Over this past year I have grown fond of picot edges on the top of my socks. I like the nice flow it tends to create into nearly any stitch pattern I choose. I find ribbed tops can result in a rather abrupt change when the rest of the sock isn’t being knit in some variation of a rib. I have also grown appreciative of knitting socks from the toe up in order to maximize the leg length when the amount of yarn is in question. It never seems to fail that I want a picot edged sock when I’m knitting it from the toe up.
There are two main concerns about executing a picot edged hem on the bind off, especially when done as the top of a sock - stretchability so the sock leg can get past the heel and the least bulk on the inside of the sock as possible. Since there are many different options for tacking down the picot edge while binding off or after or skipping the bind off altogether I decided it was time to put on my old scientist hat and run an experiment to find the technique that works best for socks.
The picture at the top of this post are the 5 swatches I knit as they were blocking. Then I stretched each swatch to its max to see which techniques (if any) produced the most stretchable edge. I also took note of the profile of the wrong side of each swatch to see which one(s) would leave the least bulk on the inside of the sock.
My results can be found in the remainder of this post. Because it is kind of picture heavy please just click on “More” to view these results.
Here, the stretchier bind-off of k1, *k1, pass 2 sts back to lft ndle, k2tog tbl; rep from * to end was used and the purl bump picked up from the wrong side before passing the 2 sts on the rt ndl back to the lft so there was actually a k3tog tbl.
Swatch width was 11.5 cm, stretched to its max the width was 17.5 cm for a 52.2% stretchability.
The bulk is pretty significant and I think would be uncomfortable on the inside of a sock.
Swatch width was 11 cm, stretch to its max the width was 18 cm for a 63.6% stretchability.
The bulk on this one is even more significant than the previous swatch (see larger shadow) and I know would be uncomfortable on the inside of a sock, even if the stretchiness is significant.
Swatch width was 12 cm, stretched to its max the width was 18 cm for a 50% stretchability.
The bulk of this one is much less than the previous swatch and a tad better than the first swatch as well. I think this one could be tolerated at the top of a sock, though the stretchiness wasn’t the best.
For swatch four no bind off was made. Instead, the yarn was cut at three times the width of the swatch and the live stitches tacked down by weaving the yarn strand through the live stitch and the appropriate purl bump across the length of the swatch. A little tug was given before weaving in the end to make sure enough give had been left in the sewing and to evenly distribute that give.
Swatch was 11 cm, stretched to its max the width was 18 cm for a 63.6% stretchability.
This swatch produced a decent stretch and gave the minimum bulk of all five techniques I tried. Even though it wasn’t executed while binding off it was quick and easy because you didn’t need to bother with binding off. This method I believe will be my preferred method for my toe-up socks with picot edges.
Swatch five was bound off as usual with a tail of yarn three times the width of the swatch left attached. Then, with the yarn running through the appropriate purl bump and the corresponding edge st from the bind off row the hem was tacked down.
The swatch width was 11 cm, stretched to its max the width was 17.25 cm for a 56.8% stretchability.
This swatch indicated an acceptable stretch and lower bulk than all of the swatches except the fourth one. This would also likely serve as an acceptable method for the picot edge of toe up socks.
From my experiments it appears that there is usually less bulk and more stretchiness to a picot edge on the bind off edge of a piece if you do not try to tack it down while in the process of knitting the bind off. The most stretchability and least bulk were present in the two swatches where the edge was tacked down after the fact, either live sts were tacked down or the bind off sts were tacked down. While it is “finishing work” which I try to avoid as much as posisble I felt like these two methods were the least fiddly to execute and that will likely be even more obvious when trying to execute it on the inside of small diameter object like a sock.
However, perhaps you’d like to try it out for yourself and see what works best for you!