How to Do a Heel Turn While Knitting Socks

Knit socks
diephosi / Getty Images
  • 01 of 03

    Beginning to Turn the Heel

    The end of the first row of turning the heel.
    The end of the first row of turning a heel, with the unworked stitches on the left needle. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to, Inc.

    Turning the heel is the part of sock knitting that scares most knitters away from ever knitting socks. But the truth is, turning a heel isn't any more difficult than any other part of knitting a sock, you just need to pay a bit of attention.

    The instructions for turning a heel typically will say something like:

    • Row 1: Slip 1, purl 14, purl 2 together, purl 1, turn.
    • Row 2: Slip 1, knit 4, slip, slip, knit, knit 1, turn.

    The first thing you'll notice is that you aren't working all of the...MORE stitches all the way across the row. That freaks a lot of people out. But it is the way it must be done.

    The process is known as knitting short rows, and it is the key to making a heel that's actually kind of heel shaped.

    So the first step is to trust the pattern and do what it says, no matter how crazy it sounds. If we were working a sock with the instructions as noted above, then we would slip the first stitch, purl 14, purl two together, purl one more and then turn the work like you normally do at the end of a row, leaving the unworked stitches on the needle, as shown.

    Continue to 2 of 3 below.
  • 02 of 03

    Working the Second Row

    Second row of heel turning.
    The second row of turning the heel is complete. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to, Inc.

    At the end of the first row of the heel turning, you will have some stitches unworked still on the left-hand needle. Don't worry about them, they'll be fine.

    Instead, turn the work as you would in regular flat knitting when you reached the end of the row. That means the needle with those unworked stitches should now be in your right hand and the needle with the stitches you did work on the last row will be in your left hand.

    Knit back across these stitches as the pattern indicates. In the...MORE case of our example, you'd slip the first stitch, knit 4, slip, slip, knit, knit one more and turn the work again. Now you have unworked stitches on both needles and just a few stitches that have been worked on both rows.

    Continue to 3 of 3 below.
  • 03 of 03

    Finishing Turning the Heel

    Finished turned heel.
    The finished turned heel is a rounded cup. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to, Inc.

    Now that you've made it through the second row, just turn the work again as before and continue as established in the pattern. If you were knitting the sock we have been using in this example, for instance, on the next row you'd slip one, purl 5, purl 2 together, purl 1 and turn.

    The next row would be slip 1, knit 6, slip, slip, knit, knit 1 and turn. And so on until eventually all the stitches have been worked.

    What this accomplishes is a knitted cup that will hold your heel when you wear...MORE the sock.