Thursday, February 18, 2016

20 X 3 = 60

Here’s the first of twelve sock patterns in my journey of 60 stitches. The featured stitch pattern is a 20-stitch repeat. So, 3 repeats equals 60 stitches total. I’m using a knit-purl stitch pattern that I have used before for some socks for my friend Sylvia VM . The cuff includes a picot hem and some eyelet rows. The 20-stitch pattern is used on the leg and on the instep of the foot.

The stitch pattern is from the Harmony Guide to Practical Knitting Stitches (1983, Collins & Brown, London): pattern I.21. It’s a charming curved welt pattern.

I’ve used a yarn made by Pagewood Farm called “St. Elias” in a colorway called “Peaceful”. It’s 80% Bluefaced Leicester wool and 20% nylon. The colors in this yarn complement the curved welts of the stitch pattern to create a watery, wavy effect. I got my gauge (7 ½ sts per in, 11 rounds per in) using US size 1 (2.25mm) needles in stockinette stitch.

Loosely CO 60 sts. I used a knit cast on. I used a set of 4 double pointed needles and distributed the stitches so that there were 20 sts on each of three needles.

Rounds 1-5: knit
Round 6: *p2tog, yo; rep from * around.
Rounds 7-13: knit
Rounds 14 & 20: purl
Rounds 15 & 21: *k2tog, yo; rep from * around.
Rounds 16 & 22: purl
Rounds 17-19: knit
Rounds 23-24: knit

Here is where the welt pattern begins.

Round 1: *k5, p9, k6; rep from * around.
Round 2: *k4, p11, k5; rep from * around.
Round 3: *k3, p13, k4; rep from * around.
Round 4: *k2, p4, k7, p4, k3; rep from * around.
Round 5: *k2, p3, k9, p3, k3; rep from * around.
Round 6: *k2, p2, p11, p2, k3; rep from * around.
Round 7: *k2, p1, k13, p1, k3; rep from * around.
Round 8: *p3, k13, p4; rep from * around.
Round 9: *p4, k11, p5; rep from * around.
Round 10: *p5, k9, p6; rep from * around.
Round 11: *k2, p4, k7, p4, k3; rep from * around.
Round 12: *k3, p3, k7, p3, k4; rep from * around.
Round 13: *k4, p2, p7, p2, k5; rep from * around.
Round 14: *k5, p1, k7, p1, k6; rep from * around.

Work these 14 rounds a total of 4 times.

Heel Flap:
The heel flap and heel turn are worked flat.

K14. Then rearrange the next 31 sts onto 2 needles. These 31 sts comprise the instep of the foot. Slip the last 15 sts onto the first needle (the needle with the 14 k sts). These 29 sts comprise the heel flap.

Row 1 (WS): sl1, p to end.
Row 2: *sl1, k1; rep from * to last st, k1.

Rep rows 1 & 2 until heel flap is approx. 2” long, end having finished a Row 1, ready to start a RS row.

Heel Turn:
The turned heel is made up of “short rows” with decreases. This process shapes the heel. As a result, for each row you will work a different number of stitches, and you will end up with fewer total stitches than when you started.

Row 1 (RS): sl1, k15, ssk, k1, turn work.
Row 2: sl1, p4, p2tog, p1, turn work.
Row 3: sl1, k to 1 st before “gap”, ssk, K1, turn work.
Row 4: sl1, p to 1 st before “gap”, p2tog, P1, turn work.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until 17 sts remain, having finished a row 4.

Next row: sl1, knit across.

Pick up and knit 18 sts along the right side of the heel flap. To do this, insert right needle under the first edge stitch (under both strands of the stitch), wrap the working yarn around the needle, and pull a stitch through (one stitch has now been picked up and knitted). Repeat this process until 18 stitches have been picked up.

Slip the following 31 sts onto one needle. These stitches constitute the instep of the sock. Work these 31 sts following the instep pattern (see below).

Pick up and knit 18 sts along the left side of the heel flap.

Onto this same needle, knit the next 8 stitches (from the remaining heel stitches). Slip the remaining 9 heel stitches onto Needle 1 (with the right side gusset).

You now have 27 sts on Needle 1, 31 sts on Needle 2, and 26 sts on Needle 3. The middle of the heel falls between Needle 3 and Needle 1. Consider this point to be the beginning of the round.

