I decided I wanted the stocking toe to flow gracefully into the body of the stocking. In other words, I wanted the toe to increase in pattern. The goal: p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k5 in the round, on a multiple of 10 minus 1 stitches. Why the ‑1? Because the swirl comes from having the whole pattern shift one stitch to the left on every round. The offset will make the p1, k1 section produce seed stitch rather than 1x1 ribbing. My inspiration for the pattern came out of the Moss-Stitch Zigzag for 7 December in the 365 Knitting Stitches a Year perpetual calendar (Woodinville WA: Martingale & Co, 2002). The original pattern was written for flat knitting, zigzagging left and right, and the stockinette stripes were narrower. I discovered that the zigzag effect wasn't well-suited to knitting in the round.
Since I've decided to share this stocking pattern, I thought I'd better spend a little time improving on the swirl toe. The two experiments in today's post were knit on 3.75mm needles (US 5) with Cascade 220 Heathers color 9455. (This is leftover from an über-silly Cat Bordhi Jester Tentacles Bag that I'll post much later.) The pattern multiple is 8. Thus, increasing somewhere within each pattern multiple on every-other row will yield a flat circle of fabric. In the picture at left, I started with 8 sts using a folded Judy's Magical Cast On. (In all fairness, the folding is not a solution Judy Becker recommends. I should have stuck with her method.) I quickly established a 15 st row of seed st. From there, the toe grew outward in seed st always worked over an odd number of sts. The stockinette portion of the pattern did not appear until after the pattern multiple contained at least 5 sts. Most of the increases were made somewhere near the center of the pattern multiple. I was a little disappointed in how the center seems to be too chaotic. I decided to try another version with the stockinette starting sooner.
The photo at right is the result of that experiment. This time, I used Thom Christoph's circular beginning from Meg Swansen's coffee table book A Gathering of Lace (Sioux Falls SD: XRX Books, 2000) p 163, but cast on only 7 sts. Again, getting to the 15 sts round of seed st is an early key to setting up the pattern. I tried to keep the seed st and the stockinette st areas increasing at the same rate. I am less happy with the swirl results. The stockinette portion seems notably angular. I increased at the end of the stripes rather than in the middle of them. Thus, one round of increases was placed after the seed sts and the next round of increases was placed after the stockinette sts.
As I'd like to post the rest of the stocking pattern, I'll come back to this at a later date. I liked the center of the second swatch better, but liked the swirl better on the first. I am wondering if a hybrid solution is to work in stockinette and reverse stockinette at the beginning, and then establish the seed st later. We shall see.
As a final note, the fabric is flat. It could be adapted to coasters or afghans. Or maybe even a shawl.