How to Turn a Heel Knitting Socks: Knit Your Way to Perfect Socks

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Turning a heel in sock knitting can be a challenging technique, but it’s essential for creating a comfortable and well-fitting sock. To turn a heel, work short rows and shape the heel with decreases and picked-up stitches. Follow a pattern or tutorial to guide you through the process.

Learning how to turn a heel when knitting socks can be a challenging undertaking. However, if you take the time to understand the process and gather all of the necessary materials and tools, it can be a very rewarding experience.

For example, think about Ellen who wanted to learn how to knit her own socks; after researching online and gathering all of the supplies she needed, she was able to successfully turn a heel in sock knitting by working short rows and shaping it with decreases and picked-up stitches.

With just a few simple steps, you too can learn how to turn your own heel!

Gather Materials and Tools

Gather the necessary materials and tools to start your journey of creating beautiful, handmade socks. You’ll need some packing supplies such as double-pointed knitting needles, stitch markers, tapestry needle, measuring tape, and scissors.

Don’t forget about the yarn! Choose a sock yarn that is soft and durable for best results – some popular choices are wool blends or superwash merino. Make sure you have enough yarn for your project so you don’t run out in the middle of knitting.

Double-check that you have all the materials before getting started!

Once everything is gathered, take a few moments to look over the patterns instructions carefully. If there are any special techniques involved like short rows or increases/decreases, it’s a good idea to get familiar with them before beginning work on your project. This will save you time later on when it’s time to turn that heel!

And don’t forget to set aside extra time if this is your first time attempting this technique – mistakes happen, and that’s okay!

Start by preparing your yarn: measure out how much length you need based on what size sock you’re making then cut off excess yarn with scissors. Now cast on the required amount of stitches using double-pointed needles (DPNs).

Place marker at the end of the last stitch, then begin working in rounds until the desired length is reached – make sure not to pull tight when joining each round!

Once the desired length has been achieved, it’s finally time to shape that heel – now let’s dive into understanding how this process works.

Following these simple steps will ensure that all of your supplies are ready for when it comes time for turning a heel in sock knitting, as well as providing an overview of understanding how the process works. Knowing how everything should be prepared beforehand can help make things go smoother during knitting and prevent frustration down the road, so take a little extra time now and thank yourself later!

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Understand the Process

To understand the process of turning a heel when knitting socks, it’s like building a house – you need to lay the foundation with short rows and then shape your project with precise decreases and picked-up stitches. To get started, you’ll want to ensure that your sock is the right size by measuring gauge. This will help you determine how many stitches are needed for your desired fit. Once this is determined, follow these steps:

  • Short Row Shaping: Using short row shaping technique, work back and forth in rows until you reach the center of the heel flap. This creates a triangular wedge shape that forms the base of your heel turn.
  • Decreases: As you continue to knit each row, decrease one stitch at both ends of each row until there are only six or eight stitches left on either side of your needle.
  • Picked-Up Stitches: After shaping with decreases, pick up all remaining stitches along both sides of the heel flap using circular needles or double pointed needles (DPNs). Then work across them as required for your pattern.

By laying down a foundation through short rows and precisely decreasing and picking up extra stitches along both sides of the heel flap, you can create a beautiful shaped Heel Turn for every sock that comes off your needles!

Now it’s time to cast on additional stitches and begin working on the instep – let’s go!

Cast On and Begin Working on the Instep

Once the heel-shaping foundation is set, it’s time to cast on extra stitches and get crackin’ on the instep!

Depending on your yarn selection and casting techniques, you may need to use different methods for casting on. For example, if you’re using a thicker yarn, then you’ll likely want to use the long tail cast-on method. Alternatively, if you’re working with a lighter weight yarn then the knitted cast-on might be more appropriate.

Regardless of which casting technique you choose, make sure that the number of stitches added is about half of what was used for the foot portion of your sock.

If this is your first foray into turning a heel in sock knitting, take some time to practice with scrap yarn. This will help you gain familiarity with how these new stitches are worked together and how they affect the shape of your sock’s heel area.

Once comfortable with this process, then continue forward by picking up additional stitches along each side edge of your heel flap as determined by your pattern instructions or personal preference.

