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Introducing the Integrated Heel

LBHandknits

IntHeel0.jpg

If you follow me on social media, you know that I have recently come up with a new option for knitting heels. This design went from concept to test-knitted pattern in 3 weeks, and is now ready for your knitting pleasure. I call this method the Integrated Heel -

The Integrated Heel looks and fits similarly to a traditional heel flap and gusset. The difference is in the process. Like the traditional sock heel, the Integrated Heel features a heel flap, a gusset, and a turned heel. Unlike the traditional sock heel, the Integrated Heel is worked almost entirely in the round. This eliminates the need to work the heel flap back-and-forth flat, and to later pick up stitches along its edges. 

The resulting benefits include: a gusset with more give (since you aren’t picking up stitches along a finished edge); fewer interruptions to workflow (which, in turn, speeds up the knitting process considerably); and excellent fit, with ample opportunity for heel-depth customisation.

While I dare not claim to have ‘invented’ the Integrated Heel (goodness knows there is nothing new under the sun!), I did arrive upon this design independently, and have not seen it documented anywhere else. I have found this method of heel construction fast and convenient, and hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.

I have now published a basic sock pattern (here!) which includes a tutorial on working the Integrated Heel. It is called Basic Sock with Integrated Heel (or Stocaí Bunúsach in Irish, which means ‘basic socks’). This is a comprehensive, universal pattern that provides separate gauge and stitch count guides for 3 yarn weights (fingering, sport, and DK), and offers a good range of sizes. So you can try the Integrated Heel in anything from commercial superwash sock yarn, to rustic tweed, or anything in between.

For background: I came up with the idea of the Integrated Heel when out on sick leave this past December. I won’t go into detail over my personal circumstances, but I was quite out of it for much of that time, to the extent that I was unable to knit garments or anything even remotely complicated. So I turned to plain socks, and even that - when I got to the heel - seemed like too much for me at this time. No matter what style of heel I tried - the flap and gusset, the short row, the afterthought - they seemed fiddly and exhausting to execute. If only I could find a more elegant way, I thought, that allowed my work process to flow uninterrupted and felt more integrated into the working of the overall sock. I then spent quite a bit of my bed-rest time pondering the shape of my foot, and thinking about what would need to happen in order for a tube to suddenly sprout a heel-shaped bump, then go back to being a tube. And after a while my hands just started doing their thing. I believe it took me 3 tries to come up with a method I liked.

The Integrated Heel involves constructing the heel flap and the gussets simultaneously, all the while continuing to work in the round on the leg-to-instep transition. In addition to promoting uninterrupted work flow, I discovered that this method of construction allows for more stretch in the ankle/heel area. When my husband wears socks with any of the standard heels, they sometimes develop holes after prolonged wear in the ‘corners’ of the heels, if you can picture that, from the stress of the sock being stretched in that section. With the extra band of fabric from working the leg-to-instep transition in the round while doing the heel, that stress is removed. This might be too abstract to picture when described in words. But when you knit a sock with the Integrated Heel, it will become obvious what I mean by this. There is basically more room for stretch in the ankle/heel area, without making the ankle loose or saggy. This makes the Integrated Heel a good option for those who have had fit issues with any of the conventional heel styles.

But I think the main draw for most people, is that the Integrated Heel is considerably faster to knit than other heels. For me, I would say twice as fast as a heel flap and gusset, and maybe 25%-30% faster than a short-row heel. The Integrated Heel is the same size as any other. It is just that the process of knitting it ‘flows’ faster.

To my delight, I received quite a few volunteers to try the Integrated Heel design before I deemed it suitable for release, and the feedback has been excellent!

I therefore present to you -
Stocaí Bunúsach / Basic Sock with Integrated Heel
at an introductory discount of 40% off through the first week of February, with the code STOCAI40

Thank you for your support, and I hope you enjoy this design! I will be using the Integrated Heel construction in other upcoming sock patterns in the near future and I also plan to host an Integrated Heel knit-along later this month. I will keep you posted!