Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Socks in the mail

Seven pairs of Peace Fleece socks, made by my sister, RTD2. Simple, thick socks that will last a long time, all in medium adult sizes.

Two years ago she "knew" she'd never be able to make socks; now she is a sock-making whiz! She makes hers toe-up, using the magic loop technique, while I prefer top-down, on double-pointed needles.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

All of these hats and mittens have been mailed. I stopped working on hats when Ann said there were plenty of them and switched to mittens. Socks are not my thing.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

FYI: Monday is a US Post Office holiday

Uh oh. The box I meant to mail on Monday. . . well, it won't go out until Tuesday. Monday is a post office holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hope I saved some of you a wasted trip.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pattern for crocheted mittens: new URL

Last spring I found a pattern for crocheted mittens that looked great to me, although I am not much of a crocheter. I sent it to an expert I know for a test drive, and she said it was very good -- well written, and fast. That pattern, for Mrs. Murdock's Mittens, has a new URL. You can find it here now:


If you are a crocheter, you could easily make a pair in time for the deadline. . .

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

December socks and January mittens

I'll be bringing this last-minute contribution to the AFSC basement tomorrow: three pair of mittens using our fearless leader Elizabeth's perfect pattern, and one pair of socks. The red/dark green mittens represent the very last grams of a stashlet that just wouldn't die; I bought that yarn years ago, an impulse buy that turned out to be a mistake as I couldn't figure out how to make it look good in a sweater. Apparently it was meant to become mittens all along. The socks are the result of an interesting experiment in double-stranding: I had not quite enough yardage of sock yarn to make a full pair, but when I added a strand of laceweight alpaca, magic happened, and I got a big enough, warm, soft and fuzzy pair of socks. I must remember this trick for the next campaign. a4A Jan. 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 24 is the deadline

Did you read the previous post, with the nice red mittens? Yes, January 24 is the deadline for this campaign. And socks and mittens are badly needed. Here's what Ann writes:

At this point, we are most in need of wool socks and mittens for ages  14-21 years (grades 7-12).

We won't be able to send all the hats because we must send a balance of garments for the recipients. The sponsoring organization that pays for the shipping and that handles the distribution specifies what they need for their constituents, and we fill their order in a sense. We have received an abundance of beautiful hats -- thank you! -- and hats that are not shipped this month will be held for the next campaign, possibly for NGO Aschiana. We will always keep you updated via our website and this email list.

The second batch -- with priority for socks and mittens -- will go out at the end of January.

I finished a pair of mittens last night (they are wet right now; I will post a photo when they are more presentable) and have started on another in hopes of finishing in a couple of days.

Thanks, everybody, for doing so much! We have almost 2 weeks left, so. . .knit! crochet! make stuff!

(and sign up for the email list so you can get information the minute Ann posts it. Go to afghansforafghans.org and enter your email address in the space at the top of the second column).

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Here are some mittens that should fit a teen. (They are slightly  snug for me,) I will hold onto my smaller socks and hat for now and try to get another teen item in time for the 24th deadline.  Judy

Monday, January 7, 2013

Emergency correction: grades 7-12, not ages 7-12

But, if you are almost finished items for the smaller children, do send those in. Here is the note from Ann (for those who still have not subscribed to the mailing list):

Dear Knitters and Crocheters for Afghanistan,

I made a mistake ... we mostly need wool hats, mittens, and socks for ages 14-21 years.

This is for grades 7-12. (I thought I heard 7-12 years old.)


The smaller items will go to siblings of the students in the education programs. Afghan families are large and always have many small children -- without resources in the harsh winter. Warming the younger girls and boys is a good deed, too.

For those who are making adult-sized items, these will work for the bigger teens and young adults.

If you are starting an item, please make sizes for the teens.

The hats arriving far out-number the socks and mittens. If you knit socks and knit or crochet mittens, please do. (The hats take care of themselves -- more people make only hats.)

Thank you very much to everyone jumping on this quickie, mini-campaign for the Afghan Friends Network. Your envelopes have been arriving already. Thank you for taking this to heart and taking action. This is working out darn well on short notice. Great group spirit!

Campaign guidelines are here --

We are shipping out a few boxes this week to Afghanistan. The second batch will go out later in January. Would be best if you can get your item to us by mid-January. We'll have a better sense of the timing later in the week -- and keep you updated via this email list and our website.

Our gifts will be distributed *this winter* in the Ghazni region to students in the educational programs supported by Afghan Friends Network, a small humanitarian organization that started here in San Francisco by Afghan-American Humaira Ghilzai and the Honorable Carol Ruth Silver. This is very unusual that we have a chance to warm
kids in Ghazni. The area is hard to reach and has more security problems, which limit transit and access. You can read more about the organization here --

Thank you for your caring and for participating if you can this month.This is a fairly easy, immediate way to provide some warmth and comfort to suffering people on the other side of the world -- short of having a magic wand. Don't we all wish we had a magic wand or genie lamp sometimes.

