Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Knitting opinions!

Knittech asked if I could comment on translating a top-down sock into a toe-up sock. I'll happily explain my logic, but there are a lot of disclaimers!

I've knit 6 pairs of socks in my life. 4 top-down, 2 toe-up. I'm certainly no expert! I don't know if I would try to knit a top-down sock in reverse (toe-up) if I hadn't yet knit the sock the way it was supposed to be knit. Maybe I'll try it one day, but I'm not confident enough yet to try to revise a pattern without first knitting it the way it was written.

For some reason, I resisted learning toe-up for a very long time. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, which gets me in trouble. If I think that something is hard, or if I think I'll make mistakes, then I'm likely to skip trying all together because I hate failure. That's the down side of being a perfectionist.

BUT, I found two great resources to help me learn toe-up:

First, the provisional cast-on. The written instructions just didn't cut it for me. I kept trying it, only to really mess it up. Finally, I found this video ( I watched it over and over and over again. Then I grabbed my materials and worked while watching the video, pausing it, replaying it, rewinding, etc. It was magic! Now I can do a provisional CO in my sleep, and I love it. I don't need any instructions at all.

Next I learned the toe-up knitting method using these instructions (pdf) ( These were so helpful!

I admit that I knit and ripped the toe about 5 times before actually continuing with the sock pattern. It was fun! and I really liked how easy it was. Again, I can now do it in my sleep!!

So, armed with those basics, I knit two pairs of simple ribbed socks. As I knit, I realized that I like the how easy toe-up socks are, but I didn't want to be restricted to patterns that only provided toe-up. There were lots of top-down socks that I wanted to knit even though I wanted to use the toe-up method.

So, I started with a top-down pattern that I knew -- Jaywalkers. The pattern is so easy. I knew that the bottom of the foot needed to be St st, and the top of the foot needed to be in pattern. I knew I could do a heel easily, and then the leg would be in pattern all the way around. I also agree with Grumperina that it's best to add a few rows to the heel so that it doesn't look stubby. (I can't find the exact post she made or else I'd link to it.)

Anyway, I need to experiment with other patterns, ones that are more lacy. Again, I think if there's not calf shaping, it should be relatively easy to knit the pattern. My thought is to simply knit the lace pattern as written -- if there are 10 rows in the lace pattern, I would start with row 1 and work to row 10 even though I was going UP the sock instead of down the sock. Does that make sense? The lace would simply be in reverse (vertically).

I look forward to experimenting!!

Oh, and a couple of personal opinions about toe-up socks.

First, even though toe-up are so easy to knit, I actually like the look of top-down heels with heel flaps. I think they're more visually appealing. Toe-up socks are straight St st and are rather boring to look at.

Also, I like the more technical aspects of a heel flap. I like picking up stitches along the gusset. I like knitting eye of partridge heels. I like counting and short rows. However, toe-up socks (and heels) let me leave the instructions at home and carry less stuff with me on the train.

Finally, the real cincher with toe-up socks I that I don't have to know EXACTLY how much yarn I have for the sock. I'm not very good at measuring and calculating yardage & need. I've tried, but it ends up being a guessing game for me, and I feel foolish trying to figure out how many yards I need for two socks. With toe-up, I can knit until I'm halfway through the yarn and stop. I've knit the essential part, the foot, and the leg length can be as long or short as the yarn will allow. With toe-up, I don't have the problem of top down where I realize I'm halfway through my yarn but still have 2 more inches to knit for the toes.


Faith! said...

Oh wow, thanks for these details! I've done several socks cuff-down, but easily get stuck in my ways with knitting techniques and am afraid to try toe-up!

KnitTech said...

Sounds like you'll be designing your own here in no time. Nice job at being willing to try new things. You'd be surprised at the number of people who aren't.

Amy Lane said...

Ah... the favorite sock pattern...I feel like such a real knitter, now, because I could follow all of that!!!
(okay, my word verification today? cfkku...I don't think the computer is very happy with me, do you?)

NeedleTart said...

Had to comment just to write my security word.....bwewxtd. Do I need to get the broom out?
I just bought "Socks Soar on Two Needles" and have been looking at the toes-up pattern. You give me hope....

Rae said...

Socks Soar is the book that taught me how to use 2 circs. I really like Cat Bordhi. I found the book really easy to follow! Good luck.

Coach Susan said...

That's a really good provisional CO method. I was crocheting a chain and picking up stitches in the back bump of each crocheted chain (Myrna Stahman's instructions from the Seaman's scarf published about a decade ago in Interweave Knits). What could be better than getting those stiches right onto the needle directly, though. Awesome! Thanx.