Round 1: On Needle 1, k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 2, work Round 2 of instep pattern. On Needle 3, k1, ssk, k to end.

Round 2: On Needle 1, knit. On Needle 2, cont working instep pattern as established. On Needle 3, knit.

Rep Rounds 1 & 2 until there are 15 sts on Needle 1 and 14 sts on Needle 3 (60 sts total).

Instep Stitch Pattern (worked on Needle 2):
Round 1: k11, p9, k11
Round 2: k10, p11, k10
Round 3: k1, p1, k7, p13, k7, p1, k1
Round 4: k1, p2, k5, p4, k7, p4, k5, p2, k1
Round 5: k1, p2, k5, p3, k9, p3, k5, p2, k1
Round 6: k1, p2, k5, p2, k11, p2, k5, p2, k1
Round 7: k2, p1, k5, p1, k13, p1, k5, p1, k2
Round 8: k2, p7, k13, p7, k2
Round 9: k1, p9, k11, p9, k1
Round 10: k1, p10, k9, p10, k1
Round 11: k1, p2, k5, p4, k7, p4, k5, p2, k1
Round 12: k1, p1, k7, p3, k7, p3, k7, p1, k1
Round 13: k10, p2, k7, p2, k10
Round 14: k11, p1, k7, p1, k11

After completing all the gusset decreases, cont working even, and cont repeating the instep pattern for as long as you want. I worked a total of 4 ½ repeats of the instep pattern, ending having finished a Round 7. I would suggest stopping the instep pattern either there or on a Round 14.

Work even until foot measures 2 ½ in shorter than desired foot length.

The toe is 28 Rounds total.

Because there is a different number of sts for instep and sole of the foot, Round 1 of the toe contains 2 decreases as follows:

Round 1: On Needle 1, knit. On Needle 2, k1, ssk, k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 3, knit.

This toe is then shaped so that it gradually narrows. To achieve this effect, you will work a “Decrease Round” more frequently as the toe progresses.

Perform a Decrease Round on Rounds 5, 9, 12, 15, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, and 28. On all other rounds (except Round 1 as described above), work even.

Decrease Round: On Needle 1, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 2, k1, ssk, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 3, k1, ssk, k to end.

At this point, there will be 4 sts on Needle 1, 7 sts on Needle 2, and 3 sts on Needle 3. Now, knit the next 3 sts onto Needle 3, leaving 7 sts on Needle 2 and 7 sts on Needle 3.

Graft the toe using the Kitchener stitch:
Cut the working yarn, leaving a 20 inch or longer tail. Thread this tail through a darning needle. Orient the sock so that the 2 needles are horizontal, the instep side of the sock is facing you, and the working yarn is coming off the right side of the needle in the back.

Step 1: Insert darning needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit, pull the yarn through and slip this stitch off the needle. Insert darning needle into the next stitch on the front needle as if to purl, pull the yarn through and leave this stitch on the needle.

Step 2: Insert darning needle into the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl, pull the yarn through and slip this stitch off the needle. Instert darning needle into the next stitch on the back needle as if to knit, pull the yarn through and leave this stitch on the needle.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until all stitches have been worked and slipped off the needles.

At the top of the cuff, fold the first 5 rounds to the inside of the cuff along the picot edge. Sew the cast on edge to the inside of the cuff.

Weave in all ends.

If you have any questions – or if you find any mistakes – you can either leave a comment on this blog page or email me: or

This pattern is free, but it is still copyrighted. So, please feel free share a copy of this pattern or knit these socks, but please do not sell the pattern or sell socks made from this pattern. Thank you.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Why 60 is My Favorite Number

Today is my 60th birthday. I have a feeling this year is going to be My Big Year. To help make this My Big Year, I’m giving myself a knitting challenge that will take all year. This is a project that I’ve had in mind for a while, that could only sensibly be carried out when I’m 60 years old. Let me explain.

I like numbers. Before I became an avid knitter, I think I preferred prime numbers. But as a knitter I have found delight in easily divisible numbers.

I also like designing and knitting socks. I long ago noticed that many of my socks were 60 stitches around. I came to love the number 60 because it’s divisible by so many integers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, 60. That means stitch patterns with a repeat of any of these numbers would work well in a sock. For a few years now, I’ve thought about creating a series of socks using each of the divisors of 60. Now’s the time.

