After much humming and hawing, I have decided to post about my new "unvention" (as Elizabeth Zimmerman says). Finding photographs of the Afterthought Heel online made a dramatic difference in how I approached sock knitting. I adopted that method immediately, and have used it in every sock since.
Not only do I love the way the Afterthought Heel fits, I also (and especially) love the versatility it brings to my sock knitting. Using an Afterthought Heel allows me to knit either top down or bottom up, to add as much patterning as I want, or to just do plain stocking stitch, without having to worry about any shaping.
Having made this dramatic change to my sock knitting approach then got me thinking: what if I took a similar approach to toes? So, the Precursor Toe was born. Now, I knit both toe areas before I start the body of my socks. I can pop them in my knitting bag, along with a circular needle for magic loop knitting, and go. When I'm ready, the fiddly bit (toe shaping) is already finished, and all I have to do is pick up the stitches and knit the sock body.
Yippee! Freedom from sock knitting stress! I knit the toes at home, one after the other, when I can pay attention to my knitting. The body is then knitted on the go (great for traveling), and I can knit until I have finished my yarn. Putting in the heels is the last step, and can again be done when I can apply my full attention to it. No more Second Sock Syndrome. No more trying to count toe or heel shaping from the first sock, and match it to the second, while distractions make attentiveness impossible. Easy Peesy, as my brother would say.
The Precursor Toe will now be my sock knitting method of choice. I love it!