Turn It Up To 11 - MKAL - Week 3

Good morning lovely Knit Along-ers. I hope your knitting went well yesterday and that you're not too upset at me for not posting this yesterday. Rest assured that any disappointment you feel in me for not posting I feel a thousand-fold. I slept quite poorly last night as I was up drafting this post in my head wondering how much to share, how to share it, whether to share it at all. So, I've decided I WILL share since I've pretty much fallen in love with the Instagram and Ravelry community I've had the good fortune to meet and get to know.

So, before we get to the socks, here's the dealio.

As many of you saw on Wednesday, I was evacuated because of the fires. Wednesday is the day I make all the final tweaks to the pattern, make sure there aren't any glaring errors (albeit a few sneak past and I always hate that), and the day I photograph my socks for the blog and write the blog post. So, Wednesdays, as you might guess, are integral in the MKAL process. Being evacuated put a huge kink in that. So I woke up at 5am on Thursday morning to get the final tidbits done and posted to you all. I hate that it was late as I know so many of you on the East coast are up hours before I am and love getting the pattern. I appreciate all of your kind words and concern.

And then yesterday happened. And here's where the over-share may come in. If knowing personal things about me ins't a priority then please feel free to skip this part but I feel awful about not posting yesterday but I feel like it was necessary for me not to. It would not have been a happy post. And all I want is for you to have a good time knitting, and if possible, a good time reading my blog, too.


Back in 2008 I was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. We did the surgery. Got it out. Did a round of radiation and everything was good. Is good, I should say. There was a scare in 2011 when the docs got a false positive (thank God) but otherwise things have been pretty darn good.

Last year I found a lump in my breast. Naturally, the doctor took all the precautionary steps and sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound. The GOOD news was I was told, categorically, that I'm still young and it's just dense tissue. The bad news is that I had to spend an entire day with my boobs out. By no means am I suggesting that I'm the only person this happens to. Far from it, and my situation is far from the worst of what happens. My goodness - I'm LUCKY I have a doctor who cares, and the insurance to cover it. I'm just an exceedingly private person physically and situations like that make me want to curl up in a ball and hide from everyone. Also, I realize that I'm not the only one who feels this way. No one I know is like "YAY! Today I get to get my boobs smashed into machine, and fondled by a perfect stranger". No, I know no one feels that way. I just know I react very badly to it and get uber negative and sad and exhausted.

SO - yesterday when I went in for my annual check up there were a few more issues and so, once again, a day I had hoped would be dedicated to you guys after a short visit to the docs, turned into a very long ordeal that left me starving, emotional and exhausted. So the thought of coming home and trying to stay positive while I helped all of you, my favorite peeps, with your knitting questions, kind of broke me. So I collapsed into my knitting chair, did some joy-knitting (a Sockhead, which I now realize I did wrong since I did 1x1 rib instead of 2x2 but I'll deal... I'm not ripping out 4" of rib on size 2's) and drank a few cocktails to take the edge off.

But now I'm back. And I hope you haven't abandoned me, disappointed in my lack of commitment to my promise to write the blog post yesterday. The long and the short of it, the docs found a small cyst but it's nothing they're worried about. They want me to keep an eye on it and despite being under 40 years old, I'm going to have to do annual mammograms (yay.... NOT!) but otherwise, things are good.

Now that the drama is out of the way and I feel like I've just unloaded on your all (please forgive me) I'd like to get on to the sock business since that's what we're here for, right? Ok. Let's shall.

**END OF PERSONAL SECTION - back to the good stuff**

Ok, so to the heels, to the heels. I love the heels. And hate them all at the same time. I'm not sure I have yet to discover "the perfect" heel as I think changing directions in knitting, like the direction change needed to make a heel, is something that will be a challenge forever in knitting.

Why do you love and hate, you ask? Because I LOVE the look of short row heels, and they feel like they knit up quickly and let's be honest, who doesn't want a heel to knit up quickly? We want to get back to patterns which are rarely on heels, but I HATE that they almost always have awkward gaps or tension issues. Even the Ribbon Heel, which I love, still feels like it's not "perfect". It feels fussy with the pick ups. I don't think it's as bad as a standard short row heel, but it still feels fussy sometimes.

And what about the Fleegle? Yes, I love it, also, as I think it has simple steps and produces a very nice looking, comfortable heel, but it feels like it takes forever to knit and I think it's awkward having so many stitches on the back needle compared to the front. I work it on patterns where the fabric we create with the stitches isn't as flexible (a lot of cables, for example) but it's not my go-to for sure.