I would like to invite you to join me in this quest of 60 stitches, even if you are not 60 years old.

For each sock, the yarn thickness may vary depending on the stitch pattern I use. I hope to incorporate all kinds of stitches: knit-purl patterns, cables, slip stitches, mosaic stitches, stranded knitting, and lace.

To figure out which yarn to use for any particular sock design, I pulled out my copy of The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, by Ann Budd. I turned to the section on socks. The first order of business was to measure the circumference of my foot. My foot happens to be 8 inches around. So, if I want to work with 60 stitches then I need to get a gauge of 7 ½ stitches per inch.

If your foot measures 7 ½ inches around, then you need a gauge of 8 stitches per inch.

If your foot measures 8 ½ inches around, then you need a gauge of 7 stitches per inch.

If your foot measures 9 inches around, then you need a gauge of 6.67 stitches per inch.

Then I decide on the stitch pattern I want to use. Then I swatch – in the round – until I find a yarn and needle size that will give me the proper gauge and a fabric worthy of socks.

Rules and Constraints

All of these socks will be knitted from cuff to toe.

I plan to knit most, but not all, on double pointed needles, my choice will depend on the stitch pattern I choose.

The main part of leg and foot of sock must be 60 stitches around.

There will be no shaping of leg, so the leg on all of these socks won’t be terribly long, likely all under 7 inches from cuff to beginning of heel.

The main part of leg must contain a stitch pattern using the chosen divisor; the foot must contain part or all of the same stitch pattern.

The cuff, heel, and toe can stray from the divisor rule.

I must use a yarn that is already in my stash; it does not need to be “sock yarn”.

I will not be presenting patterns in any particular order, but I hope to post one pattern per month. I will post all the patterns in this blog. Free. I want to do this project for project’s sake, not for profit. Of course, if you’d like to donate to My Big Year, I would happily accept.

My next blog post will contain my first pattern: 20 X 3 = 60. A 20-stitch pattern repeated 3 times. Are you with me?

Friday, February 12, 2016

When Pattern and Yarns and Needles Cooperate

I’ve knitted a scarf for my friend and hair stylist, Sharron May of Beyond Salon Holistic Lifestyles. It was an interesting knit for a few reasons.

First, I decided to knit up a pattern that I found on Ravelry: “Autumn Scarf” by Annie Lee-Baker (aka, JumperCables). I like the construction; it’s a charming asymmetrical triangular scarf knitted from one corner to a side edge. You can find this and other of her patterns on her website and her Ravelry shop.

Second, I knitted the pattern using two lace-weight yarns of distinctly different colorways. One yarn was a warm rusty muted colorway that I got years back from Chris Roosien of Briar Rose Fibers. It’s an alpaca yarn called “Angel Face”. The other yarn is a Suri alpaca yarn by Cherry Tree Hill in an unusual combination of colors called “Birches”: cream, pink-y taupe, dull yellow-green (think near winter color of goldfinches), and some blue-ish grey colors. When you put these two yarns side by side it is not obvious that they would combine so nicely – at least it wasn’t obvious to my color-dunce brain. I can’t explain my urge, but I’ve been wanting to knit them together for years. Yes, these yarns have been patiently waiting to be used in just the right project. I am very pleased with the result. For one thing, because these two yarns were hand dyed by two different fiber artists, the knitted fabric that results from holding the two yarns together shows no signs of color “pooling”.

Third, I had just the right needles for the job. I knitted several swatches, mostly to figure out what size needle I should use. I tried my Addi Turbo Lace needles first, but the largest size I’ve got is US size 2 ½ (3mm). I liked that the Lace needles weren’t too slippery and the points were nice and sharp, but the resulting fabric didn’t have the drape I was looking for. I tried a US size 3 (3.25mm) in regular Addi Turbos but the needle tip was not sharp enough. I finally settled on a set of needles by Indian Lake Artisans (a Michigan business). These needles are hexagonal, made of wood, and have nice sharp tips. I only had one size: US size 5 (3.75mm). What the heck! This was my first time using these needles and I give them a thumb’s up. I plan to get more of them.

