Mostly I'm talking about why I knit socks the way I do...I switch a lot between 7 inch and 6 inch needles, sometimes Crystal Palace needles feel the best to me, sometimes good old Clover dpns are the thing. I do ribbing on three needles, then switch to four needles for the stockinette bits, purely because of how it looks and feels on four needles. I will always prefer dpns to the magic loop or 2 circs, and no amount of coaxing from those who tell me it's faster the other ways will change the fact that I knit socks according to what is most aesthetically pleasing to me...and that means dpns.
I also love the way a sock looks and feels when it's hanging off of dpns...particularly after the heel has been turned and there's some foot progress to be seen. For example, this Mona sock is at the just about perfect, aesthetically speaking, stage:
I'll bet you didn't think there would be a "but" in this one, did you?
BUT...I have also discovered that there are times when it is necessary to take short cuts in sock knitting. Like when you are at the Lafayette Theater watching A Streetcar Named Desire and you just want to knit around and around and around so you don't have to look away from the brilliance onscreen.
That's when you feel glad to read the Yarn Harlot and that you know Debbie Doggett, so that you can throw in the not-quite-as-aesthetically-pleasing-but-practical-for-continued-mindless-knitting technique known as the "Afterthought Heel". I read about it on the Yarn Harlot's blog...she was at a concert, not wanting to monkey around with turning a heel, and yet at the point of a sock where a heel was becoming necessary. I investigated further and found that River Knits' own Debbie Dogget is an Afterthoughter and she helped me to discover the simplicity of the afterthought heel. Here's how it works...
When you reach the point of the sock where you feel a heel should be placed, knit half of your sock stitches onto waste yarn (I've used a strand of cotton in a pastel shade, to make it easy to see it in the middle of the blue stripe):
I am really pleased with the two socks I have used this technique on. So pleased that in April, I will be offering a class to help others discover the wonders of the afterthought. I don't think this technique will replace my much loved, aesthetically sound heel flap technique, but there are benefits to using the afterthought heel:
1. It can keep the knitting mindless for longer, so you can watch old movies and keep knitting (I even fixed a dropped stitch in the dark at the theater last week! It was quite a moment.)
2. If you don't like the heel flap technique, this is a good heel that is easier than the short row heel technique.
3. Debbie says the socks with the afterthought heel fit her feet better.
4. If you're using self striping yarn, your stripes will not be disrupted the way they can be with other heel techniques.
5. If you have a very clever boy at home (like I do), the sock can become a puppet when you pick up the heel stitches...