Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back to business.

Here’s the Amedro shawl. I’m now occupied with the fifth pattern repeat, of ten. The rows are just beginning to feel a bit shorter. Another dropped stitch last night, not much damage. I’m really quite pleased with that centre pattern from the Love Darg book.

The decreases are about to start eating into the outer columns of roundels. That’s exciting.

And here are Matt’s socks. As hoped, I made great progress over the weekend. I finished Sock #1 on Friday, on the outward journey, and cast on for #2. I then gritted my teeth and got that ribbing done over Saturday and Sunday. I’m now more than halfway from ribbing to heel flap – it does itself, once one gets past that hurdle.

I found myself wondering again why some people knit socks from the toe up? Is it just because they can, like climbing Everest because it’s there? There seem to me three serious drawbacks:

1) You’ve got to start with a six- or eight-stitch cast-on, like a bloody doiley.
2) The horrible ribbing comes last.
3) You’ve lost the chance to adjust the foot length, if you should get it slightly wrong. I particularly welcome that feature this time, knitting for unfamiliar feet.

Who knows?

It almost looks as if the original 100-gram skein is going to be enough for both socks. Usually, buying sock yarn in 50-gram balls, I find a gent needs some extra at least for the toe shaping. I no longer buy the third ball, but improvise something from the odd-ball bag.

But I didn’t feel I knew Matt well enough for zany toes. Maybe next time.

The extra skein is no loss, even in my current austere mood. I plan to knit the Round the Bend jacket fairly soon, in a kaleidoscope of Koigu and sock yarn. Dark solids and near-solids will be wanted to pull it together.

Or maybe the new EZ book will come out before I get there, and I will be swept away by something in it.

Heard on the radio

I listen off and on through the night, like many old folks. Both of the items which follow could be based on a semi-conscious misunderstanding.

a) I think I heard them say on the World Service that the great Joan Sutherland was a knitter.

b) This morning, on the Today programme, they were talking about a trust fund owned/administered by the Shetland Island Council, with money from oil. That’s running out, but is soon to be replaced by money from natural gas. The suggestion was that this fund was sometimes put to rather odd uses, and that the accounting is a bit opaque. My thought was, so they could have afforded to keep knitting as a compulsory subject in primary schools after all. It has recently been abolished and the knitting teachers sacked, for an annual saving of a fairly trivial sum, as annual savings go in Council circles.


  1. Why would I knit top-down socks if I want to use all my yarn without overlapping into another skein?

    I'm a toe-up fan because I knit until I'm done with the foot (trying it on as I go), then do a heel and knit the leg until I'm out of yarn. None of this contrasting heels and toes bit necessary.

  2. Anonymous9:22 AM

    According to her obituary at the NYTimes, Dame Joan was a needlepointer. I agree with Suzanne on the toe-up goodness!

  3. Yes Dame Joan was definitely a needlepointer. I had the privilege of meeting her - very briefly! - but the music students at one of my universities had a master class with her and the girls discovered that she was also interested in their cross stitch, needlepoint and knitting! They started out terrified at the idea of singing in front of her - and ended up loving her and learning a lot, a genuinely wonderful woman!


    The link should take you to an obit that tells you that the great lady was indeed a knitter.

  5. Like Suzan and Cathairin I only knit socks toe up because I try on the socks as I go and they always fit perfectly. I start with a provisional cast on of half the foot's total number o stitches (Wendy Johnson is my hero, I learned everything I know about socks from her blog), not 6 or 8. I don't mind ribbing at all so no worries there, I even love all over ribbing for the top of the foot and the whole leg, as a fact. Last but not least, I never run out of yarn, have minimal leftovers and I dislike kitchener so much that I would never finish socks started from the leg. To each his own, I guess...

  6. Toe-up has been my preference for years now. I've recently become a convert to Judy's Magic Cast-On, which is well worth wrapping your brain around.

    As others have commented, one can try the foot on as it is knit (and more easily than getting the needles over one's heel, if working cuff-down).

    A tip for judging heel placement for a toe-up sock when it would be inappropriate or indelicate to remove one's shoe: put the sock on the intended wearer's hand, like a mitten. When it reaches to the wrist (where the hand meets the radius/ulna -- bend the wrist at a 90 degree angle to find this spot), it is time to start the heel shaping -- at least for most people. There are, of course, exceptions.

    You can use any heel shaping you like. I generally use a traditional flap heel, as the reinforcement lands on the bottom of the heel, which is where I need it most.

  7. Hmm, my link to Judy's Magic Cast-On didn't show up. Here it is:

  8. I hate doing toe-up socks. One reason is I often don't know who they will be for. I make a bunch of 'sock blanks' during the year, about 3/4 of the way down the foot, then finish when I figure out who the recipient will be. Maybe we should start a strike until the Shetland Knitting teachers are reinstated. No more buying Shetland yarn? Heck, in France even the unemployed go on strike.

  9. I laughed over your comment about the zany toes. I am wondering what level of acquaintance needs to be reached in order to qualify for "scraps from the stash" toes?

  10. MaureenTakoma6:41 PM

    Re: Joan Sutherland, the obit that appeared in the Washington Post noted that she was known for knitting backstage.

    For one who wants or needs a longer leg and isn't sure how much yardage is available, toe-up allows some flexibility. That being said, my cast-ons are always fraught with looseness.

  11. Another toe-up sock knitter here. Magic loop, figure 8 cast on, two at a time. I try them on as I go so the fit is always perfect. I'm a big fan of the after-thought, or Turkish Heel too.

    I love how everyone has their own preferred sock recipe. There is no right or wrong way to knit socks, each knitter has their own "right way".

  12. The article in the Seattle Times about Joan Sutherland included the tidbit that she was known to frequently work on her knitting when she was backstage. What a wonderful woman. She just seemed so natural and down to earth. What a rich talent she had. I felt so sad to hear that she had passed away.

  13. I knit both toe-up and cuff-down, and I do tend to have a problem getting the fit right with toe-up, but the main reason (I find) to do toe-up is if you are unsure of how much yarn you have and are sure of the foot size...

    I personally like contrasting heels and toes however....