Monday, March 12, 2007

Queen Kahuna, revisited

When I finally settled down and began reading Queen Kahuna's book, I realized I was going to have to take back some of the snarky things I said in the last post. There's good stuff in there.

First of all, I should say that Mary Ann Beattie does a good job of justifying her style. "Crazy Toes & Heels" is purposefully written for the visual learner. She is deliberately careful to write complete instructions and provide illustrations for every step. And I have to admit, sometimes this was helpful to me. Her "no wrap - no gap" short row method is identical to the Sherman Sock stitch encroachment technique, but the illustrations explain it much better, and I think I'll give this method another try.

The book really is packed with gems to add to your sock-knitting arsenal. I'm particularly taken with her suggestion to knit the first round of the toe with both the working yarn and the cast-on tail, then in the next round working some of those doubled stitches separately to effect a rapid increase. The result is a very attractive, round toe. The next time I do a cuff-down sock, I think I'll try finishing it off with "Cathy's Creation toe," which creates a band across the front.

Last night I began experimenting with the Queen Kahuna techniques using some Interlacements Tiny Toes. I still think Turkish cast-on can't be beat -- what can be easier than wrapping the yarn around your needle? And I like the speed of increasing with yarn-overs rather than the lifted increases Beattie recommends (she makes a good case for them, though).* I decided to give her fan toe a try, and I like the effect.

I am disappointed that she offers no guesstimating guide for when to start the gusset increases -- like, begin gusset increases when you have knit 60% of the planned sock length -- but I expect that really does depend on gauge and actual foot measurements. (Hmm. Maybe what I need to do is create a website where people I knit for could enter their foot measurements and the results would get emailed to me, like my own version of the Sockulator V.)

In short, reading the Queen Kahuna guide is like taking a class from an affable, experienced teacher, who will patiently explain every step to you while also offering you handy tips for making things a bit easier. Is it really worth $25 plus shipping? Probably not, but in the final analysis, I'm glad to add it to my own knitting library.

* Update 3/18: Beattie's variation on (and explanation of) lifted increases is the best I've ever seen. I've tried lifted increases before, and never liked them. Her method involves a different way of picking up and manipulating the various stitches, and the effect is very clean.


JoVE said...

Yes, it would be great to know the foot measurements of folks one might want to knit socks for. I am stumped as to how to get them without suggesting that I plan to knit socks and thus creating a sense of expectation leading to a sense of deadline for me, which takes all the joy out of knitting for others.

So for my dad (who I have knit for recently), I knew his shoe size and guessed at the approximate width of his foot and then used those handy tables in the Schurch book.

Cat Herself said...

Sometimes you just have to ask for foot measurements. Of course, it's helpful if you then follow them . . . not always my MO.

yarmando said...

It does seem to be that if you measure from the crook of the elbow to the first skin wrinkle in the wrist below the thumb, that's close to the length of the foot. And at least for me, if I put my hand flat, fingers together and thumb up against my index finger, and measure the circumference below the thumb knuckle, that measurement is the same as around the ball of my foot.

Of course, asking for those measurements might create the expectation of gloves.

The Schurch book is on its way to me. I'd initially declined to buy it, but I had a gift certificate.