Whether you choose to knit a round-trip with sunny toes on one foot and the far reaches of the solar system adorning your toes on the other foot, or make your sock journey a one-way ticket for two, these tips will help you get started and plan out a pit stop for your heel.
1. Use a Sock Pattern That Doesn’t Disrupt the Flow of Stripes
Conventional sock construction with a heel flap and gusset changes the stitch count through the instep, which in turn affects the width of the stripes. My Tip Toe Up pattern—a toe up sock pattern with a forethought heel—eliminates this problem and allows the brilliantly designed stripe progression to continue, unaffected, over the instep.
A forethought heel is very similar to an afterthought heel, the main difference being that the heel is planned in advance with waste yarn being used as a placeholder for the heel opening. Both heel types are inserted after the foot and leg are completed and don’t require a gusset that would change stitch counts.
2. How to Divide Our Solar System Yarn in Half for Two Socks
While winding your ball, watch the colours as they come off the skein and follow along the stripe sequence printed on the Our Solar System ball band. When you reach the long stretch of light grey after Pluto, you know you’re almost at the mid-way point. Cut the yarn and begin the second ball when you hit the dark grey dividing line between the two large light grey sections. You’ll end up with two equal balls.
The sun will be in the centre of the first ball and on the outside of the second ball. If you plan on making identical socks, work from the centre of one ball for one sock and from the outside of the other ball for the second sock.
Note that the large grey sections closest to Pluto provide plenty of yarn for an afterthought/forethought heel. If you wish to begin knitting with the Pluto end of the skein, you’ll need to first wind off the large grey section and save it for the heel.
3. Optimize Your Yardage
You want to use the whole skein of yarn with minimal waste? Cast on at the toe and knit a long tube sock until you’re well past the heel location. Pause knitting the leg and insert the heel using the other end of the ball. Then resume knitting the leg until you run out of yarn.
4. Easy Hack to Avoid Calf Shaping for Tall Socks
If you want to use the whole solar system, these socks might be taller than usual. A quick hack for working a longer leg without additional leg shaping is to use a larger size needle for the leg portion of the sock. This will give you a stretchier, looser the gauge to fit over the calf.
Then work a generous amount of 1x1 twisted ribbing at the top of the sock. Why twisted ribbing? It’s more elastic and will help the sock stay up. What is twisted ribbing? *K1 through the back loop, P1 through the back loop; repeat from * to end of round.
5. Heel Placement Among the Stripes
Placement of the heel can either be pre-planned or the location of it can be decided after the whole tube sock is finished. Using Our Solar System as an example, here are three options for balanced stripes when placing the heel in a self-striping yarn. It always looks better when there isn’t an errant single round of a colour above the heel.
Option A: Insert heel at the junction between two stripes as illustrated between the dark and light orange stripes of Jupiter.
Option B: Insert heel in the middle of a stripe so an equal amount of the stripe will appear above the heel and below the heel.
Option C: Insert heel within a stripe that’s the same colour as the heel (in this case, light grey). The heel blends right in.
While you can apply these tips to any basic sock pattern with an afterthought heel, my Tip Toe Up sock pattern makes it easy peasy because I’ve done all the math for you. I’ve released an update to the Tip Toe Up pattern that includes more sizes, and an addendum where I take a deeper dive into my favourite tips and hacks. Grab your copy today.
Here’s what you get in the Tip Toe Up pattern:
I want to thank Catherine for inviting me to post on her site and play with her yarn. It’s always a pleasure knitting with Gauge Dye Works yarn.
Holli’s passion for knitting has spanned a lifetime, from learning to knit as a child to her fine arts degree majoring in textiles and jewellery, and an almost 20-year designing career. A Holli Yeoh pattern is sure to offer something to learn, as well as a casually elegant aesthetic. Interesting techniques and clear instructions ensure a rewarding knit with beautiful results, as featured in leading publications including Vogue Knitting, Amirisu, Interweave Press books, and her book Tempest. See more of Holli’s work and her teaching schedule at holliyeoh.com.
For a peek into Holli’s knitting and designing journey, follow her on Instagram.
Sign up for Holli’s newsletter here.