Let’s talk about hand-knit stockings.
Last year, 2017, my big project of the year was to knit four colorwork stockings for my family for Christmas. One each for my mom, dad, little brother, and myself.
Bear in mind, when I started this project I had never knit an actual sock in my life. It was my first time putting in a heel or decreasing for a toe, and it was all in colorwork.
The project took me about six months to complete. I took a couple of breaks when making them to work on some other knitting projects as well. This usually occurred when some aspect of the pattern was particularly frustrating to me, like when I realized that I’d messed up the pattern on my dad’s stocking more than ten rows past the mistake. Or when I realized that I put the heel in the wrong place on my stocking.
In the end, I made it work, mistakes and all, but it was certainly a labor of love. And it was a learning process.
All the patterns that I used were from the same designer, Cindy Steinberg. I wanted to make sure that the stockings all appeared uniform, and of the stocking patterns I found on Ravelry, hers were the ones I like the most.
The first stocking I knit was for my mom.
I learned two big lessons from knitting this stocking.
First, I was not going to use stranded knitting to put the names in ever again. Ever. At that point I didn’t know instaria existed, and given that I still don’t quite know how to do it, I ended up using duplicate stitch for the names on all the other stockings I made.
Second, I needed to loosen my gauge. Mom’s stocking turned out beautifully on the outside, but the float tension in the back was too tight. Unfortunately, by the time I finished my own stocking, the last one I did, I still hadn’t mastered this technique, and had in fact gone the other way. My float tension was probably too loose by the end.
The next stocking I did was my dad’s.
I think this one took me the longest of all four. The hockey player pattern was not intuitive like my mom’s snowflakes or my eight point star.
The only thing I really learned from this one was that it’s ok to take breaks from your projects sometimes, but it’s important to have goals set for when you intend to pick it back up again.
Next up was my brother’s stocking.
Evan’s was tricky mostly because of the floats. That polar bear is, if I remember correctly, about 29 stitches at its widest point. You simply cannot carry a strand across that distance. You really aren’t supposed to do more than 5 or 6. Which means I had to twist my working yarn and my secondary yarn together to catch the float every few stitches. It just felt like a lot of extra work, and that was annoying.
I did learn with his stocking that writing out the chart, rather than counting and recounting and counting again every few stitches was a much better way to go. It made this stocking, as well as my last one, go so much more quickly than the former two.
Last but not least was my stocking.
This one I messed up in a few places. First, the red background of the main pattern at the top should have been extended on the top and bottom.
And, as I mentioned before, I didn’t put the heel on the right side. It’s not noticeable in this picture, but it meant that it was on the opposite side to all the other stockings I’d finished. Fortunately the pattern on my brother’s stocking was good on both sides, so I was able to simply flip his, since I hadn’t put names on any but my mom’s yet.
There were a few lessons that I should have learned while making these stockings that I didn’t figure out until long after they were finished.
Most importantly, I never properly learned how to do stranded colorwork.
Wait, what? I knit four colorwork stockings without properly knowing how to do colorwork??
And let me tell you, it was a pain. I didn’t realize while working these stocking up that 1) you’re supposed to hold both yarns you’re working with at the same time and 2) they aren’t supposed to twist together!
The way that I knit these stockings, I twisted the two yarns together over and over with each color change, and had to stop every few changes to untangle the yarn! Apparently that’s not how it works. I’ll definitely be doing more research before I get started on my next colorwork project.
I’m still glad I did it, whether or not it was the right way. Having knit these stockings makes every other project I do seem easy. They got me started on more complicated knitting, as well as wanting to try pattern design. So no matter how badly they’ll age as I get more experienced, which I expect is very badly, I will always love them.