Put Your Best Foot Forward

A panoramic photo showing one left foot and five right feet on a pale gold carpet. The left foot is just touching a red foam mat.

Sometimes photographing knitting has surprising results! I was trying to get a shot of something that is 220cm long and I couldn’t fit it all in, so decided to try the panoramic feature – I wasn’t expecting it to give me five right feet!

It seems appropriate as a photo for today (though I’ve cropped it to remove the knitting as that is yet to be published), as I want to write about sock knitting.

A panoramic photo showing one left foot and five right feet on a pale gold carpet. The left foot is just touching a red foam mat.

There are many ways to knit a sock: top down, bottom up or even flat and seamed!

Heels can have a variety of structures including the afterthought heel where you knit the whole sock as a straight tube and then add the heel in afterwards.

Needles also give a range of choice – double pointed needles (dpns), a tiny circular needle, two circular needles or one long one using the magic loop technique. There are also flexible needles that are a cross between dpns and circular needles that you use in a set of three.

Depending on the needles you use, you can knit one sock and then the other, or both at the same time – or even knit one inside the other!

With all these options there are bound to be some techniques that a knitter favours or dislikes.

Personally, although I generally love using circular needles for most things, when knitting socks I tend to return time and again to double pointed needles – those or the flexible version.

I also prefer to knit them one at a time, top down, with a reinforced slip stitch heel flap and a gusset structure. My lovely wife and I both find this type of sock fits us best. Short row heels are great for self-striping yarn, but I haven’t yet managed to get the fit right for myself.

I’ve finally reached the foot of the second sock of the pair I started in October (!) using RiverKnits‘ Open Day 2022 Special in the colourway ‘Ankh Morpork’, having finished the gusset decreases this afternoon.

The joy of hand knitted socks is that you can make sure they fit you: if you have particularly pointy toes you can adjust the toe shaping to suit; if you have one foot a different length or shape than the other you can make them slightly different; if, like me, your ankles/lower legs are larger than your feet your socks can have more stitches in the leg than the foot. Shop bought socks do not offer this type of customisation.

For me, once I reach the heel flap on a sock my progress tends to speed up. I think because there are small clear sections it’s easier to plan and see the end result: I’ll knit the heel flap and heel turn one day, the gusset decreases another and then I’m on to the foot and it’s not long until the toe decreases start. That might also explain why I’m not a big fan of afterthought heels – knitting a long tube with no shaping until the toe feels a bit endless!

I’m teaching a workshop on sock knitting at Yarn O’clock on February 16th, 6.30pm – 9pm. There are one or two spaces left. Contact Anne at Yarn O’clock if you want to book.

We won’t be working on a full size sock, but one very similar to the advent mini socks; that means you’ll be able to work through all the sections of a top down heel flap sock in one workshop.

My intention is for my RiverKnits socks to be finished by the workshop so folk can see how the structure scales up to full size.

In case you thought I’d forgotten about it, my Am Byth MKAL is all up to date! Part Three will be released on Friday 10th and I will be uploading a video for one of the cast-off options. I’ll share my completed Parts 1 and 2 here next week (and on social media this Thursday).

The garden is showing signs of spring! We have snowdrops, primroses, hellebores, cyclamen and crocuses in flower and there are some very early daffodils about to open. I can’t remember if I told you we planted about 70 in the late autumn, mostly in the lawn, with flowering times from late Jan/early Feb until late May. It’s good to see them start to emerge. The rhubarb is also starting to peak above ground level again as well. Here is one of the front garden borders with lots of lovely flowers in bloom:

As you can see, I don’t believe in removing all dead leaves from the borders – the worms will do that eventually and I think it helps protect the ground from the worst frosts.

That’s all from me today. Take care, stay warm and do something that makes you happy this week. K x

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