Monday, June 6, 2011

Knitting Princess-footed Socks

I usually knit up a pattern idea over and over again until I'm satisfied. I consider it a form of test knitting, along with a trial and error approach to design. On the third of fourth knit, I follow my notes to check my written version. Of course, with socks you can multiply all these repetitions by two. My new sock pattern began last fall with these gift socks.


The recipient has sensitive feet. I had knit him a pair of socks a couple of years ago following a pattern for a princess sole (one that is purled instead of knit). The pattern by Susan Zivec has a bit of ribbing between the heel turn and the sole. The added ribbed bit looks very nice, but since I've never worn these socks, I can't say whether or not it improves the fit. I found purling the remainder of the sole after the ribbing very tedious. Once I knew I had to knit a second pair for the same person, I decided to avoid the purling by knitting the foot inside out. That's when I began to work on a means of incorporating a reverse-knit foot into any sock pattern.

For this second pair (the ones in the above photo), I selected a cabled pattern on a reverse stockinette background that merged with the reverse stockinette pattern of the foot. I followed the pattern as far as the heel gusset, and then knit the end of the cable pattern as I knit the gusset. Once that transition was complete, I turned the sock inside out, made a wrap and turn, and continued in knit, except for the two lines of ribbing on either side of the instep. Those were worked as purls from the wrong side. more on these socks here....

I wasn't happy with having to change direction of knitting and pick up a wrap once I turned the sock inside out. Even though I tried to hide the change near the heel, I could still see the bump. My next attempt included developing a pattern designed to be turned inside out.


This pair incorporates several changes of ribbing in an attempt to provide a gradual transition to a p3, k1 rib over the foot. I thought this might make it easier to knit, since it is knit as a k3, p1 from the wrong side. All in all, the changes in ribbing proved too fiddly to be worth the effort. The important development in this pair occurred when I realized could change the direction of knitting at the heel turn. Which I did, right at the end of the heel flap. more on these socks here....

Since I was fairly happy with this innovation, I repeated it in my next pair.


The big change I made in these Saguaro socks (a free pattern) was to continue the simple cable pattern down the instep and down the heel, even though that meant working the cables from the wrong side. Cabling on the wrong side is not as hard as it sounds. It just requires a crossing of stitches while purling. The hard part is mentally reversing the direction of the crossing.

Since the yarn I used for these socks has cashmere content, I knitted a strand of bamboo content yarn along with it to reinforce the heel turn. That's where my socks usually wear out. As a side effect of this addition, I looked hard at the transition to purl in the heel. more on these socks here....

Since I wasn't at all happy with this transition, I put the change from knit to purl at a different point in the next pair. By this point, I was knitting socks according to a simpler pattern I had written. I'll cover those in my next post.

One last pair, the most recent ones I've knit inside-out:


For these Wakefield socks, I made the transition from knit to purl in the heel turn according to my pattern and then dropped most of the lace patterning after the gusset. I reasoned that the smoother pattern would be nicer to my feet inside my shoes and wouldn't be visible anyway. Also, I was lazy. Once I turned the sock inside out, I completed one repeat by working the chart from left to right, reversing all the knits and purls, knitting k2tog as p2tog and ssk as ssp. This conversion was difficult. Tiring of the tricky pattern, I just continued the k1tbl's down the foot as p1tbl's, replacing the lace pattern with knit stitches between the ribs. For a bit of interest, I worked the toe decreases between the sets of ribbing. more on these socks here, at the end of the post...

Now that you have read about my development of a more comfortable pair of socks, you may want to try knitting the feet of your socks inside out. If you don't care to try to figure it out on your own, the pattern will be available as soon as I finish editing the pdf file, hopefully at the end of this week.

If anyone wants to receive a free pattern in return for test-knitting, please comment or e-mail. If you do comment for that purpose, be sure to tell me how to get in touch with you.


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5 comments:

Jamy said...

I'm very interested in the pattern. I was thinking of doing my next pair this way, inspired by your past posts. My question is: will it work for a toe-up sock? That's pretty much how I do all my sock knitting. I'd be happy to test knit and test a conversion to toe-up if that sounds good.

Affiknitty said...

Hi Susan,
I've been following your sock knitting/design process with interest and would love to take my first foray into test-knitting with your new pattern. I will email you with a question so you can reply directly. Either way I am looking forward to the pattern!
Shannon

Marjorie said...

Those turned out really well. I discovered the inside-out foot simply by taking one of my early pairs of socks (fortunately with a simple ribbed top) and wearing them wrong-side out. The way you've designed your socks really makes the most of the pattern motif and produces an elegant result. It is almost making me regret my decision to work on lace for the summer and not socks--but there are always sock projects in my future.

NurseyPants said...

Did you have success with this? I would like the pattern if it is still available. I love to knit socks but can't wear mine with shoes because I can "feel the bumps". Purling the sole is agonizing work to me.

Luni said...

See my pattern for this. The link is in the sidebar on the right, Daylong Socks. Also available on Ravelry.