Friday, May 18, 2012

Thanks for the hedgehog update, Jean. I hope they’re living happily ever after.

Well, I finished Lizzie’s socks all right, and started a pair for my sister. I took some time in the middle of the day to attempt Judy’s Magic Cast-On, as adapted for the Sock Knitter’s Handbook. I failed. I’m not going to be beaten – next time I’ll do it the unadapted way, and use circular needles, and sit here in front of Cat Bordhi’s YouTube video while I work. I’ll get it in the end.

But yesterday I resorted to the Turkish cast-on, same book, and succeeded. I’ve got a neat little toe.

It turns out that yesterday’s idea won’t work – Candace Strick’s Great Sock Plan, which I don’t understand yet, needs a provisional cast-on. By the time I grasped that, I was so entranced by Judy’s Magic one that I was not to be diverted. I’ll put Strong heels into these socks. That will add up to a more than sufficient learning experience for one pair – toe-up, Turkish cast-on, Strong heel, stretchy bind-off.

I remain utterly baffled by the attraction of toe-up sock knitting. That cast-on was fiddly, and will still be so when I get good at it. It felt especially irritating to do it in the same half-hour as the final rounds of Lizzie’s socks with their pleasantly-decreased ordinary toes. So you can try on a toe-up sock as you proceed? But since the vast majority of the people I knit socks for are not on the premises, that’s not much use. And it’s easy enough to undo the toe and lengthen or shorten a top-down foot if I get it wrong. I’ve often done that.

And there’s also the drawback of ribbing-at-the-end.

Yesterday one of you gave me a gift certificate for the Loopy Ewe, to buy another Crazy Zauberball to cheer me up. Which it did, immeasurably. She didn’t seem to think that this act of extraordinary kindness was blog-worthy so I won’t mention her name. And I managed to do something clumsy on the Loopy Ewe’s exemplary website, and wound up buying a Crazy Zauberball without applying the gift certificate, so there was nothing to do but go back and get another one. Indian Pink and Olive Street. I can’t wait.


I discovered yesterday that I had let our motor insurance lapse. I put it right at once, and saved a surprising amount of money by taking my husband off the policy. That means we were uninsured as we hurtled down the motorway on our return from Strathardle on Tuesday, but as I think I have observed here before, it is impossible to worry retrospectively.

It turns out that Upstairs doesn’t have contents insurance either (see yesterday), so our request for compensation has gone back to his buildings insurers. Which doesn’t entirely make sense. Our building insurers have appointed somebody to try to get their money back from Upstairs. They wrote to me and I answered their questions and they were kind enough to say I had been very helpful. So I wrote to them again yesterday, asking how they were getting on. Surely, as someone has pointed out in a comment, if Upstairs’ insurers are responsible for our ceiling they must also be responsible for our possessions. 


  1. I don't really "get" the toe-up craze, either. I've done a couple pairs this way to see what all the fuss was about. As a learning exercise, it was fine but nothing so revolutionary that I would make the switch from my regular top-down version.
    I do my socks by the Magic Loop (one long circular needle) method, so I can try the sock on for fit as I go. I knit both socks at the same time on one needle.

    For me, this is the perfect way and avoids lots of counting. When you have one cuff as long as you want, the other cuff is also done, et cetera. If I make a change in a pattern of one sock, the other sock is done at the same time, so I don't have to make notes to remember to do the same change on the other sock. I can also match self-striping yarn exactly, if I choose.

    In your Year of the Sock Quest, you might consider trying a Magic Loop sock.

  2. I tried one pair of socks toe up - never ever again. Yet I know other people who only knit toe-up. I can knit a plain sock top down without a pattern and, as you so rightly point out, you get rid of the ribbing first.

  3. Good luck with the insurance ping pong.

    Water is a big issues in our lives at the moment, because we are having some works done to our lower villa and the kitchen is on the drafty and wet side of things now that the builders have knocked down various walls and made various holes in the external masonry. The very wet Edinburgh weather is not helping. At all.

    Tried toe up socks once, but didnt get on with them. I'm not ruling it out entirely...

