It never fails that I figure something out just after I could have used it! I would have loved to do my Amphibious Monkeys toe-up, but I wasn't able to figure out a toe-up version of the lace quickly enough to satisfy my itchy cast-on fingers, and I couldn't find anyone else who'd already done it. Of course, the minute I pulled them off the needles, I had a brainstorm. A couple hours, three versions, and several swatches later, I had it. I am pleased to share with you now the lace pattern for Cookie A.’s Monkey Socks (Knitty.com, Winter 2006), re-engineered to be worked toe-up.
I take no credit for the original lace pattern, only this adaptation. I've tested three times to see how it worked with a variety of yarns. I've used Koigu PPPM (brown/orange) Zitron Trekking Pro Natura (grey/green/tan), and a cotton yarn which has lost its label (blue) — each of which is pictured in this post.
My version of the Monkey lace is unique because it allows you to work the Monkey socks fully in reverse, from the toe up, without inverting the finished appearance of the pattern. This adaptation also retains the purl stitches of Cookie’s original.
You will find my chart at the bottom of this post. To work the socks, use Cookie's pattern in tandem with my chart. My write-up assumes you already know how to convert a top-down pattern to toe-up. If not, the best way I would recommend for doing the Monkeys is to use Jennifer O’Sullivan’s ¡Los Monos Locos! – The Crazy Monkeys!, which is a very fine modification for knitting the Monkeys from the toe-up, two-at-once, on magic loop. She also replaces Cookie’s heel stitch with Eye of Partridge, which we know I prefer. The reason I didn't just use her pattern in the first place, though, is because her lace treatment reverses the original and eliminates the purls. If you use O'Sullivan's pattern, you can easily just swap out her lace chart for mine.
To re-engineer the lace for toe-up knitting, I had to plot different stitches in different sequences from the original. Intellectually, you may think that goes without saying. Emotionally, though, we all want to forget this and believe the finished fabric will look and behave just like Cookie's top-down design. That's not a realistic expectation. My version is close — really close — but it can't be an exact replica.
This pattern will work best for people who like their Monkeys a little chunky, who admire the bumpy texture and will not be blocking it out to emphasize the lace holes. The picture below highlights the area of the pattern that will not look right if you stretch the sock out: the ssk/yo sequence.
It retains the same textural effect as Cookie’s original when not overly stretched. But the ssk tends to ease towards the space created by the yo, so if you stretch the lace pattern, the ssk sequence will appear to have a little space on the right side in addition to the left, where it belongs. Since I prefer extra ease in these socks, that’s not a problem for me.
Do check gauge carefully. You still want to meet Cookie's specs. I knit the swatch too loosely for the Pro Natura, even on US 2s. Obviously, I'll be frogging the swatch. I'd do this even without the gauge issue, though, because I don't really like how the Pro Natura was working up for this pattern. Too bad. I thought for sure it'd be great on the Monkeys.
Here's an early swatch I made with a heavier yarn and just one repeat of the pattern wide. The version on the left is too different from Cookie's (although it's pretty). The version on the right is the same as I've written into my chart.
See how much neater the lace looks with this yarn and in this gauge?
And for comparison's sake, here's the Koigu version up against my Amphibious Monkeys — which also were worked in Koigu, but using the original top-down pattern.
The green ones have already been blocked while the brown, obviously, have not. Even so, I think it looks pretty darn similar. This picture does a good job showing the difference between the two as far as the holes go.
My chart is a work-in-progress. I continue to experiment with it and will revise it (and this post) as I make other discoveries.
Please leave comments or suggestions. I welcome feedback!