|The German short row heel!|
My plan is to wade into this argument by knitting up samples of an assortment of different heel styles. I'll think about how they fit (for me), ease of construction (for me), how they look (in my opinion), and anything else that occurs to me.
To start us off, here is my standard sock heel: the German short row heel. I generally prefer short row heels to heel flaps, because, if we're being honest, I just think they're prettier.
This heel is worked over half the stitches. It's a pretty standard short-row shape, where you first make a wedge that gets narrower each row, then a wedge that gets wider each row until you're back to the original half-the-stitches width. The things that distinguish the German short row heel are the doppelmaschen (double stitches) used to close the holes at the end of the short rows, and the boomerang rows.
There's always holes to deal with at the end of short rows -- here is an excellent explanation of why -- and there are a million ways to deal with them. The way it's done in German short rows is by slipping the final stitch of the row and tugging the yarn over the needle to make a "double stitch", or doppelmasche. There's a lovely tutorial on making the doppelmaschen here. Eventually I'll have to do a comparison of different short row techniques specifically, but I like German short rows because I find them easy to work, easy to see when I'm ready to knit them later, but very discreet in the finished item, on both the inside and the outside.
The boomerang rows are an extra set of rows between the two heel wedges, which basically serve to eat up the doppelmaschen (or whatever funny stitches you used to close your short-row holes) that you made on the first wedge before you make some more on the second wedge. It makes it a lot easier to see where you are, since there's only one wedge's worth of doppelmaschen going on at a time. The boomerang rows are not, I think, strictly necessary for a German short row heel, but I see them more often than not.
Here's a diagram of what's going on in the German short row heel. Imagine you've sliced your sock down the center front and spread it out, cutting out the separate pieces of the heel and laying them out. This is what you would see. On top is the part of the sock that goes around the ankle -- just a tube. Then we get the first heel wedge, which starts at half the width of the sock and narrows to a quarter of the sock. Then we get the boomerang rows, and then the other wedge, starting from a quarter of the width of the sock back up to half the width. Then, we're down to the foot part of the sock, and back up to the full width. This is pretty much what any short row heel will look like in this exploded view -- the wedges might be wider or narrower, shorter or taller, there might or might not be boomerang rows, but they'll all have these same general parts.
Finally, thoughts on fit. First off, let me say that I've never had a problem with the way short row heels fit in general. Die-hard heel flap fans often complain about the fit of short row heels, and, who knows, maybe I'll see the light when I try one here in a bit. But I've never had an issue. The main fit issue I tend to have with hand-knit socks is that they're super hard to get on over my heel, even if they fit great once they're on. I think this is because I have a pretty narrow forefoot -- a lot of sock recipes have you measure around the ball of your foot to choose your size, but since my foot is narrower than they're expecting there I end up with a sock that's too tight to go over my heel. This is a new theory, though -- we'll see how it plays out.
|Cameo appearance by Jack|
One thing I do notice on seeing this heel in isolation, so to speak, is that there seems to be quite a bit of extra fabric over the top of my ankle, opposite the heel. It's not apparent when my foot is pointed, like in the first picture, but when it's flat it's quite noticeable. I'll keep an eye on this in future heel installments and see if I see any patterns.
If you want to make some German short row heels yourself, here is a nice tutorial!