Thursday, July 28, 2011

afterthought heel - here it is!

Okay, I'm pretty comfortable with technology. But I am having the WORST time trying to figure out how to post a PDF! I know about web hosting sites, but I'm not willing to pay for premium memberships, and others that are free, are a bit dodgy. (KnitTech agrees, and she makes her living as a techie, so I LISTEN to her...)
So here's the plan. I will post the whole tutorial here as a post. (Get yourself a drink, and maybe a meal - it's a long one...)

If you think it would be helpful, and want to try it - drop me a note with your email address and I will send you the PDF.

So here goes...

How to go from the sock on the left to the sock on the right – adding a heel where there isn’t one.

First mark where you want the heel. In most cases, this is about 1.5 to 2 inches LESS than the overall length of your foot from back of heel to tip of toe. Mark this length.

NOTE** be careful to mark the bottom of the foot in relation to the toe – you don’t want the heel coming out the side of the sock!

Once you have this marked, you can start picking up the stitches. I make a 64-stitch sock, so the heel will be worked on 32 stitches. I make sure the 32 stitches are centred over the toe. On the row above where you have marked, start picking up stitches. Make sure you are always picking up the same side of the stitch, I.e. the left or right side doesn’t really matter, as long as you are consistent right across.

Here you see the needle in all the stitches above the marker. ( I use a circular needle – I find the flexible cord very helpful in this).

With a second needle, pick up the same stitches in the row BELOW your marker.

Here you see both cables of the two circular needles with the picked up stitches.

Now comes the scary part. Take your scissors, yes SCISSORS, and CUT a stitch in the middle, between the two cables. If you’ve never cut your knitting before, this may freak you out a bit, but trust me, it won’t be that bad. If you’ve steeked before, this is old hat.

The loose thread of yarn now needs to be unraveled to the ends of the picked up stitches

Go slowly, and you will see with zig zag of the line of stitches you are unravelling. (Here shown in the yellow wool). When you get to the end of the picked up stitches, ensure that the loose thread is clear of the stitches on the needles, but don’t go beyond the needles, or you will have loose stitches, which is bad. Stitches on needles – good. Loose stitches – bad.

At each side of the sock, you will have about 2 inches of wool that will get woven in at the end.

Voila! A hole in your sock, anchored by needles, where your heel will go. (you can see the ends here – they will be woven in at the end.

You will notice that the sides seem to be a bit gappy. If you knit the heel on just the 64 stitches you have picked up, you will have huge holes on each side, so…

… I pick up 4 stitches at each side (2 on each end of each needle). This number is not locked in stone – it’s what works for me and my gauge. If you think 6 stiches would work better, go for it. If your gap isn’t that large, and 2 will fill it, go with 2. 4 is what works for me. I would recommend even numbers however – it’s just easier.

At this point, I start knitting the heel. (On this particular pair, the heels are a different wool – green Koigu that matches the multi coloured STR). I start at one side, and knit one row plain all around. When I get back to the beginning, I start my decreases. My basic construction is K1, K2 tog, knit to last three stitches, K2tog tbl, K1. I do this decrease on EVERY OTHER ROW, and knit plain on the other rows. It’s the same way I make my toes, except I increase every other row, since I make my socks toe-up. If you knit socks top down, and make a standard toe, that’s exactly what you are doing here.

This is the first round complete.

A few rounds in. You can see the decreases starting to form the diagonal line that will run from the ankle to the heel.

More decreases, more diagonal.

Looks like a toe, doesn’t it?

But it’s actually a heel!

I continue decreasing every other round until there are 12 stitches left on each needle. (Again – my arbitrary number. 12 is what seems to work to fit the heel of most of my recipients.) It’s also the number of stitches I start toes on, so it’s easier for me to remember.

Now, all that’s left it to Kitchener stitch the opening closed. I have a handy reminder dog tag that Robyn of Knit and Purl Mama sent me. It’s brilliant, and a great memory jog.

More Kitchener stitch. So close to the end…

Finish by sewing in all ends – there will be 4 – the start and finish of the actual heel, and the two from the unraveled line.

