Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Sherman Heel

Dear Blog

Sing it with me!
I hate Tucson in the summer!
I hate Tucson in the fall,
I like Tucson in the winter, when it drizzles,
I hate Tucson in the summer, when it sizzles.

I hate Tucson, oh why, oh why, am I in Tucson?

Yes, Blog, summer has arrived with a vengeance these past few weeks. Yesterday was the 4th, and it was predicted to be so hot (113 degrees) that no one wanted to go anywhere or do anything. At 9 p.m., as we were standing in the backyard looking out over the city to watch the fireworks, a hot wind was blowing and it was nasty out there! I finally came back inside to our lovely air-conditioning and watched them through the window. I must have done something awful in my last life to have to live in hell like this. The bright spot on our horizon is that we should have the monsoon rains starting in the next few days, and that makes a big difference in our climate. The afternoon storms can be pretty violent, with tornados, micro-bursts, hail, lightening-caused wildfires, tarantulas, etc., but at the same time, they can drop the temps by about 25 degrees in half an hour. If I don't post here for a while it will be because I was arrested for dancing naked out in the backyard during the first rain that we have seen in months. Please donate to any efforts to raise bail for me. Although I cannot in all truth and honesty promise that I would never do it again. Much more of this hellish heat and I will not be held accountable or responsible for my actions. Just so you know.

So let's talk about knitting, because that will soothe us, won't it? Yes it will!


We all like to talk about our favorite spot for knitting in the house. It may be your comfy couch, it may be a chair that is specially purchased and dubbed 'The Knitting Chair' and meant to be sat in by no other, surrounded on all sides by half-full baskets containing half-finished projects. You may even be lucky enough to have a Knitting Room, for God's sake! But let's face it, sooner or later, we all find ourselves having to knit in front of the computer. And that is what I found myself doing last week.

There has been a lot of chat on some of the knitting lists lately about the Sherman Heel. So I had to go investigate. I always keep my Sock-Project Bag on a peg by the door, ready and waiting for me whenever I know I have to go endure a period of pointless waiting in a setting over which I have no control. Like the Dr.'s office, for example. If I can be there on time, if I could run a career of appointments for twenty years pretty much ALWAYS on time, how is it that someone who has so much more education than I do that they feel they are entitled to condescend to me, cannot be competent enough to keep to a schedule? Can someone explain this to me? (Ok, Lynda, breathe deep, think thoughts of winter and yarn.) Phew! Ok, so I keep that little bag by the door to grab and take with me, and I always have a sock going that only gets worked on on those occasions. And I find that I can get quite a bit done without giving it much thought.

So once I get my pattern figured out and have cast on, I take that little puppy along and work on it til the leg is finished. Then I'll make a point of working the heel at home where I can lay out the heel pattern before me, and after the heel is turned it goes back into the bag for working the foot when I next need it. I was at the heel-working point with my current sock, and so I thought I would give the Sherman Heel a go. Now, you can google for Sherman Heel, as I did, and find lots of references to complicated explanations of how to do a Sherman Heel. Or you can stay here with me, and I'll lay it out for you in a few easy-peasy steps. Your choice. Still here? Ok.

You might be asking yourself, who is the Sherman Heel when he is at home? And that is a good question, really. The vague but fairly accurate answer is that the Sherman Heel is a method of working a short-row heel that is named for the inventor's father, Sherman, because he apparently was a clever and practical guy. I think.

The beauty of the Sherman Heel is that it is a short-row heel worked with only two wrapped stitches, one on either side, and no holes! So grab your sock and let's dive in. What? You don't know how to do short rows? Oh, yes you do! You've been doing them for years. You know all those times you have put your knitting down in the middle of the row, and when you picked it up again, you discovered 6 inches later that you started off in the wrong direction mid-row? You did a short row, albeit unintentional. My sister used to be the Queen of Inadvertent Short Rows. Oh, hi, Sis!


1- At the bottom of your sock leg, work stockinette stitch rows that are equal in number to 1/10th of your cast-on sts. I have 64 sts on my needle, so I knit 6 Stockinette stitch rows.

2- Divide your total number of sts in half, must be an even number - for me this is 32. These are your heel sts. Plus a wrapped stitch on either side, that remain instep stitches, really. At the end of your last Ss row, knit 1/4 of your total sts (half your heel sts) past your beginning-of-round marker, then wrap your next st and turn. For me, I knit 16 sts past my marker, wrapped the next st, and turned.

3- Slip the first st on your needle, purl to 1/4 of your total cast-on sts past your marker again, wrap your next st, and turn. On my sock, it was Sl 1, P 15, slip my marker, p 16 (total of p 31), w&t.

4- Now, ignore those wrapped stitches as you work the heel, you won't need them again until the very end. Don't count them in the following directions, they magically go back to being instep sts now. Poof!

Heel, Part One:

1- Sl 1, Knit to one stitch before the slipped st that began the previous row, turn. For me this was- Sl 1, K 30, turn.

2- Sl 1, Purl to one stitch before the slipped st that began the previous row, turn. On my socks this was Sl 1, P 29, turn.

3- Repeat the two previous rows, working one less st on each row, until you arrive at your magic turning number, which is 1/5th of your original cast-on number, and again, it must be an even number. For me this is 12 - 6 sts on either side of my marker. End ready to begin a purl row. Your last (knit) row is sometimes called the pivot row.

