So I'm knitting my friend a pair of socks; he's entering a Benedictine abbey, and I thought he needed some cool black socks to go with his "little black dress" as he calls it. After some consultation with measurements and such, I decided to make his socks toe-up; he has BIG feet and wants the tops pretty long, and I'm not sure how far the yarn I have will go. Plus, I wanted to learn the technique; I don't think I'll like it for the long run (I'm really not a huge fan of short rows), but I should a) have it in my arsenal, and b) know what I'm talking about when I bash it. ;p
I started the first one, and then decided I didn't like how the gauge was working out (as mentioned in previous posts, I'm experimenting with using 0s instead of 1s, and liking the fabric better overall), so I frogged what I had and restarted.
Version 1 was made with a provisional caston and short row toe; I didn't like it, because I split a lot of the initial stitches when I took out the crochet. In the meantime, the latest IK came to my mailbox, with a lovely article on toe-up socks. Ok, I thought, let's try the Eastern cast-on illustrated there, you've been wanting to try that for a couple years.
Now, one of the common reasons people state for preferring knitting socks toe-up is that that way they don't have to graft the toe. Evidently many knitters view grafting (or Kitchener stitch) much the way I view dentists: something to be avoided as much as humanly possible. Personally, I find it a interesting technical detail requiring attention, but I have a soothing rhythm that gets me through it quite happily - when I choose to graft my toes. As often as not, I simply run the end of my yarn through the final stitches a couple times, and then weave the end in.
Version 2 of my Monk Socks started with the aforementioned Eastern caston. I quickly noticed not only that I probably shouldn't have done it the first time in dim light and with black yarn, but also that it's more or less reverse Kitchener: in other words, you build the sock up from the squiggle of yarn that holds the ends shut when knitted from the top down. It was a huge pain in the *$$! I found it vastly more work to knit that little squiggle and slowly increase it to something resembling a toe than I have ever found it to graft, even in the days when I had to find the directions in my battered copy of Knitting Without Tears ever single time.
To make things even more exciting, naturally, since I didn't cast on at the top edge, I'll have to cast off there - and activity I dislike even more than making short rows!
It's a good thing I love my friend, or I'd be frogging again and working sensibly from the top down. ^_^