AD heels

How to Choose Your Sock Heel

AD heels

When knitting socks there are a lot of options. You can work your socks on double points, magic loop, or two circulars. You can knit one at a time, two at a time, or two at a time with one nested inside the other. You can choose to knit toe up, top down, side to side, or from the heel out.

Today’s post is about the heel of your sock. This is a part of your sock that takes a lot of wear, and is critical in the comfort and the fit of your sock. To become a true sock expert we encourage you to try as many sock constructions as you can–and we’re here to help you review some of the options! All of the options we cover today were worked from the bottom up, as if you were working a toe-up sock. However, there are top-down equivalents for all of the techniques.

Afterthought Heel

afterthoughtThe afterthought heel allows you to knit the whole sock as a tube, then work the heel afterwards.
Pro: It makes knitting your sock super easy–whether you’re working from the toe or from the cuff  90% of your sock will just be knitting without any shaping.
Con: It’s not the most comfortable heel, and has a tendency to slip off the foot.
A great tutorial from The Yarn Harlot on the afterthought heel, and another one from Knitting Up A Storm.

Heel Flap


A sock with a heel flap is the classic knit sock. You can work a slip stitch pattern on the flap to make it even more durable.
Pro: Fits well and it’s easy to customize and work a pattern on the heel.
Con: If you’re working with a self striping yarn the yarn will pool on the heel.
Here’s a great tutorial from Miriam Felton on creating a better fitting toe-up heel flap, and here’s one from Knit Better Socks on how to work a top-down heel flap.

Short Row Heel


The short row heel is a quick and easy heel that doesn’t require a gusset. That means it’ll probably be faster to knit. The fit is usually more comfortable than an afterthought heel.

Pro: It’s fast and fairly simple to work, there are many variations so you’re sure to find a technique that works for you.
Con: It tends to create holes in the heel, and is less sturdy than a heel flap.
Here’s a detailed tutorial on working a short row heel on a top-down sock from Laura Chau. Here’s a no wrap version of the short row heel from Happy Knits.

Fleegle’s Heel


Fleegle’s heel is a combination of the short row heel and the traditional heel flap.
Pro: Fleegle’s heel is more subtle in look than the heel flap and provides a heel without holes.
Con: Following the directions is not for the beginner knitter, we recommend knitting a more traditional sock before trying Fleegle’s heel.

Fleegle’s guide to her toe-up no-flap, no-hassle heel, and here a guide to working the heel from the top-down by Knitters Brewing Co.

We’d love to hear about your favorite sock heel! Leave us a comment and tell which of these is your favorite, or if there’s another technique you prefer.

20 thoughts on “How to Choose Your Sock Heel

  1. I like use the short row shaping a lot but I have also had good success using a heel construction found in Cat Bordhi’s “Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters.” You just have to be careful in closing your seam at the back or it will rub on the heel.

  2. The gusset on the fleegle heel has the increases going the wrong way. 😛

    My favorite heel was first described by Lumi in her blog as a version of the yoyo heel. It was later fleshed out by a lady on Ravelry and called the Fish Lips Kiss Heel. An excellent way to do a short row heel, eliminating holes.

    1. Bonnie,
      That’s another great heel. Maybe we need to do a part two? Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel is another great one that we haven’t covered yet.

  3. You made the gusset on your fleegle heel on the wrong side. The increases should be made on the bottom half of the sock, not the top half. (same as a toe-up heel flap heel)

    Also, the fleegle sock was my first sock pattern I followed and I found it very easy. Way easier than flap and short row heels I tried later. It was a great intro to sock construction.

    The strong heel is the same heel, but worked top down.

  4. What about Wendy D Johnson’s heel with a difference? Where the gusset is on the bottom of your heel? Or the boot strap heel? Oh just do a part 2 and make us all very happy! :-)

  5. I’ve been using the fish lips kiss heel lately, and love it. My very first heel was the fleegle heel, so not sure why it’s not recommended for beginner knitters (btw, my first pair of socks was my second knit project, after a shawl). I’ve also tried the heel flap, which I hated.

  6. I’ve been making socks for 20+ years. The sturdiest is a flap heel in a heel stitch continued through the heel turning. I use wooly nylon to reinforce the flap. Then 1×1 ribbing under the foot until the gusset decreases are finished. The ribbing makes the sock hug the foot at the heel. This formula fits most of my family best. The one odd man out has a blocky ankle and prefers the short row, no wrap heel Percilla Gibson Roberts wrote up. Socks wear out at heels, the ball of the foot and the toes. All three can be forestalled by making sure the foot is long enough. Reknitting the foot or toe of a holey socks is much easier for me when a sock is made from the top down.

Leave a Reply