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 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.


Cat Herself said...

Did you hear that little popping noise? Yup - that was my brain imploding. Messy.

Anonymous said...

It may be just my feet with unnaturally long toes, but I found that it's better to knit straight for twelve rounds or so, till the sock is hitting about the middle of the ball of my foot, before beginning the arch shaping.

yarmando said...

@kippahandcollar: You've done these before? Here I thought I was breaking new ground. Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...


I've been futzing around with figuring out how to do these for awhile, but I still don't have all the kinks worked out, either. Someone else has played with the idea, too, here. But you are, so far as I can tell, the first to try to write the recipe up and debug it.