Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

The heel was a “heel”


It’s funny how something so very simple can sometimes cause the biggest issues.

I finished a pair of socks last night:

Plain vanilla socks

These were meant for my mother, but now they are mine.  It’s not because I love them so much that I can’t give them away.  I do like them, but that’s not the reason.

The reasons are thus:

1.  See the toes?  They’re not the same.  Despite the rest of the sock being perfectly symmetrical.  Why!??  I am quite annoyed.  My mother is a perfectionist.  I know this will bother her, especially because the rest of the sock matches.  It’s not worth the stress to give them to her.  I considered knitting the toe longer to match the colour change, but I figured that I’d end up with one sock that was quite a bit longer by the time I did that.  It wasn’t worth it.

2.  More importantly, I had issues with the heel.  Baggy stitches, to be precise.  Do you sometimes get that?  You turn the heel, and however hard you try, there are ugly, loose stitches that sit right on the turn of that tiny triangle of turned stitches.  Usually I can fix the issue if it happens by knitting those stitches tighter, or changing to a smaller needle just for the heel turn, but in this case, those horrid stitches persisted in staying loose.  No matter how many.times.I.ripped.back and tried again!!  I nearly cried with frustration, because I knew that my mother would notice.  And comment. It was probably the anxiety that was making me knit weird!

Not to mind, I comforted myself.  I’ll just tighten them up later by darning them down.

I finished the socks and darned the loose stitches down on the inside, telling myself that this would make for a better lasting sock anyway.  The heel turn on my socks always goes first.  It worked.  They look good.  You can’t tell there were any loose stitches at all.

The heel

BUT you can feel the darned stitches.  I don’t mind.  It’s kind of squishy like when you darn the holes in your socks.  I wasn’t sure my mother would understand extra-squishy bits on her heels.

The whole thing was stressing me out.  I couldn’t bear the stress of sending less-than-perfect socks to her for critical comments.  It’s not like I started knitting socks yesterday, and I expect what I produce to look good, and not have (obvious) flaws. So I decided to keep these, and knit a different pair for her.  And hopefully, I’ll have perfect socks next time around.  Perhaps I should use semi-solid yarn which won’t produce unexpected results at the toe!!  And try not to think about who I’m knitting for while I’m knitting them.

In the meantime, I figured that someone must have something useful to say on the subject of how to fix loose heel stitches.  And of course, there was.  Have a look at this very helpful tutorial from Cat Bordhi.  I’ll try that one next time.  Just in case I have the same issue again.

In the meantime, here’s a happy knitting result to share with you:

Monkey socks

Pretty Monkey socks.  So pretty I want to keep them for me!  And there’s nothing wrong with them at all.

The only change I made was to knit a sturdy heel (S1, K1) instead of stocking stitch, and perhaps I knitted the cuff half an inch longer. Cookie A does a good sock pattern!  🙂  I hope the recipient likes them…


Author: kiwiyarns

Welcome to my blog where I talk about knitting in New Zealand and the beautiful yarns you can find here.

27 thoughts on “The heel was a “heel”

  1. Sorry to hear of your travails, and I empathise with the pressure inherent knitting for a perfectionist.
    Your Oden sock post inspired me to follow suite. I’m researching “heels” while waiting my yarn to arrive so thankyou for the link and know that your frustrations have helped someone about to embark on their first pair.
    BTW The Monkey socks are gorgeous. I’m sure you mum will approve.

    • Yay! I’m glad to hear you’ve been tempted to join sock land! I know you’ll be happily knitting pairs of gorgeous socks in no time! And thanks for your kind words. 🙂

  2. Oh dear! I think it is quite tough to knit socks for someone else. At least you get to wear the pair yourself!

  3. I’m sure you’ll find the perfect yarn and pattern match for your mother! a good thing you have similar sizes! maybe some monkey in semi solid color, or another great cookie A pattern maybe

    • A very astute suggestion, but then you are a sock diva! 🙂 I did exact that last night. I decided that a patterned sock would take my mind off focusing on ‘perfection’.

