I swear, that was meant to be a harmless play on
But then my spends-too-much-time-on-the-internet brain kicks in and I’m all
This could end well, or it could end badly.
I’m not sure if I’m seeking the Holy Grail of sock knitting techniques, or if I just like to mix it up because I like trying new things. I thought I’d always be a toe-up knitter, but I’ve done a couple pairs top-down lately, because I really liked the pattern and didn’t feel like doing a bunch of futzing about to convert them. I used to do a lot of them two-at-a-time also, and I may go back to that. But since my current primary sock needles are my ChiaoGoo interchangeables, and the longest needle you can make with those is 40″. For the way I make my socks, I need at least 47″ to accommodate both socks and gussets.
That may change, depending on how this Fish Lips thing works out for me.
I’m the last person, probably in the world, to actually try the FLK heel. I’m not even entirely sure why I’m trying it now, since I bought the pattern over 3 years ago. I know I shelved the idea of using it right away because of the sheer size of the file. It’s 16 pages long and requires you to make a cardboard template of your foot, and all that just seemed like way too much effort when the method I was using was perfectly adequate.
The method is still perfectly adequate. But the gussets take so damn long that if there’s a way for me to avoid having to make them, I can get down with that. I have big feet, but I also have especially proturby heels, as do my mother and sister. I don’t know the medical term for that, but I know that for a long time, I have compared my feet to the characters in the comic strip Andy Capp:
See how far the heels protrude beyond the back of the leg? Obviously my feet don’t look like that, but the way they are shaped means I’ll never be able to wear a 56 stitch sock, at least not in fingering-weight yarn. I was watching a podcast the other day where the host talked about having large feet, then completely undermined her own credibility within minutes by stating 64 stitch socks were too big and she found 56 a much more comfortable fit. My baseline is 72, on 2.5mm needles, with fingering weight. If I go 2.0 or below, it’s going to have to be at least 76 or possibly more than 80. I don’t think I’d be able to put on a 56 stitch sock unless I were knitting with DK.
Anyway, dealing with an obnoxiously oversized calcaneus means I typically increase my stitch count by 1/3 when making my socks. I have been doing this ever since I made these socks back in 2012. While I have changed the basic construction since then (I add an inch of short-rows, then shape my decreases to resemble a heel flap rather than an angled Fleegle-style heel), I still generally increase until the number of gusset stitches matches half the total number of stitches, minus 2. Since most of my socks are 72 stitches, I usually have 34 gusset stitches. And since I prefer a more gradual increase, I do my gusset increases every 3 rounds. That works out 3.5-4 inches of foot knitting that take increasingly longer because the rounds are getting progressively larger.
So why would I change things, if my method gets me a sock that fits well? (Which it does. Every sock I’ve made with this method has fit perfectly.) Two things: as mentioned, my method takes longer. It requires measuring and math, neither of which are overly complicated or time-consuming, but the gusset-knitting gets tiresome. And, I’ve been hearing people proselytize about this heel method for long enough that I feel like I finally need to at least see what the hell everyone’s raving about. (This is pretty much my MO with anything having to do with something the knitting world gets excited about. It’s less “that looks awesome” than “all right already.”) It’s only fair that I actually take a ride on the bandwagon before I deem bandwagon-riding either great fun or overrated.
I must admit, the idea of a sock that fits any foot is intriguing. The FLK heel promises a perfect fit, no gussets required. I’ve only ever seen two non-rave reviews for it, but both of them focused more on the length of the pattern itself, and both noted that the sock did fit well. I’ve tried a couple other gusset-less socks with less-than-stellar results: the afterthought heel, which laughs hysterically at me (unless I add in gussets, which defeats the purpose), and the OMG heel, which fit okay but I didn’t like the way it looked, to the point where I ripped it out twice. Part of the appeal of the FLK is that it uses “twin stitches” in its short rows, which I have been using for years and love because they’re easy and don’t show. (I used this tutorial that I found on someone’s Pinterest.)
I have two half-finished sock projects in need of heels. Let’s see how this thing works.
So now I’ve actually knit this thing after yapping about it for a couple of paragraphs. And honestly, I like it. I was fully expecting that It would be a total flop, because things that everyone else loves tend to have a way of not working for me. But it’s much faster than my usual method, fits about the same, and even would allow me to do an afterthought heel. Put me down for Team Fish.
That said, it’s not perfect. The FLK sock is tighter around the instep. It’s not a dealbreaker, but the warpy-stitched instep is a pet peeve of mine. It does make the knitting a little less portable, because carrying around the foot template is not ideal for the life of the template. I can already tell it’s going to undergo some wear and tear just from normal use. There is an Etsy shop that sells custom-made wooden foot templates for FLK knitters, and that would definitely be a possibility, but I already sprang for a Sock Ruler. It would make more sense just to use my actual toes to determine the size of the toe box (as I’ve been doing for years), and then mark a “hinge” line on the sock ruler. I may still make cardboard feet for my mother and sister, though.
So… yeah. Belated thumbs-up. My sock knitting has been seriously lagging of late. Hopefully going gusset-less will give me a chance to make up for lost time. (I’ll never go back to DPNs though. I will do anything for socks, but I won’t do that.)