Saturday, June 26, 2010

Genius Footprint -- The Heel

Just as during the gusset section when we had to plan to make all the gusset increases within a certain distance, for the heel we have to bring our sock to a close in the remaining inches of the foot. This takes some creativity, and again, rounds per inch is your friend.
I've knit 7.5 inches of my 10 inch foot, so I need to finish the heel in 2.5 inches. At 13 rounds per inch, I've got a little over 32 rows to complete the foot, to reduce my 98 stitches down to about 24 (which I can graft together or join in 3 needle bind-off). I could decrease at 4 points every other round. I could consult Personal Footprints, where Bordhi devotes 7 pages to mapping out different rates of decreasing at 6 points. But I thought I'd try a reverse Hat Heel, decreasing at 8 points every 4th round 8 times until my sock is the right length, then quickly decreasing on alternate rounds to close up the hole.

Here is a pic of the bottom of my sock so far -- a closed tube that is the same length as my foot, with increases that follow the shape of my toes and an arch expansion targeted to my size. On the reverse of the tube, I've marked stitches where I will open up the sock to knit the ankle and calf.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Genius Footprint -- Mark the Leg

Using science (that is, gauge and actual measurements of your foot), we've knit to our measurements and should be near the center of the ankle when we've completed the gusset increases. If you want, you can check this using the method Bordhi outlines in Personal Footprints: draw a line down the middle of your leg, try on your sock, and see if it reaches. You might need to add a few rows to make up for foot expansion. Now it's time to mark where your leg will be.

(You might have figured out that the point of this series was to explore whether I could successfully make socks like those in Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters, but without everything I dislike about those socks: the round toe, the "footprint" that doesn't adapt well to different gauges, and especially the annoying trial-and-error process. But the steps that deal with opening up the leg are the parts that I really, really like about the book.)

Sock patterns are usually written with the assumption that people's ankles are about the same circumference as the ball of their foot. For most of my family, it's pretty close, but here is where you can customize. The base of my ankle is just a bit bigger around than the base of my foot, so I'm going to plan for 72 stitches in circumference rather than the 68 stitches I had at the ball.

So what I do now is run a lifeline through the stitches where I will later put the leg of the sock. If my ankle will be 72 stitches, then I need to run a lifeline through 36 stitches, centered on the top. Following Bordhi's instructions, I knit another round, marking a stitch that I will later cut and unravel for the leg opening. Then I knit the next round and run another lifeline through the 36 stitches above my first life line.

I experimented with a more familiar method -- knitting my leg stitches with a bit of waste yarn, which I later removed to knit the leg -- but the end result isn't as nice. And in this instance, I recommend following Bordhi's instructions exactly. If you can't get your hands on a copy of Personal Footprints, you can get the general idea from the Houdini Sock pattern and from Bordhi's YouTube videos.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Genius Footprint -- The Gusset Increases

In New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Cat Bordhi demonstrated that gusset increases can be located anywhere you want on the sock -- top, bottom, sides; neatly stacked on top of each other or randomly spaced. Where do they work best on your foot? I'm still experimenting, but I think my increases work better on the top...

...or the sides.

My theory is that if the increases follow the lines where my foot gets bigger, then the stitches won't be distorted by the changing shape of my foot -- they'll flow in more or less straight lines from the toe to the heel.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Genius Footprint -- The Plan

The Genius Footprint is based on measurements and gauge. The toe is your gauge swatch; now you need these key measurements:
  • Circumference around the ball of the foot
  • Circumference at the widest part of the foot: around the heel and instep (see picture at right for illustration)
  • Length of foot (Best way: put a ruler on the floor, extending out from a wall; stand on the ruler, back of the heel pressed against the wall)
  • Length from the tip of the longest toe to the center of the ankle (see this blog post for advice).
We've already calculated how the sock will fit around the ball of the foot: gauge x circumference x 88% for negative ease. Now calculate how many stitches the sock will need to be at its widest. My foot is 9 inches at the ball, 13 at the heel/instep, or 68 stitches at the ball and 98 at the widest point. I will need to increase 30 stitches over the gusset section.
Gusset sections begin about halfway along the foot. My foot is 10 inches long, so I will start my gussets when the sock is about 5 inches. I can safely continue knitting for a few inches, give myself some more fabric so I can accurately check row gauge. My sock is 13 rows (or rounds) per inch, so I'll want to start my gussets near round 65.
The increases need to be completed before the center of the ankle. For me, that's at 7.5 inches, or round 98. Isn't that handy? I'll need to make 30 gusset increases, and I've got just over 30 rows to do it.
I can knit plain up to row 68, and ponder what I want to do with the gusset section.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Genius Footprint -- The Toe

The Genius Footprint begins with an anatomically correct toe.
[Gauge = 8.5 stitches per inch]
Turkish Cast-On
  • Hold your circular needle so that both ends are together, pointed to the right.
  • Pull the bottom needle to the right, so your top needle is held together with the bottom cord.
  • Start your yarn in back of the needles, leaving a 12" tail hanging.
  • Wrap the yarn over toward you, down across the front and up the back of the needles.
  • Wrap until you have 7 loops.
Rounded Toe
  • Knit across the stitches on the "top" needle. Be sure to keep your stitches snug on the "bottom" needle.
  • Hold working yarn and tail together, and work 1 round. (This doubles the number of loops on each side -- 14 per side, 28 total.)
  • Drop the tail, and knit one round, working one stitch in each loop.
Begin to think of the first 14 stitches as the sole (bottom) of the foot, and the other 14 stitches as the instep (top).

Toe Increases
  • Knit 2, YO, knit until 2 stitches remain of sole stitches, YO, knit 2. Repeat for the instep.
  • Knit round, working the first yarnover on each side through the back loop, and the second yarnover as k-twist*.
Repeat these two rounds until you have 48 stitches, 24 stitches per side (or until your sock is about an inch long). Then continue knitting but stop increasing on one of the ends. For example:

Left Foot
  • Knit until 2 stitches remain of sole stitches, YO, knit 2. On instep side, knit 2, YO, knit to end of round.
  • Knit round, working the yarnover at the end of the sole stitches as k-twist, and the yarnover at the beginning of the instep stitches through the back loop.
Right Foot
  • Knit 2, YO, knit to end of sole stitches. On instep, knit until 2 stitches remain, YO, knit 2.
  • Knit round, working the yarnover at the beginning of the round through the back loop, and the yarnover at the end of the round as k-twist.
Repeat until your sock is desired circumference. For me, that's 68 stitches. For you, it's gauge x circumference around ball of foot x negative ease. (8.5 spi x 9 inch ball x 88% negative ease = 67.32, or 68 stitches).

* 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.