Knitting socks

Well, I started knitting socks, from the top down for my first pair. I am using the magic loop method. However, I hate, hate, hate doing the traditional slip stitch heel. I hope there's a different method out there for when I try the next pair. And where do I find the brilliant colors used by Crafty Andy and others? I don't find anything like that around here.

Image icon 0808131403.jpg793.55 KB


bobinthebul's picture

The socks are looking good!

There are lots of different heel methods! What is it you hate about the slip stitch heel? (The sock in the photo doesn't have its heel yet so I assume you're talking about the eye of partridge stitch, slip, knit, slip knit across then purl back.) Is it the eye of partridge stitch itself? If that's the case, you don't have to do it, but it's a nice stitch for a heel because it creates a double-thickness fabric that's a bit more durable. Or is it the mechanics of turning and then picking up stitches? You might be interested in trying Cat Bordhi's sweet tomato heels.
Another type of heel is frequently called the "afterthought" heel (not really accurate as it's generally quite well planned!). You knit a row in waste yarn where you want the heel to be, then cut that out and pick up the stitches, and knit in the round, decreasing much like you do for a toe on a top-down sock. There are more but those are two that come to mind.

As for fancy colors, you can order a lot online. Try sources like knitpicks, yarn paradise, an of course etsy. I'm sure others will think of more.

CLABBERS's picture

Thanks for mentioning the tomato heel and the partridge stitch. I had not heard of either as I am new to socks. I just watched a couple videos on them and they are both fun.

Tallguy's picture

A real "after-thought" heel is when you knit just a plain tube sock, with no heel. And then you put the heel in later, as an after-thought, where you need it. This is good for when you have a limited amount of yarn, and can do the heel (and perhaps the toe) in a different colour. See EZ for detailed instructions for after-thought anything.

Heels come in a very large number of different varieties, and you can do any you like. You are NOT limited to doing only what is in the pattern! Remember that a pattern is a guide only -- you are allowed to substitute whenever the mood strikes you.

I have to say that my first venture into knitting was a pair of socks, with very fine yarn (at 11 stitches per inch), and before I knew much. I followed the directions and it worked beautifully! I've been hooked since. I can do them cuff down or toe up or even sideways, singly or two-at-a-time; does that make me versatile? I love them because there is something new to do before I get bored with any one section!

hamimono's picture

Well said! After searching around and not finding any interesting men's sock patterns out there I realized that the key is to find a great BASIC pattern that one really enjoys and then do any stitch pattern that one wants on the top and leg of the sock. Freed me to make socks that reflected my version of the "male aesthetic."

(I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about the various books out there that claim to be "what men want" and then all the "designs" are unbelievably boring and funereal . . . I'm not looking for Flaming Flamingo-colored yarn with vaginal rosebud motifs repeating in the delicate lace [although no disrespect if that's your thing!!] . . . but I do want something with a bit of refined interest, flair, and modern contrasts of unexpected texture or color . . . it's just not out there much for admittedly metrosexual guys like me. . .)

Thunderhorse54's picture

Thank you very much. Yes, that's the heel I'm doing, I didn't know it was called that. Maybe I just need to get used to it, But I will look up those other heel styles, just in case.

Also, loved your article on Facebook.

CLABBERS's picture

Terry, I am new to sock knitting as well. I am on my fourth pair total, with two done in worsted weight and two in sock yarn. I am very pleased at the learning curve. All of mine have used the toe up method with a simple gusset and heel with no wrap and turn. I dislike wrap and turn because I get confused with it. I need to work on that to master it. Keep plugging away!


Thunderhorse54's picture

Thanks! I'm glad to hear from another sock novice. I will persevere.

hamimono's picture

I hear ya. I've knitted various socks and haven't felt the "thrill" of turning the heel that avid sockers exult over. Somehow I do a little better with toe-up socks than top down. I have approached it as that-thing-that-gets-better-with-practice . . . Doing the socks two-at-a-time helps me a lot as well, both for reinforcing the turning technique and circumventing "second sock syndrome." You may want to research various ways of making the heel and try some until you find the one that appeals.

Actually, Thunder, there IS a way to have sock fun and circumvent the dreaded heel thang. It's literally "a sock with a twist": a spiral tube sock. I have made it a few times for family and myself. Can be done top-down or toe-up. Knitting the spiral makes it more than just a plain, baggy tube sock and it's kind of cool: the sock itself has spirals knit around it so, when you put on the sock, you just straighten out the spirals and then it turns and conforms closely to the foot like a normal sock, making its own heel. Very fun to knit, wear, and present!

There are various free patterns for this out there. Here is one:

Here's the Ravelry free download with lots of FO pics:

Thunderhorse54's picture

OH, I'm gonna try that for sure when I finish this pair. I haven't tried toe-up, but I'll give it a shot! Thanks for the advice.

hamimono's picture

Put a shout here when you are ready to do toe-up. I'm sure folks will have good ideas for easy toe-up cast-ons. (I have a couple of favs) All are easy than Kitchener grafting after top-down!

smalltownknitguy's picture

Check out the Fleegle Heel :

I use it quite a bit and enjoy the simplicity of it.

If you don't have a LYS (Local Yarn Shop), start looking online, including Etsy. There are a lot of indi dyers out there with a lot of beautiful yarns.

Short row heals are useful when you don't want to pick-up stitches. I prefer Cat Bourdi's sock patterns. She has several different kinds of patterns, but I'm partial to her Pathways designs.


Here in Fort Wayne we have a shop called "just socks" they sell yarns over the internet. I have yet to visit them. There web site shows some usual yarns some with great colours. They carry Koiga yarns(i think i spelled it right) most of them are not reinforced however they feel like super wash. I love the colours they have although not reinforced. You can buy the reinforcement nylon but I have hear mixed reviews about it.

SAPBrown's picture

I did not find "Just Socks" but this site came up.

Is this the site?

hamimono's picture

Just for clarity, it's "Koigu," from the area in Estonia that is the ancestral home of the founders. Legendarily soft yarn with gorgeous colors!

Grumperina says their sock yarn, although not superwash, washes and wears quite well.

Some people use reinforcing nylon on heel and toe. I just double the yarn in those areas and find that they wear well . . .

hamimono's picture

Soooo . . . closure needed. Don't keep us in suspense! What heel did you decide to go with and how did it go for you?

xtophercb's picture

"I'm not looking for Flaming Flamingo-colored yarn with vaginal rosebud motifs repeating in the delicate lace [although no disrespect if that's your thing!!]"

exactly. 'nuff said.