Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tutorial : Afterthought Heel

This is a top down tutorial for the Afterthought heel. After knitting the ribbing I like to knit a few rows in stockinette before making the heel.

1. Drop the regular sock yarn and then knit the heel section (half the number of stitches of the sock) using contrasting waste yarn. Turn and purl back to the beginning of the waste yarn stitches. Cut waste yarn leaving a short length.

2. Using the regular sock yarn continue to knit the sock as usual.

3. After the toe is completed come back to the waste  yarn section of the sock. Beginning at the last worked row of waste yarn, unpick the stitches and place on a needle. This is the top row, not the bottom row.

4. Stitches placed on needle.

5. All the top stitches are place on needle. Count to make certain that the amount of stitches is half of the cast on number for the whole sock. The first row of waste yarn stitches are now waiting to be placed on two needles, half of remaining stitches on each.

6. Unpick bottom row of waste yarn and place stitches on needle(s).
7. All the stitches are on the needles. Using the sock yarn again, begin to knit from the center of the heel space. At the left edge pick up a stitch. At the beginning and the end of the next needle pick up a stitch (at each end). And at the beginning of the third needle pick up another stitch. Four new stitches in all. Knit a round. Then begin to decrease at the sides of the sock as for a toe, every other row. Yes, a toe. It seems wacky to knit a toe as a heel but in reality it works just right.

Here's one example of the decreases that form the heel. I used k1, ssk,on the right hand needle and then k2tog, k1 on the left side.
And for this heel I eliminated the k1 stitches and placed my decreases at the end and beginning of the sides. Some feel this looks more like a heel and less like a toe. Whatever looks good to you!
If the heel should develop wear and needs replacing, just unravel back to the beginning of the heel and knit a new one. Simple.


  1. I love the way it makes the self striping yarn look from the side. Well done!

  2. I love this tutorial. I have socks with a regularly knit heel that need repair. Do you think I could pick up sts in the rows where you do waste yarn sts, take out the regular damaged heel, and make this heel?

  3. I am just learning to knit but your socks look great I am going to try to knit some as soon as I get more confidence

  4. Woowh I just keep learning new ways to do things. I have never sen this way to do a heel before. Very interesting. thanks for sharing.

  5. I decided to try your afterthought heal technique and have knitted both socks up to the heal part. Now I have a question. It doesn't seem like it would work to decrease till there are not stitches left. That would make a very pointy heel. Seems likely to decrease to a few stitches then use that lovely kitchener stitch to close it up. My question is, how many stitches do you stop at?

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  8. Cat Bordhi has a better way of inserting the waste yarn. She knits in a row of waste yarn, a row of sock yarn and another row of waste yarn. She picks up the stitches on the waste yarn and puts them on needles, then she opens the centre stitch of the row in the middle and and unpicks that row, but not to the very end (I think to a stitch before the end) on both sides. That leaves no holes at either end. She uses is to make a leg opening, but can be used for the afterthought heel. A great idea.

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