So, the pattern, the yarns, and the needles came together to provide a wonderful knitting experience.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

At a Glance Bags

I must share. Emily Johnston (my St. Joseph connection), her sister, and her niece are in business together. They make really really fabulous knitting project and tool bags. The bags feature some mesh, so you can see – at a glance – what is in the project bag. My favorite is the “zippered accessory” bag: it’s perfect for a pair of glasses, small scissors, a cable needle, some post-its, and some darning needles. And I love that it reminds me of a tent that you might camp in.

They use adorable fabrics too. Here’s my medium sized project bag. It’s just right for a scarf with yarn and needles.

They also make re-purposed shopping bags from hefty plastic feed bags. Too useful for words.

You can find these fabulous items on their etsy shop site:

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Madison in March, Kansas City in April

I will be teaching at a couple new and new-to-me events soon. The Madison Knitters’ Guild hosts an annual Knit-In retreat in March. This year’s event is March 18-20, 2016, at the Clarion Suites at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

Now, the Madison Knitters’ Guild is big. Really big. I gave a presentation for this guild a few years back, and there were over 200 knitters in the audience. Something special happens when you get that many knitters together. I’ve heard good things about their Knit-In, but I’ve never attended. I am really looking forward to my first time. This weekend event includes loads of wonderful knitting and fibery stuff. A “Pajama Party”, a “Wild and Wooly Party”, “Teacups and Knitting Needles”, 30 vendors, keynote speaker (Candace Eisner Strick) and banquet, and lots of classes. I’m teaching “The Surprising Yarn-Over” on Saturday afternoon, “Variations on Long Draw” on Sunday morning, and “The Diversity of Wool” on Sunday afternoon.


There are several fabulous instructors; if I weren’t teaching, I would certainly want to take classes. The list of luminaries includes: Candace Eisner Strick (featured teacher), Carol Anderson, Jan Falk, Mary Germain, Mary Jo Harris, Deb Jones, Kathy Krause, Jen Lucas, Jennifer Miller, Sarah Peasley, Elizabeth Prose, Theresa Schabes, Cheryl Stegert, and me, Amy Tyler. I’m so often listed last if the list is alphabetical.

There are classes in mosaic knitting, shadow knitting, double knitting, cast ons, Fair Isle knitting, cording and beading, spinning, lace knitting, entrelac, wet felting, Estonian knitting, crochet, finishing techniques, toe-up socks, Tunisian crochet, shawl design, and more. Something for every knitting taste.

In April, I’ll be flying to Kansas City, Missouri for the first PLY Away spinning retreat. This four-day event, sponsored by PLY Magazine, is April 21-24, 2016 at the Crown Center’s Westin Hotel.

The list of 27vendors makes my mouth water. I see shopping in my future. 

The retreat has an interesting format: there are four 2-day workshops, five 1-day workshops, and twenty-one half-day workshops. I’m teaching half-day workshops on Saturday and Sunday: two sessions of “Variations on Long Draw” (which are already full), and two sessions of “Variations on Short Draw” (one is full, but there’s still room in the Sunday afternoon session).

The top level instructors include Deb Robson, Beth Smith, Coleen Nimetz, Stephenie Gaustad, Jillian Moreno, Patsy Sue Zawistoski, Esther Rodgers, Amy King, Michelle Boyd, Abby Franquemont, Amy Tyler (that’s me), and Christina Pappas.

I so look forward to both events. It’s exciting to be a first-timer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Lighthouse Knitters Know How to Have Fun

Most folks would hesitate to schedule car travel in Michigan in January. Not me. I am January charmed. I’ve driven to the U.P. three times in January to teach. And last weekend, I travelled to St. Joseph to teach. St. Joe is in the far southwest corner of the lower peninsula. And I’m in the far northwest corner of the lower peninsula. I drove down on Friday; the roads for the first 30 miles required slow driving, but the rest of the way was completely clear. I returned on Monday, with clear roads all the way. As I said, I’m January charmed. I’d like to add that I’m not as confident about my luck in February, March, and April, but that doesn’t stop me from scheduling trips.

