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Hi there, nice to have you visiting! I'm Heidi and this is the blog for Heidi Bears. Here is where I post all the happenings in my work and daily life. Here and there you'll find info on things that have caught my attention as well as the odd tutorial. I hope you enjoy your visits. I love to have feedback, so leave me a comment!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Anatomy of a Sock

Howdy friends!

Today was a warm day in Johannesburg. Winter here has been really cold and unpleasant...although nothing compared to some of the snowy/icy countries, we are not really geared for very cold weather, as central heating is very, very uncommonly found in houses here.
So, the girls and Mr P and I went off to have a brunch at a small cafe nearby. It was a lazy Sunday...not a lot of productivity... We had supper with some close friends last night (a rarity as Mr P seldom has time off from the hospital :( ), and we had a wonderful time, catching up, chatting, laughing... The girls and their friends were so involved in their own discussions, we almost didn't notice them... all in all , a lovely evening!This week was also a fantastic learning week...my dear friend Dana, taught Linda and myself how to hand-dye/handpaint yarn! I feel like a whole world has opened up for me...suddenly all I want to do is DYE! Morning, noon and night...the kitchen smells like vinegar all the time ;) It's like painting with watercolours...addictive :) Thank you Dana ♥ If anyone is interested, Dana has her tutorials on how to dye, available on her website...

I have decided to do a series of posts on how to knit a sock. When I first became interested in learning how to do this, I was overwhelmed by the variety of ways there are to knit a sock...top (cuff) down, toe up socks, countless ways of casting on, using double pointed needles, two circular needles, one circular needle, numerous options for knitting the heel...it was truly confusing and I struggled to find information that took me through the process step by step. I am quite sure that there are probably MANY references that I just didn't come across, that you may be aware of, but it was a long journey, learning and adapting what I found , to what worked for me.So, I will be doing a bunch of "walk-you-through-a sock-KAL" posts, specifically in the way I like to knit a sock. By no means is this the only way...just the way I like to do it :)

I am assuming that you are able to do Judy's Magic Cast-on, as well as Magic Loop knitting. Really friends, this is essential...you must be comfortable with these techniques if you are to reach the end of this quest...I knit my socks from the toe up, using a Magic Loop technique, and I prefer the look of a short-row heel. OK, if you haven't ever knitted a sock, this will all sound Greek...never fear friends! All will become clear as we go along... I will stick to the kind of sock I like in terms of explanations, and if there is any interest, I can do some posts later on the other options for heels, toes etc.

Firstly, let's look at the anatomy of the humble sock (Mr P's cycling sock ;) ).

The toe is ...well...the toe! This is where I start my socks, as I find the advantages of working "toe-up", outweigh the "cuff-down" method. At the end of these sock related posts, you will be able to knit two sock at the same time, on one circular needle, toe-up, with short row heels) Wow , you might say...me? Yes, you will be able to do this magical thing!

This way of knitting socks, allows you to measure the sock on your own foot (or presumably the foot of the intended recipient) so you end up with socks that actually fit properly, you will have the same tension throughout your socks, as you are creating both at the same time, you will not suffer from the dreaded "second sock syndrome" , and you will be able to use up your yarn to the last bit...because you just keep knitting up to where the yarn starts running low...then you cast off! Voila, socks a-la-deux!So, (I get easily distracted...) the sock starts at the toe (1), you then get the sole and the upper foot (2), the heel (3) , the leg section (4), and finally the cuff (5).

We will be knitting the sock in the order shown in the pic above. First the toe (1), then the sole and upper foot (2), then the whole of the heel (3), then the leg (4) and finally the cuff (5).

Let's break it down a bit...

I use Judy's Magic Cast-on method for casting on for the toes. If you are unfamiliar with this technique, you can find a tutorial here. (In this post, I am merely giving you an overview of the process...the details will follow in the subsequent posts). This method of casting on, will give you a set of stitches on the one needle of your circular needles, and stitches on the other needle. The number of stitches will be the same on the two needles.

If you look at the pic above, you will see that I have divided the sock into two coloured halves...the rose coloured part which will be knitted on the back (or farthest-away-from-you) needle, and the turquoise coloured part which will be knitted on the front(or closest-to-you-needle). If you are unfamiliar with Magic Loop knitting, look here.

