Took Long Enough

After making two other pairs of socks that don't count, I present (finally) my first entry for Summer of Socks 2008: Prizewinning Asparagus of Pacific Beach.

Asparagus Cables Socks by Wendy Johnson (size: large)
Materials: The Knittery's 4ply Sock: Merino Cashmere, 1 skein (397 yds), Seabreeze
Needles: US 1 / 2.25 mm
Started: June 21, 2008
Completed: July 23, 2008

This is the pattern and yarn Wendy sent me as reward for winning the 2008 Summer of Socks button design contest, so I thought it fitting that these be my first socks for this year's along. I cast on the day Summer of Socks opened. I did the bulk of the knitting on our camping trip at Pacific Beach—inside our tent because it had to be the coldest, windiest summer camping adventure ever!

The pattern calls for a US0 needle, but I used US1 for better gauge and to produce a fabric that wasn’t stiff. Even with the increased needle size, my gauge was still more like 9 st/in rather than the 8 st/in called for and the fabric is very dense. My gorgeous summer-colored socks will be brightening up the Seattle gray winters! (That's appropriate, I suppose, given the wintery temperatures of our time at Pacific Beach.)

I knit both socks at once on Magic Loop. The stitch pattern itself is not difficult. But if you’re going for a full-length sock, all the twist stitches can get tedious. I had to use a cable needle rather than employing a needle-free cable technique—my stitching was too dense and the yarn too split-y to make it work otherwise. It actually took me longer to do the twists when I tried the needle-free method!

Tedious, perhaps, but the twist stitches are exquisite!

That ribbing's just shy of one inch long. Would have preferred 2 inches, but I ran out of yarn. Rats—it's a good thing these socks are knit toe-up! I might not have run out if I'd made the medium size instead of large, which I'll do when I make this pattern again. At the very least, I'll cast on fewer stitches for the toe, which is much wider than I can wear well and puckers quite a bit. I’m hoping to even this out with blocking.

Modifications: The pattern is written for the two sides of the twist motif to be split, with 4 extra stitches added around the width of the sock, and with the split cables extending into the ribbing. I did not split the side cables at the top of the heel, did not add the 4 stitches, and did not extend the side cables into the ribbing.

With the cashmere content, this yarn is too soft to really show off all the neat little twists. In person—without the benefit of the lighting for the pictures—the pattern gets a little lost in the halo. Next time, I'll select a yarn with higher twist and more subtle color variations, if any. Despite how it shows in the photographs—where I’ve worked to emphasize texture—the colorway stripe is just pronounced enough to distract from the pattern.

All that said, these are tremendously soft and thick socks, and I’m sure they’ll be on my feet a lot come the cold season!

I'm so grateful to Wendy for sending such a luxury of yarn to work with, in addition to her pattern. I've not seen this yarn at any of my regular LYSs, and it's been such a joy to have my hands on while I knit!


Workshop: MUMTU Socks Pt11:
Charts for Custom Fit

  1. Intro, Items Needed, Stitches Used
These charts are from Judy Gibson’s "Putting Me On Socks,” which she acknowledges as originally contributed by Peggy Pignato. Chart 2 appears as originally published. Chart 1 has been modified from the original, but the calculations follow Pignato’s original proportions.

IMPORTANT! For Chart 2, you need to subtract this number from the total length of your foot in order to get Measurement #3. (Example for a 9" foot circumference: 9 - 4 = 5. Therefore, I cast on at the toe and knit for 5 inches before beginning the gusset.) This length does vary by the person, though. So if the socks are for you, try them on to make sure they're long enough before starting your gusset. And if they're not for you and you have the possibility of taking an accurate Measurement #3 from the intended's foot, do so and use that measurement instead!

