Friday, January 1, 2010

(Ne) Wheeling Along

Happy New Year! I'm ushering in the new decade with my feet up in newly re-heeled socks.

I usually try to keep plain titles on my posts, but I couldn't resist making a play on words to announce that I re-heeled a hand-knit sock. Besides a small tutorial, I'll also take my annual run at new year's assessments and resolutions. After all, it is all about my knitting.

Actually, this pair of socks is only a year old, declared finished in December '08. A hole appeared in the heel at the beginning of December '09. There's a simple explanation as to why they wore through so quickly--they are not knit with sock yarn. This is sport weight 100% merino wool, (Baruffa Aerobic knit in the Embossed Leaves pattern.) I wasn't upset to see the hole. I had long ago decided I don't want to darn my socks. Rather, I'll just knit new heels, since I can pretty much guarantee that's where they will wear through first. First, I cut out the old heel and put the loose stitches on dpns.

My next step was to knit an after-thought or Peasant heel with the leftover yarn I had kept for this purpose. It was simple, just like knitting a standard toe with two decreases on each side. I shouldn't have done it this way, since I was replacing a heel flap and gusset. Because of the gusset shaping, there are 80 stitches on the needles in this part of a 64-stitch sock. I ended up not only with a very roomy heel, but with a heel that didn't match the one in the other sock.

However, I'm not bothered by that. I have sizeable ankles and like a roomy heel. A peasant heel is quick and easy. It ends with only a few stitches to graft together at the point of the heel, rather than 40 stitches to graft if I had knit a matching heel flap and turn. I suppose the other heel will wear out soon enough. When it does, I'll replace it with a heel that matches the new one.

As prep for that, I'll note here that since the center of the peasant heel is a few stitches closer to the toe, I widened the decrease band (k2tog, k2, ssk) to make it begin where the instep separates from the heel. I then moved the decreases closer together in the last few rows, rounding off the decrease band before grafting. It was very easy to see when to stop decreasing. I just put the dpns together. When the opposite sides met nicely, I finished up with a couple of rounds shifting the decrease one stitch closer to the center, then I grafted the remaining stitches (2 sets of 12) together.

Although I never thought I'd be repairing hand-knit socks this year, I'm no longer surprised at the unexpected tasks I undertake each year. I looked back at my blog posts from the past two New Year's days, expecting to find resolutions broken, expectations unmet. Thankfully, I was wrong. Although I haven't accomplished every task I had planned (those afghan projects still beckon from their dusty corners), I didn't break any resolutions. The first year, I resolved to center my knitting, not to take on too many or too difficult tasks. The second year, I resolved to be less obsessive about my knitting and to enjoy it more.

These simple resolutions I've achieved without effort. More notably, I resolved not to knit any gifts unless they were requested. I smile now when reading that, since I'm surprised to find that there are now three of my dear ones requesting hand-knit socks. (A third sock fan voiced his plea this week, making the count 3 and 0--3 people given socks, all asking for more.)

I resolved to take on new challenges. I consider the fact that I was a hesitant participant in NaKniSweMoDo and still managed to complete 12 sweaters satisfactory accomplishment of this resolution. However, I wanted the challenges to expand beyond knitting. How about controlling my high blood pressure problem with careful thought and practice, eliminating the need for medication?--I'll take that.

I also resolved to rip out my knitting and fix my mistakes. Besides the simple fixes, I've ripped out the last two sweaters I've knit and am already reknitting one of them.

Today, I thought I'd list my plans for the new year. Instead, I'm basking in self-congratulations and self-satisfaction, patting my shoulder with smug appreciation of my minor accomplishments. I've been looking back at the last decade, amazed at where I am. I only hope I can travel as far, both literally and mentally, in the next.

Thanks so much for following along with me, a stranger. I appreciate the attention and time you give my ramblings. I know you're reading, even if you don't comment. Admittedly, I've lost interest in making the somewhat expected polite response to the comments, but I do still enjoy getting them.

I think of the coming year, knowing I could plan, but plans, no matter how well-made, are so often undone.

To prove that point, I'll finish with this last photo:

The first lovely pair of socks I knit, representing many painstaking hours of wrangling tiny loops with uncooperative dpns through unfamilar patterns, fully felted by a run through the washer and dryer. I should have used sock yarn, but ... I'll just sigh, not cry. I think I'll frame them with the title: Expect the Unexpected, Laugh when It Arrives.

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Wool Winder said...

Nice job on the re-heel.

Mardel said...

lovely job on the re-heel. Great idea. I knew I was saving that leftover yarn for something.

vlb5757 said...

I love how you've gotten into socks! You know that's my weakness. I need learn how to re-heel a pair of socks. I should put that on my list for this new year. Happy New Year and hope there is lots more knitting!

Sydney Harper said...

Good job on the re-heel. So far I haven't had to repair any socks.

Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to reading about this year's knitting adventures.