Cat Bordhi Syndrome

4 Mar

My new socks are quite plain, but they feature Cat Bordhi's sweet tomato heel technique.

As I made my way through the Spring 2012 issue of Sockupied, I was struck by an illness: Cat Bordhi Syndrome. This affliction – characterized by the immediate casting on of a new project to test one of Bordhi’s ingenious techniques – can derail even the most committed monogamous knitter from their project at hand. As was the case with my Gansey Clock Socks (not pictured because they’re not done.)

The technique that sent me digging through my stash for some unspoken-for sock yarn is the new Sweet Tomato Heel. This is a short-row technique that uses multiple gentle sloping wedges with no wraps – rather than the standard two steep wedges with wrapped stitches – to create a fat, round heel. I hate wrapping stitches, and I don’t care much for the way short-row heels don’t shape the gusset, but the Sweet Tomato Heels were a spark of inspiration. I had to try them. Immediately.

So, right before Parks and Recreation started on NBC Thursday night I found my Blue Moon Fiber Arts Hand Painted Sock Candy. This yarn was a gift from my mom about a year ago, and I used its mate to make her some socks this Christmas, but in a different colorway. This bout of Cat Bordhi Syndrome was also the motivation I needed to finally locate my US 1.5 Addi Turbo 32″ circulars that have been missing for months and holding up other, less innovative projects.

I cast on 58 stitches (I have small feet, the yarn is sport-weight, and the needles are fatter than usual) and started working a twisted rib cuff. I know the ktbl1, p1 cuff isn’t as snug as the k2, p2, but I’ve been holding off on using this yarn for a great pattern and I wanted them to be pretty, not just functional.

When it came to the leg, I just went with plain old stockinette. Did you know that I don’t have a single pair of plain stockinette socks? I was really charmed with the simplicity, ease and the way the color of the yarn really shined with the basic stitches.

I turned the first heel before the end of the evening, and after a 7″ leg I thought that was pretty good. I was highly motivated by my Cat Bordhi Syndrome. I had to watch the tutorial video in Sockupied again as I worked the first wedge of the Sweet Tomato Heel, but then I had it down pat. The way the color swirled to a point for each wedge is amazing. I’m so happy I used a hand-painted yarn for this pattern!

I finished my first sock the next day, and as Cat Bordhi Syndrome is stronger than Second Sock Syndrome, I immediately cast on for the other. Unprecedented!

As it went, I finished my second sock last night at about midnight, including weaving in ends from attaching a new ball of yarn and grafting the toe. I couldn’t even wait until morning to model them, and went downstairs in the horrible light to take some final shots.

Essentially, I love these socks. Like Elizabeth Bennet to Mr. Darcy, they have bewitched me. Okay, not nearly that romantic, but you get the point. They fit wonderfully, the yarn is soft and thick, and the colors only pooled in the best ways. Obviously Cat Bordhi Syndrome is accompanied by a great deal of luck.

I will definitely use this heel again when possible. It could easily be incorporated into any pattern where the heel doesn’t require some stitch pattern. I will continue to play with the number of wedges I use. I think these socks might have fit a teeny bit better if I’d added another half a wedge, but since they fit great now, I won’t dwell on it.

As I recover from my Cat Bordhi Syndrome (and cope with my real-life cold) I encourage you all to take a look at the Sweet Tomato Heel Socks e-book and explore this awesome new technique!

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Hand Painted Sock Candy is unavailable right now.

Project Details

Simple Sweet Tomato Heel Socks

Pattern: Improvised plain stockinette with Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Hand Painted Sock Candy, sport-weight, 400 yds (I have 120 yds left!), colorway: Autumn

Needles: US 1.2 Addi Turbo 32″ circular

2 Responses to “Cat Bordhi Syndrome”

  1. Robin Content 03/05/2012 at 5:37 PM #

    I stumbled into your blog because of a Google Alert I have set for “Cat Bordhi” — an alert that has led down many interesting paths. As a fan of Bordhi dating back to her Socks Soar and Moebius publications, I naturally subscribed to her new eBook and have been thinking about, but not knitting, the tomato heel.
    As luck would have it, I also have a skein of Blue Moon Sock Candy (Plum Crazy colorway) that I purchased — last one on the rack — at Sock Summit last year. Have swatched it occasionally but never came up with an idea worthy of the yarn until I read your column today. I’ll return to the swatch as soon as I can free up some needle time and tackle my own version — probably inspired by the 3×1 rib popularized by Kate Atherley in her wonderful Wise Hilda blog.
    Thank you so much for the idea — and for a delightful blog. I plan to check out several of your other posts.

    • bpallares 03/05/2012 at 6:48 PM #

      Thank you for the lovely comment! I’m happy that my post has been an inspiration, and I know you’ll love your socks.

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