Tilt-A-Whirl–Toe Shaping

The star-shaped toe in Jennifer Leigh’s Tilt-A-Whirl socks in New Directions in Sock Knitting is unusual in that it sits on top of the foot. It’s worked by decreasing eight times in each decrease round to form eight wedges that come together in points at the top of the foot. After all the decreases are complete, just 8 stitches remain.

All that’s left is to draw the yarn through the remaining 8 stitches twice, pull tight to close the hole, and fasten off on the wrong side.

I’m anxious to knit the mate — these slipper socks may be my best friends this winter!

Tilt-A-Whirl–Foot Complete

The foot in Jennifer Leigh’s Tilt-A-Whirl socks in New Directions in Sock Knitting basically continues in the same pattern used for the Heel Turn, but the piece finally is worked in rounds after all of the leg stitches have been joined to foot stitches.

To maintain pattern continuity, one stitch continues to be increased each side of the center sole stitch and a centered double decrease is worked at the top of the instep. It’s all very clever.

The foot is worked longer than usual because the star toe sits on the top of the foot, not at the tip of the toes as is usual. In the photo at left, I’ve placed 8 markers to identify the positions of the decreases for the toe.

The end is in sight!

Tilt-A-Whirl–Heel Turn Complete

I have to admit that the Heel Turn in Jennifer Leigh’s Tilt-A-Whirl socks in New Directions in Sock Knitting is a bit odd. But it works!

To begin, the heel is worked on about one-third of the stitches, not one-half as is typical. The slip-stitch pattern is continued through the heel turn to provide comfortable and sturdy cushioning at the bottom of the heel.

The heel turn is worked in a series of short-rows with yarnovers added to help close the holes at the turning points. At the end of the short-rows, all of the yarnovers are worked with neighboring stitches one after the other. The only tricky part is the last wrong-side row, where the yarnovers are worked together with the neighboring stitches as ssp. I had to work to get the ssp’s — it would have been easier to work p2tog, but that would have caused the decreases to lean the wrong way.

I didn’t take time to photograph the end of the heel turn and was well along the foot before I stopped to take a photo.

The center heel stitch becomes the “seam” stitch along the center of the sole. In very unusual shaping, stitches are increased each side of the sole “seam” stitch every right-side row, and one heel gusset stitch is worked together with an instep stitch at the end of every row. It’s a little odd at first, but a rhythm is quickly developed and the knitting progresses fairly quickly.

I like it!

Tilt-A-Whirl–Ready For Heel Turn

I’ve finished the Gusset Increases for my version of Jennifer Leigh’s Tilt-A-Whirl socks in New Directions in Sock Knitting.

It’s quite nice how the gusset fits in between two ribs of the leg pattern for an organic flow. The increases are worked into a heel-flap stitch pattern of skip-one-knit-one, but to make it extra strong and cushy, Jennifer works the slip stitches through the back loops on alternate rows. It take a bit of getting used to but is really quite simple (and quite lovely!).

Tilt-A-Whirl Socks–Moving Along

I’m moving along on my version of Jennifer Leigh’s Tilt-A-Whirl socks from New Directions in Sock Knitting and have completed the leg. The diagonal “lace” stitch pattern in the leg is a simple 2-round repeat that’s easily memorized (as long as you remember which round you’re on…). I’m thinking this might make a nice pattern for a scarf or cowl!

The only trick is that the end of the round moves one stitch to the right (for the left sock; one stitch to the left for the right sock). For the mate, I think I’ll place a removable marker on the knitting at the end of the round to help me keep track of it.

I’ve just worked the set-up round of the gusset increases. Stitches will be added for the heel gusset between the two white markers. Easy!

Tilt-A-Whirl Socks–The Beginning

The next pattern I’ve chosen to knit from New Directions in Sock Knitting is Jennifer Leigh’s Tilt-A-Whirl design (page 44).











