Well, yesterday was the first day I felt like myself again, and it sure is great to be on the other side of my cold. As I've mentioned before, with asthma a cold or flu can be a very dangerous thing, so I spend those days living through a cold with one eye waiting for the other shoe to drop - the asthma crisis that lands me in the ER. So again I urge you, if you find yourself with a cold or flu, think of all those people out there - more than you suspect - who have a compromised immune system due to things like chronic respiratory disease, chemo, etc. and stay home if you are sick. We have several such clients at the shop, and each time I say something like this is the blog, I get thank yous from them.
Friday, after posting on heels here in place of teaching them at the shop, I had every intention of posting my final part of the Socks Boot Camp - Toe-up Cast-Ons - here on Saturday. But if anyone's road to hell is paved with good intentions, surely mine is. So let's talk about Toe-up Cast-ons!
There is one cast-on that is used quite often for toe-up patterns called the Figure Eight or Turkish Cast-on. I have used this for things other than socks, such as knitted bags that I prefer to work in the round instead of knitting a flat piece and then seaming it later. One thing I notice with this cast-on is that you really want to do the cast-on itself with needles a size or two smaller than you will be working with. Because of how the cast-on is done, the sts of the CO are always going to be just a pinch larger than your knitted sts, causing a bit of looseness or a gap. This is easily solved with smaller needles.
Hold your two needles parallel, one above the other like this- _____
Leaving a 6-8" tail which you will weave or knit in later, hold your working yarn behind the needles with the tail to the top, and working end hanging down. *Bring the working end of the yarn between the two needles, and down in front of the bottom needle. Bring the yarn under the bottom needle and behind, then between the two needles again to the right of where the previous pass-through was, and in front of the top needle. Over the top needle and behind the needles, then between the two needles.* Repeat between * & * for the number of sts required.
As you can see, this makes a figure 8 of yarn between your two needles. You begin to work your sts by pulling the lower needle through the sts so that the lower sts rest on the cable of the lower needle. Using the upper needle, work the upper sts and then pull those sts onto the cable of the upper needle. Keeping your working yarn in place, simply turn the two needles clockwise like a steering wheel so that the lower needle is now on top, the upper needle is on the bottom. Pull the sts on the now upper needle so that they move from the cable onto the needle, and work them, making sure to tug that first st tight just as you do when knitting in the round in other situations, to avoid getting a ladder between sts. Continue in that manner. You will soon have a bit of knitting on there and feel as though you are knitting in the round in the normal way, just in circles, rather than turning the needles top and bottom as you do when first beginning to work the cast-on sts. Fluffy Knitter Deb does a great photo tutorial here to help you with the visuals.
The next cast-on, Judy's Magic Cast-on, is my absolute favorite. There is honestly no way that I can do it justice with words, but Cat Bordhi does an excellent tutorial about it on YouTube. Click here to go to her main page, and the tutorial is the first one on the list. Cat has a lot of good demos here. Personally I find her teaching style a bit tedious (I always hate having something explained to me 8 times when I got it on the first try. I kept saying, 'Move ON, woman!' to the computer.). BUT... having said that, her info is excellent, and well worth the wait.
Finally, I want to talk a bit about increases. Obviously, if you are starting at the toe of a sock, you need to increase to get to the full stitch count of your sock. Most patterns will to tell you to use either a k1f&b increase, or a M1 increase. Personally, I think both are uglier than all get-out. With the k1f&b you end up with a purl bump on your knit side, and with the M1 - no matter now neatly your work it and twist the st - there is still a foot print that shows where the new stitch came from. I'm sorry, but that won't do. It is well worth your while to learn my favorite - that most elegant of increases, the Lifted Increase. Not the Raised Increase, mind you, and there is a good excuse for some confusion there because of the terms. Again, take yarn and needles in hand, and go to Cat Bordhi's tutorial page, and look at 'LA-link and LA-Rink, the paired increases'. Once you do these, you'll never want to go back to the old way on doing your increases. I have been subbing these two increases for all increases in patterns for years now. They are by far my favorites, and the ones I teach in all my classes and Knit Dr. sessions.