Please recruit your fiber friends. Getting the word out is always valuable help -- especially with this short timeframe.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The 36-stitch sock

A4A always gets fewer of the things that come in pairs -- i.e., socks and mittens. It's true, once a hat is done, it's done. But think of your own kid or a kid you know out on a snowy day with no socks or mittens, and you may feel inspired to give it a shot!!

I'm posting a basic, possibly too long-winded, pattern for a sock to help you out. If you are working with a hefty, "rustic" type of worsted such as Bartlett or Peace Fleece, the following sock recipe will fit kids in the 7-12 age group. If you're using a lighter worsted, such as Galway or Cascade 220, the 40-stitch sock in the series of lessons I posted a couple of years ago (link in the sidebar) will work better.

(Also, if you have bulky yarn -- such as Lopi or Lamb's Pride Bulky -- you can follow the directions for the smallest mitten size in this pattern -- the one that starts with casting on 28 stitches -- and get a well-proportioned mitten that will fit the bigger kids.)

Pattern: 36-stitch sock for heavy worsted

1 skein Bartlett yarn or Peace Fleece, or similar heavy worsted

If you are an "average" knitter, and usually match gauge with the needle recommended in patterns, use size 7 double-pointed needles. If you knit loosely, use 6s or even 5s. If you knit tightly, go up to 8s. You want a gauge that is firmer than sweater gauge.

Cast on 36 stitches, using a stretchy cast-on. (If you do not know a stretchy cast-on, use a needle 2 sizes larger than you will be using for the sock -- just for casting on. Switch to the smaller needles to knit the sock.)

Knit at least 2 inches in the ribbing of your choice -- k2 p2 or k1 p1. You then have the option of continuing in ribbing or switching to stockinette.
Work until the leg, from cast on to the stitches on the needles, measures 6 inches, finishing at the end of the round.

Heel flap:
Counting the last stitch you worked as #36, place stitches 19-36 on a strand of yarn and save them for later. Move the remaining stitches so stitches 1-18 are all on one needle.
You will now work the heel flap back and forth, using just two of your needles.
Row 1: *slip 1 as if to purl with yarn in back, knit 1* -- repeat between asterisks all the way across. You will end with a knit stitch.
Row 2: slip first stitch as if to purl, with yarn in front. Purl across until there is one stitch left. Move yarn to back and knit that stitch.

Repeat heel flap rows 1 and 2 until you have worked 18-20 rows -- whichever looks good to you.
Work row 1 one more time.

Turning the heel:
You start on a purl-side row.
Row 1: Slip first stitch as if to purl, p8, p2 tog, p1.
Row 2: Turn work (yes, you are in the middle of the row). Slip first stitch as if to knit, k5, k2 tog, k1. Turn work.

Row 3 (and all subsequent purl-side rows): slip first stitch as if to purl, purl across until there is 1 stitch left before the gap that was formed when you turned the work before. Purl that stitch together with the stitch on the other side of the gap, purl 1. Turn your work.
Row 4 (and all subsequent knit-side rows): slip first stitch as if to knit, knit over until you are 1 stitch before the gap formed when you turned the work before. Knit that stitch together with the stitch on the other side of the gap, knit 1. Turn work.
Continue working according to this pattern until you have used up all the stitches. You should finish at the end of a knit row, with 10 stitches on your needle. If you have extra stitches, or don't end at the end of a knit row, something has gone wrong and -- I regret to inform you -- you have to rip out and work back.

Work gusset:
Take one of your empty needles and, starting on the side of the heel flap where your working yarn is waiting, pick up stitches along one side of the heel flap. You will see a convenient line of V-shaped stitches along the side of the flap.
I prefer to pick up the stitches by sliding my new needle under both legs of that V, then "knitting" through it with the working yarn. Pick up a new stitch for each V along that side edge, all the way to the end of the flap.
Now it's time to put your 18 instep stitches back on a needle. Slide the needle back in along the path marked by your holder yarn. I leave that yarn in place -- it makes an easy marker to count from to match the second sock to the first, or if it's necessary to rip back. You may prefer to remove it. Either way is OK. Knit across those 18 instep stitches.
Now pick up stitches along the second side of the heel flap. Follow the same technique you used on the first side, making sure you have the same number of stitches here as on the first side. (Sometimes you have to "invent" one to make this happen.)

