The Best Ribbing for Socks (and everything else)

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Meg Lark wrote
on Oct 22, 2010 2:24 PM

When Elizabeth Zimmermann made her original knitting videos, I recall that she and her daughter, Meg, had a discussion about the most elastic ribbing.  EZ held out for K2P2; Meg thought it was K1P1.  In my experience, the VERY BEST rib for anything, socks included, is K2P1.  Try it; the elasticity is phenomenal. 

The best way to work this rib over four needles (knitting with a fifth) is K1P1K1, K1P1K1, and so on around.  Needless to say, but I will, the best leg pattern is one that will fit over a multiple of three; my current fave is a 9-stitch rib.  You can continue the K1-P1-K1 on down to the heel flap, you can K6-P3, or K7-P2, if you really hate ribbing.

I'm currently knitting a "pair" of socks.  I worked the first one the traditional way, from the top down, but toe-up socks make so much more sense to me that I'm working the second one that way, using the first sock as a guide for when to start the gusset.  Or I may pass on the gusset altogether and just knit an afterthought heel, which has a certain charm to it; I'll have to think about it, as I work my way up the foot.  If I do go with a knit-in heel, the flap presents a problem, since I happen to love EZ's "K the first and last four sts on each row" approach, which produces a very tidy-looking garter-stitch border to the heel, very useful for *picking up* the gusset stitches, but unnecessary for decreasing the gusset on a toe-up sock.  Suggestions?

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Zoe wrote
on Oct 22, 2010 5:02 PM

Hi Meg Lark,

I love the EZ sock.  I knit from the top down (not toe up).  I use the EZ "formula" for the socks.  Cast on an even number of stitches (ie. 48), do the ribbing (my favorite is k1p1, or k2p2), make the heel flap from half the number of cast on stitches (ie. 24), knit the heel flap (knit the first 4 stitches of every row) for 2 1/2" (for an adult), pick up 12 stitches along the sides of the heel flap, knit your gusset, decrease at the "gusset" line every other round until you have the origional number of stitches left on your needles (ie. 48).  The math is so simple as each of the next steps in the sock pattern is half of the last one, until you get past the gusset, when you need to decrease until the origional number of cast on stitches are left on the needles. 

The more times there is a change between the knit stitches and the purl stitches, the greater the stretch on the ribbing.  This is so because the more changes that there are, the greater the amount of yarn used.  Although it is not a whole lot more yarn used, there is a little.  The difference in the way the yarn is manoevered between knit and purl is what gives the ribbing its stretch.  So it does make sense that the greatest stretch would be the k1p1 rib.  EZ hated to purl and the k2p2 would have given her less movement of the yarn from front to back as she knit and purled her stitches.

I started out learning to knit at about age 10 and my first knit project was a pair of red socks!  I will be 50 on my next bd.  I knit continental style but use the continental and English style to do fair isle.  What way do you knit? and how long have you been knitting?  What do you like to knit?  I love the sock stuff.  For myself, I never really got into the toe up style.

Happy knitting, Zoe Smile 

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Meg Lark wrote
on Oct 24, 2010 5:01 AM

Goodness!  Your comments on the EZ sock sound just like me!  A new acquaintance of mine confessed that she would love to learn to knit socks, but was intimidated by the heel turning, so I told her to get a copy of Knitting Without Tears.  I'm hoping to see her this coming Thursday, and plan to bring my book with me to show her what's in it.

But I still like my K2 P1 ribbing -- love the elasticity of it.  Try it out sometime.  I used to like K1 P1, but I notice that my husband's socks stay up better with the K2 P1.

I learned to knit maybe 40 years ago, when living in Germany, where *everybody* knew how to knit (they used to teach it in German schools -- don't know if they still do).  I was 23 and a military wife living, as we used to say, "on the economy" (i.e., in town, not on base) -- had learned enough German to get around easily, and one day I bought a how-to book,. a pattern, and some yarn, and have never looked back.

As I grow older I find that I knit "straight" sections English style (all knit or all purl), as I have less trouble purling with the English style.  But when I rib, I always use Continental style, and like you, use both if I'm knitting Fair Isle (it's been awhile since I knit Fair Isle, though).  These days I do a lot of counted cross stitch, actually, but always have a knitting project on hand -- I tend to choose my projects based on what needs to be replaced in somebody's wardrobe, so it's been mostly either sweater-vests or socks.  When my kids were growing up, knitting was all I did (thank goodness for EZ!!!), but after making my daughter's wedding veil (Shetland lace), I put knitting aside for almost ten years, and just got back into it last year when I noticed that my husband's favorite sweater-vest was beyond repair.

I must say that knitting is SO much more portable than counted cross stitch.    ;-)

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Zoe wrote
on Oct 24, 2010 12:03 PM

Meg Lark:
get a copy of Knitting Without Tears

 

Hi Meg Lark,

This book is absolutely fabulous!  I borrow my Mom' copy whenever I wish to read an EZ how to story.  I don't know if this book is in print any more???  Mom is passing hers on to me.  Since I am the only knitter/crocheter/cross stitcher/sewer/crafter in the family besides her, I will eventually inherit all her craft books.  We borrow books back and forth. 

