These socks, my first pair with Fish Lips Kiss heels, are just about finished. They’ve taken only two weeks, about half the time it normally takes me, but they are very plain with no complicated stitch pattern. I didn’t even rib them all the way up the instep and the leg, as I normally do, wanting to show off the printed yarn to best effect. But part of the reason that they went so smoothly was I didn’t have to rip the heels out several times to get them right.
I do like the appearance of this FLK heel. As I thought, it has blocked out nicely to produce a perfect, mitred heel-turn line – I’ll post some post-blocking photos next time. Even when you tug at the heel and peer closely, there is no hint of a hole anywhere. And it was so easy to knit! What more could anyone want?
Unlike most short-row heels which make use of wraps and turns, with K2togs, P2togs, complicated yarnovers in both directions and stitches which need to have their lie corrected by twisting them before they are worked, the FLK method relies on simple “twin stitches”. These are produced in a similar fashion to a lifted increase and result in two stitches emerging from a single stitch in the row below. The FLK designer has even produced videos to illustrate the technique.
The twin stitches are obvious to look at on the needle, which means that it’s easy to spot where to turn in the next row. It makes the whole heel very intuitive; having decided how many stitches over which to work the heel – normally half the total sock stitches, with the central third of those stitches worked on every heel row and short rows worked over the third on either side – each step follows naturally from the previous one. Once you’ve got the hang of both the knit and purl version of the twin stitch there’s no need to consult the pattern instructions again until you get to the halfway point. Before you know it, you are round the heel.
Although I love this fuss-free heel method and will probably use it for every pair of socks from now on, I’m less impressed with the pattern as a whole. As I mentioned in my last post, sizing the sock according to a cardboard foot template has produced a result that is a little too long in the foot. It is also, if anything, a little too wide.
But the real issue with this pattern is the way it’s written. There’s a lengthy section on the designer’s views on sock design and a rationale for the FLK method before getting down to the knitty-gritty, which is fine and actually quite interesting. But the heel instructions part needs editing to make it clearer and easier on the eye – less cluttered. It would definitely benefit from a simple summary of the heel steps for both top-down and toe-up construction. As things are, the method has to be teased out from a plethora of chatty material in a bewildering array of fonts, text sizes and colours. There are no text-only instructions for the twin stitches, although there is a good photo tutorial and links to the video tutorials. I’d have preferred to see succinct written instructions too, as flipping through five pages of photos isn’t convenient while trying to manage five double-pointed needles.
These instructions on their own would be hopeless for a first-time sock knitter. You need to know what you are doing and have a “proper” sock pattern in front of you (or in your head) to make sense of everything. For a beginner, it would be better to choose a sock pattern that incorporates the FLK to avoid having to try and combine two sets of instructions. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any patterns like that, probably because the FLK designer encourages those producing sock patterns to refer to her FLK instructions rather than allowing them to pay her a royalty for reproducing them.
The pattern doesn’t explain how to use the FLK method when working a heel in a contrast yarn, but fortunately the designer describes the process in a Ravelry forum. It worked well for me. Someone else in the FLK heel forum explains how to use the method to work a sock toe too, which I’ll try out the next time. A toe-up toe is actually very like a heel, shape-wise.
I’m left with about 10g of plain dark orange yarn, which should do nicely as a contrast colour with the Araucania Botany Lace. If I use that multi-coloured orange yarn for Sweatrrr, then at least two contrasts are needed, but I have some Fivemoons Luna Plus in a grey/beige colour that will do for one of them. I could also possibly use plain, bright orange sections from the print Fabel yarn that went into the FLK socks, as Sweatrrr has some tiny (5 stitches by 5 rows) squares worked in contrast yarn.
Talking of which, I’m going to start on another pair of FLK socks in Drops Fabel while I make my mind up about Sweatrrr. I have a couple of 50g balls of a red print. I think I’ll try them with 4 stitches fewer and the foot about ½” shorter than the orange ones. If I knit enough socks for myself, one day I’ll get the perfect fit.
But before I knit these, I may have to make another pair of slippers. My dear husband has been eyeing my recently completed Arne & Carlos slippers with envy. I have enough of the hairy Aran yarn left to make him a pair too. I’ll use a different stranded pattern though or we’ll get them mixed up. His feet are only a couple of sizes bigger than mine, but I’ll knit the large size slippers instead of medium and felt them more vigorously because I wish the fabric of mine was a little thicker. I may knit a separate insole and sew it in before felting to give a thicker sole, as I’m finding it a bit odd to feel so much floor texture as I walk around the house.
Liberty print cushion
I’ve been trying to find some cushion fabric for a while. It just needs to be the right colour and washable. I do like to wash my soft furnishings. I know I could dry clean them instead, but that’s expensive and it involves at least two trips to town with a few days of bare windows and cushion-less sofas between them. Also, washing gets things a lot cleaner than dry cleaning, because a washing machine (unlike a dry cleaning machine which recycles its solvent) gives several rinses in clean, fresh liquid.
I’d given up looking for a suitable fabric for the sofa cushions after fruitless visits to countless fabric shops. I was instead hoping that something would turn up if I just kept my eyes open when out and about. The cushion covers in question are actually in holes though, so something needed to turn up pretty quickly.
Then, while rummaging through my fabric stash for something else, I came across a piece of Liberty’s Burnham furnishing cotton that used to be a Roman blind. I made the blind when we first moved into this house, 30 years ago, but it had to be replaced when we redecorated that room and the exuberantly Art Nouveau design fought with the patterned wallpaper that we’d chosen. I couldn’t bear to throw it out though, I’m a lifelong Libertyphile and the fabric was completely unfaded. Instead, I gave the blind a good wash, unpicked the pockets for the wooden battens, removed the lining, put it away and forgot all about it.
Well, it’s not a perfect choice for these cushions, as I’d rather have had a heavier, more crease-resistant fabric. But it will do for a year or two and the cushions haven’t cost a penny because I recycled the zips (aka zippers) from the old covers. I cut the new covers a little smaller to make the cushions plumper, which meant the nylon zips had to be shortened. I experimented with superglue and found that it stuck the nylon teeth very effectively; I just put a blob of glue on the closed teeth where I wanted the bottom of the opening to be, then cut off the excess zip about half an inch below that. I passed the cut end swiftly through a flame to stop it fraying and, hey presto, a shorter zip.