This is a German heel, recommended by Elizabeth Zimmermann for novice sock-knitters such as I (after completing several of which, we may graduate to the more conventional Conventional Heel, "which actually wears better").
The German heel was, as she promised, very simple: a series of short rows worked from the middle of the square heel flap, with decreases at each end that bite into the garter stitch edges and form the curve of the heel. (Easier done than expressed.) What a relief - turning the heel was the aspect of sock-knitting which most filled me with dread.
Next came the ankle-shaping. Though I love EZ's minimalist style, I found the instructions here a bit vague. She says merely: "Work on down the foot, decreasing away the surplus stitches at each ankle until you have the number of stitches you started with." The concept is easily grasped; I started with 36 stitches and now have 44, and need to get back down to 36. But where do I make the decreases? "At each ankle". Where's that?
My best guess was to place the decreases on either side of the ribbing stitches which continue down from the cuff. This seemed to work pretty well (except for one rogue decrease that sticks out a mile - did I slant it the wrong way?):
I could drop stitches back to that point and try to fix it, but I won't. It shall remain as a humility mark, and a proof of my comparatively tepid feelings for knitting (if this were a crochet project I'd frog back and do the whole thing over with scarcely a murmur).
Now I am merrily on my way down the foot, which seems to be growing more slowly than the cuff did:
Tension is still a problem, as you can see. (I begin to understand the expression "knit-pick".). But the waters of blocking will, I hope, wash away at least some of those stitch-y sins.
Soon I'll be working the toe decreases, then savouring the final and dubious delights of Kitchener stitch. (Then it will be time to start all over on the second sock.)
Until next time....
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P.S. A question for the knitters out there: Which cast-on do you prefer for top-down socks?
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