Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My latest pair of socks or how I create my afterthought heel socks.

I was inspired to make this pair of socks when I saw the pair my friend Monika (http://stricklinse.de) knit, from her handspun, during her last trek to Mt Everest. I totally stole this picture from her twitter feed.

So I picked up one of my drop spindles and a wool and silk blend of fiber, dyed by Cloud Lover http://cloudlover.bigcartel.com and got to work.

To get the yarn to stripe I needed to Navajo ply the single. I wasn't in any hurry to get the project done so I used my nostepinde to wind the yarn into a ball. Winding onto my nostepinde is a slow process for me but I like it that way.



I was trying for a fingering weight. As with all handspun there is some variation to the yarn but on average I created a heavy fingering yarn that is 14 WPI and 7 SPI on US #2 needles.

I started these socks, working both at the same time, from the toes up using a figure 8 cast on. I cast on a total of 24 sts, 12 for the instep and 12 for the sole. I was working with 4 DPNs, 3 to hold my stitches and the 4th to work with. After the cast on I distributed one half of the stitches, the sole, on 1 needle and one quarter of the instep stitches were on the other 2. If you prefer to work with 5 DPN's that's just fine too. 

Here is a very good tutorial on how to do this CO from Knit Picks https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=o-KW8Eavd-w

Then I increased to a total of 60 sts by knitting into the front and back of the first and last stitch on the instep and sole every other round.

Then I just knit until the sock was 1.5" less than the total length I wanted the foot to be. A good rule of thumb to use when placing your heel is to measure how long your toe is after you finish increasing. That will also be the length that your heel turns out to be so you just subtract that measure from the total length of your foot. My foot is 8.5" and when I reached 7" from the cast on I placed the lifelines and waste yarn for my heel. At the begging of the round I thread a lifeline using dental floss through the heel stitches. Then I knit across the heel stitches using waste yarn leaving about 2" of yarn hanging out at each end. Try to use a color of yarn that is different from the sock yarn your using so you can easily tell which is which (unfortunately for the purposes of this tutorial I didn't do that because I didn't know I would be creating a tutorial). Then I knit across the waste yarn using the sock yarn. When I get to the beginning of the next round I place another lifeline across the heel stitchs. 

I then I knit until the socks were the right length. To figure out what this measurement is for yourself measure from your ankle bone up to where you want the sock to end. For this pair of socks I worked 1" of knit 1 purl 1 rib at the top of the socks. When you bind off you want to use one that's stretchy. Two options are a sewn bind off or a Russian bind off. For these I used a Russian bind off which is very simple. All you do is knit two stitches in pattern. *Then slip those two stitches back onto the left hand needles then knit or purl them together. To determine which stitch to use, if your second stitch was a knit then knit the two stitches together, if the second stitch was a purl then put he two stitches together. Knit or purl the next stitch to be bound off and repeat*. 


Now your ready to work the heel. With the tip of a darning needle remove the waste yarn by pulling out each stitch. You may find that you've caught the lifeline in the waste yarn. If so then *carefully* cut your waste yarn near where it's caught in the lifeline to free it up. Use the tip of your daring needle to lift up the waste yarn so you can clearly see what your cutting. The lifelines assure that you won't loose your now live stitches.

Insert your knitting needles into the live stitches. If you find that your stitches are tight try using a needle that is a size or two smaller to pick up the stitches then redistribute them onto your regular needles.


I place 1/4 of the stitches onto 4 needles using a 5th to work with. Using 4 needles to hold your stitches at this point makes it easier to work your decreases. After your needles are in place then slip the lifelines out. You may find that you've caught the lifeline in the sock yarn. If so *carefully* cut the lifeline near where it's caught in sock yarn to free the lifeline up. Use the tip of your darning needle to lift up the lifeline to clearly see what your cutting.

At this point in the sock your sort of just knitting another toe as if from the top down.

To prevent a hole from forming at the sides of the heel do the following:

Starting at one side of the heel stitches (which one does't matter) Knit across one half of the heel stitches. Make one stitch by lifting the bar between the stitches.




Knit across the other half of the heel stitches. Make one stitch. Your now back at the beginning of the round. Place a marker to indicated the beginning/end of the round. Knit one round.

Now your ready to decrease the heel.

Decrease down to the original number of stitches you had at your cast on + 2 stitches (these are the two stitches you just made on each side of the heel) by doing the following 2 rows:

Row one: *knit one, SSK, knit across one one half of the stitches to just before the last three stitches, K2Tog, knit one, repeate from *
Row two: knit all stitches in the round.

When you are back to the correct number of stitches do one more decrease round but just decrease one stitch across each half of the heel stitches to get back to your original number.

Redistribute your stitches so you have each half of the heel stitchs  are on one needle and graft them together using Kitchener stitch. Here is a good tutorial from Knit Picks illustrating Kitchener stitch: 
http://tutorials.knitpicks.com/wptutorials/kitchener-stitch/

No matter what kind of sock I knit I always use my darning egg to help me weave in the ends on the heels and toes.



Here is a finished sock!

A note on doing a truly afterthought heel: you can dispense with using waste yarn altogether by just knitting a tube sock and figuring out the placement of the heel later. After your done knitting the tube sock measure where you want to place the heel then use a daring egg place lifelines, across half the stitches In your sock, above and below the row to be unstiched. The egg helps to assure you don't pick up any stitches from the side of the sock opposite from the heel.

A note on the spinning: you may have noticed that the stripes on my socks are much narrower than the stripes n Monika's socks. How a Navajo plied yarn stripes depends a lot on the way we prepared our fiber prior to spinning and a little on the number of stitches we used in our socks. The full explanation for this will come in another tutorial.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful. If you have any questions or need clarification on a step please feel free to leave a comment.

After rereading this post I realize I sort of wander from first to second, and possibly even third person perspective. Sorry about that. I'll try harder to stay constant in the future.


2 comments:

Monika Andrae said...

Gorgeous yarn and socks! Funny thing is, I did not even chain ply the yarn for my socks - the colors of the randomly spun single lined up while plying. A miracle. ;)

Cheeky Red Head said...

Monika, I have never in my life had yarn ply up into stripes so nicely that wasn't Navajo lied as that way your has!