Let’s Turn that Heel!

There’s the objective, friends…that photo above. When you finish this next step you will have two lovely, finished, turned heels. I’ve made dozens, maybe more than a hundred pair of socks so far and every single time I turn the heels it feels like a little bit of knitting magic. If you’ve never accomplished this step before, trust me…the steps outlined below will morph into what you see above — no matter how impossible it seems. 😀

First Step: Setting up the Stitches

So, you’ve knitted the gusset Great!

Now we are ready to turn the heel.

Note: you will be completely turning the heel of one sock before moving on to the second one. So just repeat the following directions twice. This process will take a little while, due to the larger number of stitches you have to work. Heel turning is not difficult, but it is something that you need to apply your entire attention to, at least initially. Work your way through one heel. Then put it down and take a little break and then start the second one. If at all possible do not put the knitting down while in the midst of turning a heel. You are likely to either lose your place or lose your stitches.

Here we go:

Count the stitches you have on the heel needle — for an average sock (ankle neither skinny nor thick) you’ll want to think in fourths. For example, if you had 32 stitches on the heel needle then you will place a removable marker at 1/4th and 3/4ths marks or after the 8th & 24th stitch. (You don’t have to PMs — I do it so that I don’t start knitting on autopilot and knit too far.)

Phase One — during which you will create height via short rows with wraps

Row 1 – knit side
K8, SM, K15, slip 1 purl wise (sl1pw), bring yarn to front (bytf), keep (or place) marker on left hand needle (LHN), slip stitch back to LHN, turn work to purl side

Row 2 – purl side
Bring yarn to purl side (in position to purl), P to 2 st before marker, sl1pw, bring yarn to back (bytb), slip stitch back to LHN, turn work to knit side

Row 3 – knit side
Bring yarn to purl side (in position to knit), K to 2 st before previously wrapped stitch, sl1pw, bytf, slip stitch back to LHN, turn work

Row 4 – purl side
Bring yarn to purl side (in position to purl), P to 2 st before previously wrapped stitch, sl1pw, bytb, slip stitch back to LHN, turn work

Repeat rows 3 & 4 until all but 3 center stitches have been wrapped
End having just completed a knit row
Turn work

Phase Two – during which you will create the heel cup via decreases

Row 1 – purl side
Purl lifting wraps and purling then together with their respective stitches to last stitch before marker, sl1pw, remove marker, slip stitch back to LHN, P2tog, turn

Row 2 – knit side
Sl1pw, K to last stitch before marker (lifting the wraps and k2tog with their respective stitches as you come to them), then lift the wrap of the next stitch completely over and to the left if the stitch, slip the stitch as if to knit, slip the wrap as if to knit, remove marker, slip the next stitch knitwise, place the 2 slipped stitches and the wrap back in the LHN and knit the 2 slipped stitches together with the wrap THROUGH THE BACK LOOP, turn

Row 3 – purl side
Sl1pw, P to 1 stitch before gap, p2tog to close gap, turn

Row 4 – knit side
Sl1pw, *K1, sl1pw* repeat to 1 stitch before gap, SSK, turn

Repeat rows 3 & 4 until all stitches have been worked
End having completed a knit row

Congratulations! You’ve turned the heels. 😀

Now relax, take a break. Oh, and share photos with me. I love seeing those lovely little turned heels.

Next time — ribbing and stretchy bind off. You are almost done!


7 thoughts on “Let’s Turn that Heel!

  1. Mary, I am confused as to what I need to do to get my stitches ready to turn the heel. I am just not sure how I am supposed to set up the 2 at a time socks for this. I don’t know why, but I am finding your instructions kind of confusing. Could you maybe explain what your steps were with your socks? Like, starting on the front, where you made all the extra stitches- you knit x number, moved some, knit more? Or slipped some first, than knit. I am just super confused (it could just be me right now, though) HELP!!!

  2. It is ok, Rachel…this is the hardest part to explain to someone when you can’t sit next to them through the steps! 😀

    Ok — with my KAL socks, once I finished the gusset increases:

    – after I placed the markers to show me how many stitches I wanted to remain on the sock ‘top’
    – on the first sock, I knit to the marker, then caused all the stitches I just knit to be moved over to the other needle (by sliding them down the cable)
    – then I knit across to the 2nd marker, knit the stitches from that marker to the end of the row, then placed those stitches (from the 2nd marker to the end of the row) on the large safety pin and let it hang there.

    – on the second sock, I knit to the 1st marker, placed those stitches (from beginning of row to 1st marker) on a different large safety pin
    – knit across to the 2nd marker
    – knit from 2nd marker to end of row, and then moved these stitches to the other needed (by sliding them down the cable)

    Does that help clarify it a bit?


  3. I think so- so, you are basically, to set up the stitches, only working the ones that were on the “top” and getting everything lined up on the “back” to turn the heel? And then each heel gets worked separately? Am I getting this? Hopefully! I was so frustrated this morning looking at your tutorial, wanting to knit and going “I don’t know what she’s talking about!! Ack!” LOL.

  4. Great! Sorry I couldn’t get to a reply between your 2 previous comments. 😀

    Can you think of an additional or replacement wording that would help explain this stage better?
    It is so hard to *see* all the steps in my mind’s eye and know them by heart — having done it so many times — and not know quite how to make it all make sense.

    I know the pattern works — and that it is uber easy. But how to make sure it is as easy to those following along? 😀

  5. Hi Mary. Thanks for the great toe-up, taat tutorial. I was wondering what is the purpose of slipping every 2nd k st when turning the heal. And also, when I sl1pw on the k side should my yarn be in front or back? I have been leaving it in back. Thanks!

  6. You are welcome!
    Let’s see, first, when you slip every 2nd stitch on the heel you get a faux ribbing. It helps to keep the heel from being baggy. It is not at all essential. In my experience it leads to a better fitting and nicer looking sock….but it’s still completely optional.

    And, yes, you can leave the yarn in back when you slip those stitches purl wise.

    Hope this helps. Don’t hestitate to let me know if I can help you with any of this again. 🙂

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