Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I love short-row heels, really.....

Bottom of sock
Originally uploaded by

Howdy all!

You see, it turns out that I have this.....obsession with short-row heels. I remember making my first sock with a flap heel and thinking, "That doesn't look like a heel!" I've gotten used to it - I've just never really liked it.

I first did a pair of socks with short-row heels several years ago. The directions made no sense whatsoever to me - I just followed step by step and ended up with heels that I liked the look and feel of, but that I didn't enjoy knitting. Too much turning around and being confused.

1st sock, turned heel

So I continued on with the flap heel. And I saw the Lizard Ridge Afghan pattern, and really wanted to make it. The directions recommended learning to knit backwards to eliminate the constant turning of your work. I wasn't ready to start the afghan, but on a whim I decided to learn the knitting backwards technique so that I would be ready when I DID start the project.

I was working on the intarsia-blanket-without-end and it was flat stockinette, so I followed the directions in a book and knitted backwards instead of purling. Turns out it's really easy! It even made intarsia less evil! (Well, I think it helps that I knit continental - the angle helps.) I lost my fear of short rows in general. I've made a couple of Lizard Ridge squares and it's great!

So obviously now I can knit short-row heels, right?? I like the look and feel, and I understand short-rows, AND I can knit backwards. I am all about the short-row heels.

Ahem. You may remember that I currently have a pair of socks in "time-out" because of heel issues? Yeah. Seems I have yet to do a short-row heel in less than 3 tries.

This project? One of my pattern criteria was short-row heels? Right. As I knit the first heel row, I flirted with the idea of a life-line, but decided that this time I really could do it in one shot.

Attempt #1 - Japanese Short Rows. It was the wraps that were giving me fits, so I heard about Japanese short rows - no wraps! I sat down in front of an online tutorial and started in. Apparently this technique requires putting a saftey pin on the yarn at each "turn" to mark the loop. So I have these neat little sections with paperclips hanging off the back of each stitch. Then after you've worked the loop, you remove the pin. I found the technique to be pretty fussy, and so when I forgot to take off the pin a couple of times on the purl side and totally messed it up, I frogged.

Insert lifeline.

Attempt #2 - Ok, no Japanese - how about the no-wraps yarnover method? I found the directions to be confusing. The directions specifically pointed out which of the "pair" of stitches was the yarnover - and then told you on each row to knit to yarn-over and turn. I thought that was odd, and that the net stitch count would not decrease, but hey, I'm following the directions. About 10 rows in I count and discover that I am correct and that I have not decreased the number of stitches at all. Frogged.

Attempt #3 - SO, reading the directions as if it says to knit to the yarnover PAIR instead, I am able to successfully knit the first half of the heel. However when I start working the yarn-over pairs on the second half, the purl side seems to be wonky. There's a point where I'm purling 3 together through the back loop, and it's leaving a HUGE hole. Frogged.

Attempt #4 - This time when I start working the yarn-overs, I notice on the knit side that I am knitting together the newest yarn-over, middle stitch, and the next held yarn-over. I apply that principle to the purl side, and VIOLA!! Like magic! A short row heel!! Fourth times a charm!!!

I spent my knitting time last night on the sock, just so that I could have a HEEL to show in my Tuesday progress report. I'm now working on the lace cuff. I think I have the short-row heel figured out now, so I can't wait to get to the next one. Where you better believe I'm putting in a lifeline the first time.

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)


marit said...

I still haven't figured out wrapped shortrow heels...so I'm making my own version- knitting the two last stitches together on each row until I have the right number of stitches. THEN I pick up one stitch at the side at the end of each row back and forth, back and forth. It worked! A lot less fuzzy than wraps:-)

Marie N. said...

I love lifelines! By the way, I have this blog to thank for teaching me about them -- many thanks.

When I try to imagine knitting the heel I get confused, but when I skip the details and imagine how it would feel on my foot, that's another story. Is it well contured to the foot and snug on the heel?

Lauren said...

Hee hee..... viola.

Anonymous said...

It is a bit cumbersome, but I slip the first stitch of the group of 3 and then purl-through-back-loop when incorporating the YOs which results in no hole at all! Shortrow heels are still my heel of choice for socks :) I hope you find a rhythm with this b/c it makes a nice snug heel...

Cindy G said...

You've pretty perfectly described why I haven't mastered short row heels...

Karla (ThreadBndr) said...

I've tried short row heels three times now. The garter stitch ones where you don't have to fuss with picking up the wrap are great, but I want to get a stocking stitch short row heel down.

It's on the list of things to work on this summer *G* - if I don't get sidetracked by lace, that is.

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