partially knit sock with 2 balls of yarn above it

December Sock KAL: On to the Heel

Turning a heel is the magic part about sock knitting. It takes a plain old tube of knitting and turns it right around a corner. The first time you do it you feel like a knitting magician!


partially knit sock with 2 balls of yarn above it

In the sock I’m knitting I use a basic top-down heel flap. I’ve got 2 reasons for doing this:

  1. I find it the easiest way to create a heel as it was the first method I learned.
  2. As I’ve got a high instep the gusset creates a well-fitted sock for me.

Heel One: Heel Flap

There are a few different steps to creating a top-down heel flap. I’ll list them below and how you and tweak them for your foot size.

  1. Working on just your back half of your stitches you will knit them straight down to form the heel flap. Typically you will work slip stitches at the start of every row as this creates a nice smooth way of picking up stitches afterwards. You will also slip every other stitch on the right side which creates a dense, cushioned fabric that’s durable and comfortable for the heel of your sock.
  2. When you reach the length of the heel flap you need you will now ‘turn your heel’. This works by knitting back and forth across the centre few stitches, decreasing before you turn every time.

highlighted spot for turning the heel

3. Once the heel flap had been turned you will now come to the final stage of finishing the heel. You will work across the heel stitches, pick up stitches all along the left side of the flap (where you slipped stitches), work across the instep and finally pick up stitches along the second side of the flap. Once this is done you’ll decrease on each side of the instep (as shown in the photo below) every other round. This is what creates that nice fitting gusset!

sock gusset

Heel 2: Short Row Heel

The second type of heel you can work is a short row heel. This is worked across the heel stitches, working from the widest point to the narrowest point of the heel, turning every stitch to create a new short row. Once the narrowest heel point is reached you will then begin working the short rows back out again. Usually, the yarnover short row method is used because as you work out every stitch will have 2 short rows worked on it and that method is the easiest way to work them.

short rows for heel

The standard short row heel doesn’t include any gusset. If you’re like me and have a high instep then this is an issue for fit. The way I’ve solved it when working a short row heel is to add a gusset in. Before I reach the short row heel I work several rounds where I increase along the gusset line every round. Then the short row heel is turned. When that’s finished I work gusset decreases more slowly every other round in the same way as for the heel flap sock.

Pattern Section for Our Sock:

Heel flap
Heel stitches will be worked flat using the circ needle. 34 (36, 40) Instep stitches will remain at the back on the cord of the circ needle.  If you rather, they could be transferred to a holder.
Set-Up Row 1 (RS): Remove m, k17 (18, 20), turn.
Set-Up Row 2 (WS): P34 (36, 40), turn.
Row 1 (RS): Sl 1 k-wise, *k1, sl 1 p-wise wyib; rep from * to last st, k1, turn.
Row 2 (WS): Sl 1 p-wise wyif, purl to end, turn.
Rep last 2 rows 15 (16, 18) more times. You will have 16 (17, 19) edge sl sts.
Turn Heel
Row 1 (RS): K19 (20, 22), ssk, k1, turn work. 1 st dec’d.
Row 2 (WS): Sl 1 p-wise wyif, p5, p2tog, p1, turn work. 1 st dec’d.
Row 3 (RS): Sl 1 p-wise wyib, knit to 1 st before gap formed by last turning, ssk, k1, turn. 1 st dec’d.
Row 4 (WS): Sl 1 p-wise, purl to 1 st before gap formed by last turning, p2tog, p1, turn. 1 st dec’d.
Rep last two rows (Rows 3 & 4) 5 (5, 6) more times. 8 (10, 12) sts dec’d.
Sizes Medium & Large ONLY
Row 5 (RS): Sl 1 p-wise, knit to 1 st before gap formed by last turning, ssk, turn. 1 st dec’d.
Row 6 (WS): Sl 1 p-wise, purl to 1 st before gap formed by last turning, p2tog, turn. – (20, 22) heel sts.

Heel Gusset
Sl 1 k-wise, k19 (19, 21) from heel, pick up and knit 16 (17, 19) sts up right side of heel flap (slipped sts), pick up and knit 1 st in gap, pm, k34 (36, 40) sts held for instep, pm, pick up and knit 1 st in gap, pick up and knit 16 (17, 19) sts down left side of heel flap, pm for start of rnd.  88 (94, 102) sts.
Dec Rnd: Knit to 3 sts before m, k2tog, k1, sl m, knit to m, sl m, k1, ssk, knit to end.  2 sts dec’d.
Next Rnd: Knit, slipping m when you pass.
Rep last 2 rnds 9 (10, 10) more times.  68 (72, 80) sts.

Next Rnd: Knit to next m, sl m (this will be new start of rnd), knit to end of rnd removing all other m.
Cont to work in st st until foot meas approx. 6.5 (7, 8)” / 16.5 (18, 20.5) cm from back of heel.
If you want to adjust foot length, work to desired length less 2 (2, 2.25)” / 5 (5, 5.5) cm for toe decreases.

Break Colour A.

How are you all getting on with your sock? Come share your progress on our FB group! Don’t forget that the final toe instalment will go live on Saturday 19th.

3 thoughts on “December Sock KAL: On to the Heel

  1. Being so busy this time of year (and a sick husband) can I purchase your sock pattern to use at a later date? Socks are one of my favorite knitting items, By the way, I have your tobouli sweater into the sleeves looking forward to its finish, Elaine

  2. Carol. thank you so much for the gifted sock pattern. I can’t wait to start it!! Have a Merry Christmas with your family and a safe new year.

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