So here is everything I'm loving about socks.
- Bis-Sock by Biscotte Yarns: 85% Merino, 15% Nylon - feels like warm satin clouds spun into yarn. Also self-striping in insanely pretty colourways. This is Arielle.
- Malabrigo Sock: These guys have the most striking colours. They make me just want to pick them up and gaze while I pat them for hours.
- Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock: I could not put this skein down once I picked it up in store. So soft, so pretty. Alpaca/merino/silk/nylon, I cannot believe these are destined for my husbands feet. He had better appreciate them, though I am definitely going to enjoy the crap out of knitting them.
- HiyaHiya interchangeable sock set: So tiny, so sharp! The cables are super soft and flexible and swivel so they don’t get twisty or undo the needles. A set of 5 sizes from 2-3mm with 4 circ cables.
- Eddie's Super Sock Calculator: This was the first pattern I tried with my worsted weight socks, and everything that was wrong with those socks was all down to my terrible knitting. It's the simplest, most perfect thing ever, and taught me how to short row.
- Zhenya's MUMTU socks: my first attempt with sock yarn and heel flaps, and the basis for my super happy simple pattern.
- Judy's Magic Cast On: The best things my socks have going for me, even exclaimed over by a lovely stranger in a yarn shop. The super best thing is Ann's beautiful Left-Handed video.
- Two at a time on Magic Loop: The concept that made sock knitting a possibility for me. I'm terrible at finishing projects and assume that if I tried to knit one sock at a time I would have an infinite collection of single socks. I would probably be a good patron for the local amputee association. So the idea of knitting both at once, and that they would then turn out exactly the same, was a revelation. And that I could then package them up neatly and take them anywhere was the icing on the cake. I cannot, for the life of me, remember where this amazing idea came from, however. Probably a half-asleep scrolling Pinterest lullaby that got processed and mushed up overnight. I'll get back to you.
- Yarn Over Increases: Both the toes and the gussets are increased on alternate rounds. This makes the yarn-over increase the perfect way to remember where you're at. Yarn over on round one, knit the yarn-overs through the back loop on round two. When (not if) you get lost, look for the yarn overs. If they're there, knit 'em tbl, if they're not, chuck 'em in! Easy! Just make sure you do knit through the back of the stitch when you come back around, otherwise there will be holes.
- Shadow Stitch Short-rows: makes picking up the stitches for the heel flap almost too easy. Like, 'I'm obviously doing this wrong and it's not going to work' easy. But it works perfectly. I'll get back to you with a left-handed version of this one, as I said, I learnt from Eddie's Super Sock Calculator.
- Purling Backwards: The ultimate in smooth, zen heel knitting. By purling the short rows and heel flap backwards, you eliminate the stop-start arrhythmia of turning the work, and make the shadow stitches much simpler on the purl row.
The Super Happy Simple Pattern
- Dump all of the numbers into the MUMTU pattern; pick your primary stitch count and put the right numbers in instead of letters from the chart.
- Cast on about two-thirds of your total stitches (E) using Judy's Magic Cast On and knit a round.
- Increase until you have E stitches. Round 1 (each needle): K1, YO, knit till 1 left, YO, K1. Round 2: knit, knitting yarn overs through the back loop.
- Enjoy knitting blithely until your sock is 8.25cm shorter than you'd like it to turn out.
- Start increasing on one needle using the alternating yarn over rows from the toes. This is the gusset and will be the sole side. Keep going until you have D stitches.
Up to now, it's basically just the MUMTU pattern. We'll stop working in the round and turn each heel separately. This is where the magic happens, it's when things get really lazy, and we're going to totally mess up the heel extension section. The G and J stitches are still going to hang off either sides, but in-between will just be worked in Shadow Stitch Short Rows. Don't worry about all that other jazz.
- Knit until there are J+1 stitches remaining, make a shadow stitch so J stitches are left hanging.
- Purl backwards until there are G+1 stitches remaining, make a shadow stitch so there are G stitches left hanging.
- Now the short row section is pretty obvious, keep making short rows until there are K stitches left as singles. End heel extension; begin revelation.
- Now we need to pick up L stitches on each side of the short rows. If it's an odd number, knit the first two shadow stitches together. Otherwise, knit through and treat every shadow stitch as an individual stitch, the purl back the same way so you have E-2 (or M) stitches, plus the G and J stitches on the side.
Now we can get back to the ordinary, lovely heel flap.
- Sl1, K1 and repeat till the end, SSK the last heel flap stitch and the first hanging J stitch together.
- Sl1, purl back, P2tog the last heel flap stitch and the first hanging G stitch.
- Repeat 10 and 11 until there aren't any hanging stitches left. If you like, bung in an extra Sl1 at the start of every second knit row for fancy Eye of Partridge stitch.
- One the heel flap is done, you've got two less stitches on the heel needle than the instep, so make an extra one to the right of the flap, using a lifted increase. It will help close the little gap. Then do the whole heel thing from 6 to the second sock.
- Once the second sock has a heel and an extra little stitch, get on back to the magic loop thing and knit across both insteps.
- Add that lifted increase to the left side of the heel flaps, so you're back to your original stitch count (E).
- And thats it for the tricky-fun part of socks. Go ahead and knit till you run out of yarn, rip back an inch or two and re-work that last bit in rib. You can probably find a better solution to the top of a sock than that, like measuring and weighing or using an actual pattern or some such.
- Bind off with something super stretchy. The interlock stitch bind off is brilliant, but again, only a right-handed resource. I have a list and some really terrible videos coming your way.