Friday, October 16, 2009

My brand of fun

Well, folks, I have just been having a blast. I set before myself a challenge: to use the equipment and skills I possess in order to produce a sock pattern I can make in profusion in a relatively short amount of time. I'm a puzzle person and I love to figure things out, so I am feeling jazzed!

What brought this all about is that I sold ALL of my Superba machines, upon which I heretofore made socks. (Sold my Brother motor too, but that's another story.) I am left with a manually operated Studio SK-155 and ribber (bulky) and a Studio SK-321 standard. I have purchased a ribber which upon arrival will negate this post, but ...

Having downsized to such an extent, I set about contemplating my sock making. Everyone wears socks. They make wonderful gifts and they are just fun, especially with the self-patterning yarns and vibrant colors available. But I simply do not have the patience it takes to hand knit ALL of my socks. I do enjoy hand-knitting socks when I have a couple of months of swim team practice to kill. But with cold feet staring me in the face (ew) I needed to produce many socks and much more quickly.

I have knit socks for my mother and grandmother in the past utilizing a standard gauge flatbed machine. They knit up so quickly and the fit can easily be adjusted. The downside is that they require a seam up the instep and across the toe, and of course without a ribber, there is no way to keep the socks from lounging in a heap around your ankles like a jobless teen in the summer. And the problem with hand knitting rib is that the bind off for ribbing is not stretchy. Kind of hard to get the suckers higher than your toes, if you can even get your toes in!

Luckily, a little surfing landed me at "Peggy's Stretchy Bind-off for Toe-Up Socks."

So the finished project, prior to washing which will permit the yarn to bloom and fill in the little holes here and there at the heel and the seam, is here:

Here is the process:

First you cast on with waste yarn and knit 10 or so rows, then however long you want the calf, knit away. (Soon I will experiment with texture and pattern here.) Add about four rows for the ankle and short row the heel cup on a third of the needles on one half of the width. Just put half the needles (from zero over) in hold, then divide the other side into thirds and that's the number of needles you short row out and back in. So you will have a triangle on the sides and a flat cup in the center when you're done. One sock do left, one sock do right. Whatever side you pick, put the heel cup and the toe cup on the same side.

The foot part takes a little more calculating...remember how many needles you short-rowed, your one-third of half of your total? Well measure your foot from heel to toe, then subtract that number twice. It will make sense to you later. (If you are making gifties, there are charts of foot length for sizes of men's, ladies' and children's feet.) So calculate your gauge (ha!) and figure out how many rows for the total, subtract the short rowed number twice (half the heel and half the toe) and there you go. Knit away.

Make a toe the same way you made the heel, and on the same side. Switch to waste yarn and knit enough rows to take it off the needles without losing any of your main stitches. (Any of you machine knitters out there who want some specific advice on short rowing, shoot me an e-mail!)

This is what you will have at this point:

Now, you have some options. You can rehang the toe stitches and the top of the foot part with the right sides facing and knit one row through the other and bind off, or you can knit a row with the carriage and bind off, or you can just grab your bodkin and go to town, seaming up the seam across the base of the toes and then up the side. You're going to have to seam the inseam anyway, so you might as well. Then you can knit your ribbing by hand using double point needles or tiny circulars (I don't have any small enough) like I did here: can just knit the ribbing by hand flat, which I think made a much nicer rib and was much more easily accomplished, and seam up everything.

Speaking of seaming, you can also pin the entire thing, carefully matching the stitches, a tricky endeavor since it rolls and curls without mercy. Then you can take a tiny zigzag stitch with your sewing machine. It makes a tiny ridge on the foot and leg, which no one I've made socks for ever minded at all. You could press this tiny seam down and take another straight stitch down the side (french seaming) if your recipient is a tenderfoot.

I know this is crazy talk to most knitters, but I started knitting in order to sew knitwear. I love being able to utilize all my equipment. A lot of knitters despise sewing, but I love to sew and this is my party. So there!

1 comment:

Rabecca Larson said...

Yeah! Sewing! You've learned so much since we first started. Look at you, writing patterns! I'm so proud! Lots of happy feet in your family...hooray for Kath!