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Toe Up Short Socks

I don’t normally do toe up socks…now, I’m talking about toe up socks that you don’t have to Kitchener closed. I always laugh when people talk about doing toe up socks (typically, they’ve tried the Kitchener and given up or come from a hand knitting background where they only Kitchener every once in a while and don’t find it easy). The rub is that the socks have to be bound off of the machine somehow and I think when I tried my first toe up (way before I ever thought about ribbing) coinsided with the discovery that you can’t do a reverse hung hem. You’re left with live stitches! Once I got that part figured out, I gave up and went back to cuff down.

I made these socks at socktv.tv where we filmed a two part series on them. Part one was a total disaster! If there could have been a problem, there was. In the end, when it came time to hang the toe, I gave up and scrapped the project. I had the tension too tight and it was a struggle to hang the stitches for the toe and when you film live tv, there’s no take backs. That episode is a good one to watch if you feel like you’re the only one out there struggling with their machine. Let me just tell you, you’re not alone. Promise. I’ve been doing this sock knitting gig for 10 years now and there are days when things just don’t go my way! And that’s ok, I always think of how long it would take me to actually knit a sock…probably at least a year and a half since I only knit two things: washcloths and the Sand Bank Cabled Hat Pattern! Plus, everytime I make a mistake, I learn something. Sometimes I have to make the mistakes more than once to make sure that I’ve learned it well!! Ha!

Anyway, to make a toe that is long enough so you can hang the stitches across to the other side you’ll have to add in extra rows. In this pattern we add 6 rows on the decrease and 6 rows on the increase. Easy enough, right? Sure! To make the extra row, you just wrap the yarn behind the first standing needle and knit the row. And we already know that if you do it on the left side, you have to do it on the right side, so that’s a piece of cake! Don’t make it harder than it actually is! That would defeat the purpose!

So, when you knit the first row of project yarn, take careful note of the bars in between stitches. Those are the ones you will end up hanging. so that you don’t have to sew the toe closed with the Kitchener stitch. Now, note that we have to make a long enough toe to get those exact bars to be able to hang on the other side. The next thing to consider would be to determine if the waste yarn is dramatically different than the project yarn. That way you will be able to see the bars when you’re hanging them. You can see on the picture that some of the bars are already trying to hide, so make sure you are hanging the right ones!

If the hung stitches create a piece of fabric so tight you could bounce a quarter off of it, it might be too tight! And if you’ve made a soft weight, this is the time to use it. I will caution you that once the soft weight gets close to the floor, it’s tricky to get it up out of the tube without lifting stitches off of the needles too! So once the foot gets long enough to put the buckle on, it would be prudent to do so, especially if you are a fan of the sock snake.

Once the toe is complete you’re pretty much on the home stretch. You can manage a heel after you make the foot (but remember that you’ve added extra rows on the toe, so the foot is going to need to be 5-10 rows shorter. I like to make mine a little too big and let them shrink in the first wash. I also like to make them with lycra…but that was another post a ways back.

The next task that might throw you for a loop is stopping the project yarn on the last needle of the row and starting waste yarn on the first needle of the next row. This yarn change creates a hole in the fabric. Don’t panic! It should be there! You can barely see it forming in the above picture, but it’s there and that’s right.

Now, the pattern shows a picture of cutting a V leg on the waste yarn to remove the waste yarn from the toe. Cut about 6 little V legs all the way around the sock, then find tails to pull and the toe will separate from the waste. Be careful here, if you have any waste yarn fibers knitted with the project yarn you might have to make some careful snips. If you pull to hard you’re going to make your stitches uneven. Don’t worry if you do, they will sort themselves out in that first wash.

And then it will be time to do the back stitch bind off. The pattern explains how to do it and don’t get all wrapped up in semantics. If the first one doesn’t look that great, the next one will be better. This is a great time to learn how to do the bsbo because the sock is going to roll at the top and no one will ever notice if you flubbed on a stitch or two…just make sure that you don’t skip a stitch or you’ll have a live stitch just ready to run like grandma’s pantyhose!

So what I am saying is get those socks made and send me a picture so I can add it to this post!!

Happy Cranking!

Jamie