This week I ramble about short-row toe-up socks, and my own version, which uses a thumb-joint heel, and share a worksheet for making them.
Wendy Knits, who has been kind enough to appear on this show, has a myriad of free, wonderful sock patterns. My current favorites are her Toe-up Socks With a Difference, Wendy's Generic Toe-Up Sock, and, just for a change, Temptation Top-Down Socks.
If you read Wendy's Generic Toe-Up Sock pattern, you'll see that she suggests a toe where the narrowest part of the sock's toe is 50 percent of the width of the foot, which is already half of the circumference. So, if you have a sock foot that is 48 stitches around, your toe is 48 / 2 = 24 stitches wide, and you will work your short-rows until you have 6 stitches held in short-rows on one side, 12 live stitches in the middle, and 6 more stitches held in short-rows on the other side of the work. That sounds good to me, and I have kind of wide feet, but the great thing about starting a sock from the toe, with short-rows, is that you can experiment with very little risk. If you try, say, leaving back just 4 stitches on each side (which would leave the narrowest part of the sock's toe at 67% of the width of the foot), your socks will have wider toes. If you try leaving back 8 stitches on each side (which would leave the narrowest part of the sock's toe at 33% of the width of the foot), your socks will have more pointy toes.
If you don't like what you have tried, you can always just tear it out and try again. I know that is true, ultimately, of any knitting, but I always feel better about it when it is done under the following conditions.
1) The sacrificial piece of knitting didn't take long to make.
2) It also was at the beginning of a project, so I can always abandon it completely if I am really annoyed.
For more information on working short rows, please see Math4Knitters, Crafty Living: Show 11, when I linked to and talked about short rows more extensively.
The thumb-joint heel, along with a lot more, is described in Ethnic Socks and Stockings by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. I love this particular heel because it really fits my foot well. Basically, you prepare as you would for any other afterthought heel. You can either leave a strand of waste yarn as you go for the heel's hole, or you can finish the sock, then come back and snip the position you want for the heel.
After you have either pulled out the waste yarn or pulled back to make space for your heel and picked up your stitches, you then knit straight out from the foot until the piece you have made is as deep as the distance from the tip of the thumb to the first joint of the thumb of the sock's recipient. Lastly, you decrease by 4 stitches every round, or 8 stitches every other round, until you have 4 stitches left. (If the number of heel stitches you have is not divisible by 8, you will have to deal with remainder stitches by decreasing them away first.) Break your yarn and draw through the remaining stitches. Darn in all ends.
If you really want to get into designing your own socks from scratch, I highly suggest Cat Bordhi's new book. She is really amazing. She has reignited my interest in sock knitting.
Ethnic Socks and Stockings by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts (it appears to be out of print again, curses!)