Turkish Cast-ons for Albanian Toes!
When it comes to practical sock knitting, one of the first questions the sensible knitter has to ask herself is: toe-up or top-down?
For purposes of durability, the finished sock doesn’t benefit from one orientation more than the other, so we can push that practical concern aside. Toe-up socks do have the decided advantage of being wearable as they are knitted—you can try them on as you go and check for fit. You can also ration your precious sock yarn, as toe-up socks allow you to split your ball in half and work each sock until the yarn runs out. It’s okay to run out of yarn and skimp on the leg, but run out and skimp on the toe and you’ve got an embarrassing toenail situation!
So how do you start a toe-up sock? A toe is a closed area, after all. In her book Sock Knitting Master Class, Ann Budd recommends two best cast-ons for toe-up socks: The Turkish cast-on, also known as the Eastern Cast-on, and Judy’s Magic Cast-on.
I’ve been thinking about toe-up socks because I’ve been eyeing this sock pattern from the ebook 5 Traditional Albanian Socks to Knit by Mimi Seyferth. This is a traditional Albanian design worked with techniques and materials American knitters will be familiar with, such as wool-nylon sock yarn and two circular needles. Mimi designed this sock pattern after purchasing a similar pair in Albania. You can read the story of her Albanian adventure and learn about the country’s incredible handknit socks in her book, available now.
The Red Diamond Socks are worked toe-up and start with the Turkish cast-on. I love the gold starbursts at the toe! The colorwork was done using a combination of the Fair-Isle stranded method, the intarsia-in-the-round method, and duplicate stitch when the socks are complete. That is a smorgasbord of colorwork techniques, and the ebook covers them all.
Get this pattern, colorwork tips and techniques, and a rare glimpse into a lesser-known and fascinating country with 5 Traditional Albanian Socks to Knit- A Travel Memoir in Stitches. If you’ve never knit toe-up socks, I suggest you give it a try. The cast-ons are a little fussy at first, but really cool once you get the hang of them.
Til next time,