We have socks! These are for my dear daughter-in-law, who loved her socks last year and wanted another pair almost from the moment she got the first one. She can knit herself, but the dpns and fine yarn intimidate her. Plus she has a 2-year-old and one more on the way (end of Dec). Not to mention my son to look after! Not much time for knitting. The yarn is Lana Grossa Meilenweit Multieffekt, 80% wool/20% polyamide, 420 m = 100 g ball, colour 3070.
I’ve been told that the hardest things for newbie sock knitters are picking up the stitches on the heel flap (which is why the short row heel is so popular) and grafting the toe (which is one of the reasons why toe-up sock knitting is also so popular). Someone mentioned live stitches that needed picking up with a needle. Uh-uh. Not at all necessary. This isn’t rocket science nor Cirque du Soleil quality juggling! There are plenty of tutorials out there, but here’s one more. I want to apologise in advance if you’re left-handed, because as always you’ll have to reverse everything mirror-image.
First, don’t try to do this if you’re tired or there’s a lot going on around you. Find a quiet place when you’re well-rested and fresh. You need to put your toe stitches on two needles, one with the stitches from the top of the foot and the other with the stitches from the sole. Make sure there are the same number of stitches on each! With sock yarn and 8 or 9 stitches per inch, I usually have 12 stitches on each of the two needles (24 total). Now if you look at the first picture, you’ll only see 10 on each needle. That’s because I often do “Dog Ear Reductions”. You sometimes get these little corners that poke out at the sides (aka Dog Ears), so what I do to eliminate them is to lift the second stitch on each end of both needles over the first stitch. This also has the effect of leaving 4 less stitches to graft so it’s all good. Here we are ready to go:
OK, you have your two needles top and bottom, with the yarn tail coming from the right side of the bottom needle. If that’s not how yours looks, turn it around or knit some more until it does. The tail should be at least 4 times the length of the area to be grafted. I leave about 1 foot (30 cm). I also use a blunt darning needle so that it doesn’t split the stitches. I don’t use one of those bent-tipped Chibi needles either, but it’s your choice if you like it. Thread the needle. Before you get into a rhythm of stitching, you have to get set up. First poke your sewing needle, just as if you were using a knitting needle, into the first stitch on the top/front needle as if to purl:
And pull the needle and yarn through the stitch, snugging up moderately tight. Don’t drop off your stitch yet, just leave it on the needle. Then poke your sewing needle into the first stitch on the bottom/back needle as if to knit:
And pull the needle and yarn through the stitch, snugging up moderately tight and leaving the stitch on the needle. Try not to get the yarn all tangled around your needle tips but let it go under your knitting needles. (I’m not going to mention the snugging and the not-tangling any more, but just remember to do it anyway.) Now that was just the prep work. Next we’re going to get serious and actually drop stitches off. Go through the first stitch on the front again, this time as if to knit. Take it off with the sewing needle, but don’t let go or pull the yarn through it yet. With the next motion, go through the next stitch beside the one you just slipped off, only go into it as if to purl. It looks like this as you do it:
Don’t slip that second stitch off, but draw your yarn through it all the way. (Remember the snugging and not-tangling!) Now do the back needle similarly by going through the first stitch there as if to purl, slipping it off with the sewing needle and then going through the second stitch as if to knit:
That’s the dance you continue on the front and the back needles until you have only 2 stitches left, one on each needle. To help you remember which way to put the sewing needle in, think “Front needle, knit side facing me, so it’s knit-off, purl-on. Back needle, purl side facing me, so it’s purl-off, knit-on.” It will soon become a little song-and-dance routine. Graft enough sock toes and you’ll barely have to think about it. Really. Now what to do with those last 2 stitches? It’s like the other half of the prep we did in the beginning. Go through the front stitch as if to knit and take it off:
Go through the back stitch as if to purl and take it off:
Check over your graft and make sure there are no mistakes. It’s better to fix anything now if you have to. If there’s a loose section, use your needle tip to snug it up, working across from the right to the tail end. If you snugged correctly as you went along, things should be fine without having to mess with it. It just takes a bit of practice. If you did something knit-wise when you should have purl-wise, or vice versa, it will show up as a bump where a smooth stitch should be. You can either unpick the graft, taking the stitches back on the needles, and try again or leave it with a promise to make a more perfect graft next time. Now poke your needle through the corner of the toe to the back:
And darn it in invisibly inside. Superwash wool is slippery so make sure you’ve overlapped a bit to be secure. Basically if you’ve grafted correctly, the knitting should look unbroken right over the toe, like this:
And we have Sock Toe Grafted!