DH_sockHey, the Olympics are over and I did get something finished on my 2010 Knitting Wish List — well, one sock, anyway.

But it's a doozy of a sock.  This picture may not look like much, but trust me on this.  (Plus, there are better pictures further down.)

First of all, though, I must explain that DH seems to have grown to prefer a tight-fitting sock.  His socks have gotten longer and skinnier over the past couple of years, to the point where I frankly think they look kinda weird.  But each successive pair — or in this case, sock, singular — he proclaims to be "the best-fitting one yet", so who am I to quibble?

stitch chart broad spiral ribThe stitch pattern for this sock was taken from good ol' Barbara Walker (although I admit at this point, I can't remember if I adapted it a bit, and I'm too lazy to go check).  Here's my chart, anyway — it seems to indicate an 8-st repeat, but I only did 2 purl sts in between each rib instead of 4, to get a 6-st repeat.  So I guess I did adapt it!

The fun part here is the "K2tog, K first st again, drop both sts".  You do exactly that, and you get a crossed st effect WITHOUT a cable needle, and WITHOUT having to hand-manipulate teeny little dark brown sts.

What you end up with is a lovely ribbed mock cable with a lot of yummy texture that is super-easy to execute, AND it only has 4 rounds, and two of them are plain rounds.  Now that's my kind of stitch pattern.

stitch texture detailDoesn't that look handsome?

I had a little trouble keeping track of which of the two twist rounds I was on, until I started looking not at the stitches on my needle, but at a couple of rows' worth of the overall pattern.  Then it became crystal-clear whether I needed to cross the first two sts, or the middle two sts.  Piece of cake after that.

But… the best part is the HEEL.

OK, so as previously stated, DH likes his socks skinny and tight.  But what that means is, when you get to the heel, there are fewer sts than one might usually have and thus — if you do a short-row heel like I do — the heel is going to be proportionally smaller.  And tighter.  Possibly too tight across the front of the foot to wear.  This is not ideal.

So, what to do?

Add more sts, of course!

There is no rule that says you can't increase a few sts on the heel side just before you go into your short row heel, and then decrease them away again after the heel is finished.  Simple, no?  Clever, yes?

annotated heelHowever, in this case, I took that idea one step further, and started a little gusset about an inch before the short-row heel, increasing maybe 3 or 4 sts on either side of the heel.

Then I did my short-row heel over my larger number of sts, using my fave techniques:  the double-stitch method for the short-row turns; and doing the first half twice, so that you're always short-rowing down, instead of short-rowing down and then back up — I like this trick a lot because 1) you only have to remember how to do one thing, 2) it gives the identical heel shape as the short-rowing-up-and-down method, and 3) it looks better.  What's not to like?

Then I decreased that cute little gusset away while doing about an inch of plain stockinette on the back of the leg.  If you take a look at commercial socks, you'll see they often do this.  Some say it improves the fit; I say it made the knitting easier.  And because a picture is worth a thousand words, I tried to draw these things in, but I added a few words as well, which are:  "inc gusset", "dec gusset", "heel wedge 1" and "heel wedge 2", in case you can't read my mousewriting.

heel closeup

A thing of beauty, is it not?

Now I just have to figure out the numbers for what I did on this sock, so I can make a second one…

(BTW, I also incorporated the heel trick in the pattern for the socks I just finished for the upcoming March installment of the For Yarns' Sake Sock Club, but you'll have to wait a bit to see those babies.  Can't let that cat out of the bag yet!)