Following on from this post a few years ago, I thought it would be fun to look again at mending socks by cutting and grafting your knitting.
There are lots of ways to fix a worn heel, but one method that works for most situations is to cut out that wedge of fabric and start from scratch with two tubes that will be grafted back together with kitchener stitch.
I want to replace a short row heel with a heel flap and gusset. The contrast yarn has worn quite thin and I prefer the fit of a deeper heel - it also helps to lengthen the toe and cuff, which I knit a bit short on this pair.
To do this cut two rounds of stitches, one above the heel and one below: pick up the right leg of the stitches with your needles, DPNs or circular. You can start anywhere just take care to stay on the same row and not miss any stitches. If you veer off track though, it's ok, you can fix it later.
Cut into a stitch on the round below the needle and start to unravel the stitches back to the live round.
I did veer off track so slid the needle back to pick up the loose stitches. You might find they're a little felted together, so use a separate needle to break any strands between the loops and they'll move more easily. This is the cuff tube!
Re-arrange the stitches ready to work the new heel. I didn't have any of the pink yarn left so used some lovely Loom BFL Sock in the Sorrel colourway - a bold contrast, it's cosy and hard wearing. This is the heel pattern I like to use: Susan B Anderson's heel flap and gusset.
Once the new heel is finished, arrange the stitches onto two needles, making sure to centre the heel ready for grafting.
For the toe tube, I chose to cut straight into a round of stitches rather than pick them up with a needle. You could also do this above if you prefer. Unravel to detach the heel and frog any extra rows back to the same round.
Pick up the live stitches from back to front so they are orientated the correct way, and arrange them onto two needles. Make sure to centre the toe decreases and move the working yarn to the end of the needle. The toe is now ready to graft!
Butt the two sets of needles up against each other. You will graft the top two needles together, then turn around and graft the bottom two needles.
Cut a long tail of the new heel yarn, thread it onto a darning needle and start to work Kitchener stitch. As this is grafting in the round, there's no need to work set up stitches. See the video above for more detail on this step.
- Place a removable marker on the first stitch of the front needle, and the first stitch of the back needle to help finish the sequence at the end of the round.
- Hold the two working needles close together and let the other set hang out of the way. Once you get a few stitches in, it will get easier.
- Remember the sequence 'knit, off, purl - purl, off knit' and chant it as you go!
- Avoid moving the stitches and needles too much to keep things neat, small movements are best.
- Pull the yarn through tightly as you go. Too tight is better than too loose and blocking will always even out the join.
When you get to the end of the first set of needles and have one stitch left on each, slide them to the opposite end and pass them onto the respective needles at the back of the work - continue grafting in the same sequence.
When you get to the end of the round and have one stitch left on each needle, start the sequence 'knit, off - then lift the front stitch marker to work the final purl' and draw the yarn through, discard the DPN. On the back needle 'purl, off - lift the stitch marker to work the final knit' and draw the yarn through.
Remove the stitch markers, weave the ends in and you're done! It's worthwhile wet blocking now to set the stitches and even out the tension between the joins.
Happy sock knitting, friends! Please let me know your favourite mending tricks. ⭐️