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Home : Community : Customer Gallery : Turning the Heel

Customer Projects - Get Inspired

Would you like to share a project that you have made from our yarns or our patterns?   Hundreds of thousands of people who care about your favorite craft will see your work.  Any submissions, particularly original ones are welcome, as long as the project was made from Lion Brand Yarn. 

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Turning the Heel
Created By: Kay Mickel

Turning the Heel

Some people suspect that women who knit are sexually frustrated, and I don’t know if my Mom is, or was…but she did…knit that is. In a time when it was unfashionable to knit, Mom knitted. And though it has always been unfashionable to want to be like your mother, I knitted too.

We were not poor, but being thrifty most of Mom’s yarn stash was leftovers from the giveaway box at the church, unfinished projects from friends who had decided that knitting was even more frustrating than sex, or odd lots from the bargain bin at the 5 & dime. Getting satisfaction from making something out of nothing is also a trait that I inherited.

Consequently, baby afghans, sweaters, shawls, and even socks almost always emerged from her flying fingers in wild bright old lady colors that I hated. Hot pink, putrid puce, gross greens, browns and lots of reds and yellow stripes. She knit them and I wore them but became much more selective about the color choices for my own projects.

In high school I knitted a pair of heather grey argyle socks for my boyfriend who was going off to college. I selected baby blue angora for the pattern of crossed lines and diamond shaped squares. Unfortunately when he tried them on the diamond of fluffy blue angora was exactly over his ankle bone. It looked like he had a disease or that perhaps he was heading off to clown college instead of UCLA. We broke up.

Some people ignore women who knit. They seem so self-contained, calm, and willing to spend their time concentrating on the stitch, the rhythm, the pattern, and only dropping back into the world to mind the children, nod to the husband, or catch the news on the television. Knitting would be a meditation if gurus did it, and an Olympic sport if men did it.

The Christmas after Katrina happened I knit about 15 pair of red, and shades of pink variegated socks for all my fellow Red Cross volunteers. I had fun with the packaging too. I placed several pairs of the socks on my color printer and created paper that I glued onto the tops of some Chinese take out type boxes available at the craft store. I also made a pair of camouflage colored socks with a red beaded Red Cross logo on the sides. That pair was auctioned off at a Red Cross fund raiser. I have a theory that variegated yarn was created mainly for the entertainment of the knitter; but the Katrina socks were a big hit and I learned something in the process about life.

Most anyone can knit a tube sock, but the fun part of proper sock knitting is the process of turning the heel. It is a mathematical, and geometric mini miracle; hard to explain to non-knitters or husbands. I marvel at the mind who first perfected the transitional turning from ankle to instep. She, (probably a she) should have nearly as much credit as Betsy Ross, or Heidi Klum for fashion forward thinking.

After successfully turning a heel there is a knitter’s high that lasts until the somewhat lesser but still good feeling when the sock is long enough and you can begin the decrease process at the toe. Wow! You’ve changed the direction of the garment at the proper turning place and then reached your goal. The sock bursts free of the four double-pointed needles and the hands that created it. If it is the first of a pair you absolutely must at least cast on the stitches for the second sock immediately. The second sock is not so much fun as the first; but is a good discipline that matures you as a person.

The life lesson is all about negotiating a change in direction, doing it with some finesse, perhaps even calculating, and allowing your self the glow in the process. The sock now fits the anatomy of the foot, and the change of direction in your life gives you the head start in achieving your ultimate goal: a pair of warm comfy socks that fit, and/or a fresh new direction for your life.

At ninety-three Mom was nearly blind and could only crochet. One fairly large hook, an abundance of soft light colored baby yarns I’d buy for her, and a ripple pattern fused in her brain. She’d sit with a black cloth draped on her lap underneath her work to increase the contrast and was kept quite happy making baby afghans which we’d donate to the local women’s shelter. A few of them we’ve saved for her future great, great, great, grandchildren yet unborn.

Because she was more or less house bound I’d select the colors one of her baby afghans actually won a Blue Ribbon and the People’s Choice Award at the County Fair. I must admit I did coax a few of my friends to come into the needle work area, told them that my 90 year old mom had made it….yada, yada. She was thrilled.

We failed to keep track of exactly which afghan was her last, but now at sixty-seven with ovarian cancer narrowing my world I’ve found contentment and yes even joy in using my Mom’s hooks and needles to create hats, scarves, socks and sweaters that will be here long after I am gone.

If you are a non-knitter, you probably stopped reading long ago…but we knitters get it and that’s all that matters.


Note:Photo is of my Mom, me, and my two grandsons. The youngest one,Porter, has one of mom's Ripple baby blankets draped over his shoulders. I think he has conned her out of about seven blankets so far.

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