Over the holidays I challenged myself to try a different way of making socks. I’ve knit all my socks cuff-down so it was time to try toe-up.
I had a Zauberball that I’d been hoarding and I decided that the fun colours would keep me interested as I worked a plain sock. I had also picked up a set of Knit Pro Karbonz to test out in 2.25mm (US 1) so I threw them in the challenge mix.
Cast on and toe increases
I cast on 24 stitches with Judy’s Magic Cast-on and then I worked kfb (knit front and back) increases on the 4 needles as follows:
I: kfb, k to end
II: k until 2 stitches before end of needle, kfb, k1
III: kfb, k to end
IV: k until 2 stitches before end of needle, kfb, k1
I-IV: k all stitches
Repeat Round 1 and Round 2 until there are 56 stitches (14 on each needle).
On my first attempt I increased to 64 stitches but after continuing in plain stockinette I realised the foot was too wide so I had to rip back to 56 stitches.
I bought the USD$1 pattern for the heel that I’ve seen everyone in knitting video podcasts talking about, the Fish Lips Kiss Heel.
There’s a lot of information in the pattern about sock construction and fit that some people skip but I read/skimmed most of it and found it useful.
I was thankful for the note about adding a lifeline before beginning the heel because I had to rip back twice after making errors. Part of the problem was not concentrating enough, and part of it was that the accompanying photos on the stitch construction show English knitting and I was getting some actions (where the yarn was positioned during stitches) muddled up when converting them to Continental knitting. The instructions are also very detailed – this is helpful the first time, but after I got the hang of it I re-wrote instructions for two of the stitches in my own words, reducing them from 10 steps to a dozen words and then I was flying along, quickly reaching the point where I didn’t need to refer to them.
Overall I’m super happy with the shape and feel of the heel and the sock construction tips this pattern provided. I wouldn’t recommend this pattern for a newbie to knit because it is super detailed (even though the knitting is easy once you figure it out) and it requires more than just knits, purls and slipped stitches, however for the person who has knit a few socks before and has an adventurous spirit then this would be a fun technique to learn.
I’m going to try it on a cuff-down sock soon :)
Leg and bind-off
I continued on in plain stockinette and then did my first sewn bind-off thanks to a photo tutorial from Silver’s Place. The first sock’s bind-off was a little bit tight but the second sock was spot on when I bound off more loosely.
My Karbonz 2.25mm (US 1) were 15cm (6″) length because the shop didn’t have 20cm (8″) in stock. At first I felt like I was living on the wild side, fearing for the safety of my stitches. During the heel construction, I slipped the non-working stitches on to a 2.5mm circular to keep them safe. But after a while I lost the fear.
Overall I loved them! They were light weight and smooth. They made a little click-clack as I picked up speed that I don’t get with my wooden needles (I love the sound of knitting needles!). The points are sharp enough to work quickly without being so sharp as to stab oneself.
And the 2.25mm size made for a wonderfully dense (but not stiff) sock fabric. My mum slipped them on and remarked on how warm they were :)
I’ll be looking out for a sale to pick up a circular or two for magic loop sock knitting and perhaps some 20cm (8″) DPNs as well.
Thoughts on toe-up
The main benefit of toe-up seems to be that you can have two equal sized balls of yarn and keep knitting and knitting until you’ve used up all the yarn. For the fit though I think you can achieve a good fit either cuff-down or toe-up.
I’ll work a few more toe-up socks soon but I think it will be for specific patterning requirements rather than any other reason. I like my socks cuff-down :)
The Fish Lips Kiss Heel on the other hand I will keep experimenting with (and comparing to other heels I try out) because I like the fact that the sock doesn’t need a gusset.