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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Stasia's Gaugeless Toe-Up Sock Pattern

Jane asked me to update my toe-up sock pattern which I hadn't transferred from our old server. Here is a quick, down and dirty version of the pattern for those who need to make last-minute holiday gifts.

These socks can be made with any yarn, in any gauge... all you need to know is the length of the recipient's foot (though the length around their instep and/or ankle is helpful. In a pinch, have them hold a ruler under the ball of their foot, and double that number for the "around" measurement.) Socks are forgiving and don't need to be exact, especially if done in ribbing on the top side of the foot and the entire ankle.

Please let me know of any errors you find. Thanks!

Stasia's Gaugeless, Toe-Up , Short-Row Heel Sock Pattern

Note the neat heel effect using self-patterning yarn.

If you're knitting these for yourself, you can try them on as you go to ensure a perfect fit. If you're making these for someone else, remember that feet are typically square; i.e., a foot which is 9" in circumference at the instep is usually 9" long. This will help you if someone asks you to make socks for their foot and they can give you their foot length in inches.

This method will work for felted booties as well... just add 15-20% to the width, and 25-40% to the length. I'm currently doing a pair of these on Size US 3 needles in Manos del Uruguay.

Measure around your subject's ankle, and then around the middle (instep) of foot. Again, these measurements should be the same (on me, they are both 9"). This we will call "100%."

Casting On: Sock needles should be appropriate to yarn used, to knit a VERY dense fabric. Sizes 0 to 4 (US) are usually good - 0 for fingering, 4 for very thick worsted; your mileage may vary, so just use needles a couple of sizes smaller than you would for knitting a sweater from the same yarn. I aim for at least 7 stitches to the inch and I use a set of 5 DPNs - Size US 0/2.0 mm with a typical sock yarn like Lorna's Laces or Regia. For a thick, worsted-weight sock made from something like Noro Kureyon, I will use Size US 5 or 6 needles.

This method works just fine for socks knit on two circular needles; just remember my increase/decrease directions ("...on each needle...") assume four working DPNs, with a fifth for knitting, are being used.

Using the long-tail method, cast on .25 to .5" worth of stitches for a child's sock, 1 to 1.5" worth of stitches for an adult woman's sock, or 1.5 to 2" worth of stitches for an adult man's sock.

I've found a new cast-on method for the toe which I really like. Here is my own little "cheat sheet" for my own socks:

Foot: Increase four stitches (one each needle) every OTHER row until when you you have 95% of the 100% inch number you initially measured. (You can measure this by laying the sock "flat" so that only the instep stitches are facing you, and taking a ruler and measuring the width of the last row. Multiply that measurement by 2 - to take into account the other side of the sock - and if this measurement equals 95% of your original 100%, you can stop increasing and knit plain rounds.) You increase to 95% and not 100% because you want the sock to fit snugly, and they will stretch a little bit to accommodate your 100%.

Stitches should be increased at both sides of the sock - one stitch on each side of the sock top (instep), and one stitch on each side of the sock bottom (sole) - which totals four stitch increases per round. The should be increased every OTHER round. The increases will show as two stitches almost adjacent to each other, on each side of the foot (again, four stitches total per increase round).

I make my increases on the second stitch and second-to-last stitch on the top side and bottom side of the sock - one stitch in from the edges, for a smoother finish.

Note: After the increases are completed, you may wish to incorporate a pattern on the instep (top) side of the sock, such as a K2 P2 rib.

Optional:After continuing to knit past ball of foot (which should be about 45% of the total length required), decrease one stitch on each needle (4 sts.), at sides of foot where the increases had taken place before. This will ensure a very smooth fit, so your socks won't bunch up in clogs. Do NOT do for wide feet.

Continue knitting until sock measures about 2 to 2.5" shorter than total length required, or until it is just short of the round ankle bone on the outer edge of your foot. Shorter is better than longer, as the sock will stretch when worn:

Begin Heel: I use an adaptation of Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' Yarnover, Short-Row type heel; see Interweave Knits, Fall, 2000; p. 77.