Workshop: MUMTU Socks Pt10:
Leg & Cuff, Bind Off

  1. Intro, Items Needed, Stitches Used

STEP 11: Leg & Cuff

Once you arrive at the leg, the possibilities are almost limitless. Here are a few options:

  • Continue in stockinette stitch until the socks measure 1-2 inches shorter than the desired length from bottom of foot to top of sock. Then switch to K2 P2 ribbing for the final 1-2 inches of cuff (according to your preference). I used this option, ankle-length, for C's Sleeping Socks:

  • Knit a few rounds of stockinette to establish the leg and then switch to a ribbing pattern of your choice all the way up the leg. I went with a 2x2 rib up the leg of my Anti-Pro Natura Socks:

  • Knit a few rounds of stockinette and then switch to a special design pattern all the way up the leg. (If you think you might take this option, you will need to have swatched in the special pattern. You may find it necessary to switch needle sizes to make sure your gauge in the special stitch matches the stockinette gauge used on the foot.)
  • If you started incorporating a special design stitch on the instep/top of foot, simply continue that design up the leg.

STEP 12: Bind Off

There are many ways to bind off. For toe-up socks, I recommend Elizabeth Zimmermann's Sewn Cast off (from Knitting Without Tears), which provides all the elasticity you will want for the top of your sock and can be used on any stitch edge.

Draw out your working yarn to a length of about 4 times the circumference of the sock. Break it off and thread it onto a tapestry needle. Execute the sewn bind-off as follows:

  1. Sew forward (right to left, as if to purl) through two stitches.

    Do not remove these stitches.

  2. Now sew backward (left to right, as if to knit) through the right-most stitch...

    ... and remove this stitch.

Repeat these two steps until you run out of stitches.

Once you have bound off the last stitch, make a simple daisy chain from the last bound-off stitch through the first bound-off stitch and back through the last bound-off stitch to create a seamless edge.

Weave in the tail on the inside of the sock and trim any excess.

You’re done!

Put on your new socks. Dance around the house.

Take pictures.

Celebrate that you won’t be suffering from the dreaded SSS (Second Sock Syndrome)!

As always, feel free to email me if you have questions. I love reading your comments, so please post your feedback. And I'd be thrilled to see pictures of socks you make using this pattern!

Workshop: MUMTU Socks Pt9:
Heel Flap

  1. Intro, Items Needed, Stitches Used

STEP 10: Heel Flap

Preparation Row 1: Turn, place marker, sl 1 knitwise, K across heel, pick up _____ (Chart 1, Row L) stitches by knitting along the decrease edge as follows:

To pick up stitches by knitting, insert the left needle into the loop where you will pick up the stitch...

... insert your right needle through the front leg...

... wrap the tip of the right needle, draw it through the loop...

... and drop the loop off the left needle.

You will be asked to pick up more stitches along each side than you have slip-stitches available. This is not a problem. Count how many slip stitches you have available (these will be the easily visible) and space the remaining pick-ups evenly among the slip stitches. When you are not picking up through a slip stitch, you will be picking up through a more dense, knot-like area. Don't despair, and don't let the perfectionist in you drive you mad... you're not
going to find a "single," simple loop to pick up through for these stitches. Instead, you just need to dig your needle in through the knot, finding whatever opening you can. It will look great, I promise. You don't need to over think it!

Preparation Row 2:

  • Turn
  • Place marker
  • Sl 1 purlwise

  • P back across the heel stitches.

  • Pick up _____ (Chart 1, Row L) stitches by purling along this decrease edge as follows:

    Insert the left needle into the loop where you will pick up the stitch, right leg forward...

    ...insert the right needle into the loop as if to purl...

    Wrap the tip of the right needle, draw it through, and drop the loop off the left needle.

At this point, _____ stitches (Chart 1, Row M) have been worked with reinforcing thread.

Your heel now looks something like this:

This is where you start incorporating the G and J stitches from the sides:
You will knit the heel flap upward in the Eye of Partridge stitch, incorporating 1 stitch from G or J each time you turn.

Eye of Partridge Stitch:
  • Row 1: Turn; sl 1 knitwise; K1 sl 1 across reinforcing thread. On the final reinforced stitch, which you would be working as a K (not a slip), work a SSK, incorporating the first unreinforced stitch from the side. (Place marker if you wish.)

    To work the SSK, slip the last reinforced stitch (the last stitch before the marker) as if to knit...

    ... remove the marker, slip the first unreinforced stitch as if to knit, and knit these two stitches together through the back loop.

  • Rows 2 & 4: Turn, sl 1 stitch purlwise, P across to last stitch worked with reinforcing thread, P2tog (the last reinforced stitch and 1 unreinforced stitch – shifting marker as necessary).