One thing your friend may find very easy to understand and follow along is a book by Ann Budd called "Getting Started Knitting Socks".  It goes about telling/explaining the basic sock know how.  It has a basic pattern for every yarn weight there is.  It has full photos of each step.  Her sock pattern is basically the EZ sock that we know.  It is also just a wonderful read when knitting isn't able to be done.

Because you like to knit straight (vs in the round)  do you do any two needle sock patterns??  When I purl continental style, I have the yarn looped around my left thumb and purl off my thumb.  So much easier than trying to stretch your left index finger down and around the right needle to get your yarn wrapped for the stitch.  I will post a how to video of this.   

I totally agree about the portability of the knitting (crochet too).  Zoe Smile

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owRkjaN0EDU   thumb purling

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuW-HdnlkmY     another thumb purling

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDCWA8yB8x4&feature=related  Norwegian purl method for continental knitters. (I sometimes use this method when ribbing as it is less yarn movement.  With practice, you get very fast at it.)

 

 

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Meg Lark wrote
on Oct 24, 2010 12:17 PM

Sorry, I seem to have misled you -- I *hate* knitting flat, and always knit in the round whenever I can.  By "straight" knitting I meant no twisted or ribbed stitches, just rows and rows of either knitting or purling.  I'm also not a fan of garter stitch for just that reason:  I'd have to knit it back and forth!

Thanks for the thumb-purl videos, I will have to check them out.  How do you work ribbin in continental style, if you knit off your index finger and purl off your thumb?  I will also have to check out the Ann Budd book -- is it available from Interweave?

I believe that Knitting Without Tears, along with a couple of other EZ treasures, has been realeased in honor of The Great One's 100th birthday.  HEY!  How about around her birthday (August 8, I believe) we have a Great Knitter instead of the Great Pumpkin?  And we could make up Knitting Carols!  (Yes, I'm kidding around -- sort of.)

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Zoe wrote
on Oct 24, 2010 2:30 PM

Meg Lark:
How do you work ribbin in continental style, if you knit off your index finger and purl off your thumb? 

 

Hi Meg Lark,

I am not familiar with the term "ribbon in continental style" so I am unsure what it means???   When I knit off my index finger and then go to purl, I catch the yarn with my right needle as I bring it forward and loop it around my thumb.  Continue on with the purl stitch, bend my thumb away from me so that the yarn returns to the back, and then knit my knit stitch.  Confusing?  Watch the videos and then picture me looping the yarn around my thumb (instead of letting the yarn slip off my index finger before coming onto my thumb, I let it remain coming over the index finger).

I bought the Ann Budd book from Interweave Knits a little bit ago.  There are more of them still available from the Interweave book store. 

http://shop.knittingdaily.com/Knitting/Books.html   Just scroll down the page until you come to it. 

The knitting carols thingy -- I am knitting tiny little sweaters, scarves, winter hats, etc. for a Christmas garland.  This morning I knit up a pair of Santa pants about 4" long.  I finished up a Santa hat to go with it.  Tonight I will knit a Santa parka.  I am knitting a green/red elf jacket.  I crocheted up a little sleigh blanket from red/green/white crochet cotton.  I am doing a Christmas garland of such things for my son and his girlfriend's Christmas tree.

Great to hear about the Knitting without Tears being released to celebrate EZ's bd.

I love my knitting in the round too.  There is nothing to it, just a nice steady rhythm, that is so relaxing.  Happy knitting, Zoe Smile

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Meg Lark wrote
on Oct 24, 2010 2:37 PM

Sigh, that was supposed to be, "How do you work *ribbing* in continental style?"  I shouldn't be so confident in my typing that I forget to proofread!!

There was also a video of Eastern European purling that I found interesting -- now, if only I could remember how it went.  I know that the knitter worked through the *backs* of the loops.

Thanks for the link to the Ann Budd book.  Must check it out!

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Zoe wrote
on Oct 24, 2010 2:46 PM

Hi Meg,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpcJ7mZGlZI   The Eastern European purling is done through the back loops.  In order to acheive a nice smooth texture to your knitted item, you must also then knit through the back loop.  If you don't then you will end up with twisted stitches.  The Norweigan purl is similar to the Eastern European purl except that the Norweigan purl is done through the front loops.   Kind of the knitters' rule of thumb is knit through the front loops and purl through the front loops OR knit through the back loops and purl through the back loops.

Hey about that ribbon/ribbing thing -- we are knitters and that is why I have spell check on my computer!  heha!!

Its all good knitting, Zoe Smile

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on Sep 1, 2011 8:23 PM

I am also having a hard time when I get to the heel, I can knit the gusset but I am lost turning the heel

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