Friday, December 15, 2006

A Christmas Stocking For Clueless Newbies

(This is a picture of one of the very first stockings I ever made, nearly 30 years ago. I free styled it, and, as a result, it’s not quite as nice as the stocking you’ll get from the pattern below. Many of the same techniques are used, though, so it will give you some idea of your final result.)

It’s your first Christmas as a knitter, or possibly your second, and you haven’t knit as much as you want to, and you’d like to make a stocking. It doesn’t have to be complex; you’d just like to know how to make one. Without too much damned complexity, please. OK, here’s your pattern!

Supplies:

1 pr knitting needles, your choice of size, usually 7’s or 8’s
1 crochet hook, slightly smaller in diameter than the knitting needles
1 plastic kids’ yarn needle (available in packs of 2 at Wal-Mart for 49 cents)
1 8 oz. Skein worsted weight yarn – main color
At least 4 oz worsted weight yarn – contrast color
2 yarn markers (or safety pins or loops of yarn in different color)

(Notes: There will be sewing. Trust the pattern. The toe, heel, and cuff will be in the contrasting color.)

Leg: In MAIN color, cast on 48 sts, leaving about 2 feet in a long tail; knit in stockinette for 10 inches.

Heel space: cast off 12 stitches, knit to end. Cast off 12 stitches, purl to end, cast ON 12 stitches. Knit the 36 stitches; cast ON 12 more for a total of 48 stitches. Your work should now look like a raggedy dishcloth.

Foot: knit 5 inches in stockinette; on right side, switch to contrasting color, insert marker after 12th stitch and after 36th stitch.

Toe: (in contrasting color) Depending on your comfort level, you can decrease where you choose. If you’re not very good yet, randomizing the decreases may be your best bet so nothing looks bunchy. If you are OK at decreasing, decrease before and after each marker. On each knit row, decrease 4 stitches (before and after each marker). Purl back even. Continue decreasing until you have 20 stitches left total.

Closing the toe: Leading with the BACK end of the crochet hook, feed the hook back through all the stitches, pulling out your knitting needle as you go. Tight up the yarn on the first stitch, which has the yarn dangling through it, and pull a loop of yarn through all stitches. Brutally tighten this loop until you can’t even get a finger through the hole, and make a tight slipstitch in the yarn with the crochet hook. Cut yarn at 12 inches out from slipstitch and pull through and tighten. Using this tail, sew the toe area together on the backside.

Heel: (2 pieces made the same) Cast on 12 stitches in contrasting color, knit in stockinette for 14-15 rows (whatever looks pretty square to you). Cast off all stitches. Do another one. In the area where you cast off and then on again, you will sew in each patch along two adjacent sides, leaving two sides free (to be sewn later). You can match stitch for stitch along corresponding cast on or cast off sides, but you’ll need to do a little adjusting along the vertical side of the heel patch. That’s OK, it’ll be fine.

You will now have a long, kind of ruffled piece of work with a toe drawn closed and bunched, and sticky-out bits at the heel areas on each side. That’s right.

Cuff: In contrasting yarn, pick up 48 (or so) stitches at the very beginning cast on edge, on the right side. If you want your cuff to flap down, you can pick up 4-8 more stitches, or add them in along the way. If you want your cuff to stand up, use 48 stitches or fewer (no less than 44 stitches for now). Knit in GARTER stitch for 20 rows (10 ridges). Cast off all stitches. Leave a 1-1/2 foot tail.

Hanging Loop: With that 2-foot tail from the LEG, make a slipknot as close to the body of the knitting as possible. This is very important because this piece of yarn has the responsibility for holding up the weight of the stocking and all its contents. Now, chain stitch about 25 stitches and then make ONE single crochet stitch back through two stitches next to the beginning of the chain – it should be very firm, and BELOW the cuff, INSIDE the stocking. (This prevents the top of the cuff from getting all stretched out and icky and puts the stress on the part of the stocking most able to handle the load.) Pull yarn through loop to fasten off, weave in end (do not cut, if you do, your stitch will come loose at some point and the stocking will fall down).

Last step – sewing the stocking: You are sewing along the backside of the stocking from the cuff to the toe. For cuff flapped down, sew the cuff on the OUTSIDE (which, when flapped down, will not show); for cuff up, sew on the inside of the stocking.

Using the cuff tail, sew the cuff seam. Sew ONE stitch into the main body for strength, knot off yarn, turn stocking, such as it is, inside out to sew on the INSIDE of the stocking. If you know how to crochet, feel free to crochet the seams, except for the heel.

Using about 3 feet of MAIN color, sew down to the heel patch, knot yarn and cut. Using CONTRASTING color,

!!! WARNING !!! Tricky part with short explanation!

Heels may look square, but they’re not, they’re actually a little rounded around the back. If you just sew straight along the outer edges of the heel, it will be much more square than you want it to be, and you’ll be disappointed with the resulting heel. Therefore…

Knot the tail of the sewing yarn to the previous section to prevent gaps. Sew straight along the edge for HALF the first side of the heel patch. Sew in an arc across the heel patch, right through the knitting, to the halfway point on the second side of the heel patch, then sew straight down to the color change. Knot and cut contrasting yarn.

Using about 2 feet of main color, sew foot closed and secure yarn with toe seam. While the stocking is inside out, give it a couple of yanks along the seam to make sure that there are no gaps or places you might want to tighten up.

Turn stocking right side out – you’re done!

2 comments:

fiberfanatic said...

What a good way to teach how to knit socks!

By the way, TAG YOU'RE IT

I'm afraid you have to read my blog to understand it!

Georgia said...

Thanks for that thoughtful Christmas gift! Looks like a winner. I may give it a try.