Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Forethought Heel, Padded Variant

I knit with a lot of handspun, these days, and it wears out much faster than millspun yarn. This is because most of my handspun doesn't have nylon in it. So I tend to use the "forethought heel" a lot, since this is an easy one to fix (ie. reknit) when I get holes.

It's also easy to add reinforcement thread to this heel, or to knit it using millspun yarn in a co-ordinating colour, to let the socks live longer. But one can also knit the forethought heel using slipped stitches, so it becomes padded. This is a pretty simple variation. Here's how to do it - I'm assuming you're familiar with my variant on the forethought heel so I'm not going to give line-by-line instructions. I'm also assuming you're using either magic loop or 2 circs.

note: I find it beneficial to arrange the stitches so that the mid-sole and mid-back-of-leg are at either ends of the needle (loop), which puts the decrease line in the middle of my needle. I find it easier to handle the decreases this way.

1. Follow the directions for the forethought heel up to the point where you've finished adding the little crescent-shaped gussets. Make sure you finish on a RS row, so the outside of the sock is facing you and you are knitting, not purling.

2. Knit to the nearest decrease marker ("corner of the mouth" of the heel opening). This is your new "start-of-round". Slip the marker.

3. You'll be knitting 4 rows plain, without decreases, in a slipped-stitch pattern. Because the slipped stitches shrink the knitted fabric, you need these 4 rows to make up for the shrinkage or the heel will be too shallow (and the instep too tight). It's also important to keep your knitting loose at this point, again because slipped stitches tend to tighten up and this causes shrinkage in the width as well. If you are a tight knitter, or can't seem to knit looser by choice, switch to a slightly larger needle now. Here we go:
R1: K2, [Sl1 K1] to 1 before next marker, K1, slip marker, K2, then continue [Sl1 K1] 1 before beginning of round marker, K1.
R2: knit all 'round.
Repeat R1 and R2 once more for 4 rows total.

another note: I find it very beneficial to move the stitches at this point so that the last stitch on each needle (loop) are slipped. Because the number of stitches on your needles is constantly decreasing, you'll have to count back from the last stitch on the needle to figure out if your first stitch of the row should be slipped or knit, in order to make the ridges line up.

4. Now you start your decreases at the markers,every other row. My personal preference is P3tog because it's discreet. I also like to keep a zone of 1 plain knit stitch around the decrease line so I don't get completely confused about when to slip stitches. So, your next 2 rows are:
dec row 1: K2, [Sl1 K1] to 1 before next marker, do your decrease (ex. P3tog - you'll have to remove the marker as you do this, and replace it in front of  the P3tog), K1, [Sl1 K1] to 1 before BOR (beginning of row) marker, do the decrease while dealing with the marker.
plain row: knit plain all 'round.

5. now you're ready to continue with the dec row and plain row until the number of stitches on your needles is about the same as you started with on the toe (10-14 per needle or thereabouts). Watch out though, you need to keep the slipped stitches lined up above each other, so this means that the number of stitches you knit after your decrease can sometimes be 1, or sometimes be 2, depending on how many stitches you have. This is when it's handy to count backwards from the last stitch of the needle, which (see note above) is always slipped. That way, after you've done your decrease, you K1, then count to decide if your next stitch should be slipped, or knit...

Finish off with a plain knit row and then graft the opening shut, exactly as for a plain afterthought heel.

The picture below shows the final product, but it's a bit hard to tell that it's actually padded. You'll have to believe me on that!

[padded afterthought heel]

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