Friday, October 24, 2014

how do your socks grow?

Child's sock / Ready to work an Afterthought Heel
So many ways to make a simple sock! I think it's time to widen my repertoire.

My standard recipe is a top-down sock with a standard heel flap. I've made them so many times that I don't need to follow a pattern at all. I have the formula in my head and I can make them in any size, any weight yarn, more or less through sheer muscle-memory. As you can imagine, I'm loath to knit socks any other way, because then I'd have to think about it, and in my experience thinking while knitting can be a really disastrous proposition.

I'm working on a pair of adorable rainbow socks right now for the Little Pea, the first pair of socks I've knitted in a while. They're made from Crystal Palace Mini Mochi, which has got to be the cutest name for the cutest sock yarn I've ever encountered. I'm loving this colorful, super-soft stripey sock yarn. It felts a little to itself, but I don't care. It's got a wonderful handle and drape, and I love the wide bands of color, each fading gradually into the next.

I really didn't want to disrupt the rainbow color pattern by knitting a heel flap, so I decided to work Afterthought Heels (or 'Forethought Heels' if you're a fan of Elizabeth Zimmerman). This is the method where you work a piece of scrap yarn into the row where the heel would start, leave it and just finish knitting the sock without a heel. Then you come back later, pull out the scrap yarn, and knit in a heel. Being a heel-flap enthusiast, I have some trepidation about my competence in this method, especially in placing the heel at just the right spot (this long and informative discussion of Afterthought Heels on Knit Better Socks boosted my confidence tremendously though). So I'm halfway through the second sock and already itching to put those heels in and see how they look (and whether they leave big gaping holes, as I fear they might).

So you toe-up knitters make lots of Afterthought Heels, right? Or do you prefer short-row heels? I've tried both and keep coming back to my tried-and-true heel flap. But I really do see the value in toe-up socks, particularly if you want to make the longest sock possible, and use up all your sock yarn without risking running out of yarn. And toe-up means no heel flap... so perhaps I really do need to make friends with a wider variety of heel-knitting methods.

I'm thinking about teaching a sock-knitting class this winter, and I'd love to know what y'all think. What's your favorite way to knit a sock? Are there any sock secrets or techniques you're dying to learn? And while we're talking about it, I'd love to know what your favorite patterns are for a great sock that's fun to knit. Please share your ideas in the comments! Thanks!


  1. You can toe-up with a heel flap! Have a look at Yarnissima's Spice Man, which is a great construction


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