Stretchy Rib Cast On

September 13, 2007

Stretchy cast onThis was adapted from a free Regia leaflet, called “Sock Pattern & How-to-knit Guide”. The instructions for the cast on in the leaflet made no sense to me at all. For example, the complete instructions for Round 2 read “*slip the K stitch purlwise yarn at front of work rep from *” – exactly like that, no punctuation or anything. As far as I can see, all it’s telling you to do is slip all the stitches in the round, so basically you’re doing absolutely nothing apart from moving stitches from one needle to another. So here we go with my interpretation which actually works (and, I hope, makes sense!).

Stretchy Rib Cast on for Top Down Socks

Cast on HALF the number of stitches required for the cuff using a contrasting waste yarn. My sock pattern needed 64 stitches altogether, so I cast on 32 stitches.

Now continue with your sock yarn.

Round 1: *Knit 1, yarn over needle. Repeat from * arranging knit stitches and made stitches (the yarn overs) across your 3 or 4 double pointed needles.

Round 2: *Yarn at back, slip the knit stitch purlwise. Yarn at front, purl the made stitch. Repeat from * making sure you include the very last made stitch at the end of the round.

Round 3: *Yarn at back, knit 1. Yarn at front, slip purl stitch purlwise. Continue from * to end of round

Round 4: * Yarn at back, slip knit stitch purlwise. Yarn at front, purl 1. Continue from * to the end of the round.

Now continue with normal knit 1 purl 1, or any other rib that you prefer . Remove the waste yarn.

Stretchy cast on

When I first figured this out, I really didn’t believe that it would work. I was convinced that when I removed the waste yarn I would be left with open stitches. So, I knitted just 2 rounds of normal ribbing after the 4 cast on rounds, then removed the waste – see the picture above. If you try my version you might like to do the same, just in case…. far better to undo a few rounds than knit a complete sock with a wrecked cast on edge!

Lana Grossa Maya CottonAnd here’s the yarn I’m using, Lana Grossa Maya Cotton which is 45% cotton, 42% wool, 13% nylon.

Fruit Gum Socks

September 3, 2007

Fruit Gum Socks

I called these Fruit Gum Socks because the yarn reminded me of Rowntree’s Fruit Gums! It’s Regia Bamboo 4 ply, colour “Afrika”, 45% bamboo, 40% wool, 15% nylon.

The yarn has an almost translucent look to it, and is definitely in fruit gum colours – yellow, orange, green, red and purple.

I expected it to be scratchy (the bamboo!) but it’s really soft and silky, and very easy to knit with.

They were knitted toe up, with short rowed wrapped toes and heels. They’re absolutely plain with no patterning, and finished with 25 rows of knit 2, purl 2 rib.

I used a very stretchy cast off which is extremely easy to do. Knit the first two stitches and pass the first stitch over the second as normal. Return the second stitch to the left needle and knit it once more, then knit another stitch. Pass the first stitch over the second, then return the second stitch to the left needle and knit it again….. and so on until the end.

Fruit Gum Socks, heel

The short row wrapped heel – I’m definitely getting better at this!


I think I probably should have called these Ribena Socks instead of Fruit Gum Socks! Hand washed in warm water with a squirt of shampoo, they turned the water a lovely shade of deep purple. Even after several rinses, the water was still very purple. The ball band says this yarn is machine washable – well maybe it is, but I wouldn’t want to risk putting these socks into the machine with anything else.

American Knitting Terminology

September 2, 2007

If you search Google for free sock knitting patterns, you’ll find there are literally thousands of them out there, mostly from knitters in the USA. There is one abbreviation I have come across in a large number of these patterns, and that is “SSK”, which apparently stands for “Slip, Slip, Knit”.

That really didn’t mean anything to me, and probably doesn’t mean anything to the average British knitter either. So what is it? It’s the equivalent of the standard, “K2tog tbl” or “knit 2 together through the back of the loops”.

So why “Slip, Slip, Knit”? Well, apparently you slip one stitch knitwise, the next stitch purlwise, you insert the left needle in the front of the loops of the slipped stitches on the right needle and knit them all together. Effectively you’re still knitting through the backs of the loops, but you’re coming at it from a different direction. It does look a little different to the plain K2tog tbl as the stitches lie flatter, and they more closely resemble a normal “knit 2 together” in reverse.

Men’s Boot Socks

August 24, 2007

Boot SocksI found an unbranded cone of double knit weight (6 ply) wool blend (80% wool, 20% other fibres) in my machine knitting stash, that just told me it was a pair of men’s boot socks. It’s very slightly tweedy, and a light sludgey khaki greyish sort of green. There’s no other way to describe the colour really!

