Look closely, and you'll notice that this is not, in fact, a pair of socks, sitting at the foot of "Spring" in our botanical gardens. It's one long, lazy tube. Here's where it began...
At a school picnic. Didn't really have a pattern in mind, so I cast on 64 stitches, using some sock yarn and a long 2.5mm needle. Then, I knit around and around.
And around and around and around.
I decided to stop here, at 52cm. It was 240 rounds, plenty of length for a pair. Three-quarters done, all mindless stocking stitch, just knit-knit-knit-knit-knit, watching the kids play, or sitting on the bus or in the local Gardens with an audio book, walking around the lake, or watching Doctor Who. That was the Lazy Part.
The Fiddley Part
I changed to white and knit one more round (the blue doesn't bleed into the purls of the ribbing that way). Then I knit 15 rounds of 2x2 rib. I changed back to the blue to cast off, using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off and returned to the other end of my tube.
Must learn how to do a Provisional Cast on some time. Instead, I threaded my circular needle through a round of stitches (that is, through the right hand "leg" of each V) and pulled out the cast on edge until all my stitches were 'live' stitches on my needles again. Then I did another cuff. (I could have started with a cuff, I guess, but the edges wouldn't have matched properly.)
The Scary Part
Not really. Not at all. Find the middle of the tube (I counted rounds, but you could just guess if you wished) and thread the needles through again. You need to pick up two rounds with two different needles this time, and leave a gap of one round. I left a gap of two rounds... because I had an even number of rounds, and therefore two "center" rounds. Couldn't bear one sock being 2mm longer. Hehe.
See how I threaded my needles through the right hand bit of each V? Then you need to get out your scissors, take a deep breath, and snip one of the stitches from the row between. Snip it, and unravel. I used a darning needle to pull up the stitches, one by one, until I was back down to the cables and all my stitches were "live". Now, we have two socks! Almost.
My toes, with half the stitches each on two circular needles, go like this:
1. Knit one round
2. (Knit 1, SSK, knit until 3 from the end of the needle, K2tog, Knit 1) x2
Keep repeating until there are 12 stitches left on each side, and then Kitchener those together.
First, adding toes means that the socks have a top and bottom. So the heels had to line up with the edges of the toes. Second: where to put the heels? I planned to make the heels just like the toes, and I could measure the toes I'd already knit. I used a ruler. I had a cardboard cut-out of Mum's footprint, so I measured that, subtracted a toe length, and marked the spot. Then, for luck, I stuck the cardboard footprint into the sock, stretched the sock a little, and counted down 20 rounds from where the cut-out's heel reached. Same spot. I threaded through 32 stitches in the row above and below.
I snipped the stitch right in the middle. After the row is unpicked, I had an end on each side about 10cm long, just long enough to comfortably sew in afterwards. Cutting the stitch near an edge would have made one end a bit short.
Also, if you look closely, you'll see I didn't unpick the stitch on each edge. I joined up my white yarn again, and I knit all 32 stitches I'd picked up for each heel, but I left those two edge ones (from the row between) on each sock. After the heel was finished, I gave the end attached to that stitch a firm tug, sewed it into the inside of the sock nice and securely, and there were no "heel corner" holes to worry about.
First, I knit 5 plain rounds. I find that if I don't the sock stretches too much over the front of my ankle, but that's just me. Another thing that works is to pick up a few more stitches from each edge, incorporating some of the instep into the heel. If I had normal heels, I'm sure I could just knit the heel exactly as I knit the toe.
Hopefully, Mum's foot is much the same.
After those plain rounds, I knit two "toes" exactly the same as the toes. I don't know why, but they work. Although they do look more like heels after they're blocked.
My sock blockers are a bit big for socks that fit Mum. Must get a few smaller sizes... and bigger sizes, too. Might even make socks for Dad some time, though his feet are huge!
I found my yarn pooled just a bit, because of the way I dyed it.
I don't mind pooling; it can make it's own pattern, like the vague stripes in this. What annoys me is the way the pooling pattern changes when you increase for sock gussets. I'm going to try this again soon, in a yarn that pools more, and see if it works out.
This will be a good one for my kids, too. My 7yo, Byron, said to me last month, "By the time you finish my socks they won't fit me any more"... and he's right! Now, I can measure them to fit right before I do the last bit. If I ever get a chance to borrow a sock-knitting machine for a day, I'm going to knit half my sock yarn into tubes, and make them into socks like this later on.
Another thing they'll be good for: using every last scrap of handspun so that none is wasted. Must try that, too.