Southwest Stockings KAL: Part 1 Starting your stocking

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Hello! Welcome to the Southwest Stockings Knit Along! This project debuted on The Knit Show with Vickie Howell where she and I taught how to knit these adorable Fair Isle socks. This knit along goes through all the steps on the Handmade Holiday episode along with giving you some of my tried-and-true tips and techniques. Here's Vickie and me:

Hi, Vickie! ūüíó

Take a few minutes to watch the show if you haven't. Here's the episode free on YouTube.

We're starting this knit along and we'll work through all the steps of the free Southwest Stockings knitting pattern. You can make Cozy Socks or a big Christmas Stocking from this design. To find more info about the Southwest Stockings KAL see the Introduction and the Supplies list.

Today we're getting started! We're going to cast on to double-pointed needles and try our needles at all this fun color work. Let's dive right in!

Choosing yarn colors and their position

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An important part of this project is organizing your yarn colors and keeping it all straight while you work the color charts for the ankle and foot of the socks. I have decided to make a second Christmas stocking for the KAL and I'm using the same four colors of Baa Baa Bulky yarn for this one but I'm rearranging the colors so my husband I have a mismatched pair to hang for Santa. 

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Because my colors don't match up to the color chart I took a minute to decide my new order and make some notes on my pattern pages. I wrote in the placement of Colors A, B, C and D and then I made little arrows to help me visualize it when I'm using the color chart on page 3. You should do this too before we get started.

Keep in mind that everything I say here in these knit along posts applies to both the Christmas Stocking and the Cozy Socks. The pattern is completely the same! 

Casting on to double-pointed needles

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Let's get this party started! When beginning a project on double-pointed knitting needles, also called DPNs, I like to cast-on all my stitches to one needle. For this project we cast on 48.

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Now we need to move distribute these stitches evenly across 4 needles. We're going to slip 12 stitches to a fresh needle, get a new needle, slip 12, ...until we have 48 stitches broken up into four 12 stitch sections.

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Another little trick I like to do when knitting in the round is to criss cross the first and last stitches on the needles. This locks the beginning and end together and helps prevent the little gap you can sometimes see at the starting edge of a hat or other project knit in the round.

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I'll admit this step is fiddly. Feel free to skip it if this is the first time you're working with DPNs! It won't even been an issue if you're making the Christmas stocking because we'll have a hangloop and giant pom pom up there when we're all done. 

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Next we knit! Well, knit and purl. The first 7 rows are worked as K2, P2. So go ahead, grab that 5th needle and k2, p2 your way across 12 stitches, rotate to the next needle, k2, p2 across, rotate, ...until you've gone across all 48 stitches.

I know it may seem crazy if you haven't worked with double-points before but all you want to do is focus on 2 needles at a time just like with regular knitting. You have one in your left hand and one in your right hand and that's all you need to think about! Just work those 12 stitches. The first row is always crazy for every knitter no matter their skill level so keep going!

The next little tip I have is to add a clip ring stitch marker to your project. I add it add it to a stitch near the beginning of Needle 1 so that way I always know where my round begins.

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And now we keep going! We have 6 more rows of k2, p2 to work. You'll have a nice little start like the one below -- 7 squishy rows of work.

How to knit with 2 colors of yarn

Here we are! Time to get down to the fun stuff, Fair Isle knitting. It's one of my favorite things to knit because every row is different so I never get bored. Each round is like a new little puzzle that I get to build to unfold a growing pattern.

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With any color work we will have a chart to follow. The chart for our Southwest Stockings is on page 3 of the pattern and we're starting with Fair Isle Chart 1. To work a chart we read it from right to left and bottom to top. We start right here at the corner of Round 1 and Stitch 1. 

All the stitches from here to the heel will be knit. Since we figured out our color placement ahead of time we know that the first row just continues using Color A so we knit one time around with A.

Round 2 has a little block of Color B. Woohoo! Now what?

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Now we just grab our Color B. I run the tail down through the middle and the working yarn out to the top. Then we knit the first stitch with B.

Grab that new yarn and knit your first stitch. Bam! You're a color work knitter!

The chart reads that we knit 1 stitch in Color B and then 3 stitches in Color A. It's just that simple and we do it all the way around repeating that as we go. But! We have to keep our stitches loose and relaxed enough so that moving between colors doesn't pucker our work. Carrying the non-working color of yarn is called "floating". These floats need to be loose enough that the knitting can stretch a bit and not too tight that it could disfigure the project. Getting a comfortable float tension will get easier over time. 

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I work with one color in my right hand and one color in my left hand. You can watch me do this live on The Knit Show with Vickie Howell. As you can see, I stretch the float yarn loosely across the back of the work before making the next stitch. On these early rows it's always a good idea to stop and check each float and maybe adjust the length of it before moving on to the next stitch. It's ok to go slow and get comfortable with this new technique.

This is what the inside starts to look like, long loops behind the work. Take your time! Watch the video. Remember that I've been doing this a long time. We have all weekend to get this right before moving on to the next step!

If you have a question message me on Instagram at @eweeweyarns, drop a comment in the Ravelry group, leave a comment here, or email me! I'm here, let's chat.  

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Look at that! We're knitting with color! Next is two rows of Color A and then we sprinkle in some Color C. I'm going to cut this strand of B so it's out of my way since we don't use it again until Round 17. Leave a tail so you can weave the ends in later. 

Continue knitting and working the color chart as you go. 

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And, we're off on our way! I love how festive these colors are looking together. Work all the way through Fair Isle Chart 1 over the weekend and I'll meet you back here on Tuesday the 14th to talk about how we make the heel of the sock. 

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