a mile in someone else’s heels

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i know i KNOW. i’ve been dilly-dallying in the same spot on this sock for over a week (oh, how i know!). and to be honest, i have done a LOT of knitting in order to go nowhere.

why all this angst and kvetching over the damn heel you might ask?

to tell you the truth, this is something i’ve been meaning to tackle for some time—the Big Heel Workshop. i’ve been putting off trying all the fabulous heel variations there are because i am a lazy sock knitter. i like to settle into my chair an not move when i’m knitting. i like to do what i already know (ok, not always, but a lot). i didn’t mean to launch the Heel Summit Talks right in the middle of a design project, but that’s what happened.

so that’s why we keep seeing the sock in the same sort-of-stuck state. there is a lot of actual work going on here, and MILES of yarn knit (and i want to say how well it suffers the reknitting) . . . just not a lot of proof. it’s called process knitting. (hehehe, oh THAT old excuse).

this is the sock that used to have cookie’s heel on it. since then, i decided that wasn’t the heel for me, or for this sock. i don’t care for the hard lines juxtaposed with this lace pattern. of course, that is not to say that i wouldn’t use this heel in another project . .. it just isn’t working aesthetically for me here.

so i ripped back and tried another heel, this time wendy’s.

this is better; it’s not so hard-edged, and it has a slanting line that’s nice. but i have to say, i still think that maybe it’s not right for this design. but i don’t want to rip it back cuz i might keep it, so i laid that one aside, and took up the other test sock.

this time, i did my nice, clean short-row heel with a twist (which i didn’t photograph, sorry!!) one of the problems with my usual short-row heel is that for some people it is not deep enough. so i tried this thing i thought of to extend the short row heel. it is WAY cool, and i love it, but guess what?

yeah, it was wrong for this sock. so i ripped that back (3rd heel last night, and all this time the bike race is AWESOME), and reknit, using my usual short-row heel,

which is clean, simple and uncluttered, i like this heel for designing because there is nothing about it that distracts from the patterning in the sock. it’s smooth stockinette texture is plenty to provide a nice contrast to any pattern, making the pattern edges appear nice and crisp.

AND it matches the toe nicely, too. so i think that after all that, i’m going to go with what i know. only now, i know a LOT more. i also think that most sock knitters have a heel they love and are comfortable substituting it into any pattern. so the simpler i keep the heel, the easier it will be for those knitters.

(hehe. except guess what? this heel might be on the wrong sock—oy!)

my wonderful friend rachel and i email about a LOT of things (she is a very astute proofreader), but today we are having a conversation about old knits—those pieces of our family history that we cherish and use after many many years. talking about it finally got me to take some photos of my grandma’s afghans, so tomorrow i think ill share them, and you shall see of what i was spawned.

in the meantime, when you visit rachael’s blog, you will see a button at the top of her sidebar for fund free mammograms—PLEASE CLICK it and cast your ballot for free mammograms. thank you!

31 thoughts on “a mile in someone else’s heels

  1. The short row heel is without a doubt my favourite, both to execute and to wear.

    Even though I haven’t finished a pair of handknit socks in forever, and make them all with my sock machine now, mind you (and those are short row heels and toes!)

    I’m very much looking forward to seeing those old knits — there are tons in my family as well.

  2. The socks are beautiful with whatever heel that you choose. I hope it works out to your approval soon for your sanity. 😉

  3. My mother recently brought me a cardigan my great grandmother had starting knitting me when she got sick with cancer. It is mid-knit, the back, one front and a bit of one sleeve done.

    Of course it is in horrible acrylic, and two different brands so the colors have faded to a non-matching state…and at some point a mouse got a hold of it and there are a few holes.

    What to do? I’m thinking maybe take it apart and knit a stuffed bear or other creature? It’s unusable as is so I can’t just finish it, but neither can I throw it away.

    Now I’m thinking I should probably post this on my blog and ask for suggestions as well…

    Anyway – it means a lot to have things like that from someone who (in my case) loved me dearly even if I only have one or two memories of her. It makes the vague memories somehow easier to grasp onto and hold close.

  4. Sorry about all the round about heel work, but isn’t that how life is? We branch out and try something new, only to come back to what we know works? At least that’s what happens when I order new things at restaurants 😉

    The sock is looking lovely by the way, I can’t wait to see the finished pattern!

  5. I have only just started the lovely exercise known as “process knitting.” I tore apart the left hand of a pair of gloves about 6 times, testing my patience to the max. Can I say I feel better about it?? Well, a little more grown-up, I guess. But the big question is, how do you do your short heel (do you have a link)? I’ve tried, but I never get it right!

    And tear that sucker apart as much as you like; I love looking at the colorways!

  6. I always do the same heel, every time, and one of two standard toes depending on the stitch count. If it ain’t broke… 😉

    Of course, I’m not a designer!

  7. I am thoroughly enjoying watching you go through the permutations on this sock. I’m learning so much just watching you.
    And I so love, love, love that yarn!

