Everything is up-side-down

July 16, 2010

but at least it’s not inside out or backwards too. I need to explain myself so you understand where I’m coming from.

A while back, I knitted a pair of socks loosely based upon Lucy Neatby’s Mermaid pattern. Sometimes, in the morning, when I’m having a really hard time waking up, I’ll sit down with a simple knitting project and look at it. Just look. Not knit. In my half wakefulness, even I know that trying to knit is a dumb idea.

So, not knitting, I pulled that sock onto my foot. While I was looking at it, I couldn’t figure out what in the world was going on. I am really stupid when I first wake up.

It’s a top-down pattern, and while my heel fit nicely in the heel cup, my toes stuck out a gaping hole — a hole unadorned with knitting needles. Slowly, it dawned on me. I had pulled the sock on up-side-down and had my toes pointing out the ankle end of the sock. The soon to become toe of the sock was right there, around my ankle.

And in my morning stupor it also occurred to me that the particular heel I had chosen, a German heel from a pattern now unavailable in English (I can’t find it anyway. Here’s the link to the German version.) from Austermann, worked beautifully in the opposite direction and afforded the knitter the opportunity to knit an entire heel back and forth. The epiphany here (that pesky word again*) is that when the entire heel is knit back and forth, reinforcing thread can be added in with no fiddling what so ever. None.

If you knit the heel right-side-up with reinforcing thread, at least to my way of thinking, you end up with a large area of reinforcement at the back of your foot where it becomes bulky in your shoe and very little reinforcement under your heel, the spot where I wear my socks out.

Some photos would do a world of good to explain what I’m talking about. Here’s the heel in question. First a shot of the epiphany heel from the side.

Next, a shot of the epiphany heel from the bottom. Can you picture how, with perhaps a few less stitches, that “heel” would sit nicely around the ankle bone? Well, it did when I had the sock on up-side-down. Very well indeed. Which is why I was so confused that morning. It fit like it was made for me. (insert throat-clearing noise here)

Excited about the idea of easy “iron heel” socks, I started to knit another pair of Mermaid-similar socks using the same yarn. But, I wanted the spirals to go in opposite directions and I didn’t want to knit backwards, the one foolproof way I know to accomplish that feat. After a bazillion and one experiments, I had another little epiphany. Knit the pattern inside out. Then it will spiral the other way. It doesn’t look perfect, but that’s what I did.

On the reverse spiral sock, it’s simply a matter of turning knits into purls and knit two togethers into purl two togethers. I may not have the tension quite right, but it really does look pretty good when it’s stretched out and on my foot.

When I got to the heel, the inside out part combined with the upside down part — which really isn’t upside down at all, it just looks that way — threw me for a loop. I had to put it aside for a while. I should have just gone straight to the other sock, the one that’s knitted right-side-out. But I didn’t. I wadded it all up and threw it in a knitting bag and hid it in the closet. Oh yes, I am very mature.

Meanwhile, I dyed a bunch of yarn. I wanted to see how it knitted up, so I started another toe up sock with my modified iron heel and have almost completed the gusset decreases on this little baby.

You might notice a line running down the side of the foot. That’s another little epiphany I had back on the Japanese Fan pattern socks I knit. I call it the expansion joint. After completing the toe, I turned two of the knit stitches into two purl stitches on either side of the foot. These stitches are placed on the edges of the top side of the sock, just above the sole. The expansion joint gives just enough stretch to make the socks fit snugly over every bump and bulge on the foot without any tightness. It might not work with every pattern, but for the many sock patterns where the sole is all stockinette and the top is patterned, it is a nice little addition.

The entire heel cup has reinforcing thread. It goes quite quickly. No need to fiddle about. Just add it in when you start the heel flap. Continue it around when you turn the heel. I also continued the heel stitch pattern up the back. I thought this might make a nice cushioned spot under the heel of my foot. I’ll finish the last couple of decreases and switch to a circular needle to try them on. I think though, it’s going to be nice.

And in closing, here’s a little glam shot of the yarn I dyed, the very cool nostepinne I got as a gift from Kim and the foot of the sock.

The nostepinne is amazing. It makes a wonderfully coherent yarn ball that stays together much better than the machine-wound ones I’ve made. And it’s cute. Cute counts for a lot.

Do you like my iron heel? I would be interested in your thoughts.

Should I have dropped the reinforcing yarn, but continued the heel stitch up the back of the ankle to the end of the gusset decreases? I may rip it out and try that to see how it looks.

*Someday, I’m going to do one of those word map things again where the size of the word in the word map reflects the number of uses, and epiphany is going to stand out in huge big letters. Cool.

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2 Responses to “Everything is up-side-down”

  1. Kimberly Says:

    I LOVE how your yarn is knitting up! Looking fo4wardto talking to you soon, but meanwhile enjoying catching up with what you are doing lately on your blog.

  2. Chris Says:

    Hmmm too early to think about that question. I think it’s all a matter of trial and error. I would try both versions on different yarns. But what I do know is that your self dyed yarn is stunningly beautiful. ;-))))


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