Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pretty - pretty heels

I've been reading blogs of other knitters and a common theme seems to be problems with short row heels. For some reason I have never had a heel problem which obviously means I lucked into finding a good technique right off the bat.

I knit socks toe up 90-95% of the time. My reasons are good for me and may not work for you. I knit with magic loop so any discussion to follow assumes the sock is in 2 halves (front and back).
I knit toe up because:

1. I do a good job at starting and having a nice smooth toe. My typical start is Judy's Magic Cast on My difference is I leave the cast on pretty loose. After I've knit several rows I'll go back and tighten up the loops. Works great every time.
2. I like my toe increases better than my decreases. When I increase I start the needle with knit 1 then on stitch 2 knit into front back of that stitch. At the end of the needle I do the knit front and back on the 3rd stitch from the end then knit the last 2. That puts the make 1 bump between st 2 & 3 on each end. This also give a bit of body on the 2 edges of the sock. Notice the make 1 stitches just blend in nice and pretty.
3. I can try on sock as I go for length and when it come to the gusset I use the knit front and back increase on the first stitch and the 2nd to last stitch.
4. The heel. I use Wendy Johnson basic set up for short row heels. Works like a charm. Check out the blue heel below. I dare you to find the short row stitches. Can you see any short row holes? Nope! We'll get back to how this heel is made in a moment.
5. The heel flap is done in the usual slip stitch manner. Once you get started its k-sl across till the last stitch of the heel (not counting the gusset stitches) and work an ssk. Coming back purl all stitches till the last one and p2tog. Nice neat flap and easy to do.
6. One of the main reasons I like to knit toe up. I never know how much yarn I'll end up with so toe up lets me knit until half the yarn is used up and then bind off. I don't end up a bit short on the second sock and I don't end up with a bunch of yarn leftover unless I choose to have a shorter sock.
7. The final and sometime most important reason - I have fat legs. So - why toe up socks? It lets me play around with the bind off to create a looser ending and therefore FIT MY LEG! The why I do this is simple. I generally end each sock with a bit of 2x2 rib. One the last row I add some stitches. They don't show when the sock is done but they give extra stretch so the bind off matches the rib stretch and doesn't pull in.
On the last row - k1 - m1 - k1 - p2 repeat all the way around. The bind off normal.

OK - back to the short row on the heel.
Right side - Knit across the heel stitches as indicated on your pattern: knit front & back of a st, Knit 1, wrap & turn
Wrong Side - Purl across the heel stitches as indicated: purl front & back of stitch, purl 1, Wrap & turn.
See any of Wendy Johnson's patterns for exact "when to knit".
Once you've done all the short rows you will knit the stitch and the wrap around it together. This closes up the short row space and it becomes invisible.
Cat Bordhi has another way to knit up the wrap stitches. She has been gracious enough to do videos of this technique so take a look at those to see her technique. Part 1. Part 2.

Other News

One Ravelry I've been busy adding some of my machine knitting projects. I'll post them on my next bog post but if you want to see them (in some pictures) head on over to Ravelry.

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