I’m not sure if it’s the best way to check whether you are on the right track, but it seems to me that the ease with which you accomplish a task is a general indicator of how well that task fits with your natural inclinations. The speed with which I whipped through the leg and round the heel of this sock once I’d changed to working it in stocking stitch bore out this theory. I didn’t want to put it down. Where the texture had seemed a bit of a slog, the smooth fabric and the regularity of the work just made it fly along.
I have allowed myself a little bit of texture by working the heel flap in a fancy design which is called Half Linen Stitch. Because it’s just for a few rows it wasn’t too arduous and it does make a nice contrast. There are practical reasons for working the heel flap in certain stitches and they are to do with longevity. The heel flap is one of the areas which gets a lot of wear and some stitches are stronger, or give a thicker fabric than others. Stocking stitch is smooth and regular but, even worked in the same yarn, finer than textured patterns like cables, ribbing, and the popular Eye of Partridge. Personally, I don’t find the back of the heel is an area where I cause a lot of wear – my socks tend to develop holes either at the toe or underneath the heel, the bit we would call the cup of the heel.
For Half Linen Stitch, you work a right-side row of knit one, slip one, where you bring the yarn to the front of the work before you slip the stitch and take it back to the rear of the work to do the knit stitch. If you were working full Linen Stitch, you’d follow a similar method on the purl row, but for Half Linen you just purl each stitch on the wrong side rows. When you come to the second right-side row, you work it the same as the first right-side row, but you slip the stitches you previously knitted. In this, it bears some similarity to Moss Stitch. I think it gives quite a pretty effect, with the wrapping of the slipped stitches mimicing a woven fabric. You can see this comparing the bottom couple of rows in my photo (where you can clearly see the yarn carried horizontally in front of the stitch) with the woven background material.
Another idea I’ve had for strengthening the heel area is to work that part on a smaller needle than the main sock. This would be possible because for the heel flap and cup, you are only working on the half of the stitches which form the back of the leg and bottom of the foot, resuming work on all the stitches once you’ve completed the heel turn. At that point it would be practical to return to the usual size of needles. I’m not doing it on this sock because I’ve only just thought of it, but it is an idea to experiment with, perhaps using the left-overs of some yarn from previous socks. An experiment would be needed because the change will affect the fit of the socks and that might be a good thing, but it might equally well be a very bad thing.
Given how quickly I’m zooming through this first sock, I wonder if this pair might be finished and ready to wear at upcoming February celebrations.