Back to the basics

For the last few years, I’ve mostly been focused on challenging myself with intricate patterns. Every new pattern had to be harder than the one before it, or what was the point. And somewhere along the way I forgot how much fun can be had with just knits and purls.

Recently when looking for a sock pattern, I fell in love with Treppenviertel. It’s a pretty straightforward pattern and a pretty straight forward knit, but it really takes advantages of the natural curves of stockinette.

As usual, the best explanation for why stockinette curls I’ve seen is this piece by techknitter. I love techknitter’s approach to knitting, and her explanations and illustrations are really clear, and she usually approaches a problem from a few different angles, providing a variety of interesting solutions.

The basic gist behind the curl of stockinette is the part of the stitch that always sits at the front pushes out to the sides, whereas the bumpy back is pushing up and down. Hence the sides of a piece of flat stockinette will curl back, but the top and bottom will curl forward.

The fun part is when you alternate bands of stockinette and reverse-stockinette. Vertical bands will emphasise the side curling of the fabric, pushing the knit side forward and the purl side backwards, giving us the familiar rib. However, if you make the bands horizontal instead, the top and bottom curl wins, pushing the purl side to the front and the knit side to the back.

Treppenviertel uses both. The cuff is ribbed vertically as is familiar, but the foot is ribbed horizontally, with three rows of knit followed by three rows of purl. The transition is done gradually over the course of the leg, with the horizontal lines starting at one point and gradually taking over.

I really love the visual effect of this. You have a sock that’s super simple, but still fun to knit and wear. I also like how straight off the needles it looks like an elf’s shoe!

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