Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Revisiting the Widdershin Heel

For the past 6 months or so, I've been on a quest for the holy grail: the perfect sock pattern.

My perfect sock pattern:
- is toe up
- doesn't sacrifice good looks for easy of knitting
- can be done with any combination of needles/yarns I choose
- can be easily adjusted for my tiny feet or my daughter's chunky feet.
- has heel flaps (instead of short-row heels)
- doesn't require me to count rows--because I do it badly
- can be done with minimal supplies in a large meeting without disturbing the speaker or those sitting next to me.

So I designed my own--a mix of many others I found that were brilliant in their own right, but not perfect for my picky world. The foot and leg are easy. The cuff is pretty easy too. The tricky parts are the toe and the heel.

Provisional cast-on toes look nice, but don't fit my requirements because they require too much stuff and focused attention to do in a meeting. So I learned to do a turkish cast on as I detailed in an earlier post. Using EZ loop increases, I can read my knitting well enough to know if I should increase this row or just knit--even when I'm sitting in a dark theater.

The heel is a bit more problematic. Picking up stitches violates my last rule of the perfect sock pattern. Picking up stitches can't be done in a large meeting without disturbing anyone. Maybe you can do it, but I always end up cursing loudly. When I found the Widdershins pattern, I thought I was home free. The Widdershin heel is a thing of beauty.

One problem. Every time I knit it, I had to go back to the web, print out the pattern instructions, go to Squeaky's web site, print out her notes--and don't even ask what I had to do when I wanted to use a different number of stitches. But the heel--perfect.

So I decided to re-write her instructions. This is not to say there is anything wrong with her instructions. The instructions in the published pattern are very clear. The revised instructions she published in her blog are also very clear and easy to follow. I just rewrote them in a way that works for me. The biggest differences: I use markers so I don't have to count. I use a different kind of short row technique I learned in Latvian Dreams--you use a yarn over rather than wrapping the stitch. I find the yarn over technique is easier to resolve on the next row when you're knitting in the round.


The most important thing I did was create a chart for all the different stitch counts.

So here's an excerpt from my basic sock worksheet for the Widdershin heel, with a respectful nod to the original author. One note: I knit socks Magic Loop so the "stitches per needle" is half the total number of stitches.

CALCULATIONS
B Stitches per Needle: ___________________
C Gussets Increase To: (from chart) ___________________
D Gusset Yarn Marker at: (from chart) ___________________
E End of Heel Yarn Marker at: (from chart) ___________________
F Heel Turn Markers: (from chart) ___________________

Gusset Increases
Sole Needle: K1, M1L, knit until 1 stitch remains, M1R, K1.
Top Needle: Knit even.

*Sole Needle: Knit even. Top Needle: Knit even.

Sole Needle: K1, M1L, knit until 1 stitch remains, M1R, K1.
Top Needle: Knit even.
Repeat from * until you have _____ (C) stitches on the sole needle.

Sole Needle: Place markers as follows
Knit _____ (D) stitches, place a YARN marker.
Knit _____ (E) stitches, place a second YARN marker.
Knit remaining _____ (D) stitches.

Top Needle: Knit even across all _____ (B) stitches.

Turn the Heel
Sole Needle:
*Knit until 2 stitches before second yarn marker. Increase 1, K1, turn work.
Yarn over from front to back on right needle. Place marker.

Purl until 2 stitches before marker. Increase 1, P1, turn work.
Yarn over from back to front on right needle. Place marker.

Repeat from * until you have placed _____ (F) markers. (Don’t include the yarn markers.)

Still on the sole needle:
*Knit to marker. Remove marker. K2tog.
Repeat from * until you reach the yarn marker. Knit remaining stitches.

Top Needle:
Knit across all stitches.
Sole Needle:
Knit to yarn marker.
*K2tog. Remove the stitch marker.
Repeat from * until you have removed all but the two yarn markers.

You are somewhere in the middle of the sole needle and there are now _____ (B) heel stitches between the two yarn markers and _____ (D) gusset stitches on either side of the yarn markers.

Heel Flap
Sole Needle (starting in the middle):
Knit to 1 stitch before yarn marker. SSK. Turn work. Flip yarn marker between needles.
Row 1: Sl1, purl until 1 stitch remains before yarn marker, p2tog, turn, flip yarn marker between needles.
Row 2: *Slip 1, K1. Repeat from * until 1 stitch remains, SSK, Turn work, flip yarn marker between needles.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have no remaining gusset stitches on the left side. (You’ll still have one gusset stitch remaining on the right side.)

Top Needle: Knit across all stitches.
Sole Needle: k2tog, Knit across all stitches.

You now have _____ (B) stitches on each needle and are ready to do your leg.