  8. I like the plain heels. If I need a little extra in a short row heel, I just increase a few stitches on either side of the heel for the few rows leading up to it, and decrease back to the normal amount for the few rows after. It looks like the sock has ears when folded, but it seems to give my high arches/deep heels a little extra room. Not terribly elegant, but hey, it works. 🙂

  9. i like your arguments for the short-row heel. it’s made me rethink my reasons for avoiding toe-up socks and the short-row heel. i usually just don’t care for them because it’s not what i *know*.

  10. One reason I love your blog is that is the “backstage” aspect. We get to see the process, the rehearsal, the steps along the way.

    When I first learned to knit socks I learned top down, dpn’s, heel flap–and I thought that was all there was. Still haven’t managed to knit two socks on two circs yet but have tried out a number of heels, toes, and construction methods. And i love short row heels and find they fit me best, so, selfishly, I am happy about the heel. 🙂


  11. I love you! I express everything many of us feel. lazy sock knitter I am! I confess! I like to do what I know. I like short row heels, they fit my foot and ankle better than other heels so I go through the same thought process when I knit socks. I like your short row heel. How do you do it?

  12. Thank you, you are very kind.
    About the heel – Oh that one looks just great on that sock, I love it!
    I am glad you are going to post those wonderful afghans.

  13. Yup. Me too. I have my favorite way to construct socks and I mostly just plug the pattern stitch into my basic template: long tail cast on, cuff down, heel-stitch heel flap and standard toe. I especially like the way this heel fits and how the toes look. I say go with what works, of course it’s always good to give new things a try in case you like it better. That’s one of the things I love about socks…if what you’re doing doesn’t work out, it’s usually not too heartbreaking to rip it back or just start over.

    Your heel is beautiful!

  14. I always do a double wrapped short row heel, especially in hand dyed yarn. I just find it distracts less from the beauty of the yarn.
    Especially this one. The colours are just KILLING me! They are my favourite combination. Her yarn is so hard to get in Canada (one online store and I’ve had a skein on order for 7 weeks now), and I understand this colourway won’t be widely available?

    Dear Anne, did you ever get the pictures I sent you of my finished Nesting Shawl? You may not have, that was the weekend your mail crashed. In fact, I fear I may have been the one that crashed it!

  15. I have only once been able to fake doing a short-row heel, always returning to the conventional heel flap. Like you say, go with what you know.

    I’ve signed up for the sock club selection though because I have faith in your design prowess. Hopefully your instructions will help me over the short-row hurdle. Plus I adore the color progression of that yarn!

  16. I can’t wait to the afghans your grandmother knit! We had several when I was a little girl, knit by my aunt. I have no idea what happened to them. Hmmmm. Will have to ask my mother about that 🙂

  17. I agree with you,Anne, the last heel, the tried and true one, is the best for this sock. It’s quite lovely. But none of your adventure is wasted. It was all very informative for the rest of us and it sounds like for you, too. Heel Summit 2007 — I like the ring of it.

  18. Rip and frog all you need – we all learn from your processing. 🙂

    Smokin’ socks are coming along nicely! I’m thoroughly enjoying the pattern.

  19. Anne- do you get holes in your short row heels? I have knit 2 pair (on sock #2 of 2nd pair, actually) of toe-up socks and I am getting holes. I have tried wrapping and knitting the wraps… how exactly do you do yours?

    PS_ heading from Ohio to maine this winter?? 🙂

  20. My mother crocheted, and I have so many things she made–never with yarn, however, it was always with thread and a teeny tiny hook.

    I’ve often wondered why some generations were big on crochet and others knitting. I think one of the reasons was the invention of hair oil which led to the crocheting of the anitmacassers (cover for the chair where the back of the head would rest). That’s the only thing I come up with. I know knitting was big during WWI and WWII. Hmmm. Any thoughts on this?
    Love the sock, Anne!

  21. I haven’t done Wendy’s heel but I have used this one in the past. Of course, it won’t go for this sock, since it also involves a gusset, but I think the way that the short rows are done at the bottom of the heel create a slightly different fit and appearance. I guess what it most resembles is the cuff-down heel-flap approach, but I like it nonetheless! Have you used it?


  22. I wish I was disciplined enough to test knit heels to see which worked best on my foot. Well, maybe someday…

    Can one look forward to an eventual essay on or pattern with the tantalizingly described, cleverly modified short row heel?

  23. I always increase a few stitches before a short row heel and then decrease them away again after. It would be quite simple to do for anyone who finds your pattern too shallow for their beeg feets. Like me. 🙂

  24. I think that’s the prettiest heel, too. I’ve never tried the short row heel (always the regular long heel -hmm, is that the right term?) but you’ve inspired me to “get out of my knitting box” and try for other things!

  25. Oh my gosh, I LOVE the colors of your sock yarn. Would you please tell me what it is and where I might get some? Is it soft? [Another important question to me.]

  26. Thanks so much for your reply email. I joined your October sock club! I’m not even sure how the sock club works but I love the yarn and would like to see your pattern. Thanks. Marilyn

  27. That’s an awful lot of work for a heel! 🙂 But I suppose you must get the right heel for your design. I’m a lazy sock knitter and will just knit my same ol’ heel, usually without even noticing or paying attention to the designer’s heel treatment. Oops!

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