Because of the nature of Magic Loop knitting, you will work a round of knitting in the following order:

-knit all the stitches forming the sole-side or underside of the toe (1a), then knit all the stitches forming the upper-foot side of the toe (1b) until the toe is complete (ie alternately 1a, 1b, 1a, 1b etc in a continuous spiral, until the toe is the desired length)

-then stitches forming the sole of the foot (2a), alternating with the stitches forming the upper foot (2b), in the round (2a, 2b, 2a, 2b etc again, in a continuous spiral) until the sole and upper foot sections are the correct length.

Up until this point of knitting , you are essentially creating a long tube, with the number of stitches on your front and back needles being the same (you haven't any need to shape your sock with decreases and increases for this part of the foot...it will fit :) )

-then you will knit the whole of the heel on the front (closest-to-you) needle, starting with section 3a (you finish knitting this completely before you move onto section 3b...this is different from the previous sections of the sock where you are alternately knitting " a " and " b " in a continuous spiral ), then knit section 3b .

During this heel knitting adventure, the back needle stitches go into hibernation..they're quite happy..don't worry about them :) .

Once the heel is completed, you will have ended section 3b at the point where section 4a starts. This is the beginning of the lower leg part of the sock. Once again, you will knit the leg sections in the round, alternating the stitches of sections 4a and 4b in a continuous spiral, until the leg part is the desired length. You are now again basically knitting a tube in the round, as you did for the foot part...

Finally , you will do the cuff and when that is finished, bind off.

Let's take a closer look at the heel business...in the pic above, I have coloured the spiral arrows in two colours: red for the part of the sock facing you, and lighter blue for the part of the sock facing the table. These are meant to schematically represent the knitted rounds as you would do them. As you can see, the direction of the knitted rounds form the oft' mentioned continuous spiral up the length of the sock...

However when you get to the heel, you are no longer working in the round, you are knitting and purling back and forth (firstly section 3a, then when that is completed, you knit and purl back and forth on section 3b).

This back and forth knitting creates so called short-rows, ie you are not knitting all the stitches on the front needle when you do section 3a, you are actually knitting less and less of them, each time you turn your work around to knit or purl. This shapes the heel section 3a into a triangle. When you start knitting section 3b, you are (totally my own words...) essentially making " long-rows", the opposite of short rows by " picking up " the un-knitted stitches ( left out in section 3a, every time you did a short row.)

I will do a post devoted entirely to the short row...don't worry about scary words, like wrapping etc that will all come later :)

Ok, once the heel is finished, you continue knitting the long tube, just as you did before when you made the foot section, all the way up the leg to the desired length.

Easy peasy....

If there is anything in this little post that doesn't make sense, please let me know...it's late and it's been a long post...I am off to bed now...

The next post will be how to custom design a sock pattern that will give you a perfectly fitted sock!

Have a good evening,
Lots of Love,
Heidi :)


K said...

Mais, Heidi, you little chou-chou!! You said, "Howdy!" You sound like a little Texan! I have to tell you how excited I am about this tutorial for two main reasons: NOBODY ever shows how to do that short heel the way you have. Everybody seems to think that the flap heel is the way to go. But I LOVE your heel. And 2) - you are showing me more magic loop. I really do not prefer double pointed needles, though I've used them a fair bit. Now I can learn how to do a sock THIS way. YiPEE!

I do have to admit that I will probably never actually make real socks, though. Making tiny horses seems happy to me, because you can give them away or keep them forever and they never wear out. But socks? To spend all that time and then wear out the heel in a couple of months (the way I inevitably do)? It is too sad.

Still the knowledge will be delightful to me. Once again, you have done what you do so very well - clarity, attractive and clear graphics - attention to detail. I think you are amazing.

Baa-Me Kniits said...

You are a genius!! I have knitted socks up to the heel numerous times and then never progressed TOO SCARY! Your explanation made perfect sense to me as did the diagrams!

I will join you for the KAL but will have to practice my casting on technique and the magic loop for a bit first so I may be a bit behind but if I get a pair of socks out of this I don't care how long I take!

Woo Hoo.....bring it on :-)

Lori said...

Im anxious to start. Ive always wanted to learn to knit socks...you make it sound manageable. Glad you've had a beautiful summer.

K said...

Oh, Heidi - tell me you just haven't gotten around to moderating yet? I keep making comments and they never appear. Blogger HATES me. But worse, you don't know that I'm reading and loving it.

Linda said...

Hello my friend! Yay, that you are blogging:) Thank you for your anatomy of the sock:)