Learn How to Knit a Heel

Learn How to Knit a Heel

Knitting a heel can be a challenging part of a knitting project, but with the right techniques and a little practice, you can knit a heel like a pro. Whether you’re knitting socks, slippers, or any other project that requires a heel, this step-by-step guide will walk you through the process.

Step 1: Set Up

Before you start knitting the heel, make sure you have all the necessary materials handy. You’ll need your knitting needles, your chosen yarn, a stitch marker, and a tapestry needle. It’s also important to have a basic understanding of knit and purl stitches.

Step 2: Pick Up Stitches

Once you’ve reached the point in your knitting where you need to start the heel, you’ll begin by picking up stitches along the edges of your work. This is done by inserting the needle into the edge stitch, wrapping the yarn around and pulling it through to create a new stitch. Continue picking up stitches until you have the desired number on each needle.

Step 3: Heel Flap

The heel flap is where you’ll be working a specific pattern to create the structure and shape of the heel. Most commonly, this is done by alternating between knitting and purling rows. The number of rows and stitches you’ll need to work will depend on the pattern you’re following or the size of the heel you’re knitting.

Step 4: Turn the Heel

Once the heel flap is complete, it’s time to turn the heel. This is done by working a series of short rows using a technique called “wrap and turn.” This involves wrapping the yarn around the stitch and turning the work to create a gap, which will later be closed.

Step 5: Gusset

The gusset is the area between the heel and the rest of the foot. Knitting the gusset involves creating new stitches and decreasing stitches to shape the foot. This is often done by picking up stitches along the side of the heel flap and decreasing stitches on either side of the instep.

With these step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to knit a heel like a pro and complete your knitting project with confidence. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a few attempts to get it right. Soon enough, you’ll be knitting heels effortlessly and achieving professional-looking results.

Understanding Basic Knitting Techniques

Before diving into knitting a heel, it is important to have a solid understanding of the basic knitting techniques. Familiarize yourself with these techniques to help you successfully complete your knitting project.

  • Cast On: This is the first step in starting any knitting project. You will create the initial stitches on your knitting needle using a variety of methods such as long tail cast on or knitted cast on.
  • Knit Stitch: The knit stitch is the most basic stitch in knitting where you insert the right needle through the front loop of the stitch on the left needle, wrap the yarn around the right needle, and pull it through the stitch to create a new stitch.
  • Purl Stitch: The purl stitch is another fundamental stitch in knitting. It is created by inserting the right needle through the back loop of the stitch on the left needle, wrapping the yarn around the right needle, and pulling it through the stitch to create a new stitch.
  • Stockinette Stitch: This stitch pattern is created by alternating rows of knit and purl stitches. The right side of the fabric will show the smooth knit stitches, while the wrong side will show the purl stitches.
  • Garter Stitch: Garter stitch is created by knitting every row. It creates a ridged texture and is commonly used for borders or as an all-over stitch pattern.
  • Decreases: Decreasing stitches is a technique used to shape your knitting. Common methods include knitting two stitches together (k2tog) or slipping a stitch, knitting the next stitch, and passing the slipped stitch over (ssk).
  • Increases: Increasing stitches is the opposite of decreasing and is used to add stitches and shape your knitting. Common methods include knitting into the front and back of a stitch (kfb) or making a yarn over (yo).
  • Binding Off: Also known as casting off, binding off is the final step in finishing your knitting project. It is done by knitting two stitches, passing the first stitch over the second stitch, and repeating until only one stitch remains.

By understanding these basic knitting techniques, you will be well-equipped to tackle more advanced knitting projects, such as knitting a heel.

Gathering the Right Tools and Materials

Before you start knitting a heel like a pro, it’s important to gather all the necessary tools and materials. Having the right equipment will ensure that your project goes smoothly and you can achieve professional-looking results. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Knitting Needles: Make sure to choose the appropriate size needles for your yarn. The recommended needle size is usually indicated on the yarn label. It’s also helpful to have a set of double-pointed needles for working in the round.
  • Yarn: Select a yarn that is suitable for the project and matches your desired color or texture. Choose a yarn that is durable and easy to work with.
  • Tape Measure: This will help you keep track of your progress and ensure that your finished heel is the correct size.
  • Tapestry Needle: You’ll use this needle to sew the heel together and weave in loose ends.
  • Scissors: A good pair of scissors is essential for cutting yarn and trimming any excess.
  • Stitch Markers: These will help you keep track of your pattern and mark important points in your knitting.
  • Row Counter: A row counter is a helpful tool for keeping track of the number of rows you’ve completed.
  • Stitch Holder or Scrap Yarn: This will help you hold stitches while you work on other parts of the project.

Make sure to gather all these tools and materials before you begin your knitting project. By having everything ready, you’ll be able to focus on the knitting process and create a professional-looking heel.

