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Archive for March 7th, 2012

My Crystal Heel Sock on KNITTY!

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Exuberance is my middle name, so forgive my excitement. My socklet design, Crystal, is now live on Knitty.com!!!

Crystal Socklet by LynnH, from Knitty.com March 2012

Knitty is a fine, top-notch leader in the knitting world. I’m elated, to say the least, that my design was chosen for publication.

Crystal Heels

At Sock Summit this August, in Portland, Oregon, I taught 3 sessions of something I call my Crystal Heel. It is my take on the centuries-old afterthought heel.

ACrystal Heel from Knitty, by Lynn DT Hershbergern afterthought heel is knit after the rest of a sock is completed. Typically one knits a tube with an opening on one end and a toe at the other. Then one goes back and puts a heel where it belongs. This requires an opening for that heel, which can be done several different ways.

I use what I feel is simplest, which is to use a half-round of waste yarn to mark the spot as I knit. One can then insert the needles into proper stitches before pulling out the waste yarn (to knit the heel), and no stitches get lost in the process.Picking Out Waste Yarn Stitches by LynnH

Common Afterthought Objections

A typical approach to the afterthought heel is that it should be made the same shape and size as a toe. Many knitters complain that the afterthought does not fit well. I agree that typical ones do, but there is room for adjustment.

Some knitters, including the magnificent Lucy Neatby, adjust by making their afterthought heels on 60% of the stitches in the circumference in the sock. Summer Striped Socklet Heel by LynnH, YarnHollow Squish YarnTraditionally many types of heels (including afterthoughts) are worked on 50% of the stitches, only.

I propose that they fit much better if made longer, and not pointy. After all, heels are more square than triangular. One pattern I wrote while exploring the longer, shaped heel, is my Summer Striped Socklet, pictured here.

Turkish Inspiration

Some Turkish socks have afterthought heels, and even those differ depending on the knitter and the traditions of different parts of that country. I have not seen any Turkish socks worked on a number more than 50% of the stitches.

However, there is a type of Turkish afterthought which does not decrease right away. It knits as a tube, to the length of the knitter’s first thumb joint. Then it is decreased evenly, often every round. It ends up looking the shape of a stereotypical house.

The effect of this is to add depth to the heel, and make up for the lack of the gusset (triangular wiggle space) on the sides of a more modern sock. This inspired me to think about other shapes for afterthought heels.

Shape of Crystal HeelWhy Afterthoughts?

I love afterthought heels. I like how they fit on me, as if they have a shaped arch. I like how they look. I enjoy knitting them, and they have the benefit of being easily replaceable if you tend to wear out heels.

Afterthoughts are particularly wonderful with self-striping yarns or other types of stripes. I used an early version of the Crystal Heel in my Hot Waves design (in the Lark book, Joy of Sox/ Joy of Socks). Here you see what a nice design element they can make.

My Crystal Heel

I call this a Crystal heel because it has facets, when

graphed out on paper. In real life, the facets smooth out into a human-heel-shaped sock heel. It looks rather odd off the foot, but it fits well.

It’s a more sophisticated take on the Turkish Thumb-Joint heel. It fits great. I really don’t like knitting heel flap/gusset heels, and figure that a short row heel looks like a store-bought one, which has never interested me. This is currently my favorite.

Cast On?

The yarn for the Knitty socks is “Squish,” a wonderful hand-dyed sockyarn by Rita Petteys of Yarn Hollow. (I used the same yarn for the Summer Striped Socklet above, as well.) Rita and I planned for you before this issue went live.

Crystal Socklet from Knitty from Lynn DT Hershberger

The socks need 3 colors of yarn (dark, medium, light) just to make 2 relatively small socklets. Buying three full skeins of handpainted yarn to make short socks would be a pretty pricey way to go.

Rita has put up three different kits in colorways to knit this sock (including the two colorways shown in the photo). There is enough yarn to knit any of the sizes. She has priced it at a wonderful $20 for the kit, wow to that. Sound good? You can buy a kit on the YarnHollow Etsy page, here.

Knit Along?

So few knitters have made afterthought heels, that I think a knit along would be in order. If you’d be so kind as to sign up for my Knitting email list, I’ll send out details as I work them out. I expect I’ll make it a Ravelry discussion group.

Now, if only spring would actually come along. We have had violets and myrtle blooming in our side yard all winter (even in Mid-Michigan snow) but I’d rather it be truly warm. One day at a time.

Meanwhile, we can knit spring into existence together, by knitting springlike Crystal Socklets. Join me?

Huge heartfelt thanks to my team. They helped me get this project from idea to production, and somehow we kept it quiet.

Thanks to Amy Singer and Kate Atherly of Knitty, Rachel Meyers for the Crystal photos on the Knitty site and above, Diana Troldahl of Otterwise Designs for expert tech knitting/test knitting, Brenda White for initial submission photos, Rita Petteys of Yarn Hollow for everything, Rae Blackledge of Rae’s Yarn Boutique/ Extravayarnza for knitting wisdom, and my brother Eric Troldahl for understanding the indy knitting biz as a whole and computers in specific… and giving truly sage advice even though he’s not a knitter.