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.
1. 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. A short row heel is knit identically whether you’re going top down or toe up.
Narrow or wide heel? A few extra short rows make a narrower heel back, a few less make a wider one.
2. 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.
The after thought heel looks quite a lot like a short row heel, and you can tweak it in the same way!
3. 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.
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.