  4. Guess that’s the only thing I don’t really enjoy about knitting for someone else : the stressy feeling that it has to be perfect.. If I knit for myself, I don’t always mind minor flaws..
    Your socks rock though !

  5. I just finished a pair of Elementary Watson socks (men’s version), knit from the toe up and using the Fleegle heel, and I really liked the result. The other heel treatment I like is the slip stitch one, also for toe-up socks. After years of making cuff-down socks, I’m now an absolute convert to toe up, and I find it’s easier to match the colour changes when using a variegated yarn.

    I agree with Marie-Adeline, a semi-solid or a solid in a light colour that will show an intricate pattern design, such as one of Cookie A’s, might work well. Good luck on the “perfect” socks for your mother. Hand-knitted socks are gifts of love, which I’m sure will be appreciated.

    • It is quite amazing how many different ways you can knit a sock. I came to the same conclusion last night about the sock colour/patterning – watch this space! 🙂

  6. This past year has been my personal “Heel” challenge. I took a local course on “Heels & Toes” after 3 rip-outs, only to have it confirmed that a short-row heel will not fit a high instep and narrow heel foot. My current favorite is Fish Lips Kiss Heel (modified short row) for toe up, or flap for cuff down. I found variations on the “tomato” were too wide. I was amazed at all the heel variations.

    • That is interesting! My favourite is the flap for cuff down because of the fit (and also I think it looks nicest). I have a high instep and narrow heel too. Good to know I have chosen the right heel for my foot. 🙂

  7. Fussy recipients are the worst! Even when you know they’ll wear and appreciate the finished item, some (otherwise lovely) people can’t keep their criticisms to themselves, which makes the whole process stressful!

    On the other hand, look at your lovely new surprise socks!

    Cat Bordhi is so great. I use her Slim and Trim SSKs technique (which I just think of as the Hungry Stitch) for my gusset and toe decreases. Works like a charm!

    • If it wasn’t my mother, I would deem that person as unknitworthy. However, we make exceptions for family. 🙂

      Thanks for the tip about the slim and trim technique. I must check out more of Cat Bordhi’s techniques.

  8. I’m glad I’m not a perfectionist like your mother otherwise I might never receive handmade gifts from my offspring.:-)

  9. I’m sorry your mum’s socks didn’t come out the way you wanted them to. I personally like unsymmetrical socks. Your money socks however are extremely pretty!!! LOVE.

  10. Don’t the makers of Persian rugs intentionally make mistakes, because only God is perfect? Thinking you’re being way too hard on yourself!

  11. My mother always seemed to find something wrong in anything I gifted to her. so for years I just gave her money. That stopped the grumbles. Now I sometimes knit her something and she seems to like it!

  12. Thanks for sharing the tutorial, I’ll take all the help I can get!
    As for your mom, I have one just like her. I’ve been trying to get “identical twins” but the same thing keeps happening to me. It’s not worth the stress – keep your tootsies warm and your mom at bay 😉

  13. You are such an experienced sock knitter and I’m a somewhat newbie so it’s really heartening to know that even a knitter like you can have “less-than-perfect” socks at this point of the game. Your humility is breathtaking!! Oh, and I love both your pairs of socks regardless … and another Oh! … Cat Bordhi rocks.

  14. Ah, the pleasure of knitting for mom. I knitted my mom couple of sweaters that she returned back to me when she moved, because they either didn’t fit her right or “too itchy”. But she did keep the socks I gave her from years ago. I know if I purposefully knit her something I’d find some flaws for sure.

  15. Great socks! I sort of overdid it in grad school with sock knitting (could knit 1 sock in a 3 hour seminar) and I have never returned to sock knitting. Your beautiful socks encourage me to make a pair … that and the awful quality of “good wool socks” sold by stores!

  16. Beautiful socks!!

    I am just following you again. Don’t know what happened, but it seems that sometimes I loose the blogs I like following. Clearly I’m doing something wrong without knowing.

    So here I am again. You are one of these bloggers I always enjoy reading!

    I’ll try not to loose you again.

    • Thanks for following! Sometimes I miss posts from the blogs I follow too. I think it might be more a WordPress issue than something we’re doing.