Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Evil Genius Evolves: The Toe

Changes are afoot in the lab. I've been conducting some sock-knitting experiments lately, and they're producing some very pleasing results. To begin, I've settled on a new standard pattern for my toes. It's very round at the beginning, increases rapidly but smoothly at the start, then transitions into more gradual increases for a slightly longer toe and (in my opinion) a better fit.

With desirable, fingering weight sock yarn and a 32 inch, size 1.5 (2.5mm) circular needle:
  • Cast on 14 stitches using Turkish cast-on and knit 1.5 rounds. (If you prefer Judy's Magic Cast-On, cast on 14 stitches on each needle and knit 1 round).
Begin to think of the first 14 stitches as the sole (bottom) of the foot, and the other 14 stitches as the instep (top).

I use a couple different increase methods in my toe because they produce subtly different effects. For the first increase round, I use KLL and KRL, or what Cat Bordhi calls LLinc (La-Link) and LRinc (La-Rink). This increase pulls the stitches together, reducing the tendency for increases to create corners at the tip.
  • Knit 1, KRL, knit until 1 st remains on the sole, KLL, knit 1. Repeat for instep.
Now I begin using my preferred increases -- yarnovers, which I twist in the next round so they don't leave a hole. For a left-leaning increase, I knit the yarnover stitch through the back loop. For right-leaning, I work what I call a k-twist.

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.
  • Knit 2, YO, knit until 2 sts remain on the sole, YO, knit 2. Repeat for instep.
  • Knit 2, k1tbl, knit until 3 sts remain on the sole, k-twist, knit 2. Repeat for instep.
Repeat the last two rounds until there are 26 stitches per side, 52 stitches total.
  • Knit 2, YO, knit until 2 sts remain on the sole, YO, knit 2. Repeat for instep.
  • Knit round, twisting the yarnovers as established.
  • Knit round plain.
Repeat these three rounds until your sock is the desired circumference. Usually, that's 32-36 stitches per side, or 64-72 stitches total.

More notes:

My old Just Start Knitting toe never quite worked for me. It tended to twist on my toes, and sometimes I could feel a ridge created by the round of doubled stitches. Also, it just didn't look as good; I prefer stitches smoothly flowing from instep to sole over the tip of the toe. Anatomically correct toes helped with the twist, but I dislike checking whether my socks are on the right feet.

I'm most pleased with the effect of doing the first increase 1 stitch in from the edge, then moving subsequent increases another stitch in. It makes a smooth transition from the cast-edge into the increase lines.

I've been using these toes exclusively since I put all this together last summer. I hope you like it.

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