Monday, November 3, 2014

Toe-up Flap Heels - the Recipe with Template

Armed with my new cardboard template, I am embarking on an adventure in toe-up flap heels. I've never really been happy with the fit I get from this style , mostly because I've never figured out how to  consistently judge where to start increasing for the gussets. But I think I've got the problem licked now!

Basic toe-up flap:

1. knit sock to gusset line on your template
2. start increasing for gussets, 2 sts every other row. The traditional gusset increases are on either side of the sole. I usually do:
R1: K1, KTBL, K to 2nd last st on sole, KTBL, K1
R2: K
While you are doing this, continue the instep sts in pattern.
Alternate R1 and R2 until you reach the "flap line". For fingering-weight socks, I usually find I increase about 14 sts on each side for my own feet (ladies' medium). Don't sweat this too much - socks are elastic.
(design note: of course, there is no reason you need to stick with tradition and do the gussets at the sides. You can make the gusset appear in the center of your heel, or in the center of your instep. These lead to interesting design options.)
3. when you reach the flap line, stop increasing. At this point, you need to place three markers on your sole stitches: two that section off the increased "gusset stitches" at either side, and a third marker at the midpoint of the sole. The stitches between the gusset markers are going to become the flap, and you should have the same number of these as you do the instep side of the sock.
4. Now you are going to knit a little wedge on the flap stitches, to round out the back of the heel. This you do as follows:
R1: K to center marker, K4, wrap and turn (or do whatever hole-hiding technique is your current fave)
R2: P to 4 beyond center marker, wrap and turn
R3: K to 8 beyond center marker, dealing with that wrap (or whatever) as you knit over it, wrap and turn.
R4: P to 8 beyond center marker, dealing with the wrap you encounter, wrap and turn.
R5: K to 12 beyond center marker, dealing with wrap, wrap and turn.
R6: P to 12 beyond center marker, deal with wrap, wrap and turn.
You've now added a little triangle 6 rows high (which works out to about 1/2" with fingering weight yarn) to the back of the sock. If you're knitting with sport or DK yarn, you'll have to adjust this because 6 rows will probably be too much, and make the sock too long. So do fewer short-rows. When you slip the template into the sock, the sock should be roughly 1/4" short of the end of the template. This is so that the sock will be snug!
5. Now you are ready to actually "turn the heel", by eating up the gusset stitches on either side as you knit back and forth:
R1: K to 1 before left hand gusset marker (the 3rd marker after the RH gusset and center marker) - remove the center marker as you knit over it, you're done with it. SSK, removing the gusset marker during this maneuver.  Turn. (note: DO NOT WRAP or bother with hiding holes). And don't bother putting the marker back. You won't need it.
R2: sl 1 pw wyif,  P to 1 before right hand gusset marker (the only marker left...), P2tog while removing this marker during the maneuver. Turn. (again: do not wrap or anything. Just turn.)
R3: sl 1 kw wyib, knit to 1 st before gap, SSK the next two stitches (bridge the gap) and turn.
R4: sl 1 pw wyif, purl to 1 st before gap, P2tog the next two stitches (bridge the gap) and turn.
Repeat R3 and R4 until you've made all the gusset sts disappear.
(design note: this is a flap with no reinforcement sts. You can easily to a slip-stitch pattern like "eye of partridge" or similar as you knit back and forth during its construction. I find slipped st patterns to be easiest to do over an ODD number of sts, so I'll add a stitch before I start, if that's needed) 

Done-o-rama! You're ready to continue knitting the leg of the sock.

I like this construction - no picking up stitches, no holes, and pretty easy to execute. There is no "wrapping and turning", other than that little wedge at the end of the foot, which you could probably remove without too much ill effect (although you'd likely be better off extending the flap line by another few rows). If you have a super-high instep to contend with, either move the gusset line forward, or (easier) increase faster - like every row - to give yourself more gusset stitches at "flap time".