    To work the P2tog, slip the last reinforced stitch (the last stitch before the marker) as if to purl...

    ... remove the marker, slip the first unreinforced stitch as if to purl, and purl these two slipped stitches together.

  • Row 3: Turn, slip first 2 stitches knitwise; K1, sl 1 across. You knit the 2nd to last reinforced stitch and then SSK the last reinforced stitch with the first unreinforced stitch from the side.
Repeat these 4 rows until all G and J stitches have been worked, ending with a purl row.

At this point, you have _____ (Chart 1, Row N) stitches altogether for each sock: _____ stitches (Chart 1, Row O) on Needle 1 and _____ stitches (Chart 1, Row P) on Needle 2. (You'll notice that there is a 2-stitch difference. This is correct. You will add the two missing stitches back in on the sides in the next round to close gaps between the heel and instep.)

In this picture, I have incorporated all the G and J stitches, ending
with a purl row, and I am ready for the Heel Completion Row.

[[[TIP: If you want to try a slip-stitch heel instead of Eye of Partridge, just work rows 1 and 2 of the Eye of Partridge instructions above.]]]

Heel Completion Row: Turn, sl 1 knitwise, K to end, M1 by knitting into stitch below the first stitch on the left needle (creating a new stitch so that when you start knitting in the round again there won’t be a hole between the heel and instep stitches). Sometimes twisting the new stitch helps. Whatever feels right and looks right to you.

This is where you M1:

Note that we aren't picking up the bar for this technique (as we did for the M1L/M1R on the toes). Instead, we're picking up the stitch just below the first stitch about to be knit off the left needle (twisting if necessary to close any gap between the heel and instep)...

...inserting the right needle to knit...

... wrapping the yarn around the right needle, drawing the new stitch through, and pulling the left stitch off the needle.

You have completed the heel extension and flap for Sock 1.

Work the heel extension and flap for Sock 2, as per the above instructions. (It’s now Sock 1’s turn to hang out on the cable.)

When you have completed both heels and are at the point where you have just made a new stitch at the end of the heel on Sock 2, cut the reinforcing threads for both socks.

Finish the 2nd Half of the Round: Knit the instep of Sock 2. Knit the instep of Sock 1.
If you used a special stitch pattern for the top of the foot, continue in pattern.

Completion Round: Turn the work so you’re ready to knit the heel stitches. M1 between the heel and instep stitches. (Knit into the stitch below the first stitch on the left needle. Twist if needed to close any gap.)

With this M1, you now have the primary stitch count for each sock again.

Congratulations — you have completed both heels!

Aren't they pretty?! Now would be a good time to indulge in some dark chocolate.

Workshop: MUMTU Socks Pt8:
Heel Extension

  1. Intro, Items Needed, Stitches Used

STEP 9: Heel Extension

!!!Let Sock 2 hang on the cable while you work the entire heel extension and heel flap back and forth on Sock 1. Then you will work the heel extension and flap on Sock 2 while Sock 1 waits!!!

Preparation Row:

  • Knit _____ stitches (Chart 1, Row G)
  • Add reinforcing thread (or place marker if you prefer no reinforcing thread)

    I'm using markers. Since my daughter will only wear
    the socks for sleeping, they don't need reinforced.

  • SSK
  • Knit _____ stitches (Chart 1, Row H) + _____ (Chart 1, Row I) stitches. (If you are not using reinforcing thread, place second marker here.)

There will be _____ stitches (Chart 1, Row J) still unworked. (The H+I stitches will be worked back and forth in short rows until the heel flap. The G and J stitches on either side just hang out and wait.)

Row 1:
  • Turn your work so the wrong side is facing you and P2tog.

  • Purl across only those stitches knit with reinforcing thread (or stop at the marker). At this point, you can remove that marker—it's done its job.

Row 2:
  • Turn your work so the right side faces out.

  • SSK
  • K across reinforced stitches (or stop at marker).