A finished heel!

I find this method really handy when you are knitting socks, and you may not have a recipient in mind. You can place the heel wherever you want to. I tend to knit totally plain stockinette socks. I pattern other parts of my knitting – socks are my go to for non-thinking knitting. I can knit and hold conversations, watch my kid’s baseball or basketball games, basically knit anywhere, and not worry about having to frog. Especially since I knit toe-up – I divide the wool into two equal balls, (love my digital scale for doing this) and knit to the end. (Or almost the end. If you are knitting the heels in the same wool, remember to save at least a walnut sized ball of wool to make the heel.

But here’s another trick (sorry, no pictures of this…) If you know who is getting the socks, and you have their foot measurement, you can avoid the two extra ends and the whole cutting your work thing. When you get to the measurement you want, (again, ensuring you are lined up to the toe placement), simply knit the bottom half of the stitches on to waste yarn (a slippery cotton of around the same or smaller gauge works best. So on my 64 stitch sock, I would knit the bottom 32 stitches on waste yarn. Then (and here’s the trick) put those stiches BACK on your left needle, and knit them again, using your sock wool. What you have done is create a provisional cast on and cast off. When it comes time to pick up your stitches, simply pick up above and below the line of waste yarn, and carefully unpick the waste stitches. Same result (you still need to pick up stitches in the corners), but no ends to sew in.

As you can tell, these are not for me. WHich is really too bad, becasue I love the colours. But my husband has claimed them.

Hope this helps. Since I always like having a sock on the go, this is great for me. But I like plain stockinette socks, and for patterns, this may not always work, unless you keep the underside of the sock plain, and know where you want to break for the heel.

Let me know if you use this, and if it works for you

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

quick question...

How do I attach a PDF? Or at least make it available to you? I've written up the afterthought heel, but how do I get it to you?
I could attach somewhere in Ravelry I guess, but then I'd actually have to do something in Ravelry other than just look around...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

afterthought heel and other stuff

So I've been trying to write up a post about how to insert an afterthought heel, but I've got 22 pictures detailing the steps, so... give me a couple of days to write it up and save it as a PDF. That's got to be easier than the multiple posts I'd have to write to detail this.
22 pictures makes it seem really complicated, but seriously, it's the easiest thing in the world.

I've also got to write posts about the knitting I've been doing, the new pair of socks waiting for a heel, and the two cardigans, and as well, I've been the lucky recipient of some great knitterly mail lately, so I've got to show you that as well.

Surgery I can deal with. It's this recovery stage that's killing me!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hi... sorry about that...

I didn't mean to go away like that. I am feeling very good, and the recovery is going well, but the general anaesthetic really knocked me for a loop. I have spent a fair bit of time on the computer this week - I've been working from home (reduced hours), so any time spent here was basically for work. Add into the mix that I'm still a Mom, and the boy was in basketball camp all week, necessitating rides to and from, well, blogging fell down the list. I can't seem to wrap my head around writing a post - there is the afterthought heel one I'm working on, and showing you what I've been knitting (mostly the silk/wool cardigan that I refuse to call Vitamin D...) I promise they're coming. I just can't promise when. We're heading back to the cottage tonight (I can't wait!), and next week I'm back to the office, so I hope to get some picture posts up soon.

As far as the recovery - things are really going well - the stitches and bandages have been removed, so while I no longer look like a slasher movie survivor, I look like I've taken a pretty good punch to the throat. But even that bruising is slowly fading. I have a follow up appointment next month to go over the pathology, but the biopsy was negative, so we have high hopes for the pathology.

What's funny is all the remedies for scarring I've been given - Bio Oil! Vitamin E Oil! Golden Salve! Everyone is convinced that their remedy is best. I accept them all and tell no one what I'm actually doing. Really? It's my neck, and the surgeon is also a plastic surgeon. It looks pretty good right now.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I'm back.