Preparing the Yarn and Needles

Before you start knitting the heel, it’s important to ensure that you have the right yarn and needles for the project. Here are the steps to prepare the yarn and needles:

  1. Choose the right yarn: Select a yarn that is suitable for the project and the desired heel size. Opt for a yarn that is durable and has good stitch definition. Sock weight or fingering yarn is commonly used for knitting socks.
  2. Check the yarn label: Read the label on the yarn to determine the recommended needle size and gauge. This will help you choose the appropriate needle size for your project.
  3. Match the needle size to the yarn: Choose knitting needles that correspond to the recommended needle size on the yarn label. This will ensure that your stitches are the correct size and that the resulting fabric has the desired drape.
  4. Gather the necessary tools: In addition to the yarn and needles, you will need a pair of scissors and a yarn needle for sewing in ends.
  5. Prepare the yarn: Before you begin knitting, you may need to wind the yarn into a ball or cake. This will make it easier to manage the yarn and prevent it from tangling as you work.


It’s always a good idea to make a gauge swatch before you start knitting the heel. This will help you determine if your stitches and rows match the recommended gauge and allow you to adjust your needle size if necessary.

Casting On Stitches for the Heel

Before you can begin knitting the heel of your sock, you’ll need to cast on the appropriate number of stitches to create the heel flap. The number of stitches you cast on will depend on the size of your sock and the desired fit.

Here’s how to cast on stitches for the heel:

1. Prepare your needles and yarn:

  • Grab your double-pointed needles or circular needle, depending on your preferred method of knitting socks.
  • Choose your yarn and thread it through the eye of one of the needles, leaving a tail of about 6 inches.

2. Decide on the number of stitches to cast on:

  • Refer to your knitting pattern or measure the circumference of the sock to determine the number of stitches to cast on.
  • Keep in mind that the heel flap is usually worked over half of the total number of stitches, so divide the total number by 2 and round to the nearest whole number.

3. Make a slip knot:

  • Make a slip knot by forming a loop with the yarn and pulling the working end through the loop.
  • Slide the slip knot onto your needle and tighten it, leaving a small loop.

4. Cast on the first stitch:

  • Hold the needle with the slip knot in your right hand.
  • Insert the left needle into the slip knot from left to right, going under the right-hand needle.
  • Wrap the yarn counterclockwise around the left needle, crossing it over the right-hand needle.
  • Use the right needle to pull the loop of yarn through the slip knot, creating a new stitch.
  • Slide the new stitch onto the right-hand needle and tighten the yarn slightly.

5. Repeat the cast on:

  • Continue casting on stitches in the same manner as step 4 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches.

6. Check your work:

  • Once you’ve cast on all the stitches, count them to ensure you have the correct number.
  • Make any necessary adjustments before proceeding to the next step.

Now that you’ve successfully cast on stitches for the heel flap, you’re ready to move on to the next step of knitting your sock’s heel. Happy knitting!

Following the Pattern for the Heel

Once you have completed the foot portion of your sock or project, it’s time to start working on the heel. The heel is an important part of any knitted sock as it provides comfort and reinforcement.

To follow the pattern for the heel, take the following steps:

  1. Read the pattern instructions carefully. Identify the specific instructions for the heel. It may include the number of stitches to work with, the type of heel to knit, and any additional shaping or techniques.
  2. Prepare your knitting needles and yarn. Make sure you have the correct size of needles and a suitable yarn type for the heel section. You may need to switch to double-pointed needles or use a different yarn weight.
  3. Start working on the heel. Follow the pattern instructions step by step. This may involve working back and forth in rows, turning the work at the end of each row, and shaping the heel using techniques such as short rows or decreases. Pay attention to any stitch markers or special instructions provided in the pattern.
  4. Take note of the stitch count changes. As you work through the heel pattern, make sure to keep track of any stitch count changes mentioned in the instructions. This will help ensure that your heel turns out the correct size and shape.
  5. Continue knitting the heel until the pattern instructs you to move on to the next section. This could be the gusset, instep, or another part of the sock or project. Double-check that you have followed all the required steps and achieved the desired results before proceeding.

Remember to take your time and have patience while working on the heel section. It may require some concentration and practice to get the hang of the specific techniques or stitches involved. Following the pattern instructions closely will help you successfully knit a professional-looking heel.

Shaping the Heel with Decreases

Shaping the Heel with Decreases

Once you reach the desired height for your heel flap, it’s time to start shaping your heel with decreases. Decreases are used to create a cup-like shape for your heel, so it fits snugly and comfortably around your foot.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to shape the heel using decreases:

  1. Divide the stitches: Start by dividing the stitches on your needle into three sections. You can do this by placing a marker after a certain number of stitches on each side, leaving the center section for the heel flap.
  2. Decrease on the sides: On the first row of the heel shaping, you will begin by working decreases on the sides. You can use techniques such as k2tog (knit two stitches together) or ssk (slip, slip, knit) to decrease the stitches. Follow your pattern instructions for the specific decreases to use.
  3. Turn the work: After completing the decreases on the first row, turn the work and purl across the wrong side. This will create a garter stitch ridge along the sides of the heel.
  4. Continue decreasing: Repeat the decrease row and turn the work, alternating between the right side and wrong side until you have reached the desired number of stitches for the heel.
  5. Shape the center: Once you have reached the desired number of stitches, you will need to shape the center of the heel. This is typically done by working short rows, where you only knit partway across the row and then turn the work without completing the entire row.
  6. Repeat the short rows: Continue working short rows, turning the work and knitting or purling until you have shaped the center of the heel according to your pattern instructions. This will create a curved shape for the bottom of the heel.
  7. Complete the decreases: After shaping the center of the heel, you will need to continue the decreases on the sides until you have reached the desired number of stitches for the foot. Follow your pattern instructions for the specific decreases to use.