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Finally, when all the necessary stitches have been picked up and knit across them in preparation for beginning work on those short rows – remember that even though it can be intimidating at first – eventually it will come naturally! Just like any other skill worth mastering there is no shortcut or substitute for practice and patience; but with enough repetition any knitter can learn how to turn a perfect heel every single time!

Begin Working Short Rows

Now that you’ve got all your stitches ready, it’s time to get down to business and work those short rows. Just remember to keep calm and carry on!

Working short rows is one of the most important turning techniques when knitting socks. It involves slipping certain stitches while working in a round to create a shape for the heel. This can be tricky at first, but with some practice and patience, you’ll soon master this technique.

To begin working on the short rows, start by slipping the next stitch as if you were going to purl it. Bring the yarn between the needles from back to front in preparation for purling. Slip the stitch from the left needle onto the right needle without knitting or purling it. Move the yarn back into position for knitting by bringing it from front to back between your needles, then knit across until there are four stitches left before your slipped stitch marker. Then slip one stitch as if you were going to purl it (same as above).

Repeat these steps until all of your stitches have been slipped over each other and there are no unworked stitches remaining before your slipped stitch marker.

Once you’ve completed this step, you should be able to start seeing a slight curve forming around where your heel will be placed on the sock.

You may need some assistance using a tapestry needle or locking stitch markers before moving forward with decreasing and picking up stitches – but don’t worry, we’ll cover that in more detail later! For now, take pride in knowing that you’ve begun mastering one of the essential turning techniques in sock knitting: working short rows!

Decrease and Pick Up Stitches

Decreasing and picking up stitches is a crucial part of creating the shape of the heel: in fact, it can take up to 40% of the total time needed to finish a sock! It’s important for knitters to have some knowledge of basic knitting techniques such as pattern reading and understanding how decreases work.

To begin decreasing and picking up stitches, start by working across the top of the heel flap using your chosen decreases. Work on each side separately, with an extra stitch before or after each decrease depending on your pattern instructions. The number of times you need to increase depends on how wide you want your heel flap to be.

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After completing this step, use picked-up stitches along both edges of the heel flap to form an angle that matches the curve of your foot. Make sure you count all your picked-up stitches; if you don’t pick up enough stitches, it will be hard for you to shape your heel correctly.

With careful counting and practice, decreasing and picking up stitches can help create a comfortable fit for any knitted sock! Moving forward from here requires continuing work on the instep while maintaining an even number of rows between increases or decreases.

Continue Working on the Instep

Having completed the heel flap, it’s now time to move on to the instep, ensuring an even number of rows between increases or decreases for optimal shaping.

The first step is to work a gauge swatch with your chosen stitch patterning and yarn so that you can measure your stitches per inch and determine how many stitches are required for the instep. When knitting socks, it’s also important to remember that sock shapes vary depending on whether they are knit top-down or toe-up.

To ensure proper measurement, take into account any decreases or increases in the pattern when measuring your gauge swatch. Once you have determined the correct number of stitches for the instep, begin working across the heel using your chosen stitch patterning until all of the stitches from both halves of the heel flap have been worked.

If there are any extra gaps at this point, pick up extra loops along each side as needed in order to close them up. Continue following your stitch patterning until you reach the desired length for your socks’ leg before moving onto shaping and closing off with an edging such as ribbing or garter stitch.

As you progress through these steps, always be sure to check that you haven’t missed any increases or decreases and make adjustments accordingly!


Congratulations! You’ve successfully turned a heel for your sock knitting project. It’s not always easy, but now you have the skills to make your next pair of socks with ease.

Think of it like unlocking a door – once you know how to do it, it’s much easier to open again and again. With practice, you’ll be able to turn a heel in no time at all.

So go ahead and jump into that next project with confidence – you can do this!

Katherine Pearce
Katherine Pearce
Katherine Pearce is a knitting enthusiast and the founder of With a deep passion for the craft, Katherine aims to make knitting accessible to everyone, regardless of their skill level. Through, she provides online tutorials and resources to help others discover the joys of knitting and develop their skills.

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