Afterthought Heel Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks to take the guesswork out of knitting afterthought heels. | 

What happens when I get bored knitting a pair of socks? I start another pair. If the next pair just so happens to be self-striping and knit with heavier yarn, said pair is even more entertaining. I just couldn’t resist. The last in-progress pair or, more specifically, the 3x2 ribbing on the last pair, became mind-numbing. Not even knitting along to the cheesiest and most hilarious of horror movies made the socks any more appealing. Nor did waiting in slow moving lines. Thankfully, stash yarn came to the rescue.

Tips & Tricks to take the guesswork out of knitting afterthought heels. |

Yarn: Knit Picks Felici Sport Self Striping - Kingpin

Needles: 2.5 mm

Date: January 7 - 29, 2013


Self-striping sock yarn was a lot more fun to work than just plain 3x2 ribbing. No, the irony of a plain vanilla sock being more interesting than ribbing is not lost on me. Uninterrupted striping yarn really is that good. Just knit, adding in a few increases/decreases as needed, and the yarn does most of the work.

Tips & Tricks to take the guesswork out of knitting afterthought heels. |

There were a few “Why didn’t I think of this during the last pair of afterthought socks,” moments that I’m sharing to save you the trouble.

1. When figuring out where to open the heel, measure the length of the toe. If you’re working toe-up measure the toe once it reaches the final stitch count. If you’re working cuff down, measure from where you started decreasing. Toe length and heel length will usually be the same unless you make the toe very pointed. Subtract the toe length from the total foot length measurement for where to place the heel. 

For these socks, the toe length was 1.75”  

10.25” - 1.75”= 8.5”  

From the tip of the toe, I measured 8.5” and marked the rounds with thread to follow Cat Bordhi’s afterthought method. The finished sock came out just the right length and fits wonderfully. 

2. Weigh the finished toe to know how much yarn to put aside for the heel. This trick requires a scale but removes all the guess work. When knitting toe-up, measure the weight of the ball before and after you finish the toe. The difference, multiplied by 2, is how much yarn is needed for the heels. 

If you’re working from the cuff, this trick isn’t as helpful since knitting the toe is one of the last steps. Instead, you could pause to knit the heel, measuring the difference in weight, and leave that much yarn to work the toe.   

If you’re using self-striping yarn and want the colors to match, like I did with this pair, wait to cut the yarn until you know which color the heel falls on. This is easier to do with toe-up socks than cuff down unless you’re knitting the cuff to a certain length. Either way, keep an eye on the stripes and finish before you knit up all of that color.