In today's tutorial I am going to explain two different ways to secure sock toes worked in the top down construction method. Securing sock toes might seem like a daunting task, but it is actually easy with practice. The basic closure method is used for other tubular knit items, such as hats and mittens. Kitchener Stitch is also used for other items. Grafting stitches together for a seamless end may be an intimidating technique for some, but the key is to go slowly and work with as few surrounding distractions as possible.
Grafting is my preferred method for closing socks, mostly because it is the most comfortable (at least to me). Grafting socks with the Kitchener Stitches provides more room in the toe, as it keeps the end of the sock in a longer rectangular shape. The basic method for closing a sock causes the toe to taper inwards on itself, resulting in a slightly narrower, pointier toe. You can see this in the sock examples below. On the left is the basic closure, and on the right is the Kitchener Stitch graft.
As a note, socks generally end with a total of twenty stitches, usually five divided between four double pointed needles (DPNs). For the purposes of this tutorial, the mock toe shown below has a total of twenty stitches, worked in brightly colored worsted weight yarn for better stitch definition. If your pattern has a different stitch count, adjust as necessary by dividing the final number of stitches in half (for Kitchener Stitch grafting). Yarn weight and color do not matter, but you might need to be careful with dark or black yarns, as stitches worked in these colors are difficult to see. Additionally, I will not be covering the different styles of sock toe decreases; this will be a separate tutorial.
You can follow along with any pair of socks you are making, or practice with a tube of 20 stitches worked in the round on double pointed or circular needles. You do not have to knit a mock toe as I did, but it may be helpful. I am using DPNs, which I find is the easiest way to work with the small number of stitches on a sock toe.
After completing the last round of the toe decrease, knit across needle 1. Cut the working yarn, leaving a tail about 20 inches (51cm) long. Thread the tail onto a tapestry needle.
Insert the tapestry needle into all of the stitches on needles 2, 3, 4, and 1, as if to purl (you will be working clockwise, or from left to right). Thread the tail through the stitches, then remove them from the needles. Pull the tail to tighten, then secure the tail and bring it to the inside of the sock. Once the toe is complete, you can finish the rest of your sock as necessary, such as weaving in any loose strings.
Kitchener Stitch Grafting
How to Start
After completing the final decrease round for the sock toe (5 stitches on needle 1, 2, 3, and 4; twenty stitches total), knit across needle 1. Combine the stitches of needle 1 and 4 onto one needle, then combine the stitches of needle 2 and 3 onto another needle; the latter should be facing you. There should be ten stitches on the remaining two needles. The working yarn should be in the back, connected to the rightmost stitch. Cut the working yarn, leaving a tail about 20 inches (51cm) long. Thread the tail onto a tapestry needle.
Step 1: Insert the tapestry needle into the rightmost stitch on the front double pointed needle, as if to knit. Bring the tail through the stitch, then remove the stitch from the double pointed needle (or circular needle). Insert the tapestry needle into the subsequent stitch, as if to purl. Thread the tail through the stitch, but do not drop it.
Step 2: Now working in the rightmost stitch on the back needle, insert the tapestry needle as if to purl. Thread the tail through the stitch, then remove the stitch from the needle. Insert the tapestry needle into the subsequent stitch as if to knit. Thread the tail through stitch, but leave it on the double pointed or circular needle.
For an additional explanation, you will be working a pattern of "knit off, purl on" with the stitches on the front needle, and "purl off, knit on" with the stitches on the back needle, each time decreasing one stitch from both needles. This process essentially creates a row of Stockinette stitches forming a (mostly) invisible join between the top and bottom of the sock (the instep and the sole, respectively, for more sock terminology).
Repeat Steps 1 and 2 of the Kitchener Stitch until one stitch remains on each needle.
End as follows: thread the tapestry needle through the last front stitch as if it knit, the drop it. Thread the tapestry needle through the last back stitch as if to purl, then drop it. Take a moment to adjust the gauge of the grafted stitches to match those of the actual sock; they should be even. You can this by gentle pulling on the tail and using a crochet hook to gently adjust each of the grafted stitches. Once the grafted stitches are even, secure the tail and bring it to the inside of the sock. Once the toe is complete, you can finish the rest of your sock as necessary, such as weaving in any loose strings.
This concludes today's sock tutorial; I hope you enjoyed! If you have any questions feel free to post them in the post's comment section. Until next time, happy knitting!
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