Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Becoming Well Heeled

Saturday was day 2 of Charlene Schurch's visit to Knitting Central. She combined two workshops for us to make an all heel all day extravaganza. Ok, maybe I exaggerate, we didn't get rowdy at all (everyone was too focused on learning and knitting), but we did learn a bunch about heels.
(I believe the pink sock on the far left is just what I had in mind for my Mountain Colors Bearfoot socks. If I remember correctly the stitch used is even one of the ones I had picked out when going through my stitch dictionaries. Of course, in the book it is already translated to in the round. So I must get my hands on the pattern to confirm!)
We started with the Cuban Heel, which Charlene called a "sexy heel" which of course was the name we all had to use the rest of the time. I had not worked it before, but I think I saw the name in a contemporary pattern for stockings and it sounds similar to what the Tsock Tsarina calls the upside down wineglass heel on her Vintage Socks (which are way cool and I would love to make, if I was familiar with the yarn to be sure it wouldn't make me itch and knew the finished sock would actual fit my little foot. But I digress.). Anyway, the sexy heel was very neat and I think I will definitely be using it against my Sol Joy socks when I get around to making them. During the class I did the increases by knitting into the front and back of the stitch just to move along faster, but I think in practice I'll do a Make 1 increase by lifting the bar so I get the nice increase line for definition. (As we went from one heel to the next, it ended up looking like a little puppet mouth. Mine is the pink one on the right. Pam's is the multicolor one on the left.)
Then we worked a short row heel, with which I'm familiar but not fond since I always get holes along the miter line. But it was helpful to review picking up the wraps. When I groused about the holes, she had a chance to dis my Zara again. I actually don't think she was familiar with Zara because she seemed surprised to hear it was 100% wool. But it sounds like her tastes run more toward the rustic yarns, and she even admitted to liking pedestrian yarns. But, again, I was only using the Zara because we wanted a worsted weight or there abouts yarn for the class so you could actually see progress.
We also did a traditional heel flap sock. Of course, there was also discussion of structure and uses and stuff, that is—sadly—starting to fade a bit (unless that's just because I'm on my lunch break again and don't have my class notes or samples with me). Part of the heel flap discussion was on the practicality of continuing the sock design onto a heel flap and when you would want to do that (for clog wearers. I need to find a pair of comfortable clogs. So far all the ones I've tried on just don't cut it.).
I liked that she discussed what other designers have written about as well. She referenced Cat Bordhi's new book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, a few times and compared Bordhi's Strong Heel to the Cuban Heel we learned. Although I was a little late to class due to staying up late because of the prom, so I missed a good part of that discussion. And before anyone becomes annoyed, I want to point out she always gave credit where credit was due.
In the afternoon we covered color work on heels. She discussed Fair Isle heels and a variety of ways to do striping. We worked a two color eye of partridge heel, which was stressing some of us out when we realized the pattern came out pink over pink sometimes instead of pink over purple all the time (in my case at least, those were the colors I was using). She pointed out that A) we were using big yarn so it was more obvious, and B) there is a bit of an optical illusion factor where your eyes will see the checkerboard pattern anyway.
We worked a pinstripe heel, which I did on my Yankee's Socks, but I don't remember if the execution was the same. I think the one we did in class was a heel stitch pinstripe so some of the stitches were slipped, where for my socks I did a two color heel working every stitch.
We finished off trying a Fair Isle pattern, which was fun. I'm planning a pair of striped and Fair Isle socks. I was going to do an afterthought bulls eye style heel, but I might have to reconsider and see whether the pattern would fit on the heel nicely.
The class wrapped up with a quick discussion of Elizabeth Zimmerman's fitted arch sole, which is wicked cool looking and I was very excited to try when I realized we'd be learning it. (You can see it on the pink and blue sock second from the left.) But by then it was almost 4 and after a whole day of learning stuff, my little brain was fried. To the point that, despite reading the pattern myself (M1, K1, M1) and having Charlene read it to me, I just couldn't understand why I had a yellow stitch in between my red stitches where it didn't belong. I finally ripped back and handed her my knitting and said "show me!" which I think the others appreciated. The problem, as it turned out, was that I was doing a KF&B increase when I should have been doing a M1 increase. sigh, which goes back to me being tired. The KF&B maintained/increased the stitches that were already there and actually moved me to far along, so my K1 was a yellow stitch. While the M1 increased between the stitches, so the K1 was a red stitch, as it should be. The "click" was almost audible.
We packed up after that and went home. I think I only knitting I did that night was on my Rainbow Swirl Socks. Something relatively mindless. :-) But I must return to that fancy sole sometime soon to test it out.

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