A while back I set myself the goal of exploring different ways to knit socks. The pair of socks I showed you in Tuesday’s post about my homemade sock blocker were knitted with a Balbriggan heel and are the first of these explorations.
The name Balbriggan comes from Balbriggan stockings, which were made in the 19th century at the Smith’s Stocking Mill in Balbriggan; a fishing village in Ireland.
So what is the Balbriggan Heel?
The Balbrigan heel is worked over half the total number of stitches. After knitting the heel flap, a very shallow heel turn is made by decreasing four stitches in every other row.
The remaining heel stitches are grafted together with Kitchener stitch.
Stiches are then picked up around the bottom and both sides of the heel.
Gusset decreases are then made, before you knit on with the rest of the foot…
What I like about the Balbriggan Heel
- This was a nice quick, simple, intuitive heel to knit.
- I like Kitchener stitch, so was happy working that – but if you don’t, maybe this isn’t the heel for you.
- There was a very small gusset – on even smaller sizes there would be no gusset, but a bigger gusset on bigger sizes. I don’t mind knitting gussets, but less gusset means you get back more quickly to not having to think about what you’re knitting.
- Having a gusset – if you have one – makes it a better fitted sock than heels without one, such as the short row heel.
What I (might) not like about the Balbriggan Heel
Although I enjoyed knitting them, I haven’t yet* worn my Balbriggan heel socks, so the dislikes are all potential dislikes:
- The heel cup is short so may not sit so well on the heel.
- There is inevitably a slight ridge where the stitches are picked up across the bottom of the heel. I don’t think it’s enough to be troublesome, but I have very sensitive feet, so if it’s a problem I’ll know.
The other thing I’ve been loving is the yarn I’ve been knitting these socks in. It’s Bergere de France’s sock yarn, Goomy. On the whole I’ve not been very impressed with their yarns, but this is a real joy to knit and according to Donna at the Woolly Beader – my LYS – it’s a joy to wear and hardwearing too. It certainly feels like it’s going to be a lovely sock to wear.
*Update 03/07/16 – Having worn these socks several times, I’m pleased to report that this heel fits my foot really well and is very comfortable 🙂