Thursday, November 5, 2015

What do you do with hole-y socks? Part 1

I had to drive an hour away for work on Monday and Tuesday this week. Tuesday was also election day so I had to stop by the voting place on the way back. So no blog on Tuesday. Maybe Tuesdays are jinxed. Oh, and next week's post won't happen on a Tuesday either. I have to go to a professional society meeting. But Tuesday is a good day to shoot for!

Anyway, I am doing a mini-workshop at my spinning guild this month. The subject is recycling your socks. They asked me to do one on darning socks but I don't see any point in darning socks. I tried that when I first knit socks and they wore out. Back in the early 2000s. The problem is that the yarn around the darn is also weak so it gives way next. And so on. I even tried sewing on slipper soles and making slippers out of the socks. The holes just grew and grew and grew. So I quit.

Now I make the socks into other useful objects so one can enjoy them. Over the next few weeks, I'll share some of the items that I create from the socks. Today we will make a pair of socks into fingerless mitts. This took me 3 evenings for a pair.

Here is the hole in the heel. Assessing where the hole(s) are is the first step. You'll see later that I have to deal with a sock that has a hole in the ball of the foot. Heels are easy.

The next step is to look at the sock and decide what one wants to do. In addition to assessing where the hole(s) is/are, determine whether the sock was knit toe-up or cuff-down. You need to know that so you can cut and rip back. Knitting only rips back in the opposite direction it was originally knit in. You have to plan your cuts so you have yarn to knit up and finish the ripped edge.

In this case, the legs of the sock have a lovely lace pattern which I want to exploit. I also love this color and the yarn. In fact I was very sad when the hole developed. Making a pair of fingerless mitts will showcase the lace and let me enjoy it and the yarn for a while longer.

Snip a stitch and slowly pull out a row of sts. I like to do this right above the heel shaping if I am going to do something with the leg on a cuff-down sock. This way I get the most yarn to work with. On a toe-up sock, if you are making fingerless mitts from the leg, you have to cut precisely at the right point and then join in yarn to finish the cut edge. You can't rip back and re-use the yarn without a join.

When I first started, I used to cut the sock apart but I lost too much yarn that way. This can be slow going if the sock has started to felt. Take that into account as you decide what to do with the sock(s). In some cases, one uses only one sock or one part of one sock. 

Repeat with the other sock so you have both separated into legs and feet with the heel attached to the feet. Once the row is removed, the two pieces will fall apart.

 I checked the length of the leg against my hand. As you can see, it is way too long for a fingerless mitt. So I started ripping back.

I ripped back, measuring every few inches till I had a length that was good for a mitt. I kept the curly cuff for the wrist side and decided to a ribbed edge at the fingers. These are all design decisions you get to make.

You don't have to worry too much about sts unraveling when you don't want them to. They've been held in shape so long that they just sit there and wait to be picked up. In fact, sometimes they have become so friendly with their neighbors that it takes some effort to rip the rounds out.

If you typically knit socks with the same size needles, there are no decisions about needle size here. I always knit socks on 2 mm or US size 0 needles. If you knit with different sized needles, you need to pick up sts using the same size needles you originally used for the socks.

I like to use needles that are a bit blunt and slick for picking up these sts. The yarn is worn and you've just been unraveling it so sometimes it has split and a sharp needle just splits it further. Make sure you are picking up the entire st and orienting them correctly for the way you knit. I used Knitpicks metal dpns for this.

Based on the lace rib pattern, I decided to keep the purl sts between the lace sections intact. The lace section was 9 sts wide so I did a k3, p3, k3 across it and then the p2 between the lace sections. I did an inch of ribbing following that patterns: k3, p3, k3, p2 and repeat around. Then I bound off. If your sock has a different pattern or is rib or stockinette, you can just keep the existing rib or use any ribbed pattern that goes with the original leg pattern. 

Once that was done, I measured again and marked my thumb position with a pair of pins. There is no thumb gusset so the thumb opening has to be a bit wider than if there was a gusset. Make sure the two mitts match.

I decided to snip between the two purl sts that separated the lace patterns. This is also something you take into consideration to make the mitts look as if they were mitts from the very beginning. I just cut in this case, but later I decided I would do a row of crochet on either side next time before cutting. It pulled apart a bit more than I wanted and since this is sock yarn, it won't felt together. You can see the cut above and below where I am holding it open a bit more.

Once it was cut, I picked up sts all around leaving a l-o-n-g tail in the beginning to neaten up that edge. Make sure you are picking up far enough from the edge so the new sts are secure. I did an inch of k2, p2 rib and bound off. Then I took the beginning tail and did a row of running st followed by a row of buttonhole st on the edge to hold the cut edge intact.

Repeat for the other mitt. You can see the little thumb edge above from the right side.

This view is from the wrong side where you can see my finishing of the cut edge.

There's the pair. All done. And on my hands below.

I had to take the photos one at a time as I needed the other to take the photo! I wore them at Rhinebeck! Next up we'll make a headband. 

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