Once you have completed the shaping of the heel with decreases, you can continue knitting the rest of your sock according to your pattern instructions. Remember to try on your sock as you go to ensure a proper fit!

Now that you know how to shape the heel with decreases, you can confidently knit socks that fit you perfectly. Happy knitting!

Finishing the Heel and Transitioning to the Foot

Once you have completed the heel turn, it’s time to finish the heel and transition to the foot of your knitted item. Follow these steps to seamlessly continue with your knitting project:

  1. Knit the next row: Start by knitting across the stitches on the needle that were not involved in the heel turn. This will help continue the pattern or stitch you were using before starting the heel.
  2. Transition to the foot: After you have knit across those stitches, it’s time to transition to knitting the foot. To do this, you will need to pick up stitches along the sides of the heel flap. Insert your knitting needle through both loops of the first stitch along the edge, and pick up one stitch. Repeat this process for each stitch along the heel flap, until you have reached the desired number of stitches to continue knitting the foot.
  3. Distribute stitches: Once you have picked up stitches along both sides of the heel flap, distribute the stitches evenly onto your needles. This might involve transferring stitches from one needle to another, depending on the number of stitches you have picked up.
  4. Continue knitting: With the stitches distributed onto your needles, you can now continue knitting the foot of your project. Follow your pattern or stitch instructions to create the desired design or texture for the foot section.

By following these steps, you can smoothly transition from knitting the heel to working on the foot of your project. Take your time and make sure to count your stitches accurately to maintain the integrity of your pattern. Happy knitting!

Blocking and Caring for Knitted Heels

Once you have finished knitting the heel portion of your project, it is important to block and care for it properly in order to achieve the best results. Blocking helps to shape and set the stitches, giving your heel a professional finish. Here are some steps to help you block and care for your knitted heels:

  1. Prepare the blocking area: Start by finding a clean, flat surface where you can pin your knitted heel. You can use a blocking mat, foam pads, or even a towel placed on a table or the floor.
  2. Soak your knitted heel: Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Gently submerge your knitted heel in the water, making sure it is completely saturated.
  3. Let it soak: Allow your knitted heel to soak for about 10-15 minutes. This will help relax the fibers and remove any excess dye or dirt that may be present.
  4. Gently squeeze out the excess water: After soaking, carefully lift the knitted heel out of the water and gently squeeze it to remove the excess water. Do not wring or twist the heel, as this can damage the fibers.
  5. Block the heel: Lay your knitted heel flat on the blocking surface and gently shape it to the desired dimensions. Use rustproof pins to secure the heel in place, making sure to pin along the edges and any shaping lines or curves.
  6. Let it dry: Leave your blocked knitted heel to dry completely. This can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the thickness of the yarn and the humidity in the environment.
  7. Remove the pins: Once your knitted heel is completely dry, carefully remove the pins. The heel should now hold its shape and have a neat and professional appearance.
  8. Caring for your knitted heel: To keep your knitted heel in good condition, it is important to properly care for it. Avoid washing it too frequently, and when you do wash it, use a mild detergent and hand wash it in lukewarm water. It is recommended to lay it flat to dry, rather than hanging it, to maintain its shape.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your knitted heels look their best and last for a long time. Remember, blocking and proper care are essential for maintaining the shape and quality of your knitted projects.


What materials do I need to knit a heel?

To knit a heel, you will need knitting needles, yarn, scissors, and a tapestry needle.

What type of yarn is best for knitting a heel?

When knitting a heel, it’s best to use a durable and stretchy sock yarn for a comfortable fit.

Can I knit a heel using circular needles?

Yes, you can knit a heel using circular needles. Simply follow the same steps as you would with straight needles.

Are there any special techniques for knitting a heel like a pro?

Yes, there are a few techniques that can help you knit a heel like a pro. Some of these techniques include picking up stitches, short row shaping, and decreasing stitches.

How long does it take to knit a heel?

The time it takes to knit a heel can vary depending on your knitting speed and experience. On average, it may take around 1-2 hours to complete a heel.

What are the common mistakes to avoid when knitting a heel?

Some common mistakes to avoid when knitting a heel include dropping stitches, knitting too tightly, and not following the pattern instructions carefully.

Can I knit a heel if I’m a beginner?

Knitting a heel may be a bit challenging for beginners, but with practice and patience, it can be done. It’s recommended to start with simpler knitting projects before attempting to knit a heel.


Basic Sock Tutorial Part 2 – The Heel Flap and Turn

Customizable Toe Up Sock Part 3: Heel Flap & Turn

Knit a Sock: Step 3 The Heel Flap

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