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.
The 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.
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 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.
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.