Getting Back to Sock Knitting (Plus a Kitchener Stitch Tutorial!)

Scent of Lavender from Knitted Socks Around the World   
Scent of Lavender from Knitted Socks Around the World

I've just realized that I forgot a Really Important Resolution for 2011! And it's this: Get back to sock knitting.

I ran a sock club at my local yarn shop for a couple of years, but it's been on hiatus for several months, and I have to admit that I enjoyed being able to focus on larger projects instead of knitting sock after sock for samples for the sock club. I never knit two socks, either, just one to show the clubbers the pattern! That really fed into my version of "single sock syndrome"!

Last night I finished the hat project I was working on, and I was "casting about" for a new project. I'm moving next week, so most of my yarn is packed, and my current works-in-progress are at the new house. My sock yarn was accessible, though, so I started a sock! It's a toe-up footie, and I think I can safely say that I'll finish both socks. Footies are a good way to get back in the sock-knitting groove.

As I was looking through my sock yarn last night, I put together a few projects. One of my favorite, recent sock patterns is the beautiful Scent of Lavender pattern from Stephanie Van Der Linden's Around the World in Knitted Socks. I have a wonderful skein of Malabrigo Sock that I think will be perfect for this pattern.

My one hang-up about this design, though, is that it's a top-down sock. I've been doing a lot of toe-up patterns in the last couple of years for sock club and for myself, and I'm out of practice on the Kitchener stitch method of grafting a toe. After all of the socks I've knitted, you'd think I'd have memorized this process, but I can't seem to get it to stick!

   
The "cheater" toe.

I've used the cheater method of decreasing the toe down to 8 stitches and then pulling them tight to finish the sock (pictured at right), which works just fine but isn't as attractive as grafting is. I've resolved to commit the Kitchener stitch to memory so I can have it in my sock-knitting arsenal.

In Around the World in Knitted Socks, Stephanie provides a great Kitchener stitch tutorial with photos that I've copied to keep in my knitting notebook. I've never seen a really good photo tutorial until now, and I just have to share it with you.

The Kitchener Stitch

by Stephanie Van Der Linden

The Kitchener stitch can be used to attach parallel rows of live stitches to one another. Begin with the stitches to be joined on two double-pointed needles held parallel to one another with the stitches to be joined across from one another. There must be the same number of stitches on both needles. Thread a length of matching yarn on a tapestry needle; you will be mimicking the path of a new row of stitches with it.

Kitchener stitch step 1 Kitchener stitch step 2
Figure 1, step 1 Figure 2, step 2

STEP 1: Insert the tapestry needle purlwise into the first stitch on the front needle and pull the yarn through, leaving the stitch on the needle (Figure 1).

STEP 2: Insert the tapestry needle knitwise into the first stitch on the back needle and pull the yarn through, leaving the stitch on the needle (Figure 2).

Kitchener stitch step 3 and 4 Kitchener stitch step 5 and 6
Figure 3, steps 3 and 4 Figure 4, steps 5 and 6
   

STEP 3: Insert the tapestry needle knitwise into the next stitch on the front needle and pull the yarn through, dropping the stitch from the needle.

STEP 4: Insert the tapestry needle purlwise into the next stitch on the front needle and pull the yarn through, leaving the stitch on the needle (Figure 3).

STEP 5: Insert the tapestry needle purlwise into the next stitch on the back needle and pull the yarn through, dropping the stitch from the needle.

STEP 6: Insert the tapestry needle knitwise into the next stitch on the back needle and pull the yarn through, leaving the stitch on the needle (Figure 4).

Repeat Steps 3-6 to the last two stitches, then repeat steps 3 and 5 for the remaining two stitches.

My best advice to you when grafting a sock toe (or when grafting anything, for that matter!) is to make sure you have enough time to graft all of your stitches without being interrupted. Turn off the TV or radio, tell the kids you're unavailable (good luck with this one), and graft your entire row of stitches at one sitting. I have to do this every time I graft because if I set down my work I can't for the life of me figure out where I left off. I can turn a heel with tons of distraction and interruptions; I don't know what's wrong with my brain and grafting, but I'm determined to break through the barrier.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of Knitted Socks Around the World and get back to sock knitting with me!

Cheers,

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