Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Wonder Woman Christmas Stocking

A friend of mine at work asked me if I knew how to knit a Christmas stocking, and I said "Christmas stockings are just giant socks...AND I LOVE SOCKS," which is actually a lie because I would spend my entire hippie-dippy life barefoot if that was an option [Aside: isn't that odd, considering the well documented shoe thing?], but I do love making socks. So without further ado, I present a simple, adorable stocking pattern for all your holiday knitting needs!

You will need:
Worsted weight yarn in a main color and an accent color - I'm using red and white in this pattern, but you can choose whatever colors you want. I like Red Heart SuperSaver yarn because it's cheap but plentiful, not splitty, washable, and easy to find at Michael's and other craft stores.
Size 8 double pointed knitting needles
A yarn needle

Start by knitting a gauge. I hate knitting a gauge, so much so that I will put off projects because I get bogged down in thinking about how I really hate knitting gauges, but you have to do it because a.) we all have to overcome our neuroses sometime, and b.) it will keep you from having a mutant stocking that looks like Sloth from the Goonies is coming over. You should come up with a swatch where 16 stitches and 24 rows equals about 4 inches. To adjust, change needle size.

Game Plan (and Advice From Mom)
This stocking is knit from the top down. When you get to the bottom of the leg, you'll be splitting off a heel flap, then picking up stitches on the side to continue along the foot. The heel flap feels weird. This is where the Mom advice comes in. Every now and then, I call my Mom and I'm like "MOM, what the hell, this stupid pattern is WRONG, there's no way I'm actually supposed to do that but it keeps saying I have to!" and Mom is all "sometimes you just have to follow the pattern." This is not unlike the time I got yelled at in Home Ec for marveling over the fact that these weird pieces of fabric were turning into a stuffed animal. It will work out. Sometimes you just have to follow the pattern.

Cast on 61 stitches (sts) over four needles with your main color. This is your leg. (See notes at bottom for personalization options.) Knit as long a leg as you would like - some people like long, drapey stockings, some like shorter ones. I'd probably go for about a foot. Now we're going to work the decrease rows.

DECREASE ROW: K1, SSK*, knit to the last three sts of the round, then k2tog, k1. This will give you 59 stitches. Keep working this row until you're down to 53 stitches.

*SSK = slip, slip knit. This means you slip 2 stitches just as they are, then you insert your left hand needle from left to right to knit the 2 stitches together. ("Just follow the pattern.") This is the purlside version of knitting two together.

HEEL DIVISION: K27 and slide to holder. If you want to have a different color heel, switch colors here. We will now be working flat for a while, and only on the remaining 26 stitches.
Row 1:
Row 2:
Sl 1, k25.
Rows 3-18: Repeat rows 1 and 2, purling on WS and slipping 1, knitting across for RS.

HEEL TURN: (MAJOR pattern following area here! Yes, you are actually supposed to be turning in the middle of the row.)
Row 1: sl1, k14, SSK, k1, turn.
Row 2: sl1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn.
Row 3: sl1, k6, SSK, k1, turn.
Row 4: sl1, p7, p2tog, p1, turn.
Row 5: sl1, k8, SSK, k1, turn.

Continue until you have 16 sts.

GUSSET: (If you switched colors before, now is the time to switch back.) Knit across your 16 heel stitches. With the same needle, pick up and knit across 9 of your slipped stitches along the right side of the heel flap. Knit your 27 stitches from your holder. Pick up and knit 9 stitches from the left side of the heel flap, and knit 8 stitches from your first needle to even everything out. You should now have 61 stitches and be ready to start your gusset.

Row 1 & ALL WS Rows: P across.
Row 2: K14, k2 tog, k 29, SSK, k14.
Row 4: K13, k2 tog, k29, SSK, k13.
Row 6: K12, k2 tog, k29, SSK, k12.
Row 8: K11, k2 tog, k29, SSK, k11.
Row 10: K10, k2 tog, k29, SSK, k10.
Row 12: K9, k2 tog, k29, SSK, k9—49 sts rem.

Tada! You now have something that looks somewhat like half a sock. The hard part is over!

Knit for about 6.5" from the edge of your heel flap, then decrease one stitch in the next row, leaving you with a nice, even 48 stitches. If you want your toe to be a different color, switch colors now! I actually like to even up my stitches so I have 12 on each needle at this point. Then you're going to begin your toe decrease, which is very simple:

Odd Rows: (1st needle)k1, k2tog, knit to end; (2nd needle) knit to last three stitches, SSK, k1; (3rd needle) k1, k2tog, knit to end; (4th needle) knit to last three, SSK, k1
Row 2 & All WS Rows: P across.
Continue these two rows until you have 16 stitches left.

Now you can finish the work and close up the toe. I like to load the stitches onto one needle (one from the left needle, then one from the right, left, right, left, right, alternating) and then knit them together and weave in the ends. I think this gives the cleanest seam, but you can also stitch them up with a needle if you prefer.

You may want to add a cuff to the top of your stocking. You can do this one of two ways - pick up 65 stitches (65, not 61, so that it can fold over) at the top of the stocking, and purl in the round for about 3 inches, then cast off loosely. You can also cast on 65 stitches, knit the 3 inches, cast off, and then whipstitch the cuff onto the stocking.

You can also make a hanger with a simple i-cord. Pick up four stitches from the edge of the stocking, and knit across those stitches for as long as you would like your hanger to be. JUST KNIT, DO NOT REVERSE AFTER EACH ROW. Crossing the yarn behind each row pulls the stitches into a cord as you go. When you're done, cast off and sew the end onto the start of the hanger.

You may also want to add initials or other decor to your stocking. My favorite alphabet can be found here, and I've included a bonus chart below.

Enjoy!! Ask questions in the comments if you have any.

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