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Top-Down Socks – Heel Flap 2

The Stockinette Flap

Stockinette Heel Flap

This is probably the simplest and most classic heel flap of all.  First I’ll give you the pluses and minuses and then the how-to.

The Pros:

  1. It’s easy.  Really easy.
  2. It’s the easiest of all heels to repair if it gets a hole.
  3. It feels smooth and looks smooth and classic.

The Cons:

  1. It can actually be kind of boring.
  2. It’s the most likely to need repair.

For me the pros definitely outweigh the cons.  This is the sock heel that I use THE MOST (at least on top-down socks).  It feels good in my shoes, it looks good, it’s easy.  Trifecta.

The How:

Row 1: To get started, knit across the stitches (1/2 of the total stitches in the sock) that you’ve designated for the heel.  DO NOT GO ON IN THE ROUND!  You’re going to go back and forth now, so TURN so that the purl side is facing you.

Row 2: With the purl side facing you and working back across the stitches just knit, slip the first stitch purlwise, with the yarn in front, then purl to the end of the heel. Turn to the knit side.

Row 3: Slip the first stitch purlwise, with the yarn in back, then knit to the end of the heel.  Turn.

Row 4: Slip the first stitch purlwise, with the yarn in front, then purl to the end of the heel.  Turn.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until you have as many rows in the heel as you have stitches in the heel.  In other words, if you have 28 stitches across your heel flap, then you want to make it 28 rows tall.  Usually.

What do I mean “usually?”  Well, here’s the very best place to customize the fit of your sock.  The flap of the heel should reach from the place where your ankle bends in back to the very bottom “corner” of your heel.  Some of us have tall heels and high insteps and some of us have low heels and a lower instep.  What is your foot like?  To find out, do the heel flap as written – an equal number of stitches and rows.  This is sometimes referred to as a “square” heel.  Then try it on (yes, with the needles in there!) and see if the flap begins and ends at the right place.

Remember, the top of the heel flap (where you divided it from the leg) should be right at the place where your ankle bends.  The bottom of the heel flap should be almost exactly at the bottom “corner” of your heel (on my foot, that’s right where the.  You want to slightly stretch the flap when you’re checking.

If it’s too short, work another couple of rows.  If it’s too long, rip out a few.  You do want to make sure that the last row of your heel flap is a purled row.

Next, we’ll talk about the Slip Stitch Heel Flap.  It may be a few days, as I’ll be away in Wyoming over the weekend, and I need tomorrow to pack.  And to finish the mittens I’m knitting because it’s COLD in Northern Wyoming, and I don’t own any gloves that have fingers.  I never needed ’em here in Hot Antonio and fingerless gloves are SO MUCH faster to knit!

Top-Down Socks – Heel Flap 1

Don’t you just love the word “flap?”  I can almost see things flapping along when I hear it!  Today we’re going to talk about my favorite kind of flap – a heel flap!

The heel flap is a squarish/rectangular bit that’s knit across (usually) half of the total sock stitches.  It extends the back of the sock from the bottom of the ankle all the way to the floor.  And yes, this will look really weird!  The heel flap is also, in my opinion, the most crucial part of the sock for fitting.

Before beginning the heel flap, we want to separate the top-of-foot (instep) stitches those that will become the bottom-of-foot (sole) stitches.  If you’re using double-pointed needles, you can simply work in pattern to the place where you want the heel flap to start, and then, while working the first heel flap row, work the heel flap stitches all onto one needle.  If you’re using one of the circular needle methods, you will want to rearrange your stitches, if necessary, so that all the heel flap stitches are together.

When dividing instep from sole, it’s nice to try to center it nicely.  For example, if your sock leg is in k2-p2 rib, you probably want to stop after doing  just one knit of the two-stitch knit rib so that the split between instep and sole is pleasantly symmetrical  (k1, p2,k2…k2, p2, k1).  If this is too confusing, don’t worry.  No one will ever know but you unless they are WAY too close to your feet.

So.  You have all your stitches divided up and ready to go?  You’re almost ready!  You still have to decide what type of flap you want: a plain stockinette flap, a cushy heel-stitch flap, or a fancier flap.

Tomorrow (and yes, I do mean TOMORROW):  The stockinette flap.

