Saturday, March 28, 2015

Getting the Feet Covered

One day last fall we were getting ready to head out for a walk. I put on my hiking sandals and heard a weird flapping sound. I looked at the bottom of the shoe and my heart sank.
 I was really surprised to see this because these were new when we left and they lasted only 6 or 7 months! In the past I've had Nikes that I bought "hardly used" online and they've lasted for years!  I practically live in my hiking sandals. When I am inside I take them off and put on my slippers. I put a lot of miles on my shoes so I figure if I don't wear them inside I can make them last a little bit longer. I didn't plan on this though! I don't do well with regular closed shoes. I can wear them, depending on the shoe, but they are not as  comfortable to wear or to walk in--I get blisters easily and prefer shoes with no backs at all. For walking longer distances a back strap is useful so years ago when I stopped driving and started walking everywhere, I bought a pair of hiking sandals and never looked back. They are comfortable, provide the right amount of arch support, and do not hurt my feet or give me blisters. I learned that if I wear them in winter with layered socks, preferably one pair with mohair toes, my feet actually stay warmer than they do in boots. They also stay dry. So I wear my sandals and make sure I have a good sock wardrobe that contains socks of varying thicknesses and fibers.

Anyway, I was stuck. The shoe stores here did not have any hiking sandals available at that point, though they had appeared briefly last summer when I did not need them. The shoes they sell are pretty ridiculous and are not shoes that are functional in the least, so buying something locally was out. We looked online and couldn't find anything. We tried an emergency fix of the sandals.
The tape on the left shoe came off during a subsequent walk, but I was able to make it home anyway.

Luckily, just before we left Maine, a friend of mine gave me some shoes she'd bought for herself but knew she would never wear. They are good shoes in a Mary Jane kind of style. Even though they had a back, there was an adjustable strap and the leather in the back was soft, so while I did get a little blister when I started wearing them, it wasn't bad and I soon adjusted. They are very comfortable to kick around in, but aren't made for long walks or hikes. Still, they worked well throughout the winter and I was glad I had them.

We haven't been doing much walking anyway since Bill's been down for a month and a half now, but I knew that we'd be walking once again eventually and was hoping that by now I could find something online. I looked in the local shoe stores again first, but they had the usual silly shoes. This time I found what I needed online--they arrived the other day.
They are Timberland. Bill has Timberland boots and he loves them. They seem to be made well and they last, so I hope these sandals work out. They had some Tevas online in my size, but I was hesitant to buy more of those, given how quickly the last pair fell apart. I still have them and if we can find a shoe repair place, I will see if they can be glued.

I try to buy things used and in the past have had good luck finding shoes that people bought, wore once or twice if at all, did not like, so put them up for sale. I had to buy these new from a shoe outlet in Germany. I wasn't pleased about this and I did hesitate because of my commitment to buying used whenever possible. Upon reflection I decided that my shoes are sort of like tires on a car--with the amount of walking that I do, I need good shoes that are fit for purpose. I will probably buy some hiking boots within the next few months for those hikes that require such things. Those I will need to try on before buying and there is an outdoor store here that looks like they will have something, so at least I might be able to buy local for those. I hate this kind of thing--can't imagine why people shop for fun!

Since I do require such an extensive sock wardrobe, I have a great excuse to make socks of various sorts and I finished a pair last night.
Here are the instructions:
Ribbed Knit Socks

I used size 1 needles for the cuff and switched to size 0 when I got to the heel flap. I am a loose knitter. If you are a tight knitter, you might want to use the size 1 throughout or go up a needle size. I made these to fit my size 9ish feet and used less than 437 yards for the pair--I had quite a bit of yarn left from the skein. If you prefer a longer cuff or a larger sock, you will use more yarn. A shorter cuff and/or smaller sock will use less.

ssk: sl 1 as if to k, sl 1 as if to p, slide left hand needle through front of 2 slipped sts, wrap yarn around right hand needle and knit off

CO 68 stitches and divide onto 3 needles (I did 24, 24, and 20). Join, being careful not to twist stitches.

Knit one round.

Work in k2, p2 rib until cuff is as long as you want it.

Divide for heel:
--k 34 sts onto one needle.
--k7,p2, k7,p2 onto next needle
--k7, p2, k7 onto next needle (these two last needles are your instep stitches)

Heel flap:
Working back and forth on needle with 34 sts, (sl 1, k1) across, turn
--sl1, then purl remaining sts across, turn
-- (sl 1, k1) across, turn
--sl 1, purl remaining sts across, turn
Repeat previous 2 rows until you have completed 34 rows, ending with a purl row. Turn.

Turn the heel:
--sl 1, k18, ssk, k1, turn
--sl 1, p 5, p2tog, p1, turn
--sl1, k to within one st of gap, ssk over gap, k1, turn
--sl 1, p to within one st of gap, p2tog over gap, p1, turn
Repeat previous 2 rows until you have 20 sts remaining on needle.

Combine instep stitches onto one needle.

--K 10 stitches from heel flap onto one needle.
--K remaining 10 heel flap stitches onto another needle and then on same needle, pick up 17 stitches along side of heel flap.
--On instep sts, k 7, p2, k7, p2, k7, p2, k7
--With empty needle, pick up 17 sts along other side of heel flap, then on same needle, k the 10 stitches off the last needle.

Now you will decrease only on the two needles with the picked up stitches and work even on the instep.
First round:
First needle: k all sts
Second needle: k7, p2, k7, p2, k7, p2, k7
Third needle: k all sts
Second round:
First needle: k all sts to within 3 of end, k2tog, k last st
Second needle: k the k sts and p the p sts
Third needle: k1, ssk, k remaining sts

Repeat these two rounds until you are back to the original 68 sts, with 17 sts on needles 1 and 3 and 34 instep sts on needle 2.

Now work even until the foot is 2 inches shorter than the desired length:
First needle: k all sts
Second needle: k7, p2, k7, p2, k7, p2, k7
Third needle: k all sts

Toe decreases:
First round:
First needle: k all sts to within 3 of end, k2tog, k last st
Second needle: k1, ssk, k to within 3 of end, k2tog, k last st
Third needle: k1, ssk, k remaining sts

Second round:
k all sts on each needle

Alternate the previous two rounds until you have 5 sts left on needles 1 and 3 and 10 on needle 2.
You will end after needle 3, so knit the 5 stitches from needle 1 onto same needle. Cut yarn, leaving a long tail. Thread tail into tapestry needle and graft the toe. If you search for “kitchener stitch” online, there will be videos and tutorials if you want/need them. You could also do a couple more rounds of decreases without the  k round in between, weave your tail through the few remaining stitches and pull closed, but this might leave a hard lump.

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