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Dallas: Saturday Toe-Up Socks Class

dallasjane.jpgOn Saturday at the Dallas-Fort Worth Fiberfest I taught Toe-Up Socks. We used my First-Time Toe-Up sock pattern as the class handout. This sock has the easiest toe of any toe-up sock I’ve ever tried and my students consistently enjoy making this pattern.

Toe-up socks, for the uninitiated, are done “upside down” from a standard western-style sock construction. Some reasons to do them this way are a)you can knit it to fit without knitting a gauge swatch before starting, b)you can knit until you run out of yarn and stop knitting at whatever height they end up… especially good if you might run out and perhaps can’t get/can’t afford another ball of that yarn), c)there is no chance of making a twisted ring of knitting at the top and having to rip out and start over.

The down sides of toe-up socks are a) that you start with relatively few stitches and a whole bunch of needles (we call it wrestling the porcupine when we are on the very start), and b) if you bind off too tightly, the sock won’t fit over your heel and therefore unwearable.

Fortunately, we spend a lot of time in this class talking about the second of the issues, and this toe starts with a square of flat stockinette fabric which is made on 2 needles, before starting to work in the round with more needles. It’s a little fussy for one round (you pick up stitches around that square) but it gets better quickly.

These days, I make almost all of my socks with this toe (though I alternate this heel with afterthought heels depending on a number of factors including my mood of the day). I like making socks with sweater yarns, thicker than typical sock yarns, and I never know how much sock I can get with a ball of yarn. I typically buy two balls and stop when I’m out of yarn on each one. Since I have small feet and like short cuffs, I get plenty of sock with all but sometimes the bulky yarns. It works for me!

dallasthankyousign.jpgThe class I had on Saturday was my largest, I had eleven folks on the roster. The room was set up like a classroom with tables, and I felt so far away from the folks in the third row that I asked permission to move the tables around. We made a nice U-shaped space and I could be close to everyone that way. I think the more people you have, the more essential it is to be accessible to everyone. Folks in the back row often won’t ask for help when they need it. This worked out great.

I had a number of folks in the class who had tried to make various other toe-up socks previously with varying degrees of success (usually not so good). In this class I had them bring worsted-weight yarn so they could a) see what they were doing more clearly, and b) have a chance at finishing a real sock, at least the foot. Several of them worked like crazy knitting their foot at lunch. I told them we would make a heel after lunch whether they were ready or not, and they would just have to rip and re-knit later if they weren’t ready. Had I not done that, we would not have finished class in time.

In the end it worked out very well. There was a two-hour lunch which was ideal for this particular class timeframe. I think only one person really ended up with what I call a “frankensock” which is something containing all the parts of a sock but which will not fit a human foot. She was having struggles with her eyesight (cataract surgery) but was happy with what she did accomplish and was all excited to start a real pair with some of her handspun yarn very soon.

I really enjoyed the class. I had two students from Friday who were also in my Saturday class: Sabine and Jane. Jane actually followed me to Sunday’s polymer clay class as well, and I was very grateful for her constant company over the weekend. She hadn’t heard of my work before she received the flyer for the fiberfest, but she then visited my site, ordered a pattern to see if she liked my style, and then signed up for all 3 classes. We had some serious fun together for three full days. I’m happy about that.

dallasparknearcenter.jpgI didn’t remember to take photos in my class on Saturday. Here’s a photo of Jane from Friday’s class, actually. And here is a photo of something that really touched my heart… someone snuck into my classroom after class that day when I had stepped out, and left me this little thank you note, bigger than life. Thank you, to whoever you were. I had a great day, too.

And just so I can share this photo with you, here is a shot of the park across from the convention center. Folks were there all the time, especially folks walking dogs. It was a beautiful view we could see any time we were in the vendor area in the hallway. What a nice change it was from Michigan snow and the Friday tornado warning! It was windy but beautiful and sunny Saturday. I enjoyed the view.

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