A Royally Fun Knit

My friend Elin‘s pattern is finally available for download!  It’s a hat modeled on the St. Edwards Crown (the coronation crown for the English monarchy).  It’s not an easy knit, what with the beading and double-knitting, but it is a FUN knit!  Here’s the link, and below is a photo of my finished Crown-Hat.
St Edward Crown 004

A Cure for Tired Brains

It’s been a long day!  It started with almost 4 hours at Yarnivore getting everything ready for the big sale that starts on Black Friday (lots of really FANTASTIC yarns will be on sale at 20% off!).  Then I came home and have been working my BRAIN typing up a fantastic new sock pattern!  I’m really excited about this one, but I’m keeping it SECRET for now.

Anyway, after all this, my brain is tired.  Very tired.  Wiped out.  Fortunately, Wren Ross has a cure.

The cure?  Her delightful CD, Wren Ross’s Greatest Knits.

I have a weakness for the silly and sweet and this CD is both.  It has everything from a very bluesy Baa, Baa, Black Sheep, to a sentimental tear-jerker about a sister who spins and weaves, to a sad spoof of Greensleeves that addresses all our fears about fit.  It even has an adorable parody of 76 Trombones, made into an actual, workable pattern for a basic knitted hat!

It’s just the balm I need to soothe and relieve my tired brain!  Get a bit of brain-cure yourself, with this free (shortened) mp3 version of Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.

Off I go to slip the disc into the machine (and perhaps to order a copy for my giftee at our local knitting groups’ Secret Santa).

Top-Down Socks – Leg

Now that you’ve cast on, and presumable done a bit of ribbing for the cuff, you have a choice.  Either continue with ribbing all the way down the leg, or just do an inch  or so of ribbing and finish the leg in some other stitch pattern.  Your choice!

The only thing you want to remember is not to make the leg too long.  It can be as short as you like, but calf anatomy limits the leg.  Basically, you don’t want the leg to be long enough to need calf shaping, unless you plan to go all the way to the knee, in which case, it’s technically a stocking, not a sock.  Just make sure that your sock-leg won’t go higher than the base of the gastrocnemius muscle (aka calf muscle – but gastrocnemius is fun to say).  For most legs, that means about 8 inches max – maybe 9 inches for a tall guy or 6 for a small woman.

Anyhoo, just make the leg as long as you want it!  Easy!

Top-Down Socks – Cast-on (part 2)

A sock needs a VERY STRETCHY cast-on (unless you want a sock that cuts off your circulation).  You can try to do a long-tail cast-on loosely enough that it will work, or you can do other tricks, like casting on 50% more stitches than you need and then decreasing them away in the first round.  OR – you can just do a cast-on that is inherently more stretchy.

My favorite stretchy cast on for socks (and hats and gloves and anything else that needs a LOT of stretch) is the Twisted German cast-on, also sometimes called the Twisted Norwegian cast-on, or as my friend and former boss Melanie called it, the Twisted Drunken Crazy German cast-on.

So, without further adieu, here ’tis!  The second video shows how to join stitches to knit in the round and conceal the jog at the beginning of the round.  ENJOY!

Top-Down Socks – Cast-on (part 1)

It’s finally time!  Hooray!

First, a small bit of math to figure out how many to cast on.  First, look at the ankle and foot circumference measurements.  If they are within ½ inch of one another, we’ll use the smaller of the two.  Socks need “negative ease“, so we don’t want the bigger number unless it’s a LOT bigger.  If the difference between ankle and foot circumference is greater than ½ inch, use the ankle measurement alone.  Take that number and multiply it by 0.9 (to get the negative ease), then multiply that by your stitch gauge (stitches/inch).  Round the results it to the nearest whole number.

Ankle or foot measurement (whichever is smaller)___________ x ___________ sts/in ≈ ___________ sts for cuff

If you’re lucky, this number is exactly what you need for your stitch pattern to work out.   Say you want to do k2p2 ribbing for the cuff and your math gave you a number divisible by 4 – that’s LUCK!!  Most likely, it’s not.  So, round it again.  In most cases, you want to round down to the necessary number of stitches, but if the stitch is particularly inflexible, you may need to round up.

Tomorrow: techniques for casting on

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