In Which the Pirate’s Heel is Fudged.
Over the weekend I turned the heel on the handspun sock, using a short row heel with 50% plus four stitches, two from each side. I am curious to see how well it will fit! I am keen on toe-up socks for a couple of reasons: one, that it’s almost impossible to run out of yarn before having something that could be called a completed sock, and two, the math for a short row heel makes sense to me where the math for the heel turn in a flap-and-gusset does not.
In a flap-and-gusset heel for a top-down sock, you have to start by knowing how many stitches are going to be on each side of the heel turn. Every time I try to make it up as I go, I end up with an uneven number of stitches. Fourteen on the left, perhaps, ten in the middle, only twelve on the right – whoops, went too far, rip it back and start over. How do you know how many stitches to work? Is there a simple formula to which someone can direct me, so that if I’m ever knitting patternless (or making up my own) I can just turn a heel without thinking too hard about it?
In a short row heel, you take 50-60% of your stitches. Divide that number by three. Knit to the end, wrap and turn. Purl back, wrap and turn. Do that until one third of the stitches are wrapped and on the right, one third are wrapped and on the left, and one third are unworked in the center – then start working your way back up. Your sides are always even. (These instructions won’t make sense unless you’ve done a short-row heel already. Wendy Johnson explains it wonderfully in her “Generic Toe-Up Sock Pattern“, which is what I’m using.) As long as you pick up your wraps, the short-row heel comes out well every time.
I picked up two stitches in each corner of the heel turn to avoid gaps and holes, and had to fudge the decreases to try to make it work. Now that I’ve taken an objective look at it in the daylight, meh! it’s a sock! No one will know if I don’t point out the stitches to them! They’ll just say “ooh a sock” and I’ll say “Yes, I knit it from yarn I spun,” and the fudged stitch or two won’t really matter at all. Besides, it goes on my foot. Who’s going to look so closely at my foot? (And really, it doesn’t look so bad at all.)
Hm, the Yarn Harlot has her basic sock formula in one of her books. In general the flap heel is half the stitches and you make it long enough that it is a square and then pick up the slipped stitches on each side, then decrease down to your original stitch count for the leg. I always have trouble seeing the wraps with a short-row heel, so I prefer the flap heels (either toe-up or cuff-down versions).