Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Slight Delay

There will be a short delay before the next Arch-Villain sock post. I apologize for the interruption. I'm participating in this month's Sock Innovation knit-along, so I'm under a deadline to finish the pair.

I like the book; lots of beautiful stitch patterns, and Cookie A's notes about design are worth reading. While the stitches are innovative, the architectures are not, and like others, I'm disappointed in the decidedly non-innovative parade of standard cuff-down constructions. But like Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, many of these patterns can be flipped and constructed correctly toe-up. But you'll want to pay close attention to the "give" of the fabric; the designs are beautiful, but many are not very elastic, and you could discover too late that the sock won't stretch to be pulled on over the ankle and heel.

I should finish these socks in a couple days, and I'll have time to write up my notes on the gusset section of the Arch-Villain socks.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Arch-Villain Knit-Along: Arch Shaping

As I said before, the theory of arch-shaped socks is pretty straightforward: increases on the top of the sock are paired with decreases on the bottom.

After finishing the toe, work to the center of the sole, either 1/4 or 3/4 round. Adjust magic loop (or whatever inferior tools you may be using -- I'm looking at you, Knittingbrow) so that this is the beginning of your round, and the midpoint bisects the instep. In this section, you knit the right side of your sock, then knit the left.

For the right side, you'll work some set number of stitches, make a left-leaning decrease, work to your first marker (more about this in a second), make a left-leaning increase, and work to your midpoint. On the left side, work to just before your next marker, make a right-leaning increase, work until some set number before the end of your round, make a right-leaning decrease, and work to end of round.

See? We're decreasing at fixed points so the decreases always stay on the bottom of the sock, but by making increases immediately after the first marker and immediately before the second, we push the line of increases away from the top and down toward the bottom. Here's how I do it:

    Right side: knit to 1 st before center top, place marker, kfb in last st of right side.
    Left side: knit 1, place marker, knit to end of round.
    Knit 1 round plain.
You'll now work alternating shaping and non-shaping rounds. Shaping rounds are like this:
    Right side: k2, ssk, work to marker, k1, M1L, work to center top.
    Left side: work to 1 st before marker, M1R, work to 4 sts before center bottom, k2tog, k2.
See KnittingHelp.com for M1L & M1R instructions. Depending on how the yarn behaves, I sometimes do my usual yarnover increases with ktbl and k-twist in the next row.

  • I like the increases to begin from a midpoint, which is why I have that kfb in my set-up round. But there's nothing keeping you from starting your increases at points offset from the center.
  • Similarly, your decreases don't have to be 2 sts out from the center bottom. It might reduce some of the foot-hugging qualities of the sock, but I'm making mine 9 stitches out. I'll talk about why I picked this number when we get into the heel.
When your sock is 4 or 5 inches long, you'll want to stop to do some figuring for the gusset and heel section.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Arch-Villain Knit-Along: Toe

I'm going to call these socks "Arch-Villains," unless someone has a better idea. That's the whole point of this exercise: putting my plans to the test, and improving them with input of others.

How This Will Work
I will lay out the instructions here, starting with a general description of what's to be done, followed by specific details of what I did and why I made those choices. Comments are open for any henchfolk working along to ask questions, offer opinions, report on progress, etc.

Step One: Make a Toe

I haven't settled on a recommended toe style for these socks yet. You're free to begin however you like. But there is something to keep in mind: in experiments so far, the fabric of this sock tends to pull the toe up the instep slightly. So the "typical" toe looks crooked, the line of increases slanting from the top front of the toes to the bottom back. One of the toes I posted about last week might work better.

I'm trying something along the lines of Cat Bordhi's "Pontoon Toe." It's similar to Queen Kahuna's "Fan Toe," with elements of FiberQat's Patch Toe. Here's how I made mine.

Turkish cast-on 10 loops, and knit one round. Instead of starting the second round, purl back across the 10 stitches you just knit on that side. (Actually, slip the first stitch and purl 9). Work back and forth on these stitches, repeating * knit 1 row, purl 1 row * 3x, slipping the first stitch of each row. Turn and knit 1 last row.

At the end of this last row of knits, pick up 4 stitches in the edge of your rectangle. The first 2 stitches will be part of your instep, the second 2 will be on the sole side. Knit across the 10 sole stitches, then pickup 4 stitches on the other side (the first 2 on the sole, the next 2 on the instep).

Bordhi and Kahuna both have you place markers to tell you where to increase. I think markers get in the way when you have so few stitches on your needles.
  1. k2, yo, k10, yo, k2; repeat for other side (16 sts total)
  2. k2, k-twist*, k10, ktbl, k2; repeat.
  3. k3, yo, k10, yo, k3; repeat.
  4. k3, k-twist, k10, ktbl, k3; repeat
  5. k4, yo, k10, yo, k4
  6. knit round, twisting the yarnovers as established
Continue in this way, increasing on either side of your 10 center stitches, until your toe is the right size. (That's 68 sts on the sock I'm making).

It took me 8 tries to come up with something half decent. Here's hoping you have better luck.

* k-twist: Slip next stitch knitwise onto the right needle, changing its mount. Slip the stitch back to the left needle purlwise; the front leg of the stitch now lies in back of the needle while the back leg of the stitch comes down the front of the needle. Knit the back leg like it's a normal stitch, which further twists it to the right.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Arch-Shaped Socks

Are arch-shaped socks the Next Big Thing in sock knitting? QueerJoe just finished a pair. I've been fascinated with them since knitting my "Francie" socks last year. There's a class at Sock Summit that I thought about taking, but with so many other Sock Summit choices, I decided I could skip the class and buy some patterns.

All the patterns I've seen are cuff-down, and the theory is pretty straightforward: shape the fabric around the foot by increasing at fixed points on the bottom of the sock while simultaneously working decreases that travel up the sides and meet at the top. Flipping this around to to create a toe-up version is easy -- just work decreases at fixed points on the bottom, and increases that start at the top and travel down the sides.

I've been working on more detailed instructions in my lab, and while the work isn't finished, I think it may be at a point that I can start sharing it with my henchmen. Anyone up for a knit-along? If so, grab some sock yarn and needles, and we'll get started in a couple days.