But I had to choose some heel options for you - I couldn't just say "Go find a heel, suckers, and figure it out yourself!" now could I? No, I couldn't. So I chose two heels that I could walk you through and hopefully help you find success and satisfaction.

For my sock, I decided to go with The Ribbon Heel since I think it's trickier for folks to sort out with the pick ups. I've had mixed reactions, not only from you folks, but from folks who have done test knits of it in the past. Some people LOVE it and have started to use it instead of any other short row heel (and that makes my heart sing) others are take it or leave it. And I'm ok with that. I know the Fish Lips Kiss heel is very popular. It's on my "to try" list, but as I haven't done it yet I can't really speak to it.

I think I'm digressing here. Short row heels, like the Ribbon Heel, are called "Short Row" heels because each time we turn the work, we work a shorter row of stitches because we leave one more stitch "unworked" (i.e.: not knit or purled). In 2aat sock construction, short row heels are worked one at a time. Could we work the heels simultaneously? Sure. I suppose we could. We'd still be working back and forth across the back needles only so there would be no working on the front of the needles, but it's just standard practice to finish one heel before moving on to the next. I feel more accomplished finishing one first, also. PLUS! (and this just came to me) what if you made a mistake somewhere... it would be better to rip back only one heel rather than both.

Ok, I'm digressing yet again. Here's my first heel finished:

From the bottom

From the top

Of course when I say "finished" I suppose I mean "95% finished" because we do have one unworked stitch left on the right hand side. You might be wondering why... and I'm happy to say that I have an answer for that! If we worked back across on the WRONG side of the work to pick up and knit that remaining unworked stitch we would then have to work BACK across on the right side row in order to get to the point where we want to turn our socks around and knit across the front of the sock. By doing that, though, we're creating an extra row, effectively making the back row of the sock a row taller than the front. When this happens, we get a gap between our front and back rows, and end up with a hole in our sock. SUPER annoying. Is the sock less wearable? Not at all. I have socks with this little hole (because I learned this trick after I started my Vanilla sock marathon earlier this year). Do those little holes plague me and make me want to re-knit the socks? Wellllll... maybe a little because I'm an uber-perfectionist like many knitters are, but I deal. There will be more socks, more lovely yarn and more important things to worry about than a tiny hole. When things like that get to me, I remember a saying I heard from Kate Atherley: If a man riding by on a horse can't see the error, it's not worth worrying about. I daresay if a knight in shining armor WAS riding by on said horse and thought to say something asinine about my hand-knit socks, he'd probably get stabbed with my size 2's!

I will say this, if you're still working on your Ribbon Heel heels... the tension when purling back across the row on the wrong side, when you're slipping that first stitch, is KEY. I have days when I've had a cocktail or three, and I sit down to do heels... no bueno. I end up ripping them back the next day because I was too relaxed and my first stitch on the wrong side isn't tight enough and I end up with floopy heels. Yes, floopy. Makes me made. So that's my big tip - keep that first purl stitch after slipping your first stitch, nice and snug to get a cleaner looking heel.

If I had  knit a standard toe rather than an anatomical toe, as many of you have, you'll find your heels and your toes look almost identical. 

So my heels are done and I'm ready to move up the calf in pattern. But before I get to that, let's briefly discuss the Fleegel Heel. The genius of the Fleegle Heel is that it looks like a gusset, but it's worked from the toe up (or top down, both ways work the same) but it doesn't require any pick ups like a standard top-down gusset does. It's pretty amazing. However, with the way that we do create the stitches that will wrap around our heels, we create a longer heel because it takes so many more rows to get to the full number of stitches required. I do find myself doing a lot of shuffling of stitches to get my ends to meet up as the number of stitches increases on the back. If you're knitting the Fleegle heel you'll know what I'm talking about. The potential for laddering is a bit higher with this type of heel but I still think its a great solution for high arched feet. 

I did see a comment in our Ravelry discussion board about working extra stitches in a short row heel to accommodate for a higher arch. I'm not familiar with this technique so I can't speak to its effectiveness BUT I'm going to look into it because I'd love to find a short row solution for folks with high arches. 

Alright, so to the calves. I've given you the option of working the pattern up the front AND the back, or just working up the front. I think both will look awesome. I will be knitting up the front and back - after working so much stockinette on the sole of the sock I want a bit more of a challenge. The combination of stitches we have here shouldn't make your fabric too tight so if you're worried about it working up your calves and being too tight, you should be just fine!

Thanks for tuning in today (a day late). I want to say thanks again for choosing to knit with me. I'm having a blast and am now off to respond to all the questions on Ravelry. I won't let you down again with the timing. Thank you for your kind words and concerns on Wednesday. We're safe, sound, and happy (if not a bit smokey).

Happy Knitting!