Abundance

Life with Fiber and Fiber Arts

Fixing Things- Part 1 January 17, 2010

Filed under: how to — Hannah Cuviello @ 3:55 pm
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I love fixing things. For “things”, of course, read “knitted things”, since I am fairly close to useless when it comes to anything mechanical, electronic, or sewing-related. Hmm, let’s start over.

I love fixing knitted things. I love fixing things for other knitters, because they have an idea of what it takes. I especially love, though, fixing things for non-knitters, because for them I have done something magical and mysterious. It must be akin to how I feel when someone fixes my computer; a little bit of awe mixed with just enough understanding to be duly impressed, and much, much appreciation.

Like so many people this time of year, I have made a fair stack of New Year’s resolutions, one of which was to finally make my way through the piles of to-be-mended knit items, blogging the entire time. On the one hand, I am excited to share what I love to do with everyone else (and maybe even help someone along the way), on the other hand, it adds one more step to the whole mending process, thereby giving me one more reason to put off the actual doing (just because I enjoy it doesn’t mean I don’t procrastinate).  Two weeks into the year, I have finally managed to get my camera and my mending out at the same time, leading, it turns out, to what will be several posts (I figure that if I announce it now, there can be no backing out).

I have actually chosen to start with the most recent addition to my fix-it pile. I give you… a top down sock that was cast on too tightly.

Well, you can’t exactly see it there. How about now?

There. Clearly, this it too tight. Those out there who are new knitters or knitters just beginning to enter the exciting world of Sock Knitting, feel free have a little laugh and know that there is no one out there who has been knitting too long to make mistakes.  (Picture note: The sock itself is really quite stretchy, although it doesn’t look it. Knit in a 3×2 ribbing, the ribs pull in quite tight when not stretched. I have found that this ribbing does not sag quite as much as a 2×2 rib, so it is generally my favorite for plain ribbed socks).

Now, fixing a tight cast on is not actually mending, per se, but it is a mistake common enough that I think there may be some people out there who would be interested in knowing a way to fix it, other than ripping out the entire sock. Here is what I am going to do:

1. Pick up stitches just under the cast on,

2. Pick out the cast on, so that I have live stitches (stitches that are ready to be knit and are only attached to the knitting at the bottom) on my needles,

3. Bind these stitched off, using a stretchy bind off, in this case, Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind off.

There you are. 3 steps. Nothing at all. Well, 15 pictures worth of nothing. Let’s go.

(Disclaimer:  I’m not calling this a “tutorial”; the pictures just aren’t clear enough. Someday, when I’m rich and famous and have more than just two hands – and wouldn’t I just get so much knitting done!- I will have a fancy camera that takes really amazing pictures. Maybe even videos. Then I will call them tutorials.)  In the meantime, these are just very verbose (take that as a warning) step-by-step examples.

Step one: Picking up stitches.

The first thing to do is identify the row below the cast on. In the picture below, the first row is white (one of the benefits of using variegated yarn).  This is the row I will be picking up.

There are two ways to pick up stitches out of a flat piece of fabric (note that this is different than picking up stitches for a sock gusset or picking up stitches for a button band).  The picture below shows stitches being picked up from the front of the fabric. You can tell it is the front by looking at the cast on edge. I used the long tail cast on, the front of which has a nice looking, twisted edge.  In yellow, I have outlined the path that the yarn takes from the beginning of the stitch to be picked up to the end.

This is a fine way of picking up stitches, but it is not the way I used.

I prefer to pick up my stitches from the back of the fabric.

Note that the row of interest is still the white one at the top. Personally, I find the path of the row (meaning the outline of all the stitches in that row) easier to see from the back. Below, I have outlined that path in blue.

The upper white horizontal bars (well, they are outlined in blue in this picture) are what I call the top of the stitch. Each stitch has a right and a left “leg”, the semi vertical/diagonal white (blue) lines on either side of the top. To pick up the stitches, I insert the needle behind the right leg of a stitch, bring it up between the two legs, over the left leg, and under the right leg of the next stitch.

Of course, inserting the needle promptly obscures most of what I’m talking about. Here is a picture with labels:

"Left legs are hidden behind the needle."

Pick up stitches all the way around. Now, I will admit, when I was done picking up stitches, I had one stitch fewer than when I cast on. Note that the stitches I am working with are upside down related to how they were when I cast on. That said, I am choosing to believe that the missing stitch is actually a function of upside-down stitch anatomy. No, I have not actually verified this. I know that’s not very thorough of me, but what do you expect from a girl who casts her stitches on too tightly.

At least when they were all picked up, there didn’t seem to be any holes.

Step 2: Picking out the cast on.

Locate the beginning/end of your cast on (hint: there should be a string there).

OK, I admit that I have already done the first part of the picking out in this picture. It should be fairly self evident, though. Find where the string is coming from and pull it through in the direction it came from (compare the picture above with the one below, where the string has been pulled out just a bit).

Continue pulling out the cast on strand until all the stitches are loose on the needle.

Above, three stitches have been picked out. I find it helpful to use a darning needle to pick out the cast on strand (“Now she tells us!”).

When all the stitches are loose on the needle, it is time to bind off.

Step 3: The Zimmerman Sewn Bind Off

This is one of my favorite bind-offs. Its stretchiness makes it perfect for the cuffs of toe-up (and sometimes top-down) socks.

The cast off is made up of two steps, once the set up is finished.

Set up:

Luckily, I had left enough extra yarn on my cast on that, combined with the yarn I had picked out of the cast on, I had enough already attached to do the bind off. Thread the yarn from the cast on through a darning needle,  insert that needle into the first two stitches as if to purl and pull the yarn all the way through. Do not slip the stitches off the needle yet.

Now, transfer the first stitch (of the two you just worked) onto the needle to the right, with the stitches that have not yet been worked.In the picture below, the stitch has already been transferred (it’s the green one). Set up is complete.

Bind off step one:

Insert the darning needle into the first two stitches as if to purl. Pull through.

Bind off step 2:

Insert the darning needle into the first stitch on the needle as if to knit. Slip that stitch off the needle.

Repeat Bind off steps 1 and 2 until all the stitches are bound off. In the process, you will go into each stitch twice as if to purl and once as if to knit (You don’t actually have to think about that if you don’t want to. You can just follow the steps).

When all the stitches are bound off, weave in the ends and enjoy your stretchy bind off!

Much better.  Well, at least take my word for it if you can’t quite tell from the picture. I did scroll back to compare, and it is not immediately obvious that there is more room now than there was before. I wouldn’t want you to think that this was all for nothing; the sock did end up fitting the intended foot. Now here’s the big question. For sock number two, should I cast on more loosely and hope that they match well enough, or should I purposefully cast on too tightly and go through the same process, just to make sure that they are the same. I’m not going to tell you which one I choose. I am going to let you all speculate about just how crazy I really am.

I hope this was helpful. If there are any questions, I am happy to answer them.

Next up: Mending (yes, real mending this time) socks.

 

 
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