The Miseducation of January One

Yesterday was all about the learnin’. I will share.

~~ When you change a password, best check what that changed password will affect. The comments are working now.

~~ Spin all your singles up at once. Then ply everything up at once. It will make for a more consistent finished yarn – especially given my newbie status.

I finished spinning up the 8 oz I had of Moonstone, merino roving from Spunky Eclectic. I was so looking forward to finishing this stuff up because I had grand grand plans for it! I was going to make my first handspun project from this yarn. And now that it’s off the bobbins, I’ve got to say, I’m a bit disappointed. I should clarify – this has EVERYTHING to do with my spinning and NOTHING to do with the fiber. Of all the fiber I’ve spun (which is limited – I will admit) Spunky Eclectic is by far my favorite – for the color AND the prep. I was quite pleased with the first batch (see post here). I managed a nice tight ply and I liked that a lot. This time around, not so much.

Can you see the difference?

How about now?

NOW?!? New yarn on the left, old yarn on the right.

The new yarn is not as tight at ALL. And therefore I think it looks a little loosy and sloppy. It’s not as smooth. Although it looks a TON better now that it’s been washed and dried. It’s also a bit thinner. I finally see a reason for two wheels. Before you all either start laughing or groaning – how great would it be to have one wheel for plying – where I could keep the tension and everything JUST SO and then be spinning on another wheel where I could also keep the tension and everything JUST SO. As it is now, I’m going to have to spin up all of the singles and THEN start plying. Clearly I’m not good enough to go back and forth. I need the stability of keeping things JUST SO.

In the first batch I’ve got about 310 yds and the second batch I’ve got about 566 yds, so a decent amount. I had wanted to make a shawl with it – and I guess I still could – I could use the 310 yds at the top of the shawl – where it’s a bit bigger, and then use the rest as it gets to the point. Any and all suggestions for about 800 yds of fingering weight (I’m guessing here) would be great. I’d love a pattern that shows off the yarn – so something with a bit of stockinette to it would be great.

Eh. I’ll do better next time.

By the way – before I change topics – CJ asked me to mention a new swap she and Christina have put together: The Spinning Roving Swap. All information can be found at that link. I’m off swaps for a while now, but if I was going to get in on one – this looks really good. Different sign ups for people wanting to learn to spin, and for experienced spinners. Check it out.

~~ Don’t be afraid to try new things.

I’m very reluctant to show you this:

Yup. It’s a toe up sock – STR – Pebble Beach colorway – old put up. I had almost given up the other day when I had tried the Magic Cast On, Wendy’s short row method and Purly’s YO method. Then, yesterday in the comments (before I broke them), Rachel mentioned that I should try the Turkish Cast On. So I checked a couple tutorials and MY GOD. This is the most mind-blowingly easy thing I have ever tried. Just wrap the yarn around two needles and start knitting. Seriously. LOOK AT THIS TOE!

The top down knee high I just finished – kitchener stitch at the close – is on the left and the brand new toe up Turkish Cast On goodness is on the right. They barely look any different. All you toe up people – why would you use anything other than this cast on? Also, I love me some M1. I’ve mastered the right leaning M1 and the left leaning M1 and it’s so much nicer (TO ME) than short rows. So much nicer. Check it out!

Again, top down on the left, toe up on the right. You can barely tell the difference. Recently I’ve learned that I like a wider toe. I start my toe decreases very late – almost at the top of my pinky toe, and then I decrease four stitches every other row until I have fourteen on the top of the toe and the bottom of the toe (28 altogether.) Then I slip the stitch right inside the outer stitches over the outer stitch (I read it somewhere – makes the toe a bit rounder and not as pointy on the edges) then kitchener the 24 remaining stitches. Perfection!

So yesterday, I cast on 24 stitches – 12 on the top, 12 on the bottom) and knit a couple rows then started increasing four stitches every other round until I got to 64. DONE! Perfection

The jury is still out on these socks, though, because I really don’t like a short row heel. So if I can’t figure out the toe up heel flap – I don’t know. This might be a 325 yd STR prototype and then I’ll start knitting from the top down again. Question for anyone out there that has knit a toe up heel flap: When knitting from the top down, I generally have about 58 rows between my last gusset decrease and the start of my toe decreases. Is it the same when knitting toe up – should I start my gusset INCREASES at row 59 from the toe decreases? How do you know where to start the heel? THANK YOU!

