When Audry asked if I’d be interested in test knitting her any-gauge sock pattern, I decided that this was a good time to deviate from my usual cuff-down, plain vanilla socks. I was ready for the challenge! The above picture is of my newly completed ‘bed socks’ – compliments of Audry’s pattern.
As a result of this exercise, I have learned a few new things about sock knitting. Here I have to say that apart from Stephanie Pearl McPhee’s wonderful book “Knitting Rules!” I own no (nor have I read any) books that talk about socks. Mostly because socks did not interest me until about a year and a half ago (seems like so much longer I had to check my Ravelry projects page to make sure!)
However, once I started knitting them, I was only interested in plain stocking stitch socks. Everything I needed (wanted) to know about knitting socks was in Stephanie’s book – why did I need to read anything else??
Therefore, if what I say below is stuff you already know (because you’re much more of a sock maestro than I am and perhaps have read a bit more about sock construction than I) please forgive me!
Back to Audry’s socks:
1. This pattern has been written in toe-up, square toe style (ie the toe of the sock isn’t pointy – which suits a lot of people). The toe-up cast on she uses is new to me, and very clever! If you find the “magic cast on” and “eastern cast on” tricky, you’ll find you like this method. Below is toe of the first sock I test knitted.
Contrast this with my recently completed Knitsch socks and you’ll see a difference in the toe widths.
Until now, I had not knitted a square toe sock. I’d always reduced the toe area until about 10 – 12 stitches on each side and then kitchenered those stitches together (the socks fitted fine – I didn’t feel the need to experiment further). However, for the sake of test knitting, I decided to knit the socks as instructed. I learned here that although square toe suits a lot of people, it does not suit me. There was all this “extra sock” around my smaller toes which I found uncomfortable.
However, the pattern can be easily adapted to suit your foot shaping, and you’ll see in the next version I test knitted that I fixed the issue of the toe to suit my foot simply by reducing the stitches until the width was the same as my usual sock toe.
The issue of sock toes made me examine how my foot fitted the sock, and why it suited a sock that essentially had a point in the middle (even though one’s foot is not shaped like that). As I slipped the sock on, I suddenly noticed that one side of the point (ie one half of the sock) actually lay alongside my foot. If you look closely at the photo below, you’ll see in this cuff-down sock that the kitchenered stitches naturally sit over my big toe, and the other side of the sock then neatly fit my other toes. It’s just the way the sock fits over the foot.
Funny how I did not see that before.
My takeout from this is that you need to experiment with different toe widths to find out what suits you – and then you can happily customise future patterns so that they always fit your foot!2. Audry’s pattern is an ‘any gauge’ pattern. This means that it contains instructions on how to knit this pattern in the weight of yarn of your choice and for your size foot (or that of the person you’re knitting for). Once you’ve done a small swatch, you use this to make a very simple calculation (very, very basic bath) to work out how many stitches you need to cast on to knit socks to fit your foot. It’s useful to know that in some cases, I only need to cast on 60 stitches or less, but in others 76 stitches suits better. The variation is quite big! It’s a handy-dandy recipe!
3. When knitting toe-up socks, it might be a good idea to use the stretchy cast-off. This applies to any toe-up pattern, and not just Audry’s. For me this was essential because my cast-off is very tight, and I found to my dismay (and frustration) that I could not get a comfortable, stretchy cuff even when I tried casting off with a needle two sizes larger! However, the stretchy cast-off method fixed this entirely, and I got a very comfortable cuff that was just as stretchy as the leg of the sock. Yay! (In contrast, when I knit cuff-down socks, I use a long-tail cast on which naturally produces a stretchy edge suitable for socks). This is the way I did mine (if you’re interested).
Will I be knitting toe-up socks from now on? I have to say that my favourite is still the cuff-down method. However, it’s always good to have a change now and again, and this pattern has given me the recipe to ensure that whichever way I knit socks, I’ll be confident at it and get the sizing I want. Most importantly, it’s a foolproof way to work out how many stitches I need to cast on for different weights of yarn.
Thanks again Audry!
And if you are wondering when you might see this pattern for yourself, Audry tells me that she’s planning on releasing it next week. Watch her blog for more details!