    At this point, you can get rid of this marker, too. Even if you're not using reinforcing thread, you'll have no problem seeing the stitches to knit for the extension because—as you can see from the next picture—the gaps will leave no doubt about when to stop and turn:

Repeat Rows 1 & 2 until _____ stitches (Chart 1, Row K) remain that are being knit with reinforcing thread, ending with a wrong-side row.

At this point, you have just completed your last row (a WS row)
and are ready to begin the Heel Flap on a RS row.


Workshop: MUMTU Socks Pt7:
Foot, Gusset

  1. Intro, Items Needed, Stitches Used

STEP 7: Foot

Knit all rounds, trying the sock on from time to time, until the sock reaches the point on your foot where the leg meets the top of the foot. (Or until the sock measures the length determined by Measurement 3 or Chart 2.)

If you want a decorative stitch pattern on the top of the foot, knit 3 rounds and then start the new stitch pattern. Knit the decorative pattern across the stitches on Needle 2 only. And remember that you must swatch for gauge in your chosen stitch pattern to calculate your primary stitch count.

STEP 8: Gusset

Round 1:

  • Needle 1 (bottom of foot/sole): K1, M1L, K to 1 stitch from end, M1R, K1
  • Needle 2 (top of foot/instep): Knit all.
Round 2: Knit all.

Repeat these two rounds _____ times (Chart 1, Row C) altogether until…
There are more stitches on Needle 1 than Needle 2 now.

Workshop: MUMTU Socks Pt6:

  1. Intro, Items Needed, Stitches Used

STEP 6: Toes

If you are already familiar with how to do toe increases when knitting socks from the toe up, here is the basic instruction for this pattern:

  • Round 1: Needle 1: *K2, M1L, Knit to 2 stitches before end of sock, M1R, K2.*
    Repeat for Needle 2.
  • Round 2: Knit all.
  • Repeat these two rounds until the total number of stitches for each sock equals your Primary Stitch Count. (Half on each needle.) Cut the reinforcing thread.
If you have never knit toe increases on socks being worked from the toe up, here is a more detailed breakdown:

Round 1:
  • Starting from Neutral Position, pick up working yarn for Sock 1
  • Knit 2 stitches
  • M1L as follows:

    See the bar between the 2nd and 3rd stitches (photo below)?

    You need to mount it on your left needle, with the tip of the needle entering the loop from the front and coming out the back.

    I find this easiest if I use my right needle to help me, like this:

    When you've picked up the bar properly, it will look like this:

    Knit the bar through the back loop:

  • Knit until 2 stitches before the end of the sock.

    That's the bar, ready for your M1R!

  • M1R by picking up the bar and mounting it on your left needle so the tip of the needle enters the loop from the back and exits through the front.

    Knit the bar through the front loop.

    It can be a little tricky to insert the needle for this knit stitch. It helps me to insert the right needle as if to purl, first, and to tease the picked-up bar out away from the needle a bit... then hold the stitch out while I move the right needle to insert it for the knit. (Sorry I didn't take a picture of this.)

  • Knit 2 (This completes the first half of the round for Sock 1.)

  • Drop working yarn for Sock 1 and pick up working yarn for Sock 2. Repeat the same stitch sequence—Repeat the same sequence—*K2, M1L, Knit to 2 stitches before end of sock, M1R, K2.* (This completes the first half of the round for Sock 2.)

  • Turn your work to Neutral Position...

    ...and adjust the needles for knitting the next half of the round.

  • Repeat the increase sequence—*K2, M1L, Knit to 2 stitches before end of sock, M1R, K2.*—for each sock, being sure to change working yarn when you move between socks. (This completes your first increase round.)
Round 2: Knit all for the entire round. (Don’t forget to change working yarn as you move between socks.) Remember, knitting an entire round means knitting around both needles: knitting the first half of Sock 1, the first half of Sock 2, turning the work, knitting the second half of Sock 2 and then the second half of Sock 1.

Repeat these two rounds until the total number of stitches for each sock equals your Primary Stitch Count. Half are on each needle. (So if your primary stitch count is 64, then 32 stitches will be on Needle 1 and 32 on Needle 2 for each sock.)

Cut the reinforcing thread once you reach your primary stitch count.

Now is a good time to snug up the loose cast-on edge at the tail, if you haven't already.

Now is also a good time to tuck in that pesky tail!