Okay. I’m off to help my newbie again today. She’s finished the bottom of her bag – I’m so proud. Unfortunately the dog ate my homework. I’ve done like 20 rows out of 66 on my own bag.

Have a great day!


  1. Hi! Love those socks and yes the Turkish cast on is wonderful and so is the Magic one, love them both. I A.L.W.A.Y.S. do an “After Thought Heel” on ALL my socks regardless of toe up or top down. I find it so much easier to “just keep knitting”! Sometimes I stop and do it before I continue to the leg so I can knit with the remaining yarn until I run out. I also knit two socks on two circs, so I have a pair all done when I am finished!
    Your blog is one of my first reads every day and as you know, I L.O.V.E. it 🙂

  2. OK, me again, your yarn is wonderful and I love the colour, (blue being my fav.) why don’t you try Icarus, I think it only takes about 800 yds..

  3. Check my free pattern on the side bar on my blog. There is a link for a toe-up heel. It’s called reverse dutch heel with heel flap and everything. I like it very much. The website with the tutorial is great.

  4. Dog…smog. Have fun!

  5. I do love the turkish cast on. I prefer my lazy sock – turkish cast on, garter stitch short row heel, stockinette, except for a little ribbing at the top. Almost no purling!

  6. I wrote a brief tutorial on spinning for consistency, dunno if it will help, but it works for me. (I put the link in the URL field.)

  7. That reverse dutch heel with heel flap is handy.
    I’ve been fighting with the Widdershins heel from knitty for a few days now (the fight is all in my preferring kf&b as an increase and trying to do the heel flap over way more stitches) and I’d recommend giving that a try as well. I REALLY like how it’s turning out.
    The pattern says to start the gusset increases when the sock is three inches shorter than you foot and I would add to that you should start sooner (more like 3 1/2 or 4 if you’re fond of a tall heel flap over working the heel over more stitches in general.

  8. I am in awe of your spinning! When does your product line go on sale? Will each colorway be named after a Bruce song?

  9. Hey, thanks for the toe-up cast-on links! I like doing toe-up, but find the whole provisional casting on rather fiddly.
    Re spinning… is it wrong that the photo on the right looks looser to me? Maybe it’s just my non-spinning eyes.

  10. you may have me convinced – perhaps I will try a turkish cast on toe up sock. yours look great!

  11. I agree with Marianne, the Widdershins pattern from Knitty is a good place to start learning how to do a toe-up heel flap method – and yes, start the gussets before you think you need to. The beautiful part of this method is you can try it on. See tips in Denise’s toe-up sock tutorial here (Lessons 3 and beyond):

  12. Turkish cast-on=HEAVEN. I love it. I don’t know if I will ever make top-down socks again, or use any other toe-up CO. I love how the little toe “cup” forms with a few simple increases.

  13. The Turkish cast-on is so, so clever! I’ve been thinking about using it for the bottom of a bag.
    I like the toes to look round, so this is my method:
    Cast on 24 stitches total – 12 on each needle.
    Increase every round until I get 48 stitches total – 24 on each needle.
    [Knit 1 round, increase 1 round]3 times,
    [Knit 2 rounds, increase 1 round]2 times, or enough times to get the stitch count I want, usually 64-72.
    For my top down socks, which I kind of prefer, I just reverse the process.
    I used the You’re Putting Me On pattern for my toe up socks. I did the usual slip stich pattern on the “flap”, though.

  14. Nancy Hart says:

    Your spinning looks fabulous! If you alternate skeins when you knit you’ll be the only one who even knows about the difference in the twist. And thanks for all of the great toe up links. I’m going to go home and try the turkish cast on!

  15. told ya it was great!! I dont know why you would cast on any other way.
    I think the new knitty has a couple of patterns, toe up with heel flaps. I would also look at the ‘you’re putting me on’ pattern.

