Friday, October 17, 2014

Heel Placement for Toe-Up Socks

Not too long ago, I spent a dollar on Ravelry and purchased the pattern for the Fish Lips Kiss heel by Sox Therapist. Let me say right off that this is the best buck I ever spent.

The pattern isn't really a "pattern" - it's a few different things:
1. a method for doing short rows (yet a different way of dealing with the holes, a close kin to "hoiked" stitches, but not quite the same), and

2. a method for placing short-row heels that fit quite well, and, last but not least,
3. a method for making a cardboard template of someone's foot, and using it to make great-fitting socks!

Any of these items are by themselves worth well over $1, so please feel free to go out and purchase this pattern!

Anyways, this post is going to be about using that paper template to make socks that do not involve FLK or short-row heels.

First, you're going to add a few lines to that template:

1. Draw a line 0.75" back from the end of your heel. This is the "flap line".

2. Now draw another line 2.5" away from the flap line, towards the toes. This is the "gusset line".

The distance between the flap line and the gusset line determines the height of the heel flap when you are knitting toe-up socks with flaps (includes Fleegle/Strong style flaps). 2.5" is what I use for ladies' medium sizes; for men or those with larger feet, you might add 0.25" to make a 2.75" flap - in other words, move the gusset line a little further forward towards the toes. The location of the flap line stays fixed.

[cardboard template with placement guides]

Now you have 3 lines to guide you for different heel constructions:

1. ankle-bone line = placement for short-row heels (like FLK), sweet tomato hybrid heels with no extra added stitches, and traditional afterthought heels
2. gusset line = placement for deeper after/forethought heels, starting point for gussets for toe-up flap heels, fleegle/strong heels, insertion point for sweet tomato heels, and extra-deep short row or hybrid sweet tomato heels (extra deep meaning you need to add 6-8 sts to the sole sts all at once at this point, which get decreased away all at once when you're done the heel).
3. flap line = where you stop increasing for toe-up heel flaps / modded fleegle heels, and start actually turning the heel.

What I've learned from playing with this template is that you can start your heel construction anywhere between the gusset and ankle bone line - but the further towards your toes you start, the deeper the heel needs to be for a good fit. Making a deeper heel is accomplished by adding stitches, either all at once (like for Sweet Tomato Heels done over 2/3 of the sock's stitches, or as per Sweet Tomato Hybrids which add them all at once), or by creating a gusset (Fleegle/Strong, flap heels), or by adding them as part of the afterthought construction (those little gussets I add in my "improved" afterthought heel).

I've amassed a set of cardboard templates for my whole family by now, and these things work really well. In the next little while, I'll be blogging about how to use them to make flap-style toe-up heels and (slightly modified) Fleegle heels.


  1. Do you have any patterns for beginners, intermediate toe up sock on dnp or circular needles 4mm. Thank you,

  2. Hi Vanessa, sorry, I don't have patterns. I can highly recommend Ravelry as a source for lots of advice and (free) patterns.

  3. I have loved collecting cardboard feet too and have made terrific socks using her method. The cardboard foot idea *is* genius! I'm always on the scput for sock ideas. Thanks.

  4. Love your site, and thank you for taking the time to pass your knowledge on to others...well me!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share .. it's extremely helpful

  5. How does this method for placing the afterthought heel accommodate the idea that the sock length should be 10% less than the actual foot length? Does adding the heel result in a sock with that 10% negative ease in length? Or does that 10% not really matter?

    1. I never subtract ease from foot length, only from the circumference.

  6. Does this method work for top down socks as well?

    1. I'm not quite sure how you would implement this for top-down socks. Knitting top-down, you usually knit until you're happy with how long the socks are, and then just go into the heel - short row, flap, whatever. You don't worry about heel or gusset placement. You worry about when to start the toes.

  7. Thank you! I've been using and loving and promoting the FLK heel for the past few months. I LOVE your additions/helpful hints and am going to use them on toe up socks with a Strong/fleegle heel. Keep your fingers crossed, and thank you again for sharing your insight. 😀