Turn the Heel with Confidence
By Fred Hauck
Turning the heel and toe requires extra pull down force on the web at the front of the machine. Although the accessories furnished with the original sock machines are not as easy to use as the manuals imply, I have seen them used successfully by skilled operators. In many cases, operators use only the hand, or invent alternative methods to pull down the heel.
Heel forks developed by John Loeffelholz are a good alternative. Figures 1 and 2 show a fork bent into a heel hook. Weights may be attached to the fork handle if desired.
I developed a method to turn the heel by using only one heel fork. Referring to figure 3, a heel fork is shown inside the cylinder as the machine is set up to begin a heel. Rather than just pulling straight down on the fork, push the fork toward the center of the cylinder with the left hand, and pull down gently. The trick is to move the fork toward center of the cylinder, with or without the weight.
Begin by placing the fork on the web in the center of the heel and three inches below the cylinder top. Imagine the fork at one angle of a triangle. Arrows show the direction of the tension.
Before turning the crank to begin the heel, touch the web lightly with a finger at the back of the machine to feel the amount of tension on the web. The tension on the front, or the part that is knitting the heel, should be slightly tighter. Move your left hand in and out while feeling the tension on the front needles. You will find a position for your left hand where the tension is uniform across the front needles.
Monitor the tension on the heel as you knit by feeling it with a finger and adjusting the position of the fork for the most uniform tension. The fork can be moved up as fewer needles are knitting.
When doing the second half of the heel, begin with the fork at about 2 inches down from the cylinder top and adjust it's position according to the feel of the web, moving to the center of the cylinder as needed for uniform tension on the web.
There are various methods of lifting and lowering the needles to make a heel without leaving holes in the sock. Some are more reliable than others, and it is worth trying them, because sometimes one method works better depending on the make of machine or it's settings.
I offer Heel Forks without weights only.
Price per fork $6.00