4 Ways To Knit a Sock Heel
Knit a pair of socks, but they don’t fit perfectly? Looking for heel that won’t upset a pattern? Elizabeth Bagwell covers 4 ways to turn a heel.
Socks start out as a tube, and heels are the way they turn the corner, making them foot shaped. Sure, you can knit a tube sock, which relies on the stretch in knitting to deal with the problem, but if you want a better fit, you need a better heel. Here are a few to try.
Short row heel
This style looks most like the commercially made socks you can buy at the mall. It’s created on half the total stitches. Work back and forth in short rows (see below) until about ¼ of the cast on stitches (i.e. half of the half you’re using) are left unworked. Amy’s guide explains the wrap-and-turn method used in most patterns, while this heel walkthrough uses no-wrap short rows which are simple and quicker.
Tweak it: a few extra short rows make a narrower heel back, a few less make a wider one
Pro tip: a short row heel is knit identically whether you’re going top down or toe up.
You’ll see this one a lot on hand knit sock patterns, including in Amy’s recent sock walkthrough. Working over half your cast on stitches, you knit a long flap (typically as many rows as your cast on). Create a bend at the bottom and pick up stitches down the sides of the flap. Go back to working all the stitches (not just half) and decrease back down to your cast on number and you’re done. This heel carefully mimics the shape of the human foot.
Tweak it: use a knit one, slip one pattern for a tighter heel back or rib for more stretch.
After thought heels
These are knit after the main sock. You knit the whole sock and then go back and cut (yes, cut!) a stitch to unravel half a row. This gives you live stitches on both sides of the heel. Pick them all up, and knit the heel in the round, doing a double decrease on each side of the foot until you’ve got about half the stitches left. You then graft or Kitchener these shut, just like for a simple sock toe.
Tweak it: This heel looks quite a lot like a short row heel, and you can tweak it in the same way. Lynn Hershberger has more tweak suggestions at her blog, ColorJoy.
Simulated heel flap
Instead of actually knitting a heel flap, you can fake it. Working in the round over all the stitches you cast on, increase at either side of the sock. Do this every other round for about as many rounds as you have cast on stitches. Then, working over half the stitches, do a heel turn as for any heel flap sock. Continue decreasing at each edge of the heel turn until you’re back to your cast on number. Katherine Misegades talks you through it step by step.
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Last updated: June 22nd, 2015.