Socks can be knitted in various ways, and one of the most prominent ones is to work them toe-up. In this article, we compiled four methods of knitting sock heels for toe-up socks for you.
Method #1: Short Row Heels
Short row heels can be worked both toe-up and top down. If you need a tutorial on how to work (German) short row heels, this is your place to go: How to Knit German Short Row Heels.
Basically, the German method of knitting short rows can be replaced by working wrap & turns anytime.
Method #2: Toe-Up Flap Heels
If you prefer to work your socks from toe up but have a weakness for flap heels, this one might be the heel for you.
I created this toe-up flap heel a few years ago when I created my Strausserl Stockings pattern (shown below): my standard short row heel just did not seem to fit such an elegant pair of socks, so I created a new one on the fly: my very own version of toe-up flap heels!
Basically, it’s a reversed standard flap heel, but instead of increasing stitches by picking up stitches at the flap’s edges and decreasing, the instep increases are worked first and then decreased as you work up to the ankles.
Worked this way, the decrease lines (pick up lines at standard flap heels) are clearly visible, a feature which is considered to be a bug by others. It’s all a matter of personal preference, as always in knitting. There’s more than one way to do it!
Pattern Template: Flap Heels for Toe Up Socks
Here’s the pattern outline for my toe-up flap heel. The template uses a stitch count of 60 stitches.
After toes have been worked, work in pattern until foot measures about 3 3⁄4″ (9.5 cm) less than desired length. (You will now increase one stitch at each side of the stockinette sole every other round.) Divide stitches as follows: instep 29 sts, sole 31 sts.
Increase Round 1: work instep stitches, kfb, k29, kfb.
Increase Round 2: knit.
Repeat increase rounds 1 and 2 nine times more (10 times total, 10 st increased on each side).
K39 and move 10 sts from needle 2 back to needle 1. Move 10 sts from the end of needle 3 to needle 1. (51, 16, 15 sts on needles 1 (sole), 2, 3)
Heel Short Row 1: k31, turn work.
Heel Short Row 2: p30, w&t.
Heel Short Row 3: k29, w&t.
Heel Short Row 4: p28, w&t.
Heel Short Row 5: k27, w&t.
Heel Short Row 6: p26, w&t.
Heel Short Row 7: k25, w&t.
Heel Short Row 8: p24, w&t.
Heel Short Row 9: k23, w&t.
Heel Short Row 10: p22, w&t.
Heel Short Row 11: k21, w&t.
Heel Short Row 12: p20, w&t.
Heel Short Row 13: k19, w&t.
Heel Short Row 14: p18, w&t.
Heel Short Row 15: k17, w&t.
Heel Short Row 16: p16, w&t.
Heel Short Row 17: k15, w&t.
Heel Short Row 18: p14, w&t.
Heel Short Row 19: k13, w&t.
Heel Short Row 20: p12, w&t.
Heel Short Row 21: k11, w&t.
Heel Short Row 22: p10, w&t.
(You are now facing the RS of your sock again.)
Heel decrease row 1: Knit until one stitch before the end of needle 3, k2tog (the second stitch is taken from needle 1). Turn work.
Heel decrease row 2: Purl until one stitch before the end of needle 2, p2tog (the second stitch is taken from needle 1). Turn work.
Repeat heel decrease rows 1 and 2 until all increased stitches are decreased again (9 times more, 10 times total). (29,16,15) stitches on needles (1, 2, 3); 60 sts total.
Now you can continue knitting the leg. Enjoy your sock knitting!
Method #3: The Innovative Way
I always wanted to have a kind of heel which allows for seamless flowing of lace or color work patterns around the heel in toe-up socks. After trying around a little bit I came up with the following solution.
Divide the stitches in a traditional toe-up design at the center of the instep to allow increases to evolve from this point. After a few increases (7 to 11, depending on foot circumference, gauge and personal preferences) the increased stitches are put aside and the patterned part is worked back and forth until they meet at the back of the heel.
Additionally, the sole stitches are decreased fast at the almost end of the heel. The remaining stitches are grafted together at the back of the heel.
At this point, you can try on your sock (in fact you could finish at this point as you’ve got a pretty ankle sock). The increased stitches are put live again and a convenient amount of stitches are picked up around the edge. Work a leg/cuff section as you please and you’re done.
An example for this method of knitting sock heels toe-up is the sock knitting pattern Herzicolor.