Sunday, September 1, 2013

Converting the Circles and Squares Sock Pattern to a Standard Top Down Design

As mentioned in previous posts, I prefer to knit my socks "top down". I love geometric patterns and the Circles and Squares pattern stood out, but unfortunately it was a toe up design. Some patterns lend themselves to a straight forward conversion. This geometric design is the same whether it is knit toe up or top down, making for a simple conversion. Here is how I converted the pattern to use standard top down construction.

72 stitches were cast on using the German Twisted Cast On (also called the Old Norwegian Cast On) and knit 10 rounds of 1x1 twisted rib. I prefer using twisted rib for a 1x1 rib since the twisted stitch tightens up the rib for a cleaner look.

I then knit 2 1/2 repeats of the stranded pattern to get a leg I was happy with.

Once I was happy with the length of the leg, I started my heel flap. In my case, I knit a 36 stitch heel stitch heel flap. Starting with a WS row, I slipped the first stitch and purled the remainder. For row 2, I knit (SL1, K), repeating to end of row. I repeated rows 1 & 2 for a total of 31 rows, ending with a WS row.

To turn the heel:
Row 1 (RS): SL 1 wyib, K 22 stitches, SSK, K1; turn.
Row 2 (WS): SL 1 wyif, P 7 stitches, P2tog, P1; turn.
Row 3(RS): SL 1 wyib, K to 1 stitch before gap created by turn on previous row, SSK (1 stitch before gap and 1 stitch after gap), K1; turn.
Row 4(WS): SL1 wyif, P to 1 stitch before gap created by turn on previous row, P2tog (1 stitch before gap and 1 stitch after gap), P1; turn.
Repeat rows 3 & 4 until all stitches have been worked 22 stitches remain.

Now comes the fun part. Since I wanted to duplicate the sock as closely as possible, I had to duplicate the circle square pattern on the sole. (Of course, you could just do a simple striped sole & gusset at this point. It would be more straight forward.) In order to duplicate the pattern, I had to determine where the squares needed to be placed so that they would continue in pattern around the foot of the sock. I placed a marker at the center of the heel, 11 stitches on each side of the marker. From the marker, I counted off 9 and 18 stitches, placing markers at each location in both directions from the marker. I now have 5 markers and four sets of 9 stitches which form the basis of the squares. Since the squares alternate in color, look at the where the instep ends and start with the next color. In my case, my instep colors alternate: brown, red, brown, red. My next color will be brown.

The gusset starts by knitting across the heel. The first 2 stitches of the heel will be brown (knitting is started in the middle of the first square). Alternate colors at each marker. Once I got around the heel, I continued my PU&K (pick up & knit tbl) stitches in the appropriate pattern color until I reached the last marker. At this point I deviated from the pattern. I chose to stripe the remaining gusset stitches by alternating colors in every PU&K. I knit in pattern across the instep of the sock and moved to the second gusset. Picking up the remaining gusset stitches is a little different. PU&K in the 1x1 stripe pattern until the first marker is reached. This marker is now start of round. PU&K the remaining gusset stitches in pattern based on the next charted row (In my case these stitches were picked up & knit in pattern according to row 2 of the chart).

Gusset decreases start on the next row and alternate every other row until all the stripes are gone. Since the gusset is striped, I knit the decrease using the last 2 stitches before the instep and the first 2 stitches after the instep. Once the decreases are complete there are 36 sole and 36 instep stitches on the needles. Continue in pattern until the sock is 2" from end of foot and start the toe. I knit the following toe:

Switch to toe color.
Round 1: K, SSK, K*, K2tog, K
Rounds 2&3: K*
Round 4: K, SSK, K*, K2tog, K
Round 5: K*
Repeat rounds 4 & 5, 5 more times for a total of 6 rounds.
Round 16: K, SSK, K*, K2tog, K
Repeat round 16, 7 more times for a total of 8 rounds. 12 stitches remain.

Graft the toe closed using Kitchener stitch, weave in ends and block. Blocking is important in stranded socks as it will make your stitches more consistent.

Details of this sock can be found at Black Holes and Fading Suns.

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