Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A tale of 2 sock toes

Recently on KR there was a question on the possibility of making socks using double knitting.

SaraKate linked in that post to this, describing how to start a double knit toe. Its pretty close to what I do, so I'll just go with that description. Double knitting socks is not new, Kory at Knitty covered it back in 2006, and there are literature based reports from as early as 1860!

For a while I did toes this way, and I am not sure how or why I started. Maybe the purchase of the Montse Stanley book, 30+ cast on on techniques to play with - my perverse idea of heaven. I also forgot - or got mesmerised by the figure 8 cast on so have been using that in many forms, on dpns and on circulars. Not only that, I have also experimented with
Wendy J's short row toe with a provisional cast on across the knuckles. Any- way that KR post sparked my memory and I decided to resurrect the technique.

The toe in this image was to match the first sock already knit for Toby, in Regia stripe on 2mm dpns. So I invisibly cast on using a 1.75 mm dpn, and knit a few cm's. While it worked, it was much more open than the other toe so I frogged it and started again on 1.25mm dpn's. I had forgotten that you really need to use a needle almost half the size of the one for the body of the sock. That is because the extra yarn that reaches between the stitches when you knit double, ends up in each stitch, the stitches grow once off the needle. The toe knit on the 1.25 mm dpns is that shown in the final comparison image.

Standard double knitting, k1s1 with yarn in front, turn and repeat. Some thinking and planning is required to sort the increases - but not impossible. I could have gone on knitting double until the heel gusset was finished - but I was in to much of a hurry to show you all, so I rushed the toe.

So whats the verdict? I now remember why I stopped doing this toe. It produced what could only be described as a square flare toe. In my last toe photo, the figure 8 cast on is on the left, and the invisable double knit toe on the right. Notice the lines of knitting and how they flare out at the toe. That flare was worse, much much worse last night. Before I left the sock toe to its own devices - I attempted to bring it into line with my expectations. I folded it mid sole, and mid instep and finger pressed the toe into a neat curve - an attempt to squish a rounded appearance into the toe and reduce the square flare effect. It was semi-successful. Both socks have a cast on of 20 stitches, 10 on the sole, and 10 on the instep, notice how much wider the double knit toe is?

Will I use this toe again, maybe, it is quick and easy, and after a wash or two it appears the same as any other toe up sock. It is firmly part of my technique tool kit, and I do this for gloves and mittens and thumbs, double knitting is very handy to know about. In the dark yarn, at night it was easier to do this toe than to tug a figure 8 cast on into the same firmness as the surrounding stitches. It always takes me ages to carefully re-arrange the tension in that first row so the knitting appears seemless.

Will Toby ever notice he has one square flare toe and one more rounded - probably not.

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