ETA Aug. 26/07:
1. You can adjust the fit of this heel similarly to a short row heel. Just use more than half the stitches for the flap, and the length of the flap automatically gets longer.
2. A few people have asked me how this heel would work toe up. Simple answer: I don't know, because I don't usually go in that direction. If you figure it out, let me know. :-)
The Band Heel has a flap but no gusset. By doing some shaping inside the heel flap, once you've picked up your stitches you end up at the same stitch count you were at originally -- no decrease rounds required. This is good for those occasions when you're trying to match up a colour pattern and don't want the wonkiness that can occur while decreasing a gusset. It's called a Band Heel because you end up with a nice, little band at the back and bottom of your heel.
A few notes first:
- Step 1 is simple math. Do not fear the math. If push comes to shove, use the calculator on your computer, or ask your kids to help you.
- The heel is designed so that you end up with 8 stitches left after the turn, and the flap rows require a specific count in order to restore this to your original count. Do not modify the number of flap rows in Step 2 or it will not work.
- The patterns I've seen all call for Step 2 to be done in stockinette. I imagine, though, you could very easily carry a pattern through these rows. I would be a little leery, however, about heel stitch or Eye of Partridge because slip stitches have a condensed row gauge and may throw off the fit and stretch required for this heel. Feel free to experiment.
- I have modified Step 3 in two ways. The other patterns I've seen use SSK, and I've used SKP because when I did it with SSK, I got a jagged line instead of a smooth line. Your mileage may vary. As well, other patterns called for an inch worth of stitches between the decreases, and I changed it to 6 in order to match the decreases in Step 4. This gives a nice continuous shaping line.
- If you want to continue a colour progression smoothly, take note of where your yarn is in the colourway when you first turn and purl back. Then, when you are ready to once again knit the instep stitches, pull out a loop of yarn until you find that place again. Once you've knit a bit and are sure you're happy with it, snip the loop, tuck the ends inside and weave them in.
- Many people pick up and immediately decrease an extra stitch in the gusset corners to avoid holes. I can't imagine that this would drastically affect your colour progression, so if you want to do that, go ahead. However, to be completely pure with your stitch count, you can instead wrap the outermost stitch on either side of your instep when you first divide out your heel stitches and then knit the wraps in when you recommence the instep. This eliminates the hole, places any potential wonkiness on the heel flap, and is more in keeping with the spirit of this heel. (I do that for all my heels, and it works a charm.)
- When I picked up stitches along the flap the way I usually do, I got very big holes, likely caused because I did not have the benefit of the condensed row gauge from a slipped stitch heel flap. Picking up stitches the pretty way solved this problem.
- Enough with the notes; on with the heel.
The Band Heel, in four easy steps.
Step 1: The math.
C = Circumference stitches
H = Heel stitches (C/2)
F = Flap rows (H-16)/2
S = Side stitches (H-10)/2
T = Turning point (H-8)/2 + 2
P = Pick-ups (H-8)/2
Step 2: The flap.
R1: Sl 1, K to end
R2: Sl 1, P to end
Repeat these two rows a total of F times.
Step 3: Shaping the flap.
R1: Sl 1, K S-1, K2tog, K 6, SKP, K S
R2: Sl 1, P to end
R3: Sl 1, K S-2, K2tog, K 6, SKP, K S-1
R4: Sl 1, P to end
R5: Sl 1, K S-3, K2tog, K 6, SPK, K S-2
R6: Sl 1, P to end
R7: Sl 1, K S-4, K2tog, K 6, SKP, K S-3
R8: Sl 1, P to end
(Double check: Count the remaining stitches. It should be H-8.)
Step 4: The turn.
R1: Sl 1, K T, SSK, turn.
R2: Sl 1, P 6, P2tog, turn.
R3: Sl 1, K 6, SSK, turn.
Repeat R2 and R3 until 8 stitches remain.
Sl 1, K to end.
Pick up P stitches along side of flap (one in each slipped stitch). Knit across instep, and pick up P stitches along other side of flap. Knit 4.
You are now back at the beginning of your round, with a total of C stitches.