  16. I am glad you have decided to come over to the dark side. Gotta love the turkish cast on:)
    I am such a short row heel kind of girl but I think I am going to give the dutch heel a try!

  17. Bethany already mentioned it, but I got to put in another vote for the generic “You’re Putting Me On” form to give you a more specific answer to the heel flap question. I’ve used it on three pairs of socks now and have been really happy with the fit(s).

  18. It’s so good to hear that you’re loving the Turkish cast on. I tried it a few months ago and I was instantly hooked in a very big way. I hate the short row heels too (wrap and turn – ick) but I just tried Priscilla Gibson-Roberts’ heel and it’s much better. Maybe you’ll like it better too.

  19. wow, that turkish cast-on looks really easy. much easier than i thought it would be. do you put a row of purl right above the toe? that’s really cute!

  20. I refuse to do toe-up heelfucks. They are evil and must be eliminated from the face of the earth, thus I refuse to answer your question about heelfucks, hoping that you’ll forget they exist and do some other less fiddly, less over backwards engineered heels on your toe up socks.

  21. Love how that Turkish cast on looks! I’m going to try a toe-up sock next, so that’s good to know!

  22. Thanks for the shout out! =)

  23. I’ve only knit heel flaps toe up (never top-down), but my guess is that as long as you’re knitting a similar shaped/sized flap the toe up gusset increases should start at the same place that the top down gusset decreases would stop. This is the first toe up heel flap method I used: . I’m not completely satisfied with it and am exploring tweaks and other options, but it’s a good starting point that accommodates multiple gauges/sizes.

  24. I LOVE the Turkish cast-on and rave about it often to anyone who will listen. (Which, admittedly, is a small group.) I can’t imagine a single reason why I would ever need to use another cast-on for toe-up socks. It’s simply brilliant.
    I don’t have any answers for you about a heel, although this site: has a FABULOUS collection of links.
    And I think your spinning looks great.

  25. I wish I could help you with your toe-up socks question, but I just finished my first sock ever today, and it was cuff-down.
    I had so wanted to buy a skein or two of the STR pebble beach colorway, but we’ve been pretty broke lately. It looks so awesome knit up!
    I’m not sure what you can do with the handspun. Maybe a couple of matching scarves? I still haven’t done ANYTHING with my handspun, and I’ve been spinning for two years now!

  26. Not to toot my own horn, but I think a good shawl pattern for what you described would be my Seraphim shawl.
    And I tried using the toe-up heel flap heel used in Baudelaire in the most recent knitty, and I liked it, but there are some things I would modify. Because of the way it’s done, you have to start the actual heel (under your heel) part of the sock with the same number of stitches as the heel flap would be (generally half, or let’s say 32), as opposed to having fewer (I usually eneded up with 20 after working my favorite heel turn) so if you reverse engineer it, and say that for a 64 stitch sock, if you were doing it cuff down, then you’d usually pick up i.e. 14 of stitches along the side of your heel flap, then with a toe up sock you would increase for the gusset a total of 14 times (or 28 stitches, 14 for each side). This would give you more stitches than you generally had after picking up the stitches from the side of the heel flap, but you will need them if you want the heel flap to be the same length as it usually is. That may make no sense, but it might help to read my post here about the socks I made and the heel flap.
    And btw, I think you’re crazy! All that spinning looks GREAT because it’s better than I could do 🙂

  27. Oh, and I meant to say that for your question of where to start the gusset, you’d just figure out how many rows you’d need to do (14 increase rows, alternating with an even row in my example = 28 rows) and then divide it by your row gauge and then you’ll know how long the gusset increases will be and can start your sock when you’re that far away from the heel placement.

  28. Ha. hahahahahaha.
    Oh, oops. I wasn’t supposed to laugh :-}
    (so, what’s the second wheel going to be?)

  29. i LOVE the Turkish Cast On. I denied it for a while, using short rows and the figure 8, but Turkish is the way to go. It’s the only one that doesn’t leave a weird loose line of stitches.
    I’ve heard Japanese Short Row heels are nice if you’d like to try that out. I haven’t actually done it myself, but it looks super easy.

