Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Band Heel -- generically

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.

If you knit this heel, I'd be delighted to hear your feedback.

33 people had something to say:

Chrissy said...

Thanks for the heel tutorial. It looks really neat, and I can't wait to give it a try.

bockstark.knits said...

ooooh, i like it! i'll have to try that out, although my foot doesn't usually fit a short row heel (too tight). but it's worth a shot. i like the look of it much better than a short row!

Susan said...

I am totally trying that! Thanks for posting such a clear tutorial.
Found you through KVVS while scavenger hunting.
Great blog ;)

PurlingPirate said...

Interesting! I'm gonna print this out and try it soon!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! Very cool!

aija said...

Holy moley this looks cool.

Need to try this on my next simple sock.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for the tutorial! I will have to give it a try.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I have to try could be my new favorite heel...


Sarah said...

Thanks for posting this! I'm definitely going to give it a try -- and I'll have to look to see how similar it is to the heel Nancy Bush uses in "Knitting Vintage Socks"; it definitely looks similar.

Anonymous said...

I like it!
I'm wondering, any chance it works as well toe-up as it does top down?
I'll go look at it more closely to see if I can figure that out.

(btw, have you seen Cat Bordhi's cool heel in the new sock book yet? It's a flapless flap!)

BEESTLYproducts said...

Awesome! I'm bookmarking this!

Opal said...

Oh this looks intriguing! Now I want to try it!

Anonymous said...

I think I'll give that a try on my next sock attempt!
Thanks for the mini-tutorial!

Michelle said...

Very interesting. I'll have to try this soon. I just attempted my first short-row heel, but managed to confuse myself somewhere along the way, so now I'm turned off to that. Thanks for sharing.

By the way, a friend referred me to this blog and we both like your washrags. Neat-o.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Thanks, Dave.

I'm working on my crazy stripes as I type - I'm actually too scared to put them on the blog (they're THAT bad)!

Anonymous said...

I *love* this heel, and I have used it before! Thanks for explaining it so well. I actually wondered what it was called, now I know.
Thanks for the Garterlac Dishcloth pattern too!
aka Lady of the Loom

Dorene said...

Looks so interesting! I have got to give this one a try.

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

Wow this is a new frontier for heels everywhere, thanks for this!;)

Elinor said...

What a beautiful heel!!!!! Square heels don't fit me very well but I use them when I make socks for my husband and MIL. The next time I need one, I'm coming here!

gail said...

thank you, thank you, thank you for the tutorial. I've made dozens and dozens of socks using the flap heel, my favorite for fitting my long skinny ankle, and I think I will try your band heel. It certainly looks good on the socks you have made. As for self-striping v. wonky--I don't know why it happened. But, I like colors that pool irregularly. I'm not always big on the matchy-matchy of socks in a pair.

Anonymous said...

I was making a pait of self-designed cabled socks and the short row heel wasn't right and the flap heel always looks wonky on toe-up socks. This was perfect!! I finished the first one today and it looks AMAZING! The directions were clear and easy to follow and worked great. Fantastic job, superb tutorial.

Bianca said...

I am going to try this heel one day. I think my boys would be happy with this heel. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your well-written lowdown on the band heel. I've been meaning to try it myself for quite a while, but it somehow always slips my mind.

You've made such a lovely neat job that I'm determined to remember this style for my next pair.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, that's for that tutorial/pattern/new heel. Though I don't make much socks, I will keep it in mind. looks cool.

ozlorna said...

I've just finished your band heel, done as written, very pleased with the results. Thank you for the post.
Lorna in Sydney Australia.

Nittany Knits said...

Not only did I use your heel flap for 'Sock Knitters Anon.' this month, but I'm also going to share it with the Central Maryland Knitting Guild at their March meeting. The topic is 'New Heel Turns'. Thanks so much!

Eva said...

Is it comfortable?

Dave said...

Eva: It seems to fit fine on my foot, but everyone's feet are different. All I can say is, give it a try. If you don't like, rip it out. :-)

FuguSushi said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial! It's by far the clearest of all the tutorials I read up on and, quite frankly, the only one that helped. Other sources I checked did not break down the math, which is the part I needed with my 52 st socks. Thanks so much!

filledeglace said...

I'm going to give this a shot right now. It seems very clear, so hopefully there will not be any problems!

Hannah said...

I tried this on a pair of socks after featuring it in my sock knitting flow chart -- LOVE this heel. You gave wonderful and easy to follow instructions, too. Thanks so much!

Fernanda said...

Thank you - I love this heel so far. I have been trying different heels lately but nothing was that amazing but I think this one is. I love how you don't have to do all the gusset decreasing but the heel fits/hugs the heel so well!!

Sarah said...

I've used this method several times now. I use a sock wizard, generally, to help me calculate heels and toes, but the band heel it generates doesn't make me as happy as this one does.