  1. I stumbled across your blog and I am estatic about your template! I have been knitting socks for about 5 years, but really struggle with heels.. I can never get them to come out correctly.. I either wind up with holes or I mess up and dont get everything correct in a short row.. etc.. I am just trying FLKH and not so sure this is the one for me either.. I do my socks toe up 2 aat.. I am thinking I need to use flap or fleegle heels? I tried a few afterthought heels and did not care for the fit, they seemd to bunch up at the instep...Any suggestions? I have not tried the sweet tomoato heel yet..I am just thrilled with all the info on your blog and have saved several of your articles..I fond I have the hardest time with short row heels. Any suggestions you might have on a good type for me would be greatly appreciated.. I use alot of self striping yarn and dont like pooling..LOL.. Thank you

  2. FLK are basically short-row heels. I don't get holes with them though - if you follow her instructions to the letter you will see that you don't short-row all the way to the last stitch on the needle, and this makes a big difference.

    Sweet Tomato Heels are hard to do 2AAT, it's possible but involves rearranging stitches. I don't use them much for this reason.

    The afterthought heels I describe on this blog have little gussets in them that improve the fit across the instep a lot. If you get bunching, this means that your instep (or just below it) is too tight.

    Fleegle (aka Strong aka Handkerchief) heels are very forgiving across the instep and are easy to do. There's never any trouble with holes because you don't short-row. I'd give these a try!

  3. Thank you!! I am going to try your afterthought heel posted here and also the fleegle heel,, I want the option to do seperate color on my toes and heel, of these 2 heels, which one will better for this, and at what point on your template would I change colors..? and lastly, do these 2 heels interrupt self striping yarn..? I am so anxious to try the crazy ball yarn that you mentioned.. Thanks for taking the time to help me!

  4. Separate colour on heels looks better on afterthought heels, IMO. Check out this post:

  5. you are a wealth of information, ! I think I have all the info now to do some great heels , Thanks to you! Sounds like afterthought heels are my best option! and I presume, they wont interfere with self stripping yarn? I was working on another pair of socks yesterday and got to the heel and decided to try FLKH again..and this time no holes, not sure what I did wrong the first 2 times.. BUT, I did notice that my stripes got out of wack at the point of the heel..guess that heel is not good for stripes? Many many thanks for all your help.. I just might get some socks to fit me yet! My biggest problem was with heels and now that I think I have that solved, I have to work on figuring out my leg issue, I have severe edema in my legs, my right leg being the worse.. I cant seem to get a pair of socks that fit my leg.. The width of my leg increases quickly and gets quite large, I have gone to making short socks, but they still dont go up my leg they just slouch at my ankle. Any suggestions?

  6. Check out the link I posted in my answer, above. It shows what happens with striping yarn in various heel constructions.

    Handknit socks are not as elastic as commercial socks. They will relax and sag to the narrowest point on your leg. In most cases that's the ankle. If you knit knee socks, you have a hope, because in most people the area just below the knee is narrower than the calf, so you can knit in some elastic in the cuff and prevent the sock from moving over that area. But this won't work for socks that are mid-calf. I've never been successful in getting them to stay up, no matter what.

  7. I cant wait to try the afterthought heel you have here and pair it with my self striping yarn.. I dont want to knit knee highs, so i guess I will just have to settle for slouchy socks! LOL.. thanks a million for all the help you have given me.. Happy Holidays and happy knitting

  8. I LOVE toe up socks! You can try them on at any point in the knitting process and it takes all the guesswork out of the whole process. I have just finished my 3rd pair and love them. One thing I would caution sock knitters to consider is that if the person you are making the socks for has sensitive soles you need to go with the thinnest yarn possible. Years ago my first pair of socks were a gorgeous worsted weight wool. They were wonderful but I could not wear them because the purl side of the stitching drove the nerves on the soles of my feet crazy. I was able to give that pair of socks away to a dear friend whose wife made him worsted weight socks until she died. He was thrilled to get them. I really have taken to knitting my own socks again.