I have some fans in and around St. Joe. They call themselves the Lighthouse Knitters. I was housed and pampered for the weekend at Emily J’s house. She and her husband, Andy, made me most welcome, comfortable, and well fed. The workshop was also at Emily’s house. She had cleared her living room for the activity: a perfect space with wood floors and large windows overlooking a creek. There was plenty of room for the 8 workshop participants and me.

This was a two-day workshop, Spinning Wools of North America, which features wool from sheep breeds that have evolved or been developed in North America. I like multi-day workshops because they allow for enough time to really spin, not just sample. I’d brought with me various wools and preparations. In creating this workshop, I decided to present the wools in order of how long they’ve been here: Navajo Churro, Gulf Coast Native, Tunis, Hog Island, Columbia, Romeldale/CVM, Targhee, Montadale, California Red, Polypay, and Canadian Arcott. We spun combed tops, carded rovings, and we hand carded and hand combed some washed fleece. What could be a better way to spend a weekend? Here are some of the samples I prepared; the swatches show how the different fibers felt differently (different amounts of stiffness and shrinkage). Navajo Churro shrunk the most; Gulf Coast shrunk the least.

We also discussed the elasticity – the stretchiness – of the different wools. Here I am holding up skeins of 5 of the wools, all wound onto the same size niddy noddy. From left to right: Gulf Coast, CVM, Churro, Hog Island, Columbia. The least elastic of the wools (Navajo Churro) appears to be a longer skein, while the most elastic of these 5 (Columbia and CVM) appear to be shorter skeins. But they are all the same length when held under tension.

These 8 spinners were fantastic company for the weekend. And generous too. I am overwhelmed by the gifts they gave me. Emily had a “swag bag” ready for me in the guest bedroom when I arrived. The first thing I saw was an included bag of Kilwins' peanut brittle. My favorite! (I managed to not open it until I got home, but once opened the brittle was gone in a hurry.) Emily also gifted me some lovely black combed mohair as a parting gift. (I know just the project it’s going in to.) Kallie gave me a carded batt of a blend of Tunis and Dorset wool. Christine gave me a set of single pitch Louet hand combs – perfect for de-hairing various downs.

In addition to the physical gifts were the bits of information shared among the group. Emily mentioned a nearby source of both Polypay and Suffolk wool: Shady Side Farm in Holland, Michigan. They have an etsy shop.

Kallie mentioned a source of dyed Cheviot combed top, Curly C’ewes. This vendor has a weekly Thursday night sale and is on Facebook.

I know of several good sources of Targhee combed top (Raven Ridge Fiber Arts, AbstractFiber, Mountain Colors). I can’t remember who it was that mentioned another source: Greenwood Fiberworks. I’ll have to check it out. Targhee is one of my current top 5 favorite wools.

When we did some hand carding, I shared my strategy – largely based on the technique I learned from Carol Rhoades. And then Suzy shared hers. I was delighted. It is so fun to compare techniques. And there are so many ways to card wool! Suzy is an RN (I think), and she was also able to answer some of my questions about blood donation – something I used to do on a regular basis until I had surgery for breast cancer. Thanks to the info from Suzy, I will investigate donating again.

On Sunday, Kallie brought several of her hand knitted shawls and cowls to show. It was a “Shawl-and-Tell”. They were all lovely. I was especially charmed by the shawl with cream, rusty orange, and natural beige stripes/chevrons.

Ann gave me her phone number. Why? Well! If you spend any time with me you’ll likely hear me mention my previous dogs: Taxi and Toby. Both were Dalmatians. I’m rather crazy for these spotted dogs. Ann mentioned that she knows a lady in Allegan who raises Dalmatians. Holy Cow! When I’m in a position to get a new puppy, you know who I’ll be calling…

Did I mention being well fed? We had a potluck lunch on Saturday, featuring lasagna and garlic bread. Everyone was scheduled to bring some one thing to go with. Everyone brought more than one thing. We had side dishes and snacks galore. I tried my best to be restrained. Sunday’s lunch was Chinese take-out. I had pork lo mein. And I tried dumplings for the first time. Christine ordered them to share with the group. I will most certainly have them again.

What a great weekend. I can hardly wait to visit this group again. Maybe support spindling? Maybe more on silk? I’ll have to come up with some good ideas. What fun!

One more thing. Here in Lake Ann, we have loads of snow; we are in a lake effect area. But in St. Joe, very little snow. See?