Sunday, August 2, 2009

Heel Tricks

I'd like to start this by saying that Cat Bordhi and Melissa Morgan-Oakes are brilliant people. Absolutely brilliant. When I grow up, I hope I can come up with wonderful ideas half as good as theirs.

I made one pair of socks using one of Cat Bordhi's architectures, Riverbed, but I did it on DPNs. It worked beautifully, which is what convinced me to make Little Rogue's socks with another of her architectures.

I got Melissa Morgan-Oakes book for Christmas, but hadn't had an opportunity to try it out. Making socks for a little person out of DK weight yarn seemed a good time to try.

So, I combined the efforts, making Cat's Upstream architecture, but using Melissa's method of working both socks at the same time on one circular needle. It went really, really well.

Then I realized there was a problem when I got to the heel. There were stitches that were created on the top of the foot which needed to be moved to the other cable in order to be incorporated into the heel. And they were trapped.

I did the first thing any reasonable knit geek would do, and checked Ravelry for what others have done in this situation. I searched everywhere I could think of, and many people were saying that they either didn't work Cat's architectures 2-at-a-time, or that when they got to this point they transferred the socks to DPNs or 2 circulars, and worked them singly, returning to magic loop after the heel was done.

Neither of those seemed an optimal solution. What is the point of working magic loop if you can't do the whole sock that way? It works for top down socks with a heel flap, so why not for toe up socks of unusual architecture?

Then, I realized that I just needed to make those 10 stitches on each sock hop over. Move just a bit. Just like doing a knitted cable ...... light bulb! Hop those stitches onto a DPN when I got to them, and transfer them where I needed them to be when I needed them. All the rest of the heel could be done without any change.

So, that's what I did.

Step One: After you knit the stitches as part of the top of the foot, transfer them to the DPNs, or some other stitch-holding device. Continue your merry way across each foot.

Step Two: Move the easy, outer stitches, by just changing where the loop of the cable comes out.

Step Three: Work the first heel, and when you're ready to start pulling the stitches into the sides of the heel, you'll also have your tips in a the right position to transfer the stitches back from the DPN.

Step Four: Finish the first heel, to the point of being ready to work in the round.

Step Five: Repeat for the other heel, transferring your DPN stitches before beginning to work the heel turn.

Voila! Heels turned without transferring the whole sock to another set of needles or needing to do any other gymnastics. Just 2 double-pointed needles.

Obviously, this is the only one of Cat Bordhi's architectures that I've tried this with, but I have no reason to believe that it wouldn't work for any of them. I'm looking forward to trying it on as many others as I can. And now, if there's other patterns I want to try, I don't have to be afraid of "stuck" stitches. Remember the double-pointed needles. They're your friends.

Onward to the leg, and the socks should be done soon.

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