Afterthought heel

How to get your afterthought heel in the right place

As much as I love the afterthought heel I know that not everyone is convinced and one of the most common questions I hear is from knitters who worry that they won’t know where to place the heel to ensure a good fit.

This is one of the most common concerns and is heard a lot with toe-up sock knitting in general.

With cuff down socks it is very clear. You knit the leg until you have a length you are happy with - for me it’s 6.5”, for my husband it’s 7.5”. The you knit the heel, then you work the foot.Simples!

With toe-up socks it is more of a leap of faith. Standard instructions tell you to start the heel between 2-2.5” before the back of the heel ie total foot length minus 2 to 2.5”. If you get to the leg and find that the heel is in the wrong place, then a bit of judicious ripping is required.

With an afterthought heel this is a rather more unnerving prospect as once your heel is cut, there isn’t much room for error.

The best advice I can give for this, which will also increase your confidence, is to practice doing a few standard toe-up socks first with either a basic short row heel or a fish lips kiss heel. Learn where the best fit point is for you - you can put in a lifeline if needed so that if you do make an error in the heel placement you can just rip back to the lifeline and not worry about lost or dropped stitches.

Make a careful note of the exact length for your ideal heel placement then use this measurement when doing your afterthought heel.

Also - my best tip for making sure you get a good fit is rather than measuring the toe-up sock flat, actually slip it onto your foot and use a bulb pin or similar to mark the point on the base of the sock where the cut should go. For my UK size 6 foot, this is usually at 7.5” from the toe (with sock slightly stretched). My total foot length is 9.75”

Armed with this information I can now pretty much pop in an afterthought heel (for me) wherever I am, safe in the knowledge that the sock will fit me fine.

I hope this helps ease the nerves somewhat. If you do decide to be brave and give it a go - do let me know how you get on.

 

Life isn't always pretty

And sometimes, socks aren't either.  I am showing you a 'warts and all' photo today to show that sometimes socks don't always work out how you imagine. I was trying out a new way of doing an afterthought heel - the Smooth Operator heel by Susan B Anderson and I think it's safe to say that I'll be going back to my normal afterthought heel method in future.   I like the idea of adding in an extra row or two of waste yarn to give more wiggle room when picking up stitches but overall I found the heel directions as written to give a much looser heel than I normally have. So much so that the front of the sock is a little too wide too.  No matter, the joy of an afterthought heel us that you can rip it out and redo it. But I might leave this one until the end before fixing it. I'd like to compare the two heels side by side and see what makes one work for me whilst the other doesn't.  Anyway, this is such delightfully cheery yarn that I'm happy to knit on it over and over again. Bright, clear stripes never fail to make me smile. Even when the end result is a little wibbly.

And sometimes, socks aren't either.

I am showing you a 'warts and all' photo today to show that sometimes socks don't always work out how you imagine. I was trying out a new way of doing an afterthought heel - the Smooth Operator heel by Susan B Anderson and I think it's safe to say that I'll be going back to my normal afterthought heel method in future. 

I like the idea of adding in an extra row or two of waste yarn to give more wiggle room when picking up stitches but overall I found the heel directions as written to give a much looser heel than I normally have. So much so that the front of the sock is a little too wide too.

No matter, the joy of an afterthought heel us that you can rip it out and redo it. But I might leave this one until the end before fixing it. I'd like to compare the two heels side by side and see what makes one work for me whilst the other doesn't.

Anyway, this is such delightfully cheery yarn that I'm happy to knit on it over and over again. Bright, clear stripes never fail to make me smile. Even when the end result is a little wibbly.

Learning new tricks

The thing about a comfort zone is that it's comfortable there. It requires not too much thought and you can just relax and enjoy your knitting. Moving out of your comfort zone - Hmmm - not so much.

Thus it was this weekend when I decided to try a new-to-me heel. The Smooth Operator heel by Susan B Anderson. The pattern is written cuff down and she has you place 3 rows of waste yarn for the heel, working on for 2-3 inches before going back and working an afterthought heel. Unusually for me I decided to follow the pattern completely and herein lies my mistake. I am so used to working an afterthought heel (my way) that I can do it practically in my sleep with all manner of domestic distractions going on around me. 

Trying to follow unfamiliar instructions whilst dealing with Sunday afternoon homework dramas was, inevitably a recipe for disaster. Tears (mine), frustration (again mine) and a burnt dinner later I realised something. a) I really (really) hatred using waste yarn for an afterthought heel and b) when trying to learn new tricks make sure you have the house to yourself.

Still, the benefit of an afterthought heel is that you can just rip it out and redo ithe. I'll just need some coffee first.

A stripy Sunday morning

It really does feel as though Spring is on the way now. The lighter mornings are such a boost after the dark grey days of February and, sitting here with a coffee and my sock before the rest of the house wakes up feels like such a treat.

Self striping yarn really is a miracle - especially when it comes in such happiness inducing colours as this West Yorkshire Spinners yarn. Even a minor mishap such as having to reknit half of the leg (note to self - even if you think you are picking up the 2.5mm needle tips, check with the gauge) can't dent my enthusiasm for this sock.

The observant among you will notice that I'm forgoing my usual toe-up sock method and working cuff down for a change. I've been looking for an excuse to try the Susan B Anderson Smooth Operator heel and this seems as good a time as any. I'm sure there is a way of adapting it for toe-up but for now I'm happy to work through the cuff down directions as written. A few more inches and I should be ready to put the waste yarn in for the heel.