K2Karen's Basic Sock Chart Numbers for the Widdershin-style heel

B
Stitches

C
Gusset inc to

D
Gusset Marker
E
Heel Marker
F
Heel Turn Markers
15
27
8
11
4
16
28
8
12
4
17
31
9
13
4
18
30
9
12
6
19
33
10
13
6
20
34
10
14
6
21
37
11
15
6
22
38
11
16
6
23
41
12
17
6
24
42
12
18
6
25
45
13
19
6
26
46
13
20
6
27
47
14
19
8
28
48
14
20
8
29
51
15
21
8
30
52
15
22
8
31
55
16
23
8
32
56
16
24
8
33
59
17
25
8
34
60
17
26
8
35
63
18
27
8
36
62
18
26
10
37
65
19
27
10
38
66
19
28
10
39
69
20
29
10

20 comments:

gilraen said...

This is great! I have bookmarked it for again. Thanks a million :)

Karen said...

Thanks for the great chart! I just wish I could print it so I'd be able to have it with my knitting. Anyway that could be accomplished? thanks!

Karen said...

Thank you for the chart! I hate crunching numbers and you did it for us. Any way that we could get it as a pdf file so we can print it??
Thanks!

K2Karen said...

I would love to make this chart available as a pdf and would be glad to--can anyone tell me how?

Cheesehead With Sticks said...

Thank you so much for this!! I am linking to your post from my blog to share the chart love.

Andrea said...

I exported it from open office into PDF for you. Just the chart though, let me know if you'd rather have the instructions as well.

Most blogs will allow you to post a file in an entry and then permalink it in your sidebar.

I couldn't find your email anywhere (well, it's almost 2am and I didn't look real hard) so email me at andrea AT sunmoondesign DOT us and I'll send you the PDF.

:)

Really cool. I was just getting to the gusset increases on my 48 stitch socks (got to love cotton elastic yarn, half the stitches, twice the stretch) and thinking how the heck am I going to scale this. I was going to go for the highly unscientific wrap and turn 2/3rds of the stitches, but this looks like a much neater way to do things.

idyllicchick said...

Holy moley! It's the Holy Grail of Widdershins patterns! Ahhh!!! I don't know if I've ever been this happy about a pattern! I've done the Widdershins heel on a few socks now, and always end up doing the math mostly right. But I usually end up a stitch or two short or over. I think I would have ended up making a chart similar to this eventually, but this one is so much better than anything I could have done! Awesome! Thank you so much!

Molly Kate said...

Did that PDF ever make it anywhere I could download it? A printable chart would be terrific, thanks! If the location is obvious, my apologies, but I can't find it. Having something in my knitting bag that I had previously worked out and written down in peace and quiet helps me recover when someone talks to me at just the wrong moment or I have to leap up unexpectedly. A great resource!

Hanks said...

Hi Karen,
I'd like to talk to you about obtaining permission to use this pattern in a sock class that I am teaching. Please drop me a line at idyllicchick at gmail dot com if you are willing to discuss terms. Thanks very much!

Wacky Wonky Weirdo said...

Thank you. I love how this heel fits but my brain doesn't work too well anymore. I think I can make this work for me.
You've really made my day.

Button said...

Thanks so much for this! My head was getting a bit sore from banging it against the wall. Now I have not just one but TWO georgeous heels! I reckon you have restored peace to many a knitters heart with this jewel!

Rachael said...

hi Karen, I just put the instructions and the chart into pdf form if you'd like it, I kept having to go find it so I decided to convert it and save it instead.

Thank you so much for doing this, it's a really great heel!

Let me know if you'd like a copy and I'll send it to you.

K2Karen said...

Hey Rachel...it would be great to have it--but you didn't leave me a way to contact you. You can send it to me at k2k2karen at gmail. I need to get this up on Ravelry.

walt said...

Looks like a great heel and I would like to try it. How do I know when to stop the foot and start the heel.

Kathy said...

I made a printed version for myself by using right-click and copy... then I pasted in an empty email.

Worked great.

thank you so much!

RoseAnne said...

This all sounds great but I would love to see a picture.

Gamba Girl said...

These are just the best notes on heel construction ever! With your formulas and numbers, I can practically turn a heel with my eyes closed and both hands tied behind my back! It's really that easy. GREAT JOB! And thanks!

Bonnie said...

Think this is what I'm looking for! Am very new to Ravelry & the Internet, is there an easy way to print out the formula & chart? I use the local library's computer & printer set-up, so it has to be easy. Thanks for any advice!

shar1ford said...

I am so hooked on socks, thanks to this chart! I had the heel part with my sock sizes laminated to a 5 x 5 card and carry it with me everywhere! One question though, when it says 6 heel turn markers, is that total? (3 on each side)

Crunchy_Conservative said...

I feel like I'm banging my head against a wall. Obviously these directions are working for other people, so can someone please, Please, PLEASE help me out?! When you are turning the heel, I increase one and then turn and work a yarn over--I have increased a total of 2 stitches each time. When I finish my heel, the directions say to K2tog. You are decreasing only one of the two increased stitches! I've tried this heel five times, and every time I wind up with double the number of stitches at the end. What am I doing wrong?