I thought of another way to illustrate the helical path of stripes: I wound a length of stripy grosgrain ribbon around a roll of paper towels.
Think of your vertical color repeat: if you’re using two balls of yarn, it’s two stitches high; three balls, three stitches, and so on. If you’re playing with grosgrain ribbon, it’s the thickness of the ribbon. As you knit your sock, your vertical color repeat wraps around as one entity – the stripes never cross one another, and the edges abut. Where I sliced my ribbon at a shallow angle – that’s where you would introduce all the different colors at the onset of the spiral (and remove them at the end of your work). The idea of attaching the yarns at equal intervals would necessitate an even shallower cut, of course.
Question: I really, honestly don’t need to twist the yarns?
Answer: Please don’t ;). Twisting the yarns will change the order of your stripes. I’d need to cut up my ribbon along its length to demonstrate twisting, and I don’t want to do that ;). Just go with the flow, and always pick up the lowest available strand – no twisting and no holes!
Question: How do I make stripes which are more than 1 row thick?
Answer: By attaching several balls of yarn of the same color, one right after the other. The number of balls equals the height of the stripe – 2 stitches high needs 2 balls, 3 stitches high needs 3 balls, and so on.
Question: Are you seriously going to stick a heel in there somewhere?
Answer: It wouldn’t be a sock without one!
First, identify your heel stitches. As you know, this is typically half of the total number of stitches. If you’re using dpns, some people like to put the heel over needles 1 & 4. Others like the heel over 3 & 4. It really doesn’t matter: just decide which ones will belong to the heel.
Next, knit your spiral such that the heel yarn (the yarn with which you’ll knit the heel) is on the left side of the heel stitches AND the other yarns, however many you’re using, are not. You don’t want your other yarns to be in the middle of the heel, either. You’ll be working back and forth over the heel stitches using the heel yarn, and you don’t want to trap any of your other working yarns in the process.
Here you see the heel yarn (B for Blackberry) hanging on the left side of the heel stitches. At the point the photo was taken, I was about to turn my work and purl back, thus starting my short-row heel. Note: all the heel stitches are currently blackberry – you probably can’t see this, I’m going to ask for your trust on this one. Depending on the instructions you follow, you can count this as the first row of the heel. Of course, no other yarns are in the way, so I can proceed full steam ahead!
Fast forward 30 minutes…
What I want you to see is that (wouldn’t you know it?!?) the yarns are in exactly the same positions as they were before I started! So, what more is there to say? As you were, comrades! You’ve successfully inserted a heel, and now you continue knitting as though nothing happened!
Question: How does it work when you get to the end of the tube?
Answer: Same as the beginning! I will abandon each strand in turn, spacing them out evenly over the circumference of the sock. I will tidy up any holes by carefully weaving in my ends. But I’m getting ahead of myself here ;).
Before I go ahead and finish the sock, do you want me to take out the short-row heel and show you how to finesse a flap heel into this colorful contraption? You can do it without breaking any yarns – it just requires a certain set-up so everything flows correctly.