  4. rosesmama12:06 PM

    I do toe up when I'm not sure if there is enough yarn, which I split into two balls. Since ribbing doesn't help keep socks up, and can't be seen, I no longer do it, or just do two rows a half inch from the end, to keep it from rolling. Very simple socks for us.

  5. I don't like toe-up either: I always misjudge when to start the heel and they don't fit properly.

    Too late now... but Loopy Ewe's customer service is amazingly good and you could have emailed to ask to apply the certificate retrospectively. They might ship the two balls together as they will spot the same address, I'm sure.

    My cranberry zauberball leaked an immense amount of red when I washed my shawl. I now have a pink shawl instead of a red and cream one. Grrr. Especially as it was kntted for a young man!

  6. Toe-up socks 'rock' in my opinion which seems to be in the minority here. For years I knit socks from the ribbing down and without fail my finished toes were lumpy and bumpy. Kitchner toe and I have had a no fault divorce! After trying many toe-up cast on methods with limited success I discovered Judy's Magic Cast On and haven't looked back! I do use two circular needles and have found that my toe is most successful when I cast on and knit the first couple of rows with needles one size smaller than those I'll use to knit the sock.

  7. I learned socks cuff-down, and did them exclusively for quite awhile. Then I learned toe-up, from And THEN I learned JMCO from watching the Cat Bordhi video...the first few times was a bit fiddly, but now I absolutely adore it. It works with many different kinds of heels, and when knitting socks for feet not present, I just do a measurement of foot length (keeping notes in Ravelry), and of course the best part is being able to divide balls of yarn in half, knit both socks a chunk at a time, knit as tall as I want with no fear of running out of yarn, end with the cast off, and have just enough yarn for mending left. No second sock syndrome, no running out of yarn.
    I initially learned socks on DPNs, then learned Cat's 2-circular method, and finally switched to magic loop. I use the Knitter's Pride Dreamz circulars, absolutely love the cables for Magic Looping.

  8. Anonymous5:04 PM

    Toe-up is the approach if you wish to know exactly how long you can make the pair using every bit of a given yarn, but otherwise it's not the best plan for me. Like you, I found it an interesting learning experience, but four pairs were enough. I particulary dislike short-row heels: they don't fit well and look clumsy (even when knit by expert test-knitters and photographed for books and magazines!) After two pairs with that heel, I tried Veronik Avery's toe-up version of a heel-flap and gusset heel. Fit and look are just as beautiful as the cuff-down original, but it's much more finicky to execute, as one's fingers are working in very tight quarters. Verdict: back to cuff-down. I can try them on as I go, too - and I work on dpns - so don't see that as a reason to prefer the other approach.
    The real benefit of practicing toe-up socks was learning a stretchy bind-off. Definitely useful, not only in toe-up socks.
    Rant over! Best wishes for the insurance wrangling,

  9. Sarah JS5:26 PM

    I'm intrigued that top-down versus toe-up on socks is almost guaranteed to generate strong feelings. I have an unproven hypothesis that how one learns to knit socks is often the lasting preferred method.

    That's true in my case: toe-up. However, I've knit on the order of 30 pairs (not all toe-up) & the toe-up fitting of my wonky sized foot/heel makes more sense in my brain if I approach it in that direction.

    I'll have to re-evaluate after another 30 pairs to see if I sussed out my peculiar fit issues enough to feel comfortable executing what I need to do in either direction.

    By the way (since this is my first check in after our Oberlin trip), Kid #1 really liked Oberlin & had several great conversations with professors. However, she's elected to attend St. Olaf in Minnesota in the fall. It came down to some indefinable "feel" of the place/people.


  10. My preferred toe-up cast-on is the least fiddly thing I've come across. I suspect someone else has a proper name for the thing (and your current quest has probably turned up what that name is).

    I cast-on 12 or 14 stitches via a cable cast-on, then kfb in each stitch. I slip the stitches onto two needles, alternating front and back. Then I knit them onto the three or four needles I'm using for the sock and start my increases.

    Because I've practiced it so much, I can whip off a cast-on in under 15 minutes. Grafting is elegant, but it takes me much longer because I don't do it as frequently.