Now you can do this whole process the way I did the first time - by moving those ignored sts at the end of each row over to a spare dpn. This helps for beginners to understand which sts you can still play with, and which are out of bounds for the moment. After you have worked the heel once, you can probably leave those sts on your working needles, understanding which are the ones to ignore til the next stage. So here I have 10 slipped sts held on the needle to the left, 6 sts remaining on my center needle, and 10 slipped sts held on the needle on the right.

Knitting at the computer

My Sherman Heel at the End of Part One

Heel, Part Two:

Now you are ready to turn the corner and work back in the other direction, picking up the slipped sts that you have saved, one at a time. This process uses a technique I have not seen before for short-rows (ok, maybe for Japanese short rows) called the encroachment. Don't be frightened by the word, this is easy to do. To work a knit encroachment (ke): With the tip of your right needle, pick up the purl bump below the next st on your left needle. Lift this purl bump up onto the needle next to its stitch. Knit the two together through the back of the loop (tbl). To work a purl encroachment (pe): With the tip of your right needle, pick up the purl bump below the next st on your left needle. Lift this purl bump onto your left needle, right next to its stitch. Purl the two together.

1- Sl 1, purl to last stitch before the slipped stitch that began the previous row. Slip this last st, and work a pe on the next stitch. Turn. For me this was: Sl 1, p10, sl 1, pe.

2- Sl 1, knit to last stitch before the slipped stitch that was worked at the beginning of the previous row. Slip this last st, and work a ke on the next stitch. Turn. On my sock this was: Sl 1, k 11, sl 1, ke.

Continue in this manner - slipping the first stitch of every row, working across to just before the first st slipped in the previous row, slipping that stitch, and working an encroachment in the next stitch - until you have worked in all of your previously slipped sts from Part One ending after a knit row. Turn.

3- Sl 1, purl across to wrapped st from set up, lift the wrap up onto your needle, and purl it together with its stitch, much like working a pe, but with the wrap rather than with the purl bump. Turn.

4- Knit across to your second wrapped stitch, and lift the wrap up onto your left needle, knit it and the stitch tbl.

You are done! Continue by working across your instep sts and go on your merry way, working the foot of your sock. You can look for extra info at the two sites that I parsed out to condense into the above - here, and here.

My Completed Sherman Heel

Mystery Stole 3

I'm sure by now that you can't help remembering that we got the first clue in the MS3 a week ago tomorrow, so in 24 hours, and along with about 4500 other people from all over the world I'll be working on Clue 2. Of course you remember, this has been haunting your dreams, and has been the first thing you think of when you awakened for the last month or so.

Obviously the entire point of this, aside from the whole 'making a gorgeous lace stole' thing, is that it is a MYSTERY! We have absolutely no idea what it will look like when finished, although considering Melanie's previous patterns, we know it will be gorgeous. We don't know what the theme is. And it is driving everyone on the list crazy. They are guessing right and left. It is like watching one of those scenes in a Three Stooges movie, where they are all running in circles like maniacs, babbling, bumping into each other and just generally not knowing where they are going. Only multiplied by 1500. Don't get me wrong, they all seem like perfectly nice people, but I don't think half of them have read what few and tiny crumbs of hints that Melanie has so far tossed out regarding the theme.

Alright, I have made two guesses myself, Odile and Odette from Swan Lake, and Persephone. But I'm preserving my dignity and stopping there, I swear it!

Below are photos of my finished Clue 1 blocking, after blocking, and a detail with beads.

Finished Clue 1 blocking

Finished Clue 1 after blocking

Finished Clue 1 detail with beads

No, I have no earthly idea what the darned thing will be. Mystery.

And finally, the other project I worked on last week, a pair of felted baby booties. Ok, they were supposed to be a pair of felted baby booties. The pattern is from the Interweave Knits website, and I admit I am too lazy to look for the link right now. It is written to be worked with Paton's Classic Merino on size US 2 needles. Yes, folks, that is correct. Knitting for felting on a size 2 needle. But unlike you, I had to actually knit the danged things just to prove that knitting done on size 2 needles at a gauge of something like 5.5 sts/in just doesn't felt. Take a look...


post felt

Not a lot of difference, except for maybe a bit more fuzziness. Ah, well.

I had better close this now. One doesn't wake up in the morning saying, You know, today I think I will spend my entire day, off and on, posting about the Sherman Heel. Cause if you did say that, you would immediately recognize the pure insanity of planning such a day, and roll over and go back to sleep.

Which means it must be time for a nap.


P.S. I have set up my own etsy shop. Now I need to put something in it!

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Blogger T said...

Thanks so much for the Sherman Heel hand-holding. I'll definitely keep this info at hand for my next sock experiment!

Your MS3 swatch looks great.

And why DO you live in Tucson? :-)

3:53 PM  
Blogger Windyridge said...

I will have to check out that Sherman Heel. It looks great. I am very spatially challenged tho' so I hope I can get it. I will have to look up wrapped stitches. Like you I keep a sock going or a mindless knitting project, for those boring office or other waits. I have often felt that I should charge them for MY time when they make me wait like that. It's really unexcusable. I even left a doc who was habitually late. OTOH my son's doc is always prompt. He's probably the only doc I have ever experienced that is on time 99.9% of the time.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Raprunner said...

Love the booties. Leia likes her warm feet on our early morning runs, well she did when it was winter, now it's the naked-er the better.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Thanks for your explanation of the sherman heel....first one that I have found on a blog that has complete and clear instructions...even without the pictures (and I am a visual learner)I finally get it!

5:55 AM  

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