Back at it, but really only sort of. I'll be working partial hours, and working from home, but am feeling quite good. Unfortunately, I look like a survivor of a slasher film, and feel like I've been punched in the throat, but it gets better each day. The stitches come out on Tuesday, and we'll see what the doc says from there.
The hospital staff was terrific, and my husband and son have really stepped up.
I'm working on the afterthought heel post, but it is remarkably picture heavy, and since I'm currently at the cottage, it may have to wait until I'm back home - our Internet up here is good but not great.
Thanks for all the wonderful well-wishes - it was much appreciated!

Monday, July 11, 2011

signing off for a while...

I'm going to take a small break for recovery purposes. I have surgery on my neck on Wednesday, and they have told me to expect a 10 day to 2 week recovery. I will be back before then, but don't expect anything else this week, and next week might be a little spotty. I'm hoping to be able to knit - I have lots of plain stockinette in hand, plus some stuff with minor shaping and such. My husband will be at home during the remainder of the week, and my son (wise man that he is), elected to stay at the cottage this week with his uncle, cousin, grandparents and a bay full of friends. He'll be back on the weekend (if all goes well, we'll actually go to the cottage on Friday for the weekend and bring him back.)
Plus, there is now one of these in the bay - An Aqua Lily Pad.

I'm not sure who had more fun - the kids, or the adults watching them. (we won't talk about the time the adults all tried it out - really not a pretty sight...)
Given the choice,I'd rather be at the cottage, too.
When I come back, I'll have lots to show - the wool-silk cardigan is ready to separate for body and sleeves, the EZ Red Green in Cream is progressing, socks are flying off the needles, and I'll even do a pictorial tutorial of an afterthought heel if anyone is interested.

See you soon...

Thursday, July 07, 2011


I couldn't decide which sweater to knit. The EZ Green? The Vitamin D? (Which I'm going to have to rename, since I hate the name Vitamin D...)

So I cast on both.

The EZ green sweater, which I've already made once in Red, and which Brenda brilliantly called the Red Green Sweater. (For reference as to why Canadians get the Red Green reference, go here.) So, in using cream Briggs and Little Sport, I guess this is now the Red Green in Cream, or RGIC sweater.
(Plus, it seemed so patriotic to cast on this sweater on Canada Day using Briggs and Little, a truly wonderful Canadian wool).
I'm at the endless rounds of stockinette stitch now, so it's a good mindless knit - perfect for next week as I come out of general anaesthetic.

But I was still loving the Vitamin D, so I dug around in the stash, picking and rejecting a number of options, before finding this, and seeing the light bulb go off. The gauge matches perfectly, the colour is gorgeous, and it's silk and lambswool! How do I turn that down?

It's knitting up beautifully, but I'm still in the midst of the eyelet increase rows, and there is a ton of attention needed to follow the pattern, so it's for more lucid times, when I have a chance to get a number of rows down at one sitting.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

found time

A pair of almost complete) socks. Knitted completely during time that would otherwise be considered lost. Drive time to and from the cottage, or carpooling to work, baseball games while watching my son play.
All that's left are the heels, and I'll insert those soon. That can't really be done easily in a car, or on a set of bleachers, so I'll have to carve out some home time for that.
Since we are in prime cottage time, I had to start another pair, to fill in all that drive time.
This is some vintage Socks That Rock, colourway Lapis. (and some equally vintage Knit Picks Essential in a perfectly co-ordinating shade of green, for toes, heels and cuffs). This STR was one of the original skeins that Susan bought when STR first arrived at Lettuce Knit, and has been marinating in the stash since then, I unearthed it, found the great green, and started in. This got me to the cottage, and I doubled the knitted length on the way home late Sunday. Late because the weather was so spectacular, we really didn't want to leave, so we put it off as long as possible...

Friday, July 01, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

I could write a whole post on the reason I love my country, but really, Stephanie does it best, so go there. Each year, she writes a wonderful list of all that's great about Canada. Go read it. And read previous years if you want - they really are quite wonderful.
I will be spending the weekend at my favourite place - our cottage, enjoying family and friends and good Canadian beer.
Hope your Canada Day or Fourth of July is every bit as good!