Work heel over 1/2 the total stitches ( or over 3/4 if you have a high instep). Heel may also be done in all garter stitch. In this case, do regular YOs - NOT backwards ones.

Decreasing Up The Base Of The Heel To The Heel Midpoint:
1) K to 1 st. before end, turn.
2) YO backwards on to RH needle (back under needle, over top, to front.), P across to 1 st. before end, turn.
3) YO, K to last 3 sts. (paired sts. and end st.); don't knit them, but turn.
4) YO backwards, P to last 3 sts. (paired sts. and end st.), don't purl them, but turn. Repeat row 3.

Repeat, knitting up to, but not working, the last paired sts. of the previous row, until you've decreased down to 10 to 15% of the total stitches you had in a round - 10% if you have a narrow heel, 15% if yours is standard. End with RS row, but don't turn.

Increasing On Up To The Top Of The Heel To Begin The Ankle:
1) K1 (1st st. of pair), correct mount of the YO (you won't have to do this if you knit Eastern Uncrossed style as I do), K2tog. (yo plus 1st st. of next pair), turn.
2) (WS) YO backwards, P to paired st. made by yo of previous row, P 1st st. of pair, SSP the yo with 1st st. of next pair (again, you won't have to correct the mount if you knit Eastern Uncrossed style - just P2tog.), turn.
3) YO, K to paired st. made by yo on previous row, K 1st st. Next sts. should be 2 yo's - K3tog., turn.
4) YO backwards, P to next yo's (should be 2 in a row), SSSP (3 tog. - 2 YO's with 1st st. of next pair), turn.
5) YO, K to next yo, correct mount of 2 yo's, K3tog., turn.

Repeat last 2 rows, end w/row 4 (WS). Last turn brings RS facing. Do NOT go on to include instep stitches in wraps.

Increasing notes: On 1st two ROWS of increases, you'll end with a (K or P) 2 tog., to set up the format; then you'll turn and YO.

On the 3rd, 4th and consecutive rows, each row will end with you taking 2 yo's, along with the 1st st. of the next pair, in a K or P 3 tog, then turn and YO.

Since on the decreasing you went all the way to the end, on the increasing you will combine the final yo's with the first and last instep stitches to prevent holes on those corners; i.e., pick up a stitch using a lifted increase, twist it, and combine it with stitches at either side of the instep, in the first complete round, to eliminate holes that might appear between heel and instep stitches.

Work ankle until, not including heel, it is as long as the foot (fold sock in half; toe to heel and ankle to heel should be the same lengths). Do final inch in K1P1 rib; or, after 1" of plain stockinette, you could do the entire ankle in K2P2 rib; or, do majority of ankle in K4P1 rib and end at top with K1P1 ribbing for an inch (or not!) If you use K2P2 throughout, you can fold the top down; you could also crochet an edging on the very top.

Binding Off: I use "Peggy's Stretchy Bind-off for Toe-Up Socks" which is found here at the Socknitters site:

    "If you are knitting a K1, P1 ribbing, on the row before the bind-off row: K1, M1 ("make one" by making a half-hitch loop, not by picking up the in-between thread), pull the M1 tight, P1.

    "Repeat around. Bind off row (go up a needle size or two): K1, slip the M1, pass the K1 over the slipped M1, P1, pass the slipped M1 over the P1, K1, pass the P1 over, etc. as for a regular bind off.

    "If you are knitting a K2, P2 ribbing, on the row before the bind-off row: K2, M1, P2, M1.

    "Repeat around. Do a regular bind off, as above, remembering to slip the M1 rather than knitting it. The M1 is never actually knit, so it doesn't make a stitch which will add bulk to the top of your cuff; it simply creates an extra loop in your chain bind off."

Congratulations on your toe-up socks! Please let me know how you did!

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Stasia is a knitter, spinner, weaver, writer, reader, and musician from Wisconsin, USA.

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