How to Shape the Heel of a Toe-Up Sock
In the first part of this knit-along we cast on stitches and shaped the toe part of the sock. Then we spent some time making the foot part of the sock (it was our homework) and now the sock is ready for the heel shaping.
The heel of Sneaker Socks has a slightly unusual construction, so some instructions are different than the instructions we normally see in a sock pattern. Please, don’t let this fact discourage you.
If you want to have peace of mind, add a lifeline to the sock before you start working on the shaping of the heel.
The shaping is not complicated but we have to carefully follow the pattern instructions. Don’t skip steps, don’t omit any lines or numbers and don’t improvise. Just follow the pattern instructions to a T and the heel of your sock will get shaped nicely without any issues.
As you get to know this pattern (let’s say, when you make the second or third pair of these socks) you’ll understand the construction of the heel better and would be able to add whatever improvements you think are necessary. But while you are making your first pair of Sneaker Socks, I strongly recommend that you stick to the instructions outlined in the pattern and refrain from any alterations.
To shape the heel of the sock, we’ll use short rows and we’ll do the whole shaping process in three stages.
First, we’ll make the bottom part of the heel.
Because the heel of a human foot is more rounded than a plain 90-degree angle, we’ll add a few additional short rows to accommodate for the curve and make sure the sock fits the heel without relying too much on the stretch of a knitted fabric.
Next, we’ll work on shaping the top part of the heel.
This part of the shaping is quite straightforward. We’ll simply work in short rows without adding any unconventional steps.
It took me almost a year to figure out the last part of the heel shaping. As I was designing these low-cut socks, I tested different ways of short row shaping to keep the socks from slipping off the feet.
Even though adding more short rows to the bottom of the heel (the first part of the shaping) improved the fit of the socks, they still refused to stay on the feet.
My eureka moment happened in a gift store that we visited during a road trip. That store had water shoes for sale. When I looked at the shaping of the water shoes, I realized that the great fit is achieved not just by the stretch of the fabric, but also by raising the back of the shoe.
This little tweak totally makes sense when we analyze the natural shape of a human heel. It is curved at the top and requires more fabric to create an ideal fit.
Making that extra fabric at the back of the sock is the task of the third part of the heel shaping.
We’ll continue to work in short rows, but this time, we’ll use most of the stitches we have on the needles, not just the half of the stitches we used to make the basic shape of the heel.
That’s why it is not possible to do this shaping when we make both socks at the same time on the same long circular needle. It is a slightly advanced trick that many sock knitters love and use quite often. I don’t show this technique in the knit-along but I want to mention this point just in case.
So if you chose to make these socks two-at-a-time, transfer one sock to spare double-pointed needles before you start shaping the heel part of the sock. You’ll have to do the heel shaping on each sock separately.
For everyone who has just one sock on the needles, there is nothing special to do before we get to shape the heel of the sock, aside from probably adding a lifeline to calm down the jitters.
Next time, we’ll add a short cuff to the sock and we’ll finish it off with a beautiful stretchy bind off. In fact, I’ll show you two ways to bind off stitches – a great-looking but slightly challenging one (the bind off described in the pattern) and a nice-looking easy one that provides the same stretch but does not look as perfect.
If you like this tutorial, you will LOVE e-books and charts
in the Library of Free Knitting Resources
The library is free for everyone
who is subscribed to 10 rows a day newsletter.
If you are a subscriber, you’ll find the password at the bottom of each newsletter you receive from me on Fridays.
If you are not a subscriber, please type in your name and the best email to reach you in the form below, and I’ll send you the password to access the library.
Here are a few more things you might like:
- Learn Russian knitting style to knit faster and more efficient with minimal strain to your wrists.
- Make lots of colourful projects using patchwork knitting technique and 36 patterns for blankets and pillows.
- Knit simple socks and top-down hats in any size with any yarn.
- Download 23 tutorials published in 2017, 42 tutorials published in 2018 and 53 tutorials published in 2019.
- Join the All Tutorials Club 2020 and don’t miss a single tutorial published in 2020.
- Make a flattering Sideways Sweater or a super easy Facile Sweater.
- Or, knit a reversible beanie and cowl duo and comfortable Sneaker Socks for everyone in your family.
Happy knitting 🙂