Saturday, June 23, 2007

Trying Toe-Up

Or should I say toe-up is very trying? These are the anklets I promised myself in a previous posting. Since the TOFUtsies yarn is not-quite-half-used-up, toe-up (and my trusty scale) seemed the solution to knowing when to stop sock #1 and start sock #2. But I had an awful time getting started.

My original plan was to follow the Ann Norling basic sock pattern but knit up instead of down. Sounds easy. But how to begin? After struggling with several methods from several sources, I settled on one of the many so-called "easy toe" directions, this one from Sensational Knitted Socks. But, for some reason, I couldn't get the provisional cast on to unzip. Several more sources later, I came across a provisional cast on from another set of "easy toe" directions, in this knitty article, where one crochets a chain, then knits into the backs of the stitches. Success!

Now I had my little rectangle of knitting to turn into a sock toe. Still under the delusion I could follow the basic sock pattern, I had cast on 20 stitches, which meant I had 40 stitches on two needles, which turned into 48 stitches by the time I added a third needle and had picked up stitches on the sides of the rectangle. Since the basic sock pattern starts with 64 stitches, I added 4 stitches every other round until I reached 64.

Hmmm. This toe looks really boxy. Oh, well, I said to myself, maybe this is one of the differences between toe-up and cuff-down socks. But before I continued, I took a gander at the heel instructions in SKS. The toe-up sock directions are combined with 5-stitch pattern directions, so the expectation is one will have the number of stitches on the needles suitable for 5-stitch patterns. I am knitting plain stockinette; did I want to recalculate the values in the heel instructions to work with my 64 stitches? Definitely not. So I increased my stitch count to 70.

(An aside: I hate M1, aka "make 1". For some reason, I find it incredibly awkward to execute and I end up kind of twirling the needles around each other, seeking a purchase for completing the stitch. And usually I leave a little hole behind, but these M1's look pretty good. But I still hate doing them.)

(Another aside: While discussing pet peeves, I will mention that I am becoming more and more disenchanted with bamboo needles. Instead of growing smoother with time, they seem to be getting brittle and splintery. The obvious solution is to sand the roughness away, but eventually that will change their size, won't it? And the yarn doesn't move smoothly over the needle surface. These needles may be passed on to another knitter who can appreciate their quirks more than I can.)

So, now I'm merrily knitting around the foot of the sock, but that boxy toe bothers me. Looking at the SKS instructions, I now see that I should have cast on 14 stitches, not 20. Maybe I should have just started with the SKS pattern to begin with. But am I going to start over? I don't think so. I wear Earth shoes, which have square toe boxes, so I'm thinking I will just stick with what I have. It will add another variable to the experiment that is called knitting.

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