Studies in Frustration

Based on my title, you might be forgiven if you think that the studies in frustration came from writing or the publishing business. Both can be very very frustrating. However this time it’s about knitting. I’ve been working on socks. Mostly I just have been making up the pattern because everything but the heel is pretty easy. But the heel? OMG. So annoying.

This is the foot of the sock:





This is the heel:






I sense it may be hard to put on. What do you think?

I have not made a lot of socks. This one is an effort to play with stripes and also use some of my stash. I also  wanted to try something a little new for me that would give me a less gappy heel than I’ve done before. I found this tutorial, and it looked really doable. I proceeded to do the first half of making the heel cup. That went well. Then I started picking up the gaps to finish it and I got something might fit a heel, if the heel was shaped like an alien yam. Not a good look. So I ripped out (couldn’t tink because frankly, I couldn’t sort out that mess) and now am back to the foot of the sock and a pile of spaghetti yarn in place of a heel. I still want to attempt the heel, but right now, I’m just ready to have a tantrum.

This is my second attempt at this heel, but the first time I wasn’t really concentrating, so I get some slack.

So now I move on to some easier like . . . plotting a novel.

Somebody kill me now.





About Diana Pharaoh Francis

A recovering academic, Diana Pharaoh Francis writes books of a fantastical, adventurous, and often romantic nature. She's owned by two corgis, spends much of her time herding children, and likes rocks, geocaching, knotting up yarn, and has a thing for 1800s England, especially the Victorians. Check out samples of just about everything on her website:


Studies in Frustration — 14 Comments

  1. I am sure a billion knitters will chime in here with advice, regaling you with super-easy heel fixes (after super frustrating heel adventures). So, here’s mine! Have you ever done a top-down sock? My personal favorite heel is called the “afterthought heel” and it’s done like a toe on a top-down sock. First, you knit one row with scrap yarn (in a much different color than your sock) where your heel is going to go, and then finish off the rest of the sock as you would. After you’re done with the rest of the sock, pick out the scrap yarn, put those live stitches on needles (it looks like you’re on two circs, so you’d do half the stitches on one needle and half on the other, just like knitting the foot and leg), and knit the heel like you would a toe of a top-down sock — one round with four decreases, one round even, etc, until you have about 12-20 stitches left (you can try it on as you go since the rest of the sock is finished). Pros: you do it last, it’s easy, you can keep going until it fits. Cons: not good if you are faint-of-heart when it comes to picking up stitches.

    • I’ve seen the afterthought heel in pictures, but didn’t try to attack it. Might have to. I haven’t done top down yet. I haven’t learned the Kitchener stitch. I’ve been knitting not quite a couple years now and I learned toe up in a class and so that’s what I’ve used. I guess I should expand my horizons. And I tried this heel again, and failed AGAIN. I do fine until I have to pick up the bars and finish the heel cup and somewhere I totally mash it up.

  2. I’m another one of the billion chiming in with advice–I also like knitting socks from the top down, and found the best instructions on turning the heel to come from the Winter 1992 edition of Spin-off Magazine (the section was also reprinted as a pamphlet called *Joy of Socks*, but if you cannot find it, I would be pleased to send along a xerox copy). Dale Long, who I think is an engineer, wrote from-dirt instructions so clear that you don’t even need to know what you are doing or why–just think of it as a magic incantation, follow faithfully, and it works every time. It’s so nice to come across others who are sock-maniacs.

    • The thing I heard about top down (and I’m fairly new to knitting so I’m doing a lot of learning still), I heard that it’s harder to fit the size to the foot. And as I said above, I learned the toe up in a class and so I’ve stuck with it. But I’m up for learning new stuff. But I need to figure this stupid heel out now. I tried it again and screwed it up again. But I will conquer it!

      • The reason that I like this particular pattern is that it is done by proportion rather than size–it is based on how thick the yarn is (you have make a sample the first time you use any unusual yarn to figure out stitches per inch) and a series of measurements of the actual foot, like how many inches around the ball of the foot, length of foot, etc. (That, and the fact that, for me anyway, it is easy to decrease and nearly impossible to increase!) The Kitchener stitch is still a pain, but if I look at a picture of stitches rather than a chart, it is a bit easier to figure out (and done well it looks terrific).

  3. This post makes me miss my mama: she was a master at heels and thumbs. Me, I couldn’t knit to save my life—the process just never spoke to me. But I do get nostalgic about those perfect mittens (and socks, and hats) my mother used to make…

  4. I’ve more or less given up knitting socks because it takes too long to make a pair that fit my ginormous feet. But I did try a number of different heels in my sock period (and had several that looked like this one!) and I agree that the afterthought heel is the simplest. You can use it on a toe-up or top- down sock, doesn’t really matter. You might also take a look at one of Ann Budd’s sock books — I always find her instructions incredibly clear and easy to follow.

    Good luck, both with the socks (I love your colors and stripes!) and the plotting!

    • I’ve got ginormous feet, too!!!! Size 12. I’ve a friend whose wife makes his socks because he can’t buy them big enough (wide and long). I actually learned to knit so I could do socks. I don’t know why I wanted so much to learn socks. I’m a dork, though. I’ll look at Budd’s books. And thank you!

      The blue is leftover yarn from some fingerless mitts (I wear those A LOT because I can still type with them but my hands stay warm).