More toes

By | November 8, 2012

Grab a cup of tea; this is gonna be a long one.

I’d like to tell you that I finished two pairs of socks in the past few days. Finishing two pairs in quick succession would’ve been a novelty for me, since I normally practice serial monogamy with my knitting projects. But while enjoying Interweave Knitting Lab last weekend, I switched between two sock projects at whim. It was fun, and after completing the first pair with just a toe left to go on the second, I was eager to get to the finish line.

Too eager, as it turns out. I finished off the round toe, wove in my ends, and went to model the socks for the first time… only to discover I’d omitted a full repeat of the stitch pattern on the foot of the second sock. Twenty-eight missing rows! You’d think I’d notice before knitting the toe, but you’d be wrong. Time to rip!

On the bright side, I discovered that the finish I prefer for round toes – thread the tail through the final few stitches twice, using a trick I teach in Bind-off Bonanza to pull the tail tight – is really secure. I could not free the end from the last few stitches! I had to pull out scissors and snip a thread.

Sorry, no pictures of the too-short sock: (1) It was embarrassingly short, with the heel of the sock only reaching the back of my foot’s arch. And (2), it was a stealth project, destined for a sock club. Pictures forthcoming, after the club shipment!

But I can share photos of the other sock project, the one I did finish. It was another pair of toe socks. This time, I was determined to get the pinkie toes right. Are you ready? I have a series of blow-by-blow photos.

I started by knitting the toes individually, trying them on to ensure each was the right length.

yes, I have weird feet; if I can deal with it, you can too

After joining the second and third toes, I knit even until the combination was the right length. A clip-on marker made it easy to count rounds from the join, to ensure the second sock would be the same.

where would we be without clip-on markers?

Next up: adding in the big toe and the fourth toe, and knitting even until it was time to add in the pinkie toe. This is where I’d goofed on my first pair of toe socks, not knitting far enough.

again, a clip-on marker keeps tabs on the number of rounds

This time: success! The pinkie toe of the sock snuggles down and fits neatly over my pinkie toe. Now, the clip-on marker indicates the beginning of rounds.

leaving that marker in place made it easy to compare the second sock’s foot length to the first’s

Of course, up until now the toes have been “joined” only in the sense that I’ve worked across the stitches of one toe to the stitches of the neighboring toes. Some stitches between the toes were left aside to be grafted together later. Modeling the proto-sock on the other foot shows red waste-yarn tails (holding live stitches) and green yarn tails (to be used for grafting).

now you can see the mess that was hidden in the previous photos... icky, eh?

Grafting those toe junctures was admittedly the most fiddly part of the whole toe sock, but it only took one evening.

the junctures are much neater now, aren’t they?

From there, it was plain stockinette for the foot, and a modified Sweet Tomato Heel with mini-gussets.


Oddly, just two wedges gave me the length I needed. I’m tempted to knit these socks yet again, working the first wedge with progressively shorter short rows and the second wedge with progressively longer short rows. Mm, yes. Because everyone needs three pairs of toe socks, right?

Once the heel was done, it was k2, p2 rib and Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off.


I love them. I’m wearing them right now, as a matter of fact.

Vital stats: Blue Moon Fiber Arts® Socks that Rock® mediumweight, size 2.75mm needles.

Speaking of Interweave Knitting Lab, it was a blast. My students were great, picking up skills quickly and asking really good questions. And it was fun to hang out with teachers that I hadn’t met before, or who I don’t get to see all that often.

IKL was my last teaching gig of 2012, but my 2013 schedule is already filling up: Tuscon in January, Madrona and Stitches West in February, Yarnover in April, and – looking further out – The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo in October. Whew! It’s gonna be a busy year.

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