I’ve finished the first half of my pair of Baudelaire socks. These are my first try at a “toe up” sock–even though I’ve made a lot of socks oddly enough I’ve never tried toe up. The nice thing about this is it’s a bit easier to try on as you go along–you can try top down socks on too but knitting needles don’t have so much give when they are going over your heel and yes, I have broken some that way. You would think that I would get the length of the foot absolutely right on my toe-up socks but funnily enough I think I might have made them a tad bit too short. On the other hand my hand knitted socks seem to stretch out a bit over the day so maybe they’ll ease into being just right. I’ve found my hand-knit socks very useful in the last little while–as they are thicker than store bought socks they are much more wearable under my wellingtons or snow boots. (I have also read that wearing boots that are too big can give blisters–the solution being thicker socks. If that’s not a good use of handmade socks what is–OK, buying the right size boots, I suppose). I actually have a bit of a shortage–about a year ago, several pairs of homemade socks suddenly got holes in all the same spots–hasn’t happened before or since. (Must have been that industrial carpet in our rental combined with lots of time in stocking feet while very pregnant). When I get around to darning them I’ll post about it–I have a really awesome darning egg to show off as well. It’s been put off as it seems like a lot of mental effort to me, which is silly given darning socks was one of the most routine things in the world probably only 100 years ago even. My procrastination aside, given the time one puts into making socks, one certainly does want to fix them rather than throw them out! I know people used to darn socks “back in the day” because materials were scarce and expensive, but I also have to think the work that went into making a pair had something to do with it.
Anyway, I have digressed. I never really understood, until doign it, how exactly toe-up socks. So here’s a photo of the completed sock and the very very beginnings of sock number two. I used the very helpful tutorial at www.knitty.com on how to cast on (the Baudelaire pattern helpfully linked to it). It’s very very fiddly to start out: you hold two needles together and wind the yarn around one needle at a time, alternating to form 8 loops on each side. It’s pretty fiddly as you then have to knit into the yarn overs you made on one needle without dropping the yarn overs you made on the other needle. Then you knit those as well (which is what my picture shows). It’s a little tricky and I held the last loops in place as there’s no knot to secure it until you knit it. I had to try once or twice but I think it’s one of those things that would eventually become pretty easy once you get the hang of it–I’ve at least managed twice as this photo demonstrates. In a way it’s just like top down knitting, it’s the first few rows that are tricky but once you’ve gotten a few repeats on the needles it’s smooth sailing.