A couple of people wrote to me yesterday to report on faux chain mail
sightings – mostly in movies. With the exception of a couple of very
recent mega-budget fantasy and historical pictures, the majority of
movie mail is the fake stuff. For example, in Branagh’s Henry V,
a couple of the leads wear real chain (laughably without the padding
that actual use would require), but the majority of the cast including
some characters with significant screen time wear knit yarn mail.

On the knitting front, I am finally tinkering with the reverse Dutch heel flap for toe ups thought experiment
I wrote about back in March. I’m working a fingering weight sock on US
#0s, on 68 stitches around (17 stitches each on four DPNs). The method
I wrote about then looks confusing to me, even in retrospect, but
trying it out all became (sort of) clear.

I knit my foot until
I achieved the length I thought I’d need from toe to hard up on the
ankle. Then, taking care to center the pre-heel bottom of the foot
stitches on the bottom of the foot – I worked a protruding flap on
about 20% of the heel’s stitches (more on the figure later). I slipped
the first and last stitch of the flap to make picking up along it
easier, and knit it about 1.5 inches long. When the flap was that
length, and finishing with a knit row, I picked up the stitches along
the flap’s left side, then knit across the top of the foot, and picked
up the stitches on the flap’s right side. I then was ready to begin my
gusset decreases. I worked along for a while, decreasing at either side
of the picked up stitches every other row.

It quickly became
clear that this heel – although structurally correct, was flawed. I had
a narrow band of stitches along the center bottom of the foot, with two
prominent ridges made by picking up on either side of the heel. I had
extra depth in the ankle, but the heel itself was too shallow for a
comfortable fit. So I ripped back and began the heel again.

now I’m inspired by Emily Cartier’s suggestion from the blog comment
she left on the entry cited above. She suggests working a reverse flap
heel on 50% of the available stitches rather than 20%. Bigger is most
certainly warranted here, but 50% looked a bit big to me. So
(apologies, Emily) I’m going to try a figure closer to 30%. Now I’m at
the large rumply yarn clot formed by ripping back, and naked foot
stitches just before the heel begins stage, but this is what I’ll do,
and how I’ll go about working the heel on 4 DPNs.

  1. I’ll
    look at my toe and identify the center of the bottom of the foot (no
    point in working a heel akimbo). That point will lie between two of my
    DPNs, as I work my socks using a set of five.
  2. I’ll arbitrarily
    set my bottom of the foot flap at 22 stitches total. Since I’m working
    with 17 stitches on each needle, I’ll slide six stitches from the
    leftmost bottom of the foot needle left to the one that normally holds
    only the top of the foot; and I’ll slide six stitches from the
    rightmost bottom of the foot needle right onto the other top of the
    foot needle. Finally, just to make things a little clearer, I’ll
    consolidate all the heel flap needle onto one needle. I now have three
    needles in my work: one holding 22 flap stitches, and two I’ll ignore
    for a while, each holding 23 stitches.
  3. I’ll knit back and
    forth in stockinette on the 22 heel flap stitches, slipping the first
    and knitting the last stitch on all rows (making chain selvedges on
    both sides of the flap), until the flap is about 2 inches long. I’m not
    sure how many rows this will be – I could do the row gauge computation,
    but the exact number of rows is pretty much immaterial.
  4. Once
    I’ve decided my flap is long enough (some trying on may be required),
    I’ll make sure I finish at the end of a knit row. Then I’ll pick
    up stitches along the left hand edge of the flap, taking advantage of
    the chain selvedge to do so. I’ll remember this number.
    Then I’ll knit across the top of the foot, back to the base of the
    flap, and pick up the same number of stitches I picked up before, this
    time heading up the right side of the flap.
  5. While I’m working the pick-up row I’ll reallocate my stitches
    onto four needles. The two needles that hold the top of foot
    stitches each have six extras. When I finish the pick up row, I
    should return to having the 17 original stitches on each of the two top
    of foot needles. The other two needles will each hold half of the
    remaining stitches. They’ll be a bit crowded, but the goal will
    be to work the gusset decreases until they too have 17 stitches each.
  6. I’ll begin the gusset decreases by looking at my left-most heel
    stitch needle, and noting which stitch is the last of the ones I picked
    up along the heel flap. The stitch after that one – the first
    stitch of the actual foot is the one that will be the top stitch of the
    SSK decrease column on this side of the ankle. Likewise, the last
    stitch of the actual foot will form the top stitch of the K2tog
    decrease column on the other side of the ankle.
  7. I’ll work in plain old stockinette until I get to the last picked
    up stitch, identified above. I’ll do my SSK, then work across the
    top of the foot. I’ll continue in stockinette until the last
    actual foot stitch before the picked up stitches on the other side of
    the heel flap. I’ll do a K2tog with this stitch and the first
    picked up stitch, then finish out my round by knitting to the center of
    the heel.
  8. I’ll work a complete round in plain stockinette with no decreases.
  9. I’ll repeat the last two steps above until I have 17 stitches on each needle again. At that point the heel should be done.

Now, there’s no guarantee that things will actually work out as
planned. This is theory only. I have to try it out and see
if the heel flap is too narrow (solution – try again with more stitches
allocated to it); if the gussets are too shallow (fix – knit the
initial flap to be longer); or if the total heel is too deep (fix – rip
back a bit of the foot before starting the heel again).

Now – why is there no picture to accompany this grand experiment?
Because all I’ve got is a sock foot knit in solid gray Regia on four
needles, sitting next to a rat’s nest of rippled yarn. Not
exciting in the least. That and I’m still relegated to posting away from my base station because my computer is still in the throes of reassembly.

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