It wasn’t particularly pleasant to knit with, as it had been spun in oil. It looked and felt a bit like a rough carpet when knitted – but it all came out in the wash. A quick swish around in some warm water and Fairy Liquid, and all the oil was removed, leaving a nice soft woolly sock.

It was very quick to knit, just 56 stitches wide. The top rib hasn’t pulled in – that was deliberate (honest!). I decreased several stitches on the first plain round just so that the sock would be straight, and to give some extra room around the top.

Cast on edge

Tubular cast on

I used a tubular cast on for this sock. The best instructions I’ve found for a tubular cast on are at “Amelia’s” site; a step by step tutorial, complete with pictures. The tubular cast on is extremely neat, and quite firm. It’s just stretchy enough for the top of a sock, and will hold its shape without sagging.

The Heel

Boot socks, heel

Again, a Sherman Heel. Do you notice any difference between this heel and the other Sherman Heel – the one in the Zebedee Socks? Well, this time I did it correctly! It dawned on me that I was picking up the WRONG LOOP on the Zebedee Socks, no wonder my heel shaping had a row of little holes.

Zebedee socks, the pair

August 22, 2007

Well, they match! Pity about my photographic skills…

Pair of Zebedee Socks

Next will be a pair of men’s boot socks.

Zebedee socks

August 17, 2007

Now that I can visualise how all the short rowing actually shapes the finished sock, I thought I’d just jump right in and do my own thing. I used the stitch pattern from Violet Green’s Zebedee Socks, making the largest width of 76 stitches.

The yarn used was Regia 4ply Cotton Color, colour number 4178, 41% wool, 34% cotton, 25% nylon. I have to say that it is an excellent yarn, it looks and feels almost like pure cotton but unlike cotton it has a fair amount of “give” in the finished sock.

Zebedee Sock

I much prefer the look of a short rowed heel, so I substituted the Sherman heel instructions I found on the Angel Yarns forum. I’m not too sure what I did wrong as my heel shaping doesn’t look much like any of the Sherman Heel pictures that I’ve seen. Still, it was a whole lot easier than the double wrapping, and it does look reasonably neat.

Sherman heel, possibly

This time I made a much shallower toe, and I’m happy to say that it fits perfectly.

Zebedee Sock, toe

Whoever said that sock knitting was addictive is right, I’m already wondering how I can improve the next sock and I haven’t even finished this pair yet… !

Socks, a second attempt

August 8, 2007

Toe up this time!

I’ve tried again, and at first glance the finished sock doesn’t look too bad. I’m still not happy with it, but at least it will go on my foot and it does (more or less) fit. The yarn is Trekking XXL, colour 135, 75% wool, 25% nylon. Same yarn as the first attempt, but this time 72 stitches in total instead of 58.

The first finished sock

The finished sock

So what’s wrong with it? Well, the colour sequence is fine, but it doesn’t suit the way I knitted the sock. I used a provisional cast on (machine knitters will know this as cast on with waste yarn, knit one row with ravel cord, then continue knitting with your main yarn). The cast on row on this sock is the right side of the large red patch on the sole, near the toe. I knitted a short row toe with double wraps – imagine going up and over the toe from that cast on edge, going from red to blue to pink on 2 needles in short rows, then knitting on 4 needles to the heel shaping. And that’s where the colour sequence again doesn’t suit the style of sock. It might have looked better if the heel had been green and blue instead of orange and red.

The heel

The heel

It’s a short row heel with double wraps. It looks OK, but it’s not what I really wanted. It was also a bit fiddly. I do like a bit of a challenge, but I don’t want to have to struggle to knit through 3 loops without dropping anything. And I did drop quite a few stitches!

The toe

The toe

The same as the heel – short row with double wraps. This toe is far too long for me, it would have been better a lot shallower. The last half of the blue part is just surplus fabric.

I’m not about to waste this effort by unravelling it. The sock is quite wearable, just nowhere near perfect. So, here’s the second sock in progress. The stripes won’t match the first sock as this one has an orange toe, so I shall just call it a design feature….

Sock on the needles

Socks, a first attempt

July 28, 2007

Although I’ve been hand knitting for 50+ years, and machine knitting for about 20, I don’t think I’ve ever hand knitted socks so I thought I’d give them a try. So far so good… now you have to remember I’m a beginner sock knitter…. my first attempt isn’t so good.

First attempt

I’m not particularly happy with the way the heel looks, knitted from top down with some sort of heel flap and gusset (no idea what this type of heel is called!). Worse yet, the sock is so narrow I can’t pull it over my heel. I followed the pattern, my gauge is correct – I used 58 stitches altogether with 2.5mm double pointed needles with 4 ply sock yarn, so they should have been OK. Yes, I have wide feet with a high instep and I hadn’t taken that into consideration. I shall try again…

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