Today I was working on Alpaca Socks #2 and I did something that I have always done, but the last time I did it was on the boat, and the person sitting next to me said, "What are you doing?!"
I do an apparently unique little thing to help me see if I have made enough rows in my sock heel flaps, and now that I think of it, anytime I do it and someone sees me, it is something they stop and ask about and are happy to have learned the technique. So I decided I should just share it with you.
When I do a sock heel flap, I usually am working over 1/2 the stitches used in the sock leg. Lets say it is a 60 stitch sock on fingering weight yarn with size 2 needles. Over those 60 sts, I work a 2 row pattern of slip one, knit one across the row, followed by slip one, and purl back across the rest of the row. I want to pick up 1/4 of the total number of sock stitches when I pick up stitches along the side of the heel flap, so in this case I want to pick up 15 stitches. So, I want to knit 30 rows in my heel flap, which would create 15 slipped stitches on either side of the heel flap. So far this is typical heel flap stuff, right?
Now comes the trick. Sometimes it is hard to see, or count the rows in the heel flap, due to either bad lighting, age, drunkeness, sugar high, blah blah blah. I noticed the inside of the heel flap had the nice little slipped stitch loops of yarn from the row where you slip one, knit one across. I found I could just slide my free needle up through the yarn loops, and then I could easily count how many rows I had -- two rows for every slip-stitch loop. Or, one stitch to pick up for every slip-stitch loop. Therefore, when I can count 15 slip-stitch loops on the needle that I slide up through them, it is time to turn the heel.
I took a picture to show this, but it was on my cell phone camera, so it is pretty fuzzy. (I'll try to take a clearer picture the next time I make a heel flap.) Hopefully it will show what I mean:
You can count that I only have 11 loops on the needle; I need 4 more, so I have 8 more rows to knit. One other advantage of counting the heel flap rows this way is that you can feel the loops on the needle as well as see them, and that can really help sometimes.
I hope this little trick helps you count your heel flap rows; I think I made this little trick up on my own. It's one of the few things I "discovered", and didn't just read somewhere or see someone else do first, so I feel all happy about it. Have fun :)