  30. I prefer the Turkish cast on as well – and seem to do better (time wise) with toe up than cuff down. Thus, toe up is my prefered method.
    However, like you, I do not like short rows. I’ve taken to doing afterthought heels. Very easy, effective and quite simple. I do the afterthought in a couple of different ways (from the sock body out, like a cuff down toe. or from the cast on up to the sock body, which requires a rather large grafting area) but no matter which way I do the afterthought, I prefer it greatly over short row and heel flap.
    And, I am envious of your spinning. I just can’t seem to get the exact hang of it…though I’ve spun my fair share of roving into yarn and knitted it into blankets/sweaters/whatever. And, the colour of that yarn. *swoons* could it be any lovelier? Beautiful.

  31. You could knit the Seraphim Shawl. That would really show off the yarn.

  32. The Swallowtail Shawl, even though it’s lace, looks very pretty in slightly variegated colors and only takes about 400 yards of laceweight. Fingering would make a slightly larger shawl. I think the spinning looks great.

  33. For my first socks, I am following this pattern: She gives the measurements in inches, not rows, which was really helpful. I found the heel and gusset way easier than I thought it would be. Not bad for first socks. Maybe the measurements from toe to gusset will help you.

  34. Love the yarn, fabulous spinning and the socks look great also!!

  35. i agree, how does anyone use anything else than the turkish caston?
    but baby, now that you’ve conquered the caston, the m1l, and the m1r, are you sure you won’t try a shortrow heel again? you could be surprised, you know… i hated them for ages but now that i finally got the hang of them i love them to bits.

  36. I have a wheel for spinning and another one for plying and that totally works for me. That is, when I actually DO spin.
    Your sock toe is lovely.

  37. I must admit I know very little about spinning, but that yarn looks pretty good to me. I love the colors. It will make a lovely shawl.
    I’m glad the Turkish cast on worked out for you. The sock is looking fabulous. I just wish I had some advice for the toe-up heel flap, but that’s something I’ve never attempted.

  38. I do see the difference in your spinning, but I think it looks incredible even with the difference!

  39. I am in no way ready to make suggestions to an experienced knitter, but if you decide you don’t want your Spunky Eclectic, I’ll take it!
    just sayin’

  40. I have worked the toe up short row heel , and also gusset then flap heel method.
    My current favorite is a third approach–the flap then gusset method. My teenagers are really able to do this easily and it fits well. Currently, when using this technique I refer to Dave Mackay’s Heels by number chart:
    for round or dutch heel. Just for info: The basic gist of it is in a free pattern located at located in ‘my socks’ –Simple Sox pattern ( ignore the short row toe in the pattern)
    here’s the link
    It’s nice & cushy to have heel stitch flap on the bottom of the foot & on heel. You can delete on the bottom though. Knit heel flap until slightly stretched, it is at end of your heel & then turn. I prefer to end heel flap on knit row & turn heel on purl row.
    Oh, also at patterns–her First-Time Toe Up Sock is a great, detailed clearly written pattern with the same heel method.

  41. Thanks for those links–I’m gonna try toe-up socks pretty soon and that’s terribly helpful.

  42. Just a thought, but I thought the point of handspun yarn was to be slightly different? Otherwise why don’t we all just buy machine spun yarn?
    That said, I think yours looks lovely, and I am super envious. I haven’t yet mastered any even drafting technique, and so my own yarn is rather uneven in thickness.

  43. toe up sock looks great! i’ve only done short rows toe up so i look forward to seeing what you think about the toe up heel flap.

  44. since i do almost all my socks toe-up w/ magic loop, i use this mindblowingly lovely invention. i feel like it makes the socks just fly off the needles; the rare times when i do a top-down sock, i feel like it takes forever. (but even then, i just do a 3needle BO. I hates the grafting, i hates it.

  45. Thanks for the props 🙂 The socks look great!
    You know I also have a tutorial on my side bar for a yo short row heel with a gusset because I need/prefer the added depth for the heel. It makes a really nice heel but it only works top down…if you look at the free pattern on my side bar for Lizzie’s Lacy Ribs it explains it even further. One can never have enough tricks in her knitting bag, right? Hope this helps!