Monday, December 23, 2013

Simple Christmas Socks

While at Knitting Lab this year, I purchased some self-striping Halloween yarn from Canon Hand Dyes -- it was Halloween after all. On my last day, I realized I really should have purchased a skein of self striping yarn for Christmas, but I was too late. So I went on line and ordered a skein. For better or worse, the yarn is hand dyed and didn't arrive until December 14th, so I dove right in. Afterall, I want to wear the socks on Christmas.

I decided that I was going to knit this sock toe-up. (Yes, I'm knitting a toe up sock.) Since I'm not doing a gusset and this is self striping yarn, toe up is a better approach than top down. I want to see how far I can go with the self striping yarn and this is easier to accomplish knitting a toe up sock. (Once I know the length of the tube, I can knit this toe up or top down.) I want my stripes to be consistent through out the sock, so I need a short row heel and no gusset. I am using the afterthought heel technique described in A Sock Surgeon's Afterthought Heel Technique to create the heel.

Constructing the Sock

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Cast on 28 stitches using Judy's Magic Cast On. Round 1: K to end of round. Round 2: K1, KFB, K, KFB, K3, KFB, K, KFB, K2. Repeat rounds 1 & 2 until there are 64 stitches on the needle. Since my toe is dark, I can get away with using the KFB as the increase. The purl bumps won’t be visible. If your toe is a lighter color, you may want to adjust and use M1L and M1R as appropriate. Knit 3 more rows in the contrast color for a total of 21 toe rows.
I knit both socks at a time using the chunking method described in Chunking your Socks. This means that the yarn needs to be split into two balls. Since I wanted to make sure that the color order was the same in both balls, I had to rewind one of them once split. This is only an issue if you are knitting two socks at a time. Once split, I then aligned the color so that I started both feet at the same point in the skein.
Start knitting both feet just to get the socks started and see how the colors are lining up.
Knit both socks until they measure about 11 1/2" from toe. Since the goal of these socks is to make them as long as possible maintaining stitch count and needle size, I decided that I needed to insert a heel on one of the socks to determine how much more leg I could knit. My normal sock length is 8 3/4" and my heel will be about 1 1/2", I marked a point 7 1/4" from my toe as the row that would be unraveled to start my heel. My sock is 64 stitches, my heel opening will be 64 / 2 - 2 or 30 stitches. These 30 stitches are centered on the sole of the sock with 1 stitch on each side of the opening. I start by clipping the center stitch of this row and then begin unraveling, picking out the stitches on this row. As I move along I insert may needles into the newly exposed stitches. It is easiest to do this if your needle size used to pick up the stitches is smaller than the needle size used to make the stitches.
Complete unraveling one side.
Slide needles over and then unravel the stitches on the other side. There are now 30 stitches on each needle.
Start knitting the heel in the middle of the sole so there won't be an end to weave in at the heel/sock corners. Start of round will reset at the end of the first round: Join yarn at middle of sole and knit to corner; pickup 2 stitches in the corner, one on each needle; knit to other corner; pickup 2 stitches in corner, one on each needle; knit past middle and knit to corner resetting start of round. Begin knitting heel as follows: Round 1- k1, ssk, k to 3 stitches before end of first needle, k2tog, k1, k1 ssk, k to 3 stitches before end of second needle, k2tog, k1. Round 2 - K. Repeat rounds 1 & 2 6 times, then repeat round 1, 7 times until 4 stitches remain. Knit 2 stitches on next needle and rearrange stitches by moving 2 stitches from the end of each needle to the front of the other needle. Graft closed with Kitchener stitch.
I tried on the sock and continued in stockinette until there was little stretch left. In my case this worked out to be 10 more stripes or 30 rows. Since I started with the white, I ended with the white as well.

The cuff is knit as follows: Using the contrast color, knit 1 row in stockinette. This will maintain a clean line between the last stripe and the start of the cuff. Knit 16 rows of 1x1 rib. Bind off using Jenny's Super Stretchy Bind Off.

The finished socks. The colors are nicely aligned
... and on my feet ...

Next Time

All and all I'm pleased with the sock but I would make some modifications next time I use this technique:
  • Make the toe "longer". Since I'm knitting the toe in a contrast color, the toe would look better if the contrast color was extended 2 or 3 rows.
  • Make the foot shorter. The sock is a little long for me, so I need to start the heel about 1/4 - 1/2 inch earlier.
  • Make the heel longer. Again, I think the sock would look better with a slightly larger heel.
  • Since I'm knitting the heel like a toe, I can knit the back of the heel using a heel stitch without much trouble.
  • This project can be found on Ravelry at Old Fashioned Christmas.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

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