Now all 4 of your needles are full of stitches. What to do? With the needle that just finished picking up your heel flap stitches, knit 5 stitches from the next needle. Slide the other 5 stitches onto the next needle. You are now at the exact center of the back of the heel, with your stitches on three needles and the fourth needle free. You have 18 stitches on your instep needle, and 15 stitches on each of the side needles. (Sometimes I get an extra stitch, for 16 -- as long as both sides are the same, that's fine.)

Work one round plain.

Now you will gradually decrease the number of stitches on those side needles, until you're back to 9 on each. The 18 stitches on the instep needle remain constant. Work as follows:

Decrease round: on needle 1 (that's the one that goes from the center heel up to the instep needle) knit until you have 3 stitches left, k2 together, k1. Knit across the 18 instep stitches. On needle 3 (that's the one that goes from the instep needle back to the center of the heel) k1, ssk [slip 1 as if to knit, slip 1 as if to knit, insert lefthand needle from left to right through front of those 2 stitches and knit them together), knit to end of needle.
Work 1 round plain.
Repeat these two rounds until each of the side needles has 9 stitches.

Continue in stockinette until the foot of the sock, measured from the back of the heel to the stitches on the needles, measures 6.5 to 7.5 inches.

Start decreasing for toe as follows. (Each round begins at the center of the heel -- the point between the 2 side needles.

Round 1: knit until you have 3 stitches left on the first side needle, k2 tog, k1. On the instep needle, k1, ssk), knit until 3 stitches remain on the needle, k2 tog, k1. On third needle, k1, ssk, knit to end of round. You will have 8 stitches on each side needle and 16 stitches on the instep needle.
Round 2: Knit around.
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until you have a total of 16 stitches remaining. Now repeat round 1 only until you have 8 stitches on your instep needle and 4 on each side needle. Knit across the last 4 stitches so you have 8 stitches on the instep needle and 8 stitches on the back needle.

Finish toe:

You will graft the instep stitches to the back stitches, a procedure known as grafting, or Kitchener stitch.

Cut the yarn, leaving about 18 inches (more than you need, but why gamble at this point?). Use that tail to thread a sewing-up needle. The yarn is coming out of the last stitch on the back needle; the needle with the instep stitches is in front.
step 1: Draw the sewing-up needle through the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit and take it off the needle. Thread the sewing-up needle through the next stitch on the front needle as if to purl; pull yarn through and leave that stitch on the needle.
step 2: Move yarn from front to back. Now, put the sewing-up needle through the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl, pull yarn through, and remove that stitch from the needle. Put sewing-up needle through next stitch on back needle as if to knit; pull yarn through and leave that stitch on the needle. Move yarn back to front, and repeat steps 1 and 2 until you've used up all the stitches.

It's an easy rhythm: one off, one on, switch needles. One off, one on, switch needles. Just pay attention to which way you're putting the sewing-up needle through the stitches. "As if to knit" means left to right; "as if to purl" means right to left. You should get a magical row of little V's, like stockinette stitch. If you get little U's, like garter stitch, you're putting your sewing-up needle in backward.

Last stitch -- thread yarn through and snug it up. This always gives me a nasty little point, sometimes called an "ear." I don't know if this is technically proper, but here's how I make it go away. With sewing-up needle, move one stitch away from the toe, into the sock, pull the yarn all the way through, and give it a little tug. It should disappear. You might have a tiny little bump left, but it smooths right out.

Make sock #2.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Connie asked me to post this for her: She writes:
Here are 5 pairs of mittens for AFA.  All are 100% animal fiber... The dark blue ones have 2 strands of my handspun wool, and a strand of the blue Alpaca you sent me.   The square item in the lower right corner is a hat that I will finish up tonight.   Since I am a lot faster knitting mittens than socks; I opted for mittens to fit the time frame; and now will start on some socks with the green Alpaca for the next shipment...I'm slowwww on socks.  I hope [the mittens] will keep some fingers warm this winter.  I have been making more...and am up to 12 items/sets  ( hats and mitten pairs, so far.  I will knit till the 10th and then send by priority mail. 
Thank you, Connie! They are sorely needed, and these are so pretty.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It's in the mail

Four lucky winners should receive small packages on Saturday. Each contains enough yarn for a pair of socks AND a pair of mittens. Have fun! Yarn went to Arizona, Idaho, Tennessee, and New York state.

I had such a great response this time, and I am saving all the names for next time. If you did not include your mailing address in your email, your name did not go in the hat. Feel free to send that along so it's in my files for next time. A couple of people misunderstood and thought I would be sending out all that yarn, and wrote on behalf of their groups. I didn't think 3 skeins would be of much use to a large group, so those did not go in the hat either.

Please post photos of what you make - and enjoy doing it! Cold weather here, just right for knitting.