Learn the art of knitting a sock heel

Learn the art of knitting a sock heel

Are you tired of knitting basic socks with a plain heel? If you’re looking to take your sock-knitting skills to the next level, learning how to knit a sock heel like a pro is the perfect place to start. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter, this step-by-step guide will help you master the art of knitting sock heels.

Step 1: Choose the Right Pattern

Before you start knitting, it’s important to choose a sock pattern that includes instructions for knitting a heel that you like. There are many different types of sock heels, including traditional flap and gusset, short-row, and afterthought heels. Each type has its own advantages and techniques, so take some time to explore different patterns and find the one that suits your preferences.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

Once you have your pattern, gather all the materials you’ll need for knitting your sock heel. This includes knitting needles in the appropriate size, sock yarn, a tapestry needle, and any additional tools or notions required by your chosen pattern. Make sure you have everything you need before you begin.

Step 3: Follow the Instructions

Now it’s time to start knitting! Follow the instructions provided in your chosen pattern to knit the heel of your sock. Pay close attention to any special techniques or stitches called for in the pattern, as these will help you achieve a professional-looking finished heel. Take your time and work slowly and methodically to ensure accuracy.

Pro Tip: If you’re new to knitting sock heels, consider using a lifeline. A lifeline is a spare piece of yarn threaded through the stitches on a particular row. If you make a mistake, the lifeline makes it easy to rip back to that row without losing your progress.

Step 4: Practice and Experiment

Knitting sock heels can be tricky, especially if you’re trying a new technique or stitch pattern. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t turn out perfectly. Practice is key, so keep knitting and experimenting until you’re satisfied with your results. You may even discover new ways to customize and improve your sock heels.

With some patience and practice, you’ll soon be knitting sock heels like a pro. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you can apply your newfound skills to all your future sock-knitting projects. So grab your needles and yarn, and get ready to take your sock-knitting game to the next level!

Materials You Will Need

Before you start knitting your sock heel, make sure you have the following materials:

  • Size-appropriate knitting needles.
  • Sock weight yarn in the color of your choice.
  • A yarn needle or tapestry needle.
  • A stitch marker.
  • A pair of scissors.
  • A tape measure or ruler.

Having these materials ready will ensure that you have everything you need to complete the sock heel knitting process smoothly.

Choosing the Right Yarn and Needles

Choosing the right yarn and needles is an important step in knitting a sock heel like a pro. Here are some tips to help you make the best choices:


When selecting yarn for your sock heel, it’s important to choose a durable and washable yarn that will hold up well over time. Look for yarns made from wool or wool blend, as these tend to have good elasticity and resilience.

Consider the weight of the yarn as well. For a sock heel, a fingering weight or sock weight yarn is commonly used. These yarns are thin enough to create a comfortable and snug fit.


The choice of needles can greatly affect the outcome of your sock heel. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Size: Choose needles in a size that matches the gauge specified in your pattern. This will ensure that your stitches are the correct size and your heel fits properly.
  • Material: Needles can be made from different materials like bamboo, metal, or plastic. Each material has its own feel and grip, so choose the one that you find most comfortable to work with.
  • Type: There are different types of knitting needles, including straight needles, double-pointed needles (DPNs), and circular needles. For a sock heel, DPNs or circular needles are commonly used. DPNs allow you to work in the round, while circular needles can be used for both flat and circular knitting.


Finally, consider your tension or knitting style when choosing needles and yarn. If you tend to knit tightly, you may need to use larger needles to achieve the desired gauge. Conversely, if you knit loosely, you may need to use smaller needles.

Remember, experimenting with different yarns and needles can help you find the perfect combination that suits your knitting style and creates a comfortable and well-fitting sock heel. Happy knitting!

Starting the Sock

Before you begin knitting the sock heel, you’ll need to start the sock by casting on the desired number of stitches. Most sock patterns will provide instructions on how many stitches to cast on based on your desired sock size and yarn weight.

