Last time I talked about socks, I had discovered that my tiny little ring of knitting actually was big enough to stretch over my heel. So far so good. But next, I had to blindly trust the pattern directions to lead me through a series of meaningless socky technical terms.
The heel flap, for instance. Have you ever heard anybody talk about heel flaps? I haven’t. What in the world does it mean?
It turns out that a heel flap is a rectangular strip of knitting flopping down from the back of the leg (which you’ve already finished knitting by this time). You put half the leg stitches on a holder shaped like a giant safety pin, and knit back and forth on the remaining stitches until it’s long enough to cover your Achilles tendon. Yay! One heel flap done.
After that, you need to “turn” the heel ninety degrees so the sock can continue out to the end of your toes. But how?
It’s all in the short rows. You knit a little more than halfway across the heel flap – remember the heel flap? – then turn around and purl a little past the halfway point in the other direction. You keep knitting (or purling) partway across the heel flap, going a little farther each time and knitting a pair of stitches together as you come to the end of each row, until you make it to the very end of the heel flap again.
Now I need to deal with the “gusset”. After that, the project looks like pretty smooth sailing out to near the end of your foot. Then it’s time to do some more decreases to close up the toe end, and finally sew the last few stitches shut – and, at that point, theory says that you should have a brand new sock to wear 😉