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July 10, 2007

A Riddle

Dear nona,

I have a riddle for you.  I'm tight where I should be loose and loose where I should be tight.  My dilemma cannot be fixed by the gym or a diet.  I'm on my side and following the rules.  What am I and can you help?

Riddler from Reno

Dear Riddler,

Could it be that you're having trouble with the paired increases and decreases in your Sidewinders Sock?  Are your paired decreases too loose, forming a gap in the center and your paired increases too tight, causing a twinge of fabric distortion?  I made a pair of ankle Sidewinders to experiment with a few ideas. 

Loose Decreases
To close the gap between the paired decreases try any -- or all -- of the following:

  • Work your decreases tightly.  I rarely advocate yarn tugging, but this is an ideal opportunity to tug away.
  • Make sure your center heel (or toe) marker is -- to quote Monty Python -- wafer thin.  A thick stitch marker will definitely leave a gap between the decreases.  Why not take the old fashion route and use a thin yarn loop.

  • If all else fails, add 1 stitch between the paired decreases.  Whether you're decreasing for the heel or the toe, add the extra stitch on the foot side of the center marker.

Tight Increases
Finding a set of paired increases that didn't distort the fabric when worked every row was tricky business.  I found the raised bar increase to be the best, though far from perfect.  If your increases are too tight try the following:

  • Work the two center stitches and the newly formed make-one stitches very loosely.  There needs to be plenty of give between each center stitch and its associated make-one to allow for the connecting yarn to be picked up on the following row.
  • Add an extra stitch between the paired increases -- 3 center stitches instead of 2.  Separating the pair increases seems to help a bit.  Whether you're increases for the heel or the toe, add the extra stitch on the foot side of the center marker.

Further Opinions
We would all me a bunch of dullards if we didn't have further opinions.   Here are mine:

  • In both cases, sometimes a wash and a wear is all that is needed to lift, tuck, and separate.
  • Only add the extra stitch as a last resort.  I think the sock looks and fits best if the paired decreases are side-by-side and the paired increases are separated by 2 stitches.

  • If you add the extra stitch to one, also add it to the other.  This will ensure that the increases and decreases are symmetrical.

  • It's only a sock.  As long as the fabric is sound and the fit is good, a little space here or a pull there will only remind you that these sock were made my hand -- your hand!

July 10, 2007 in Ask nona, Sidewinders | Permalink


Lovely riddle and very sound advice. I like the end of it the best, so true :) someone told me once (refering to a sweater I just finished and nobody commented on as they thought I bought it, sillies)in a very heavy French accent:It is too beautiful Rachele you should have made some mistakes to let us see it is hand made!

Posted by: Rachel | Jul 10, 2007 10:40:34 PM

I admit - I, too, suffered from the too-tight increases when I worked them the first time. For my second attempt, I simply made yarn-overs and knit them through the back loop on the next row. It's the same as m1, but worked with a little more yarn length.

Posted by: grumperina | Jul 10, 2007 10:50:19 PM

missed ya'! as always a great sense of humour. practice would make perfect for all those little issues. its all new. I am surprised not all of us get that...
I am ready for Act II. one act at a time... its like a treasure hunt with clues.

Posted by: hpny knits | Jul 11, 2007 4:15:34 AM

I still want that Koigu. Give it to us!

P.S. I'm curious about the linen kilt!

Posted by: Aura | Jul 11, 2007 8:20:22 AM

For looser increases, you could also try EZ's make 1 -- just put a backward loop on your needle instead of pulling up the running strand and twisting it. It's like Grumperina's solution above, but done in one step.

Posted by: Laura | Jul 11, 2007 8:30:19 AM

horay, you're back!

Posted by: Natalie | Jul 11, 2007 2:55:32 PM

Hi Nona, Glad you're back. I've been having Sidewinder adventures. The latest is posted on my blog.

Posted by: Cate | Jul 12, 2007 3:15:13 PM

Such a cute riddle. Sideways socks ...so fun.

Posted by: kathy b | Jul 13, 2007 5:50:08 AM

Wow, this is actually just what I needed!! My decreases were a bit loose on my first Sidewinder, which I finished up yesterday. I was so proud of myself!
Http://www.saltwaterpurls.blogspot.com if you want to see a picture :)

Posted by: Jillie | Jul 17, 2007 7:12:22 PM

I did use the straights, and guess what? It worked out just fine!

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Posted by: Team USA 2010 Olympic Jersey | Sep 1, 2011 6:46:06 PM

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