Sunday, April 13, 2008

Toe-Up, Short-Row, Mini-Gusset and Flap, Slip-Stitch Heel!

Greetings from the Charlotte Airport! Well, I’m on my way to Seattle, and it’s been a bit hectic the past few days. So, if I haven’t answered an email, acknowledged a comment, or read your blog, that’s why!

I promised an explanation of the sock heel I compiled for the Charade Sock I’m knitting. Compiled is the accurate word since I didn’t invent or unvent anything, but I did pull together three different methods. The original pattern, by Sandra Park, is top-down with a flap heel, and I knit a pair as written last summer. This time, with the STR, my big feet, and not wanting leftovers, I decided to go toe-up.

Charade in STR - Toe Up
But, I am also tall, so without long feet I would tip over in a strong breeze

If you don’t know about the Magic Cast-on for toe-up socks, go here for Judy’s blog tutorial, or to Knitty.

After knitting mostly flap heels (top-down and toe-up) for the past year or so, and finding they fit my foot well, I’ve been thinking about short-row heels again after helping Kathleen (Hi!) with a PGR heel, and knitting at least one of the second round Sock Madness Reversai Socks with a garter-stitch short-row heel. I have a long, narrow foot, US11. And while my instep isn’t particularly high relative to MY foot, it is a bit high considering I usually knit the equivalent of a Women’s medium to fit in width. This should be useful as well to someone with a wide foot, high instep, or generous ankle who has found a standard short-row sock to be a little tight around the heel.

FluffyKnitter Deb wrote about adding a small flap and gusset to a top-down short-row heel here. The idea had been simmering in my brain since then, and I decided to add a small gusset to my toe-up Charade to give it that bit of extra room I wanted.

Charade in STR - Heel with Mini Gusset and Flap
Yes, I know it looks odd

Now, I don’t have exact numbers, since this will vary with row gauge and extra ease desired, but this is how I went about it. Deb, on her sock, knit a small flap just before turning her regular short-row heel, picked up stitches along the flap before going back to knitting in the round, then decreased the extra stitches creating a small gusset.

On my toe-up version the steps are reversed – add stitches as you approach the heel to create a gusset, turn the heel on the usual number of stitches (half the total), knit back and forth on those heel stitches to create a short flap while consuming the gusset stitches, then continue the sock leg in the round. Oh, I also am hard on heels so I knit the short-row increases and flap in slip-stitch, though one could just as easily use eye of partridge.

How do you know when to start the gusset? First, I decided to add a six stitch gusset, which means with increases every other row that will take 12 rows. More stitches in the gusset mean more depth in the heel. With a toe-up sock you have plenty of time to figure out an accurate row gauge long before you reach the heel, so in my example, I started my gusset increases 12 rows before I would typically turn the heel. I used a M1 increase, one stitch in from either edge of the sole. You could use Kfb, or pair the slant of the M1 or lifted stitch increases depending on the look you want.

Charade in STR - Heel diagram

There are several methods to knit short-rows, and I chose wrap-and-turn this time. Priscilla Gibson-Roberts’ YO short-row heels (links at the end) are just as easy to knit in my opinion, and I think you just have to knit a few of each to decide which method you like best. I’ve never tried the Japanese method, but will have to give that a whirl someday.

Anyhoo, for wrap-and-turn, check out Wendyknits free patterns for either a pithy generic sock pattern, or her detailed version (link to pdf) with instructions for wraps, turns, and picking up the wraps too. Now, I also decreased down to fewer stitches since I have a narrow heel, and this also adds some depth. And one can always turn the heel on more than 50% of the stitches, in which case, keep your gussets outside the heel stitches.

Charade in STR - Gusset diagram

Once the heel was turned, I knit the flap in the flat, taking in a gusset stitch at the end of each row with SSK on the RS, and P2tog on the WS. When all the gusset stitches are gone, return to knitting in the round, picking up an extra stitch between the heel and instep if you have a gap, and decreasing these away on the next round.

So, there it is!

A comparison of short row techniques at NonaKnits:

YO short rows:
Priscilla Gibson Roberts, Simple Socks Plain and Fancy

Blog Tutorials:
Blue Blog Short-Row Tutorial

PurlyWhites Short-Row Tutorial