Secret project out of the way, I was able to return to and finish my “gotta have ’em now” toe socks:
I’m thrilled that I pulled this particular skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silkie Socks that Rock out of my stash. The colors just scream “fun!” Which is what you need when your toes look (and feel!) a little like Muppet fingers, right?
Starting at the toes was definitely the right way to go. It let me try on each toe to ensure it fit, and – better yet – it let me get all the fussiness out of the way early: after knitting just a half-inch of the foot, I paused to graft the junctures between the toes, and then it was zip! zip! zip! in stockinette along the foot.
For fun, I decided to try Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel construction. It’s composed of three wedges, using an ingenious short-row technique: No wraps! No pins, as in Japanese short rows! Just smooth, hole-free fabric.
Alas, after knitting the first heel and a portion of the leg, I had to admit to myself that the heel was too tight. There just weren’t enough stitches going around the fullest part of my heel and over the instep. (I suspect that I prefer my socks a little snugger than most knitters prefer theirs, and a good deal snugger than Cat prefers hers. With less ease, the fit of the socks is less forgiving and has to be more tailored.) So I ripped that heel, and re-knit it using a time-honored trick: a series of increases just before the heel (and corresponding decreases just after the heel) forming little gussets. Look close at the photo above; you can see the gussets just above and below the heel.
Specifically, I increased one stitch on each side of the sock on every other round until I had increased the stitch count by 20%. Then I worked the heel over those stitches and the sole stitches. That meant the heel was worked over 70% of the original stitch count – a bit more than the 67% recommended by Cat’s e-book, but who’s going to quibble over a couple stitches?
Overall, despite having to knit three heels, I had a lot of fun with these socks… which is good, as I already suspect I’ll wear these socks out early and need to knit another pair just like them.