At last! At last! I can talk about things!
For over a year now, I have been knitting socks in a new way of my own devising. However, this method was a deep, dark secret, as I was planning to submit it to Knitty...and then I was accepted by Knitty...and then I was waiting to be published in Knitty...and through this whole process, things had to be kept hush-hush.
Now, however, the Fall 2009 issue has been published and I can tell you about my socks! They're a "plain vanilla", i.e. stocking stitch, sock. Their novelty lies in their construction.
Looks weird, huh? :)
It's called the Hat Heel sock, so named because you start by making a little "hat" for your sock, starting from the centre of your heel and working out. Then you make "earflaps" on the hat, which are the sock's gussets. Then, just as you would tie earflaps closed at your chin, you graft the gussets together at their tips, which end up located at the top of the instep. And - tadah - a little hat for your heel. Next, you pick stitches up around one opening and knit out for the foot, doing the ususal decrease and closure for the toe. After that, you pick stitches up around the other opening and knit up for the leg, ending the sock by binding off.
I came up with it partly because I was vaguely unsatisfied with how the usual heel constructions fit me (or, rather, didn't really); and partly because I had designed a top-down earflap hat and went on a total hat bender, so I had that kind of hat very much on the brain. (Top-down hats are righteously awesome. You cast on for a closed tube - starting with the same number of stitches no matter whom you're making the hat for - and then increase until the hat is big enough around to fit the intended wearer. Then you keep knitting without shaping until the hat is long enough to fit the intended wearer. Then you cast off. Ridiculously simple.)
What brought these two things together was listening to an episode of the Math 4 Knitters podcast. Lara was describing the "afterthought heel" sock, where you do the "body" of the sock first, leaving a big gaping hole where the heel should be, then you pick up stitches around the hole and work the heel. From what I understood her to be saying, the afterthought heel decreases were done at either side of the foot, which would mimic the short row heel construction you typically get in toe-up socks. It occurred to me that this was a waste of a good opportunity: instead of duplicating the too-pouchy, too-pointy construction of the short row heel, why not decrease at regular intervals all around the heel as you go, so that you end up with a round heel? You know, like the way you do for a hat?
Like a hat...
Like... a... HAT.
And that's when All Became Clear. Not to end with the heel, but to start with it, like a top-down hat! After a bit of fiddling, I figured out the gussets, and then picking up for the foot and leg were relatively simple. It took a fair bit of test knitting, but eventually it worked out. And as I did all my test knitting, I realised that this construction had advantages beyond the well-fitting heel. I'm still pretty astonished that my brain came up with this idea, actually. I tend to be more of a derivative designer.
Anyhoo, here's the pattern at Knitty. Go wild. And in the meantime, here is the beginning of the parade of socks I've been making from this pattern for over a year.
The rest of the shots will come eventually, after I've uploaded the pics. Yes, that's right, the parade is not even close to being finished. Since I've had over a year since I started using this pattern, there have been a heck of a lot of socks!!!