Monday, December 9, 2013

Working a Corrugated Heel Stitch

I am currently working on Rondo's Escape, a stranded sock based on the Cats in the Garden Sock Pattern by Lucia Light. The sock calls for a heel that is a variation on a 1x1 corrugated rib, with floats carried both the front and back for a horizontal effect on the heel. I decided that I preferred the vertical patterning of a traditional corrugated rib. Unfortunately, the corrugated rib was not giving me the correct row gauge called for in the pattern. The heel also lacked the substance I prefer in my heels.

I decided to try stranding a traditional heel stitch to get a similar vertical patterning that one gets with the corrugated rib. The problem with this idea is that the working end of the yarn used for the slip stitches stays on the left while the yarn for the knit stitches works its way across to the other end of the needle. In order for this to work the slipped stitch working yarn needs to be carried along with the knit stitch strand and it needs:

  • to be carried in a manner that provides some stability,
  • doesn't have long floats, and
  • the catches can be easily worked.
  • I decided I could use the "weave as you go" end weaving method to handle the floats when knitting the slip stitch side (RS) of the heel flap. The WS or purl side of the heel flap is traditional corrugated rib, maintaining color - no special technique required. I will focus on the handling of the right side since it is different from the traditional heel stitch and different from corrugated rib.

    Front of Work

    When stranding, I employ a 2-handed stranding technique where I hold one color in each hand. For the heel, I hold the slip stitch color in my left hand and the knit color in my right hand. Both yarns are held in back. Green is the color of the slipped stitch columns and brown is the color of the knit stitch columns in this example.
    Slip the next stitch purlwise. (If you did a combination purl on the previous row, slip the stitch to maintain correct stitch orientation.)
    Place the working needle through the stitch as if to knit. Make sure the working needle goes over the slip stitch strand.
    ... and complete the knit stitch. This catches the yarn used for the slip stitches.
    Slip the next stitch purlwise. (If you did a combination purl on the previous row, slip the stitch to maintain correct orientation)
    Place the working needle through the next stitch as if to knit. Make sure that the working needle tip goes under the slip stitch strand.
    Wrap the yarn around the working needle, making sure not to catch the slipped stitch strand on the needle. You are catching the slipped stitch strand with the knit stitch strand.
    Pull the yarn for the knitted stitch through and form the stitch. You can see that the slipped stitch strand is not pulled through. It is caught on the back.
    Complete the stitch
    Repeat this process: Slip stitch; knit with slipped strand under the needle; Slip next stitch; knit with slipped strand over the needle to end of row. The alternating of knitting under the strand followed by knitting over the strand will catch the slipped stitch strand behind the work. At the end of the row give the row a little stretch.
    The result
    ...and inside the heel

    Back of Work

    When stranding on the back of the work, you are stranding purl stitches. The main thing to remember is to keep your strands/floats on the purl side which is now facing you. To accomplish this with my 2 handed approach, I need to do continental purls. I find that doing the combination purl is the easiest and most natural from this position since the yarn must remain in front to catch floated strands on the wrong side of the work. A combination purl does however orient the purled slipped stitch backwards and I must address this on the right side of the work when I slip the stitch.

    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

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