Monday, June 14, 2010

Toe Up Sock Success

Have been on a bit of a sock knitting jaunt lately.  Recognize that jaunt is a relative term and that some of you knit socks at a pace that I can not even imagine, let alone compete with.  But for me, I've been turning out more socks lately than I ever thought I would - for a couple of reasons.  1) Some of you know I've been going through a professional transition that has been stressful, and for me, knitting socks in plain stockinette is soothing, and finishing a sock provides relatively quick closure. 2) I'm committed to working down my stash (see above note about professional transition that has squelched access to former yarn budget).  And over the years, I've purchased and been gifted some skeins of really great sock yarn.

I've been working on improving my "toe-up" techniques, and highly recommend Wendy D. Johnson's book, Socks from the Toe Up.  The book provides several different methods of cast on and toe techniques, several options for heel treatments, and good suggestions for stretchy bind offs.  The patterns progress from basic to more advanced cables and textures.  The text is straightforward and explains why steps are necessary, which really helps when you want to change things up a bit.  The photographs and drawings are clear and supplement the text nicely.

Here's my latest version of the Basic Sock with Short row heel from Wendy's book - made with Zwerger Garn Opal Hundertwasser - in this great yellow and blue colorway  - one could almost call it maize and blue. 



As I've been working through these socks - I've incorporated two modifications in the basic sock pattern.  The first is in the short row heel construction (picked up from numerous forums on Ravelry).  Basically, you stop the second set of short rows one purl row short, knit around, and pick up the last set of wraps (on the stitch you would have caught on the purl row) when you get back around to it after knitting the instep stitches.  Essentially, this keeps the heel on level with the instep stitches and eliminates those holes that are often created when rejoining the heel to the instep.

The second is Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off presented in Knitty Fall 2009.  I had been using tubular bind-offs which are pretty, but time consuming and still not quite stretchy enough.  The JSSBO is by far the stretchiest bind off I've tried, and is still attractive. 



 Still have lots of the Opal left - enough for some kids socks I think.

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