These socks are knit two at a time, toe-up, on two circular needles. A little preparation, a little patience, and youíll be rewarded with a real nice pair of socksĖ without contracting the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome.
The "two circular needles for small circumferences" technique has been traced back to Joyce Williams. It was on the incomparable Knit U mailing list that I first read about knitting two of those small circumferences at once, when Joyce herself reported that Amy Detjen had conquered two sleeves at a time this way. I had to try this.
Although Iíd been knitting socks cuff-down for 20-something years, Iíd only recently been able to figure out how to knit them toe-up. None of the conventional methods I could find worked for me, so I struck out on my own and found something that worked for me. I decided to work on both methods at the same time.
My initial attempts at these socks employed a traditional long-tail cast on. That still works, and can be used here if the knitter prefers. My most recent twist is to use an invisible, temporary cast on, using a crochet hook and waste yarn. This works, too. Itís a matter of preference or, in my case, proximity of crochet hook when Iím ready to start another pair.
It is so cool to finish both socks at once. There is very little finishing required with these socks Ė and if you fasten the cast on ends while youíre still working down in the toe area, itís just a matter of fastening of and securing the end when you bind off. Once you get into the rhythm of the technique, I think this is faster than knitting the socks separately.
There are a couple of set-up steps to take that will make your life easier.
Now, write down some measurements (Iím putting mine in parentheses to use as an example only Ė make sure you get your own so that your socks fit you!):
W = _____ (9.5") = the circumference of your foot, at the instep
L = _____ (9.5") = the length of your foot, measure along the bottom, from toe to heel. You wonít need this measurement right away, but you might as well get it while youíre at it. I'm told that it's a sign of growing old that when you tie your shoe, you look around to see if there's anything else to be done while you're down there.
G = _____ (5.25) = your gauge in stitches per inch or cm (whichever you used to measure your feet). Taking the time to swatch will enable you to not only use your own choice of yarn, but youíll be able to experiment to ensure that youíre getting a nice, firm fabric that will stand up to the abuse itíll be subjected to underfoot. For this example, I used a DK weight wool/nylon blend on size 2 needles.
Now you need to fiddle with these numbers just a little bit. Plug in your numbers here.
C = W-1 = _____ (9.5-1 = 8.5)Note: If you knit tightly or prefer a sock that's not quite so snug, subtract just 0.5 here.
S = C x G = _____ (8.5 x 5.25 = 44.625, round to 45)
H = S / 2 = _____ (45 / 2 = 22.5, round to nearest even number = 22).
Youíre almost ready to begin. First, a word about your needles: you need two circular needles of the same size. For ease of use, they should each be at least 16" long, but they donít have to be the same length. You will find this easier if your needles are two different colors. If they arenít, you can apply some nail polish to both tips of one of them, so that when you have four ends hanging (and you will, soon) youíll know at a glance which two to grab. The nail polish doesnít "catch" or rub off on your yarn, and wears off pretty much by the time youíve finished your first pair of socks.
Name your needles, so you know which is which, and write that down here.
Needle #1 = ___________________ (blue tips)
Needle #2 = ____________________ (plain tips)
I call my needles #1 and #2, but you can name them Bob and Joe, or anything else youíd like. Just be sure you can tell them apart.
Using Needle #1 and whichever cast on method you prefer, cast on H (22) stitches.
Row 1: Purl across
Row 2: Knit to last st Ė do not knit it- and turn.
Row 3: Purl to last st,turn.
Row 4: K to second-to-last st, wrap (bring yarn to front, slip as if to P, return yarn to back of work,return slipped st to left-hand needle ), and turn.
Row 5: P to second-to-last st, wrap (bring yarn to back of work, slip as if to P, bring yarn back to the front, return slipped st to left-hand needle ), and turn.
Repeat rows 4 and 5, working across to the last unwrapped st on each row and wrapping it, until there are 10 Ė12* unwrapped sts remaining, ready to begin a RS row. *Use your own good judgement on this Ė look at it, and see how big or little it needs to be to wrap around your own toes. It should be a little less than half the sts you started with.
Turn the toe:
K across to first wrapped st, and knit it. With your LH needle, pick up the wrap from the st you just knit, and leave it on the left needle. Turn.
Purl across, and pick up the wrap as you did on the last row. Turn.
*Knit to the wrap that you left on the needle, and K2tog with the next st. Using the tip of your LH needle, pick up the wrapped st as you did before, and turn.
Slip one, and purl across to the wrap, and P2 tog with the next st. Pick up wrap, leave it on the left needle, and turn.*
Slip one, and repeat as between **.
Continue in this fashion until there is one st remaining on each end, ending with a WS row.
Slip 1, K to last st, slip 1.
Put this needle aside, and repeat the entire process using Needle #2 and a new ball of yarn. Itís possible to use the inside and outside of the same ball, if you prefer.
Start the foot:
Slip the second toe to needle #1, so that it sits alongside the first toe.
From now on, youíll be using two needles. ALWAYS use just one needle at a time. For this next step, you will be using the two ends of needle #2. Just let needle #1 hang there.
Hold the toes so that the cast on sides are facing you. With needle #2, pick up and knit sts from the cast on edge across the near side of each toe. If you used a crochet cast on, of course, you can merely unzip the sts, place them on the needle, and knit them.
Okay, so now you have two toes, suspended across two circular needles. Turn the whole thing around, pick up needle #1, and knit across first toe one, then toe 2. Turn, and use needle #2 to knit across the other side of the toes. Keep this up until your socks are long enough to fit over your feet.
Remember to use a different ball of yarn for each sock, and only one needle at a time. If you are knitting stitches off of a plain needle, you will be knitting them onto a plain needle. Go look at the pictures if youíre having trouble visualizing this.
Remember back when you measured the length of your foot? Subtract the depth of the toe, and make the foot that long. When youíre ready to turn the heel, have a look at your toes (not the ones that are permanently attached to the end of your foot, but the colorful ones that you just knit). See that little ridge where you picked up? Some people consider it decorative, others donít think it looks that great. If you would like to have this decorative little ridge across the tops of your toes, use needle #1 to turn your heels. If you find that youíd rather hide it on the underside of your foot, do just that, and use needle #2.
Turn the heels, one at a time, exactly the same way you turned the toes.
When youíre done with both heels, all thatís left to do is knit up the leg until itís as long as you like. Bind off, fasten in the ends, and youíre done. Put your new socks on right away, and look about for some more yarn so you can start another pair.
This pattern is free for your own use, but please refrain from reposting or distributing it without my permission. Copyright © 2001, Ingrid L Reed
Sheep courtesy of Springo Graphics