we can decipher that just fine because she uses lots of pictures and charts and it’s fun to read knitting notation in another language.
Reading and knitting Swedish in the weeks leading up to Christmas gives a wonderful atmosphere for that time of the year.

Last year it was gloves, the year before a knitted mouse and before that Christmas stockings. The patterns are free.
I wonder what this year will be… a table runner? A shawl? I’d love it if it were mittens!

As another aside, do you know Bloglovin‘? It’s a sort of online index where you can collect blogs you like and then it keeps score for you to see if there are any new blogposts and gathers them in one place.
This is where I added the Advent-blog from Eva-Lotta Staffas and when she posts there in October or November it will show up on the Bloglovin-button that’s now on my browser and I don’t have to go check out the blog all the time to see if the MKAL has started yet.
Bloglovin is the site that has that awful logo you see on some sites:
bloglovin logo
Brrrr! I don’t like art to be all artsy and in my face.
Or nude. I don’t need nude when it brings nothing to the table. What’s this nipple doing on people’s homepage? Why does a blog index need a prominent nipple? I’ve got questions.

I’ve also got knitting questions. We must prioritize.

I casted on 30 stitches and did the colours, thinking it would be a cuff or wristwarmers (love those, wear them all the time too!).
But this technique tightens the circumference of the work and my coloured cuff was too tight. 30 stitches gave barely 12 cm, not 20 cm. I did proceed to knit through all the colours because Estonian Rib is great fun to knit:

Nice diamond shapes without short rows, stranding or purl stitches. Hmm, that yellow green (ammonia afterbath!) might not contrast enough with the dark and the lighter geen,,,

I do have more pressing problems though:

Terrible laddering and a drunk stitch!
There’s laddering going on between 2 K stitches and the SSK.
In the middle column, going from right below to top left, and reading the stitches from right to left there’s one regular K stitch, one drunk K stitch and one SSK who doesn’t want anything to do with it’s cousins.

Left from the SSK is the magic part of Estonian rib: 2 K’s and one YO. This part “dives under” the k2, ssk part, allowing that part to look like a solid square of colour.
(Since I’m such a loose knitter I exchanged the YO for a “pick up strand and knit it” on the next row.)

The main problem is the laddering. I tried to pull it more tight as I progressed through the colours but it didn’t really help.

I spend half a day knitting up another swatch, over more stitches this time and on a bigger needle:

Hooking needle inserted in ladder.
It’s no good. That’s supposed to be a neat square of k stitches that shows off the colour of the yarn.
I tried different techniques to get rid of the ladder: pulling the ssk tighter; pulling the previous stitch tighter; knitting the front stitch of the ssk through the back loop; knitting the previous (drunk) k stitch through the back loop; swapping the ssk for a k2tog (right where the hook is).
Nothing worked.

I did get the drunk stitch to behave, once I knitted it through the back loop. But then I loose the uniform look of the 3 k stitches (a.k.a. k2, 1 decrease).

This morning I went onto Ravelry to consult the collective knowledge there. Having access to knitting database is marvellous!
I’ve looked at all the Estonian Rib patterns and projects and at all the ones for Estonian Spiral, seeing if anyone might have the same problem.
No one.

Then I looked at the forum posts, looking for “laddering” and “ssk”, and bingo. More people have this problem: laddering between knitted stitches and a decrease.
(this concerns a ladder at regular knit stitches before a decrease, not the ones after it or the ones around the gap between sock needles.)

It’s all loose knitters that have this problem and it’s all in the tension.

My laddering is caused loose gauge. I’ve always had a loose gauge, had to go down two needle sizes to any size recommended. Since my shoulder impingement I’m knitting even more loose, I now go down several millimeters at a time.

For solutions about tension and this kind of laddering I found this thread + photo tutorial by La Maison Rililie very helpful. She explains how the way you knit a decrease makes the stitch lying on top of the decrease bigger or smaller than the one at the bottom. This influences the look. Makes decreases every other row look like stepping stones (if you don’t resolve for this).

One knitter suggests that loose knitters might have to combine several solutions in one go:
“I think that the looser you knit, the more tricks you’ll have to combine to get a good ssk. The methods I’ve found are to yank the back loop; to slip the second loop purlwise; to put a full twist in the back loop; and to enter the stitches from the other direction (your way). A tighter knitter might only need to use one of these tricks, but a looser knitter may need to combine two or even three of these.” wise words by Earthnut

In the thread are discussion why and how the various solutions work. I love when things get all technical until a problem makes sense. Than you can apply sensible solutions and perhaps think up some of your own.

By the way, La Maison Rililie has several more photo tutorials on her site and an interesting blog about refined knitting (problems and) techniques called

Now that I understand my problem I have a choice:
A. knit a new swatch and try out the different solutions until I find the right combination that solves for my tension
B. do something else.

Looking at all the projects with Estonian rib I’m now fed up with stacked diamonds… My head is filled with too bright colours and jokers:


Let’s see in what other way I can combine the colours of my reed dyed yarns. Estonian ribbing I’m keeping in my toolbox, for another day. Glad to have found it.