Friday, July 18, 2008

Sock KAL-Turn the Heel, Work the Gusset OR Knit a Massive Bump on Purpose

Welcome back for more of the Wooly Works Sock Knit Along. Have you finished your cuffs? Are you ready to knit down the leg and--gasp!--turn the heel? This time we're going to really kick things into high gear, so here we go, ready or not. We left off at the end of 8 round of ribbing.

You know, if you don't like the color pattern or didn't feel up to tackling it, you could work 12-16 rounds of ribbing and call it good. You'll have a fabulously luxurious sock when you're done no matter what you do.

The next step is to knit the leg portion. This is where the bulk of the knitting happens and to make it just a little more interesting and to add some class, we're going to work a clock pattern. A clock is a small insertion that runs the length of the leg and foot and is worked at both ends of needle#2. It's usually 3-5 sts. wide and can be as simple as 3 purl sts. to break up the stocking stitch or as complex as a cable or simple lace insertion. For ours, we will do a mock cable twist with a purl stitch on each side.

To set up, knit across the sts. on needle #1. On needle #2, p1, k2, p1 and place a marker. Knit across to the last four sts., place a marker, p1, k2, p1. Knit across the sts. on needle #3.

This is the pattern for the clock:

Row 1: p1, k2, p1
Rows 2-3: Repeat row 1
Row 4: p1, k2tog but do not slip off of needle. Insert right needle tip between the 2 sts. and knit the first st. again. Slip both off of needle together. P1.
Repeat these four rows at both end of needle #2 for the length of the sock. The markers will remind you to work the pattern.

Knit on down the leg until it's the length you want it to be.

I made mine 4 inches from the bottom of the ribbing for a total length of 8" from cuff to beginning of heel flap. If you want to make knee socks, there is some shaping for the calf that needs to happen. Let me know if you need help with this.

Now you're ready to knit the heel flap. This is done back and forth on two needles and knit over 1/2 the total sts. So, knit across the sts. on needle #1 so that they're all on one needle.

Put a point protector on the ends of needle #2 or wrap a rubber band around the ends so you don't lose your sts. while you turn the heel.

Turn the work, change to color B and purl back. Turn.
Next row, sl1 as if to purl, k1, sl1, k1 across. Turn.
Change to color C and purl back. Turn.
Next row, sl1, k1 across.

Repeat these 4 rows, changing colors every two rows, or as you choose, until the heel flap measures about 3 inches and ending in color C.

Now you're ready to...ta dah!...TURN THE HEEL!

We'll be using the short row technique, which is how most Americans I know learned to turn their first heel. Relax, it's easy. I'll give you a recipe just in case you've been dreading this part.
Change to color B and purl across 14 sts. p2tog, p1, turn. You'll be turning the work before you reach the end, leaving some sts. unworked--7 of them to be exact.

Sl1, k5, ssk, k1, turn. If it's easier, you can k2tog, instead of the ssk. No one but you will know the difference, I promise.

There will now be a gap between where you turned the knitting and the unworked sts. on both ends. You'll knit up to the gap, work the sts on either side of the gap together (p2tog, ssk, or k2tog), work one more st. and turn. It's easier for me to turn a heel with this in mind than having to count every time. The number of unworked sts. should decrease with every row until you run out of sts. to work. When you run out, you're done.

Sl1, p6, p2tog, p1, turn.
Sl1, k7, ssk, k1, turn.
Sl1, p8, p2tog, p1, turn.
Sl1, k9, ssk, k1, turn.
Sl1, p10, p2tog, p1, turn.
Sl1, k11, ssk, k1, turn.
Sl1, p12, p2tog, turn
Sl1, k12, ssk, turn (14 sts left on needle)

Heel turned! Congratulations!

Now rejoin color A and pick up 13 sts. along the left side of the heel flap. The right side should be facing you when you pick them up. If you aren't sure how to pick up sts. let me know and I'll send you some help. Now knit across the sts. on needle #2--remember needle #2? Don't forget to work your clock pattern. After you're finished with needle #2, pick up 13 sts. along the opposite side of the heel flap.

These picked up sts. will run vertically along the sides of the heel flap and perpendicular to the heel flap sts., so you don't want gaping holes in the knitting. Thirteen stitches is not a magic number, and it may not be enough for your heel flap. Be sure to pick up enough sts. to close any gaps and make sure you pick up the same number of sts. on both sides. I actually picked up 17 sts. on each side.

All of your needles are now back in use, but you have a rectangle with one needle holding the heel flap, one needle on each side holding the picked up sts., and needle #2 intact with its original 24 sts. With the working yarn on needle #3, knit across 7 of the sts. on the needles holding the heel flap sts. Slip the remaining 7 sts. onto needle #1.

You're back to your knitting triangle and at the starting point at the back of the heel. It's time to work the gusset.

The gusset is when you decrease your sts. back to your original count so the sock fits the contours of the foot and you can knit on down the foot.

Begin by knitting the sts. on needle #1 up to the last 3 sts. K2tog, k1.
Knit across the sts. on needle #2, remembering work the clock pattern.
On needle #3, k1, ssk, knit to end of needle. One round completed.
Knit one round plain--don't forget your clock pattern on #2.

Repeat these two rounds, continuing to decrease at the end of #1 and the beginning of #3 on every other round, until 24 total sts. remain--12 sts. on needles #1 and #3, and 24 sts. on needle #2. When you're done, you'll see that you've inserted an enormous bump in an otherwise neat and tidy tube. Don't forget to work the clock pattern throughout.

So, is it obvious that I've forgotten to work my clock pattern more than once? If you forget and end up with the clock stopping at the ankle, who's going to tell you that you didn't plan it that way? If you make a mistake once, you fix it. If you make it twice, you say a few nasty words while you fix it. If you make the same mistake three times, it becomes a design element. AND, if you make a mistake and don't know it until after you've knitted 12 rounds, it STILL becomes a design element. I'm the lord of my knitting, right?

Well, it's all down hill now. Knit down the foot (remembering the clock pattern, of course) until you're 2 inches short of the desired foot length.

We'll finish the toe next time!! Maybe you'll leave the toes off so you can wear your flip flops with them, eh? As always, if you're fast, you can always work on that second sock. They match better when they're worked as close to the same time as possible. The techniques for using long circular needles to do two socks at once are brilliant and make nearly perfectly matching socks. I just prefer the old fashioned way, I guess. See you in a few days!!


lampworkbeader said...

I'm not a knitter my self but you have remined me of my late mother and grandmother. They would both knit my father socks to wear in his wellingtons. They were absolutely beautiful. Even Mum's darning was a work of art. I wish I had learnt how to do it when I had the opportunity.

Elizabethd said...

So clever! Darning is not something one does today, but like LWB I had a grandma who darned beautifully.
What did you call your baby?

Cait O'Connor said...

I am no knitter, I can only plain and purl, cast on and off, can't pick up stitches or anything clever.
M darns well though, think he learned it in the army.
Your work is gorgeous and I love the colour scheme.

Anonymous said...

This fascinating me! My nana used to knit till socks were coming out of her ears! I'm sure she would have loved to see this.

CJ xx

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Gawd I am lost - hopefully if I ever get around to actually knitting my soft socks it will all become clear . . . or not.