Materials Needed:

  • Yarn of your choice (sock weight yarn is typically used for socks)
  • Knitting needles of the appropriate size for your yarn
  • A stitch marker (optional, but helpful for keeping track of your rounds)

Step 1: Cast on Stitches

Begin by casting on the required number of stitches onto your knitting needles. You can use any cast-on method you prefer, but a long-tail cast-on is commonly used for socks.

Step 2: Establish the Ribbing

Next, you’ll want to establish the ribbing for the cuff of the sock. This is typically done by knitting a few rounds of a ribbed stitch pattern, such as knit 1, purl 1 or knit 2, purl 2. The ribbing helps the cuff of the sock stay snug on your leg.

Step 3: Begin the Leg

After the ribbing, you’ll start knitting the leg portion of the sock. This is the part of the sock that goes up your leg. You can knit the leg to your desired length, whether you prefer ankle socks, mid-calf socks, or knee-high socks.

Step 4: Mark the Beginning of the Round

If you’re knitting the sock in the round, you’ll want to place a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round. This will help you keep track of your stitches as you work the heel and foot of the sock.

Step 5: Continue Knitting

With the leg of the sock complete and the beginning of the round marked, continue knitting in the round until you’re ready to start the sock heel. You’ll follow specific instructions for the sock heel pattern you’re using.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to knitting a sock heel like a pro!

Creating the Heel Flap

The heel flap is an essential part of knitting a sock heel. It provides extra cushioning and reinforcement in the most vulnerable area of the sock.

To create the heel flap, you will be working across a smaller number of stitches than the total number on the needle. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Knit across the first half of the stitches on your needle, typically half of the total number of stitches. Place marker if desired.
  2. Turn your work to the wrong side.
  3. Purl across the same number of stitches as you knit in the previous row.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the desired number of rows. The exact number of rows will depend on your pattern and the size of the sock.

As you work the heel flap, you’ll notice that a nice textured pattern starts to emerge. This is a result of the alternating knit and purl rows.

Suggested Heel Flap Stitch Patterns
Stitch Pattern Instructions
Stockinette Stitch Knit across right side rows and purl across wrong side rows.
Ribbed Stitch Alternate knit and purl stitches across every row.
Seed Stitch Alternate knit and purl stitches across every row, starting with a knit stitch.

Choose a stitch pattern that you like and will complement your sock design.

Once you’ve completed the desired number of rows for the heel flap, you can move on to the next step in knitting your sock, which is usually turning the heel.

Turning the Heel

To start turning the heel of your knitted sock, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Knit until there are a specific number of stitches left on your needle, as indicated in your sock pattern.
  2. Split the stitches into two sections: the heel flap stitches and the instep stitches. This can be done by either using stitch markers or by physically moving the stitches to separate needles or waste yarn.
  3. Work the heel flap by knitting the specified number of rows in the desired stitch pattern. This is typically done in a slip stitch or eye of partridge pattern to provide extra durability to the heel.
  4. Once the heel flap is complete, it’s time to turn the heel. Begin by working the short rows in a specific pattern, which will create the curve needed to shape the heel.
  5. Here is a common method for turning the heel using short rows:
    • Slip the first stitch, then purl across a specific number of stitches according to your pattern instructions.
    • Purl 2 together (p2tog), purl 1, turn the work.
    • Slip the first stitch, then knit across a specific number of stitches according to your pattern instructions.
    • Knit 2 together (k2tog), knit 1, turn the work.
    • Repeat these last two steps until all the stitches have been worked and you’re left with a small gap in the middle.
  6. Next, you’ll need to pick up stitches along the side of the heel flap to close the gap. Use your working needle to pick up and knit the specified number of stitches, evenly spaced along the edge.
  7. Now that the heel turn and gap closure are complete, you can continue knitting in the round to complete the foot of the sock.

Turning the heel is a crucial step in sock knitting as it creates the shape necessary for a comfortable and well-fitting sock. Once you’ve mastered this technique, you’ll be well on your way to knitting socks like a pro!

Picking Up Stitches

Once you have completed the heel flap, it’s time to pick up stitches along the edge in order to begin working the gusset. This step is essential for shaping the sock and ensuring a comfortable fit.


