Socks! I used to make them all the time. Then, a few years ago, something in me snapped and I found myself unable to finish a pair to save my life. At some point last summer, I decided I really wanted to change that sad fact and resolved to make a pair for every member of my household for Christmas. And failed. I didn’t even get past the heel of my first pair.
Ugh, I said.
No more socks for me? I said, questioning my ability.
Then, last month, I heard another small little voice (in my head) that said something different. It said, yes, you can do socks. Try again.
So I did. Guess what?
I can still make socks*! And no one is prouder of this fact than I am.
So, with a fresh pair of socks in hand, I thought I’d show you how I reinforce the heels of my socks. Now, I know the topic of reinforcing sock heels can be a rather hot debate, so I’ll say right now, that by no means am I advocating this method as the best method, just one that I have had success with. I’ve done this with most of the socks that I knit years ago and the only ones with holes in the heels are the ones when I didn’t use this technique.
So what technique is that, you ask?
Well, once the sock is finished, I turn the sock inside out and with a darning needle and a length of sock yarn (you may need several lengths as I did), I weave in and out in between alternate purl bump rounds, like this, below, throughout the area I want reinforced:
As you can see, I try to leave a bit of give in the yarn when I turn to weave in the opposite direction. My logic for doing this is that by doing so, the yarn doesn’t pull as much on those “turning” stitches as the sock inevitably stretches with wear.
When I’m finished, it looks like this on the inside:
And like this, from the outside:
Pretty nifty, huh?
While I’m at it, I thought I’d mention that as far as sock knitting goes, I prefer making socks from the toe up since I like being able to try them on as I go. My “go to” pattern is typically this sock “recipe” by Ann Budd. Then, when I get to the top of the cuff, I really like using an invisible bind off (also called tubular bind off), making sure I keep my tension relaxed so the cuff stretches nicely around the leg.
I’m kind of proud of this skill, too, and use it whenever I need a nice, clean finish for my ribbing.
I learned that technique from an article from Interweave Knits awhile back (that I keep handy) but you can find another really lovely tutorial over at Ysolda’s for learning how to do an invisible bind off (aka tubular bind off) here. Love her Technique Thursday posts!
It turns out that knitting socks after years of not knitting them, is a lot like getting back on a bicycle (or a tricycle as the case may be). You might have a few false starts but somehow you just don’t forget how to do it.
Thank goodness for that.
Wishing you a lovely day!
*This particular pair of socks was given to my husband for his recent 40th birthday. I knew he has always admired other self-patterning socks, so I made these using a skein of Opal “Sweet and Spicy” in Juniper.