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Monday, February 17, 2014

Toes in a Pinch? Try a Cinch!

I finished knitting my Haleakala Socks (while running year end reports for work from home and while everyone else in the country was watching the Super Bowl... go Seahawks!) and I am preparing to sew up the toes.

These are different socks, but the toes end up the same... a couple of live stitches at the very end of the sock!
To finish my socks, I have always grafted the remaining toe stitches together, creating a seamless finished toe. Doing this is a bit of a pain, but it's only for about 20 stitches, so it's never been a big deal. You take those live stitches** (below) and sew them together so there isn't a visible seam.

When you're done, it looks like this:
So tidy! (Yes, those are two pieces of fabric that have been grafted together, I promise!) The instructions that I've used in the past are HERE. I think they are clear, easy to follow, and have big pictures to help. Once you get the rhythm of grafting, it isn't really all that onerous, but maybe don't try to watch TV and learn how to graft at the same time.

Now, switch gears: it's time for a new school of thought. Kate Atherley of Knitty advocates abandoning grafting for socks and just cinching the remaining toe stitches together. That's right. Says Kate, 
Socks ... do not need grafting.
Yes, that's right. I'll say that again. Grafting is unnecessary – indeed, it's actually counterproductive – in sock knitting.
She goes on to explain that grafting is a lot of work for not a lot of return. There isn't a lot of visual impact at the toe of a sock; why spend all that time? On top of that, when you graft, you get little puckers of extra fabric at the corners that either hang on and bunch up on your toes or require additional work to sew down. Read her article HERE.

Instead, why not try running the the tail of your yarn through those lovely live stitches and simply cinch them together and then weave the end in?

So, I thought I'd give it a try. These Haleakala socks already aren't my favorite -- I'm not a fan of self-striping yarn -- so what could a different toe really hurt? You just thread the tail of your knitting back through the live stitches, pull tight, and then weave in the ends.

My socks! My comfy toes!
Turns out I love it. It took me almost no time at all and they are more comfortable than grafted toes. Sold. I do not anticipate EVER grafting a sock toe again. Thanks Kate!

**Live stitches! These are stitches that you could knit into to keep the project going. If I were to just leave them as they are without weaving in the ends, grafting them together, or cinching them like I did here, the project would unravel.


  1. I am in awe of your skill. I would never have the patience to make something like this.

    1. Thanks! I love knitting. I find it very relaxing and frequently knit while listening to audiobooks or watching TV. Sometimes getting started can take a bit, but knitting is the sort of hobby that falls into a comfortable rhythm.

  2. I truly appreciate your patience! I was in 6th grade when I started knitting and wanted to make scarf, but it required so much of patience and work that I ended up making a hairband and never picked up on making anything else :D

    1. Scarves are hard! Many knitters start off by trying a scarf, but it takes such a long time until you complete it that feels like you never get the satisfaction from having your finished object. I'm an advocate for starting with things like wash cloths. Hairbands are great too! :)