Sunday, March 04, 2007

My Favorite Toe: Magic Loop Turkish Toe Tutorial

My sister-in-law loves hand-knitted socks. She strongly encourages me to knit them for her. I, being the selfish person generous enabler I am, decided to teach her to make her own.

For Christmas, I bought her Knit Picks needles and two kinds of sock yarn. I cast on the toes using my basic technique and then helped her through her first pair of socks. She's ready to start her second pair and she's stuck on the cast on. She's a busy mom and we can only get together once every couple of weeks. To make things easier, I've been writing down my "basic sock" pattern as a tutorial for her that she can use at home.

This project, like many projects, has grown. While it started as a pattern, it is now more of a workbook. I have no problem with sharing this workbook, so I'll start at the almost-beginning. The toe.

But first, let me say that my sock pattern isn't entirely original. The cast-on is Meg Swansen's beautifully simple turkish cast on. The increases were inspired by Queen Kahuna's sock book--a really nice book with lots of pictures. (This is NOT a tutorial on her techniques--if you're interested in her sock methods, please buy her book.)

The heel I use is the amazing Widdershin heel as published by Squeaky on Knitty. I just re-wrote the instructions and did the calculations for lots of different stitch counts. (I'll publish those numbers in a future entry if Squeaky doesn't mind.)

So this sock is really a mash-up. But enough of this, let's get on with the toe. Oh, and one more thing--this toe is WAY easier to do than it is to explain! Try it once or twice and see what you think.

Here's the simple version:
Turkish Cast on approximately 5 stitches, leaving a tail of at least 6".
Knit across all the stitches on the top needle. (This is needle #2. Ideally, this will be the bottom of your sock.)
Using both the working yarn and the tail of yarn, Knit all stitches on needles 1 and 2. Number of stitches on each needle now is 10.
Needle 1: *K2, K2tog. Repeat from * across all stitches on needle 1.
Needle 2: *K2, K2tog. Repeat from * across all stitches on needle 1.
Needle 1: Knit all stitches.
Needle 2: Knit all stitches.
Toe Increases
*Needle 1: K1, M1R, knit until 1 stitch remains, M1L, K1.
Needle 2: K1, M1R, knit until 1 stitch remains, M1L, K1
Needle 1: Knit across all stitches.
Needle 2: Knit across all stitches
Repeat from * until you have correct number of stitches on each needle.

Now here's the detailed version with pictures:
In the following pictures, I've dyed the tail of my yarn with a wonderful Merlot--which I then finished off drinking. If the pictures are fuzzy, you know why. One of the needle tips is marked with some red nail polish I stole borrowed from my daughter.

Step 1: Make a slip knot and place the slip knot on needle 1. (In the pictures, Needle 1 has the red tip.)

Step 2: Wrap the working yarn behind both needles.

Step 3: Repeat wrapping around the needles for however many stitches you wish to cast on. I usually do 5 or 7 wraps for my sock toes. 7 makes a flatter toe; 5 is more pointy. For this tutorial, I'm doing 5 stitches.

Step 4: Pull Needle 1 out of the wraps so that the wraps are now around Needle 2 and the cable.

Step 5: Using Needle 1, knit across all stitches on Needle 2. You'll probably need to hold the slip knot firmly with your thumb. (Shoot! In the picture, my stitch is almost falling off Needle 2, it shouldn't be this close to the tip.)

When you're done, you'll 5 stitches on Needle 1. The cable is still wrapped and the slip knot is on the cable.

Step 6: Slide Needle 2 so that the slip knot and stitches wrapped around the cable are on Needle 2.

Step 7. Flip the needles so that Needle 2 is on top and Needle 1 is on the bottom. The slip knot is at the tip of Needle 2.

Step 8. Slide the slip knot off Needle 2 and pull out the knot.

Step 9. Slide Needle 1 so the stitches are on the cable and Needle 1 is free.

Step 10. Using BOTH the working yarn and the tail, knit across all 5 stitches on Needle 2 using Needle 1.

When you're done it looks like this. You have 10 loops on Needle 1 and 5 loops on the cable.

Step 11. Slide the stitches from the cable onto Needle 2. Flip the needles so Needle 2 is on top and Needle 1 is on the bottom.

Step 12. Slide Needle 1 so that the stitches are on the cable and Needle 1 is free.

Step 13. Using both the working yarn and the tail, knit across all 5 stitches on needle 2.

Step 14. Flip the needles and slide so the cable stitches are on the needle. Needle 2 is on top, Needle 1 is on the bottom. You have 10 loops on each needle. Slide out Needle 1 so it is free to knit.

Step 15. Treat each loop on each needle as a separate stitch. Using only the working yarn now, Knit 2, K2Tog across all stitches. If you started with 10 loops, you now have 8 stitches on Needle 2.

Step 16. Do the flip & slide and repeat Step 15 on the other needle.

Here's a picture of the finished cast on, ready for toe increases.

For the rest of the toe:
Needle 2: Knit even.
Needle 1: Knit even.
Needle 2: K1, Increase 1, knit to last stitch, Increase 1, K1.
Needle 1: K1, Increase 1, knit to last stitch, Increase 1, K1
Repeat until you have the desired number of stitches for your sock foot.

A note about Increases: This is a sock toe, people. It doesn't really matter what you do. Ideally you should use the correct left-slanting/right-slanting increase. Usually, my favorite increase is the lifted increase because it is almost invisible. I do not use it when I do increases every other row. It can cause puckering. What do I use for my sock toes? The old-fashioned EZ Loop increase as shown in the pictures below.

Why? Because it works just fine and I have no problem reading it in my knitting. I don't have to count rows to figure out of this is an increase row or a knit even row; I can read the increase instantly.


mary lynn said...

please do a picture tutorial on the heel. sil

adp54 said...

I hope you have not decided to stop blogging. I have enjoyed what you have written so far and the Widdershin heel chart is so helpful. Thanks for posting it.

Soulknitting said...

Thank you SOOO MUCH for this tutorial!! I am just trying to learn magic loop toe up socks after knitting my first pair of Magic Loop Top Down socks. YOUR info will hopefully help me get that done!!! Woot!!!

NotAMeanGirl said...

Holy... Mother... of... I am NEVER gonna be able to do socks! It's scary complicated!

Great tutorial but ZOMG... eeeeek