How to Knit an Afterthought Heel (Part 1)

I’ve been getting loads of questions from other knitters about how to make afterthought heels on socks recently- it’s my favourite heel right now and I love the simplicity of it- no short rows, gussets or anything else that generally makes people run for the hills rather than sit down and knit a pair! In this post I’ll show you step by step how to place the waste yarn, the first bit of creating the heel.

1. Knit your leg!

01-afterthought 1

Here I’m ready to start the afterthought heel after knitting the leg. I’m knitting a top down plain sock in stocking stitch using self striping yarn. This sock is knit using magic loop technique, but the instructions can be used for any sock knitted in the round.

2. Knit half of your stitches

Nothing fancy, just knit them as normal!

02-afterthought 2

3. Take up the waste yarn and knit the other half

You’ll need a bit of contrasting coloured yarn of the same weight long enough to knit the other half of your stitches. Here I’ve got a bit of white yarn.

03-afterthought 3

Leaving the pretty sock yarn hanging, take up the waste yarn. Don’t tie it to your sock, just leave it hanging loose at the end.  Now knit the 2nd half of your stitches.

04-afterthought 4

Here you can see the waste yarn coming in- this is where the heel will magically appear later! Knit to the end of the round.

05-afterthought 5

4. Slipping the stitches

So we’ve completed a round. Hooray! Now I can drop the waste yarn. I want to get back to my lovely red sock yarn again which is trailing from the opposite end of the needle.

06-afterthought 6

Slip the stitches you’ve just knit with your waste yarn back onto the left needle.

07-afterthought 7

5. Knit them again!

Now all the waste yarn stitches are slipped back to the left needle, we’re going to knit these same stitches a second time with the sock yarn that was left hanging.

08-afterthought 8

Taking up the sock yarn again.

10-afterthought 10

Knitting the slipped stitches.

11-afterthought 11

And there you go! You have knitted your heel round. Even though half of your stitches have been knitted twice, the waste yarn will be removed later, so your round is evenly matched.

12-afterthought 12

6. Now just keep knitting in the round for the body of your foot like nothing happened! After you’ve made the toe and “finished” the sock, we’ll come back and make the heel. See you in part 2! Feel free to ask me any questions, and let me know how it goes in the comments section below!

10 thoughts on “How to Knit an Afterthought Heel (Part 1)”

  1. So far so good with the afterthought heel. Thanks for the demo. The pictures were really helpful. Now on to part 2.

    1. Kailani N SHaffer

      Excellent tutorial. How many inches is the heel? Don’t I take this into account when knitting the body of the sock? Thank you.

      1. Glad you found it helpful! The heel is a bit like knitting an extra toe, so will be about 2″. However, if you have a high instep it would be a good idea to knit a few plain rounds first before starting the decreases. You don’t need to worry about the foot body stitches, it will work out!

      2. Kailani N SHaffer

        Thank you so much. A knitting group that I am a part of doesn’t seem to understand my question. I am glad that you do.

        So I wear a size 12. If I had did a heel flap I know I stop the body knitting at 10 inches. So taking into account the toe & Afterthought heel I stop knitting the body at 8 inches? The toe & Afterthought heel is a total of 4 inches? Sorry to be so specific but I want to get this right. I so do not want to unravel because the sock is big. No I do not have a high instep. I’m actually flat footed. LoL

      3. Are you knitting toe-up? The tutorial is for top-down but either way, this won’t affect your afterthought heel knitting. If you’re doing toe-up, you want to stop the foot body about 2″ before your full foot length, then put in the waste yarn and continuing for the leg. If knitting top down, you knit the full leg length before the waste yarn and continuing for the foot. When starting the heel, you could always put a circular needle/thread through the stitches so you can try on the sock and see if you want to add heel length or not. I’m flat footed too so you should be ok! :)

      4. Kailani N SHaffer

        LoL…good answer. I am knitting top down. Thank goodness for your tutorial. It is excellent

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