I actually finished these socks at the end of November, but today is the first time I’ve had anywhere near enough light to photograph them.
I know there is some kind of irony (or foolishness) that I live with a professional photographer, yet it never occurs to me to ask him to shoot my knits. He’s now on a month-long trip around Asia, so please bear with my attempts.
These are very probably my favorite socks I’ve ever owned, hand-knit or otherwise.
Pattern: Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula by Amy Swenson in the summer 2006 Knitty
Size: custom fit to a lady’s size 9 with 9-inch foot circumference and 9.5-inch foot length (see notes below)
Yarn: Lion Brand Magic Stripes 75% wool 25% nylon, color 310-201 Denim Stripe; I used every speck of 3.50 oz./100 g (330 yd/300 m)
Needles: Knit Picks 6″ nickel-plated double-pointed needles, set of 5 size 1 (2.25 mm)
Modifications: None, as they were custom fit to my feet.
Started: October 27, 2007
Finished: November 30, 2007
I absolutely loved every bit of this experience, as it was such a clear, specific, and elegant process. Every calculation paid off for a uniquely perfect fit.
The formula starts with a gauge swatch (you can see mine here), once you’ve got the combination of needles and yarn for the fabric you want. In this instance, my gauge was 8 stitches per inch.
From there, I used my foot circumference and length measurements and a lovely little formula from the pattern to derive a set of numbers. This was all incredibly easy math and because I’m a nerd for numbers, I loved the way mine worked out.
For my own future reference, my math and cheat sheet numbers are as follows:
gauge = 8 st/inch on size 1 DPNs
foot circumference = 9 inches
sock circumference = 9 x 0.9 = 8.1 inches
length of foot = 9.5 inches
length of foot – 1.5 = 8 inches (A)
desired length of cuff = (when I run out of yarn) (B)
sock circumference x gauge = 8.1 x 8 = 64.8 –> 64 stitches – Key Number (C)
Number of Stitches for Toe & Heel Short Rows: divide C by 2 = 64 / 2 = 32 (D)
Number of stitches at end of toe and heel: multiply D by 0.4 = 32 x 0.4 = 12.8 — > 12 (E)
A – 8
B – when I run out of yarn
C – 64
D – 32
E – 12
The toes and heels are worked exactly the same, using short rows with wraps. Both are exquisitely comfortable and because I knit the sole to the exact length of my foot, the heels cup my feet so nicely.
I took this project with me on the subway, and I think it may have been what saved my sanity. This semester I was taking a French class in Manhattan, which involved three hours of traveling through rush hour twice a week. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really adds up in terms of fast little rows of stockinette.
As I approached the end of my first sock, I started compulsively weighing the skein to determine the exact middle. I was excited at the prospect of using every last centimeter of yarn because I was working toe-up.
I found the half-way point and realized that I would be incredibly close to the stripe sequence at which I’d begun my first toe right at the mid-point of the skein.
It therefore only took a little bit of winding off and weighing to match my stripes precisely. As it happened, I was left with a small enough length of blue that I could split it evenly for the top stripes and incorporate it into the pattern where it belonged.
I really love when things go my way.
While I know that this pattern is basically just a generic toe-up formula, I think it’s perfectly written to make simple sense of sock construction and get a custom fit.
It literally took me less than three minutes to calculate all my numbers and the pay-off is tremendous.
I can’t recommend this method highly enough. The formula is also adaptable to other stitch patterns than stockinette, like cabling, lace, entrelac, and so on.
In this instance, I thought the stripes were such a strong design element that a simple and clean stitch best showcased what I loved about this yarn.
All in all, I couldn’t be happier with this experience. I was so happy, in fact, that I immediately cast on for another pair of socks within minutes of finishing these. No second (or sixth) sock syndrome around here!