These ingenious socks draw upon Elizabeth Zimmermann’s arch-shaped foot and Cat Bordhi’s unusual construction for a pair of nearly indestructible socks. The foot is knitted in a thick, reinforced fabric that provides support and cushioning that will withstand the most punishing wear and tear. A diagonal rib pattern punctuated with yarnovers provide ventilation and stretch in the leg.

Jennifer knitted her socks with colorful Noro Silk Garden Sock, which beautifully highlights the different knitting directions. For my version, I’ve chosen For my version, I’ve chosen Arctic Qiviut Qiviut Sock Yarn (35% qiviut, 40% superwash merino, 15% bamb00, 10% nylon; 375 yards [342 meters]/100 grams) in a colorway called Grizzly Brown. I plan these to be the ultimate in cozy slipper socks!










Although the instructions say to use two 16″ or 24″ circular needles, I’ve chosen to use a 40″ needle and use the magic-loop method of working in rounds. I hope this doesn’t pose a problem later. I’m using a size U.S. 3 (3.25 mm) needle and will follow the third size to fit my U.S. size 9-ish feet.

So far, I’ve casted on and worked 4 rounds without a hitch!

Smokey ZickZacks–A Finished Sock!

I’m happy to announce that I’ve completed the first sock (the right one) of Natalia Vasilieva’s Smokey ZickZacks (page 140 of New Directions in Sock Knitting).

After working the Kitchener stitch on all the live stitches, there’s a small gap at the toe that gets seamed. In this section, the selvedge stitches on one side are grafted to garter ridges on the other.


When the toe is closed, the it’s time to remove the waste yarn. Like magic, the yarn unzips to reveal a finished sock!

The inserted stitches that form the heel are present on only one side of the sock; hence the need for right and left socks. I think I’ll take a break before I knit the mate…



Smokey ZickZacks–Kitchener Stitch

Well, here I am at the Kitchener stitch finale of Natalia Vasilieva’s Smokey ZickZacks (page 140 of New Directions in Sock Knitting).

The knitting was relatively easy–a total of 70 rows of mostly garter stitch for my size. I like Kitchener stitch yet have been dreading this part of the sock. The double increases and decreases are to be included in the Kitchener stitch. Fortunately, detailed illustrations are shown on page 149.

To begin, I knitted 12 stitches, tied a knot, then unknit these stitches to figure out how much yarn tail I’ll need to Kitchener 12 stitches. I’ll multiply this length by 10 to determine the length I’ll need to thread on a tapestry needle to Kitchener the entire row of 120 stitches.

I folded the piece in half so that the provisional cast-on was just above the live stitches on my working needle. I worked with the right side of both edges facing me. I threaded the long tail on a tapestry needle and followed the illustration on page 149 to get started by bringing the tapestry needle up through the first cast-on stitch, then down into the next cast-on stitch. Then I followed the sequence for Kitchener stitch on garter stitch (shown here after a couple of inches have been Kitchenered).

Step 1 (below left): Bring the tapestry up through the first live stitch.

Step 2 (below right): Bring the tapestry needle up through the same cast-on stitch entered most recently.











Step 3 (below left): Bring tapestry down through the next cast-on stitch.

Step 4 (below right): Bring tapestry needle down into the same live stitch entered in Step 2.










I tried my best to follow the illustrations on page 149 for working Kitchener stitch on the double increases, double decreases, and single decreses, but between the dark yarn, thick provisional yarn, and poor lighting (and maybe a bit of denseness on my part), I gave up on the fancy stitches and just worked regular Kitchener stitch across the entire row.

As suggested in the instructions, I left the waste yarn in the cast-on stitches as I worked. After a couple of inches, I pulled some out to make sure the grafting worked. I’m glad that I did! I ran into a snag at the second double decrease (above right) and had to cut the waste yarn to proceed (below right).










As I made my way across the foot, I couldn’t tell that the look of my sock suffered much from my working simple Kitchener stitch for garter stitch instead of adding the increase and decrease gymnastics.

Stitch by stitch, the odd piece of knitting is taking the shape of a sock!