I think that most people are smarter than they think they are, and that most people know more than they think they do. It is a shame that this sort of theory is mostly proven out by pub quizzes and rollicking games of trivial pursuit, but there you have it. I include myself in this category, since my brain is a huge repository for information - largely stupid and irrelevant information...like the classification of stars or I Picked My Apples Today to help remember the phases of Mitosis - Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase Anaphase and Telophase - which, although it was vital information at one point, is now stuck in my brain for all time for no good reason, using up room that keeps me from remembering where my house keys are. My point, and I do have one, is that you never know what's up there in your head, until all of a sudden something shakes loose and you remember something that you once passed briefly, or even disregarded as stupid at the time.
Such was the case with Elizabeth Zimmermanns afterthought heel. Seldom do I think this of even one word in the great and collected works of EZ, but when I first read about an afterthought heel, I recall deciding (rather firmly) that it was dumbass. I mean, an afterthought pocket? You bet. Damn clever in fact. How many times have you been rubbing your hands down the front of a sweater or something and thought "Crap. As an afterthought, I really wish I'd added a pocket." All the time, makes total sense. Pockets are optional and sometimes you just don't know if you will have enough yarn or if you want one or where you want one.
An afterthought heel though? I mean, c'mon. Have you ever been knitting a sock and thought "You know, I just don't know if I will want a heel on this sock or not. Maybe I'll just knit a tube and then see if I still have heels on my body when I'm done." Of course not. See what I mean? Dumbass.
I am sure then, that if Elizabeth could have seen me last Saturday night, she would have cracked herself up. I was on a very tight knitting schedule, but Christmas isn't Christmas without the Skydiggers Concert at the Horseshoe, so I went, but was going to knit.
A little while into the evening, I realized that I had a problem. it's way, way too dark and crowded to turn a heel in the horseshoe, and the schedule did not allow time for fixing mistakes. I was going to stop (sadly) and then, from far back in the corner of my mind that also knows that rose windows are gothic, shook out idea of the afterthought heel. I could keep knitting, keep getting Canadian musicians to hold my sock in progress,
(That's the Cash Brothers)
(That's the indomitable Andy Maize)
...and chug all the way straight down to the toe and add the heel later. It was brilliant.
Here's how. Knit a tube. Make a toe on the end. (The one I use most often is the one at the bottom, here)
Then lie the sock down, toe flat, and figure where you would like the heel to go. (Tip: make sure you have the toe flat before you start working this out. Toes and heels on humans should line up, and you don't want your heel sticking out the side of the sock.)
Scoop up a this row of stitches. (You want it to be half of the stitches...so if you have a 64 stitch sock, pick up 32.)
Snip a stitch in THE MIDDLE of the row below,
and start picking up stitches below that too. I find it easiest to unpick that middle stitch, and then grab the stitches a few at a time.
When you have 32 picked up on the bottom too, then knit another toe.
(I know it seems wrong, but toes and heels are the same, for the purposes of knitting.)
I'm not sure it's going to ever be my favourite technique for heels, but I have to say, I owe EZ an apology for thinking it was totally dumbass. Another piece of useless information....that turned out not to be so useless.
I bought the yarn for these socks from The Unique Sheep and it's "Verve", a sock weight yarn in the colourway Doctors Without Borders. 50% of her sales of any yarn in this colourway go to the good guys. Naturally, these are Ben's Christmas socks, since he is one of the good guys.