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The knitting pages are now mostly practical, concentrating mainly on things you could well find out for yourself about knitting as your style and skills progress.

On this page you can see:

finishing socks and hats

A simple formula for the tops of hats and the toes of socks

pink summer hat
Below is a formula for finishing off a tube shape (like the top of a hat, or the toe of a sock) where you want to achieve a dome shaped finish. This is different from most traditional ways of finishing a sock, which most commonly use a chisel shape instead of a dome. It's also different from what you would do if you wanted to produce a pointy hat, where the decreases are spread over a longer length, or indeed a tea-cosy type of hat where you simply gather the stitches into a strong thread and finish off.

For this formula I am indebted to Ursula von Wartburg's 1973 book The Big Book of Knitting, which is still available second hand very cheaply online. It's a book aimed at children and progressing, by explaining simple principles, to showing how to knit all the standard knitted garments, including socks. Photos of intricate socks made 40 years ago by children as young as 9, are enough to make you weep.

These instructions apply to socks knitted in the traditional top-down way. There are good reasons why top-down became traditional in the west, which you will discover if you are tempted to get more deeply into socks! And if by any chance you want to use up a whole skein which might run out before you come to the end of the second sock, you can start each sock a little way above the heel with a 'provisional' cast on and divide your remaining yarn into two for finishing off each sock.

    Firstly, where to start forming the toe? You usually start decreasing when the sock just covers the little toe. To be even more precise, you may want to know that if you start with 6 stitches between decreases you will make a 6.5cm long toe box; 5 stitch decreases make 5cm long toe box; 4 stitches make 4cm long and 3 stitches make 3 cm long, etc.

    Instructions apply to knitting in the round, but you can easily adapt if you prefer knitting hats on two needles. In this case, read 'row' for 'round'.

    Divide the stitches on the round by 10, or use the nearest number for dividing by 10.
    From this number, subtract 1.

    For instance, if you have 71 stitches then divide 70 by ten then subtract 1 = 6.
    Similarly, if you have 36 stitches then divide 40 by ten then subtract 1 = 3.

    Start the decreasing round by k2 tog at the beginning of the round, then knit the number of stitches from your calculation, then k2 tog, then knit your number, all along the round.

    Then knit the same number of rows straight as the number of stitches between decreasing stitches above.

    In all the following rounds, the number of stitches between k2 tog is decreased by 1, and the number of plain rows is also decreased by 1.

    Finally k2 tog all along the round. When you have either 2 or 3 stitches on each of your 3 needles, draw the yarn through all the stitches and finish off neatly.

toe end socks sock toe end

(my favourite socks have rounded toe boxes using this formula)

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