My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


A Heel Tip

In one of the sock classes I taught last weekend in Charlotte, I offered a tip to make life easier when you are doing the short rows on my slipstitch heel.

The pattern directs you to work some short rows with increases after you finish the gusset increases. This creates a little curve (with some added fullness) that hugs the back of the heel at the bottom of the heel flap. Here’s a heel with the short rows completed, before working the heel flap.


If you are knitting the size medium, for example, you have gusset-increased until you have 55 stitches on the bottom of the foot. At this point you start working back and forth on the heel stitches while the instep stitches just hang out and wait.

On the first row, you knit across 37 stitches, knit in the front and back of the next stitch to increase 1, knit the next stitch, and then wrap the next (unworked) stitch and slip that unworked stitch back to the left needle.

On the second row, turn your work and purl 22, purl in the front and back of the next stitch to increase 1, purl 1, then wrap the next (unworked) stitch and slip that unworked stitch back to the left needle.

Those first two rows of the short row shaping are really the only ones where you need to count your stitches. When you turn your work again and work across, you are going to work until you have 6 stitches remaining  before the gap that is created by wrapping a stitch. Check out this photo:


If you click on the photo for the larger size, you can see that there are 6 stitches left on the left needle before the first gap, so you know it is now time to work the kf&b, K1, W&T.

This is true of each subsequent row in the shaping — you work until you have 6 stitches remaining on your needle before the gap. The pattern tells you how many stitches you work plain in each row, but if you put down your work and then forget which row you are on, this is a good thing to remember.

You are doing a total of 8 shaping rows, so you have 4 increases and wraps on each side of the heel. Here is one side of the heel.

You can see the shaping occurs in little clumps of 3, so if  you forget how many rows you have done, just count your clumps on each side!


I’ve circled each wrap in this photo of one side of the heel.

This spacing is true for all sizes of my slipstitch heel.


Lucy Sez


“I heart the a/c!”


  1. Don’t you just LOVE Hazelknits? She’s a Wendee 😀
    Awesome person, awesome dyer.
    Also I’m definitely gonna go back on my son’s sock and rework the heel now…the pictures helped!!!

  2. Thats Great!!! Am I to assume this will be under your tips for future reference..?

  3. Question for you, Wendy – what’s the math logic behind knitting 37 (with 55 total sts)? Basically, I want to know the formula so if I’m resizing the pattern I’ll know how many stitches to knit before the kfb, k1, w&t. And is it the same formula for your gusset heel? On my last pair, I pretty much just guessed what would look right, but I like formulas better. 🙂

    BTW, in your current wips list, you’ve got 1, 2, and 2 instead of 1, 2, 3.

    Tammy/DarthKnitters last blog post..It’s a Dirty Job!

  4. Alex Fagelson says:

    What Tammy asked. Plus why add the fullness? Wouldn’t the short rows cause the back of the sock’s heel to curve and hug the wearer’s heel without the increases?

  5. Clumps. Love it.

  6. Tips like this one remind me that the most important (for me) skill in knitting is reading my knitting. It just makes it easier to fix mistakes, pick up where I left off, or create something new or modify a pattern on the fly. I love counting my rows to see when the next decrease or increase will be, because I so often lose the sheets of paper I use for most of my counting!

    Seanna Leas last blog post..a little cable is a dangerous thing

  7. Thanks for posting the heel turn “babble”! I’m always looking for tips and tricks that help me to read my knitting. This tip will make navigating the heel a breeze. Enjoyed the workshop and look forward to seeing you in Charlotte next year on your next book tour.

  8. Same question as Tammy. I just finished the Double Eyelet Ribbed socks which I believe uses this technique (it looks right) but I don’t understand the theory to duplicate it with resizing.

    dragonfly7673s last blog post..Finished Spring Eyelets!

  9. We knitters are very creative and curious people….I love improvements like this-even on something as basic as a sock heel!

    Cindys last blog post..One Eye Done, One to Go!

  10. Awesome! Thanks again Wendy.

    Danieles last blog post..Lacy Ribs and Huey, Duey and Luey Update

  11. Thanks for the explanation. For those of us who aren’t good at math and are just learning sock construction, these explanations are most helpful especially to re-size the socks.
    BTW – just finished my first I heart toe up sock – other than getting confused on how to pf&b (continental) the directions were really straightforward.

  12. Believe it or not, I’ve never knit a toe-up sock! I know, it’s blasphemy to say this on your site, Wendy, but it is what it is. Hopefully I’ll be inspired to try it one day, especially with all your beautiful patterns out there. Thanks for the short-row info here – it’s useful for all types of projects. : )

    The Left-Handed Crafters last blog post..Blue and purple miters

  13. Love the Lucy hearting the a/c…strange that she hearts the a/c but doesn’t like Mom’s natural ac in winter months 😉 My three furkids complain if I have the fan on with the ac in the bedroom, they will get over it, as mom can’t remove any more clothes to cool off in the humidity! It wouldn’t be a pretty sight for their innocent little eyes 🙂

  14. Thanks so much for this tip. I’ve knit hundreds of socks from the top down, so toe up socks still seem reverse engineered to me. This helps a lot.

    Susan Brocketts last blog post..2 + 2 = 4

  15. Theresa in Italy says:

    Thanks for the heel tip. I don’t dare put down my work if I’m in the middle of the heel or I lose my place for sure. This will help a lot! And Lucy, I’m with you on the a/c!

  16. What a great tip tutorial. Your readers are so fortunate to have you!

    I want to heart the a/c, but my husband hasn’t reinstalled them in our windows yet. We have to take them down in the fall and reinstall them late spring or early summer.

    Oh well, at least our summers are cooler than most.

    🙂 firefly

    fireflys last blog post..Some kind of ‘ectomy or other

  17. Barbara says:

    Just curious if you do not mind sharing, but what city in NC do you live???
    I am in Hendersonville.

  18. That makes perfect sense! I may have to print this out and insert it in your book as reference.

  19. Thanks for the lesson!

    Inas last blog post..When are knitting instructions like a puzzle?