Monday, October 25, 2010

Moving Stitches on Two-at-a-Time Socks

I just got Cookie A's lovely book, Sock Innovation, from my local library. This book is filled with eye-candy socks, lovely complex knits and nice textures.

I'm familiar with Cookie's designs, she's posted a number of nice socks on Knitty and I've tried some of those to good effect, including the incredibly popular "Monkey" (lovely!).

In this book, she's designed the socks for top-down, one-at-a-time knitting. This is not my favourite style (especially the "one-at-a-time" thing, I won't knit like that anymore as I'm prone to Single Sock Syndrome), so I figured I'd just dive in and start on a design toe-up, two-at-a-time.


3 rip-outs are some Knitting Life Lessons:

Unless you don't mind the look of the knitted pattern upside down, do try to knit the sock in the direction it's designed! Note to self: it must be possible to turn a cable pattern on its head...need to figure it out...

Knitting 2 socks at once really constrains your ability to move the beginning-of-row marker around. And it isn't just the beg of row marker that moves, this type of move typically affects every pattern repeat, and usually means you have to move sts from the "front" needle (the side of the circ you're knitting on) to the "back" needle (the side which awaits future knitting).

You can, of course, transfer the socks to DPNs, do the stitch re-org, and put 'em back on the circs, but if the pattern calls for repeated "move the beg of row marker", this is going to be a pain.

I've figured out how to move the "beg of row" marker to the left (as in, move sts to be knit later), details below. Moving sts against the flow of the knitting is harder and needs some preplanning, as in, get the sts on holders a row before you need to shift 'em.
[moving sts located at the red arrows to the other side of the sock...]

Moving stitches in the direction of the knitting:

You can move sts at the end of "sock 1 front of needle" to the back (bottom red arrow), by slipping them onto a holding device (cable needle, st holder, paperclip, safety pin - if you use something that isn't open on both ends, keep in mind that the opening has to be pointing LEFT so you can get the sts off later! geek note: this is a FIFO queue) when you get to them, not knitting them, and letting them dangle there while you knit sock 2.

Thanks to the circ, the same sts are easily moved on the next sock, just push them "around the corner" on the circ.

When you get to the end of row for sock 2, you'll have to park sts, again, not knitting them, making them ready to be knit as part of the new "next row" (top red arrow).

Moving on to sock 1 (now "back of needle") you now must knit those parked sts off the holder, then finish off the row. Moving sts at the end of row for sock 1 is easy, again thanks to the circular needle.

On the next row, sock 1 will be all set, and sock 2 will have some sts waiting for pickup on the front needle. Yay!

Moving stitches against the direction of knitting:

At some point, usually you'll want to move the stitches the other way again. This is done by first knitting the stitches to be transferred, then parking them for later pickup. In this situation, you have to knit them before parking! You'll knit them again, off the holder, when you get to them. Note that this means you park them one row before you move them - this requires pre-planning. If you are just moving the beginning of row marker back, this is not a big deal because it probably doesn't really matter when you do this, but if you have to move the sts as part of the design, you will need to pay attention to be sure to do it at the right time.

If your socks are mirror images of each other (and not identical), then you will be doing opposite things on the two socks; moving one set of sts in the knitting direction, and the others in the opposite direction. This is mind-bending and requires a lot of attention and forethought.

One more thought: usually moving sts like this only happens on the leg of the sock. Unless your socks are really wild...

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