  • Yarn
  • Knitting needles
  • Tapestry needle


  1. Start by turning your work so that the wrong side is facing you.
  2. Using the same needles you used to work the heel flap, insert the right needle into the first stitch on the edge of the flap.
  3. Wrap the working yarn around the right needle.
  4. Draw the loop of yarn through the stitch, transferring it to the right needle.
  5. Continue picking up stitches along the edge of the heel flap, typically one stitch for every two rows.
  6. Once you have picked up all the required stitches, count them to make sure you have the correct number.
  7. If you have extra stitches, evenly distribute them by skipping a stitch occasionally.
  8. If you have fewer stitches, evenly distribute the decrease stitches by working two stitches together.
  9. Join the round by knitting the first stitch from the left needle with the first stitch on the right needle.


  • Use a smaller needle size to pick up stitches for a snugger fit.
  • Consider using a contrasting yarn color to make it easier to see the picked up stitches.
  • Take your time and ensure the stitches are evenly spaced and not too tight or loose.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to successfully pick up stitches along the edge of the heel flap and continue working on the gusset to complete your sock.

Knitting the Gusset

After completing the heel flap, it’s time to move on to knitting the gusset. The gusset is the part of the sock that is created by picking up stitches along the edge of the heel flap on both sides.

Step 1: With your right needle, insert it into the first slipped stitch on the heel flap from front to back. Wrap the yarn around the needle and pull it through, creating a new stitch.

Step 2: Repeat step 1 for each slipped stitch along the heel flap. The number of stitches you pick up depends on the size of your sock and the desired fit.

Step 3: Once you have picked up all the stitches on the first side of the heel flap, turn your work and begin knitting across the instep stitches. These are the stitches that were held on the stitch holder or needle.

Step 4: After knitting across the instep stitches, you will repeat steps 1 and 2 on the second side of the heel flap. Again, the number of stitches you pick up will depend on the size of your sock.

Step 5: Once you have picked up all the stitches on both sides of the heel flap, you should have the same number of stitches as you started with before knitting the heel flap.

Step 6: Now that you have your gusset stitches picked up, you can continue knitting the foot of the sock in your desired stitch pattern.

Note: Depending on the pattern you are using, there may be variations in the way the gusset is created. Always refer to the specific pattern instructions for guidance.

Finishing the Sock

After completing the sock heel, you are almost finished with your knitted sock. Here are the remaining steps to complete your project:

  1. Knit the Foot: Continue knitting the foot of the sock in the desired stitch pattern or plain stockinette stitch. You can use a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round.
  2. Try It On: Periodically try the sock on your foot to check the fit. Make any adjustments if necessary, such as adding or decreasing stitches to achieve the desired width or length.
  3. Knit the Toe: When you reach the desired length for the foot, it’s time to knit the toe. There are different methods for shaping the toe, such as using decreases or a toe-up style. Choose the method that best suits your knitting style.
  4. Weave in Ends: Once you have finished knitting the toe, cut the yarn, leaving a tail of about 6 inches. Use a yarn needle to weave in the loose ends on the inside of the sock, securing them to prevent unraveling.
  5. Block the Sock: Blocking is an optional step, but it can help improve the appearance and fit of your knitted sock. Wet the sock, squeeze out excess water, and shape it to the desired size and shape. Lay it flat to dry, making sure to reshape if necessary.

And voila, you have completed your knitted sock! Repeat the same steps to knit the second sock to complete a matching pair. Now you can enjoy the comfort and warmth of your handmade socks.


What materials do I need to knit a sock heel?

You will need a set of double-pointed knitting needles, a skein of yarn, a tapestry needle, and a stitch marker.

How long does it take to knit a sock heel?

The time it takes to knit a sock heel will vary depending on your knitting speed and experience. On average, it can take a couple of hours to complete.

Can I use circular knitting needles instead of double-pointed needles?

Yes, you can use circular knitting needles instead of double-pointed needles. It is a matter of personal preference.

What is the best stitch pattern for a sock heel?

The best stitch pattern for a sock heel is the slip stitch heel flap. It creates a durable and cushioned heel that fits well.


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