On sock knitting and the benefits of the 'Afterthought Heel'

Last week I finished a pair of very simple socks for Little Miss from cheap (Drops Delight) stash yarn which had been sitting around for a few years. She is delighted with them. This yarn is fine for basic socks - especially those which will not fit for long - and I used the sock formula from my Demystifying Toe-up socks series. The toe-up / afterthought-heel construction is a method that I am very comfortable with and I don't have to concentrate, so it's the perfect portable project. It also gives a great fit every time. 
Simple rib sock with afterthought heel - Crafts from the Cwtch
For those who are not sure where to place scrap yarn / the heel, my rule-of-thumb is to place it (on the bottom of the sock) when the top of the sock reaches the spot when the leg joins the foot - in the main photo above, this is where the green transitions to yellow. Trying the sock on as soon as the heel stitches are picked up, it's then possible to make any adjustments - e.g. by adding a few rounds before the decreases, adjusting the speed at which the heel decreases or deciding when to graft the heel shut. 

As well as getting a great fit, I like the 'afterthought' heel for other reasons: 
  • It is a quick way of inserting a heel - no gusset, no flap, it's just a 'second toe'
  • The heel can be knit with different yarn if you're running out or want a longer sock
  • It can be knit with re-inforcing thread to prolong the life of the sock
  • It can be easily removed and reknit if you wear through heels as quickly as I do
  • If working patterned stitches on the foot, there is no interruption while stopping to work the heel
  • When knitting two-at-a-time (which I usually do) it's very quick to knit the toe and main tubes, and then you only have to insert the heels for a finished pair. Much less chance of 'second sock syndrome'. 
With one pair off the needles, I spotted a brand new sock pattern - Whiz Bang by Sarah Shoo* - more toe-up socks, with gloriously simple slip-stitch pattern, lovely toe shaping and a "bootylicious" heel that I'd never seen before. I cast on straight away - what a perfect match for highly variegated yarn!
Whiz bang sock - pattern by Sarah Shoo, yarn from The Yarn Yard - Crafts from the Cwtch
On Saturday evening, I knit the first heel. It was an interesting construction and looked very pretty - lots of people will love it. But I ripped it out on Sunday morning in favour of an afterthought as it wasn't such a good fit on my feel, took longer than usual and would be harder to replace. I'm much happier.

Far from being a waste of precious knitting time, trying a something new was a very useful experience - I had worried about being "stuck in a rut" but trying this reaffirmed why I like the heel I usually knit. Knitting is such a personal thing and my usual way of knitting socks works well for me and suits my feet. I know I'm going to love these socks and am looking forward to getting the second one on the needles.

Do you have a go-to method of knitting socks? How do you prefer to knit them and why? Or do you like to mix it up?

*The pattern assumes some previous sock knitting experience / understanding, but is straight forward. The instructions are nicely laid out and easy to follow, with tick-boxes to help you keep track. One size is given, but the stitch pattern is in multiples of 4 stitches so can be adjusted quite easily. Overall a really nice pattern. 


  1. I've got another inch or so before I get to the heel on mine. The heel looks interesting. I don't get on with afterthought heels so much and as I tend to wear socks out on the sole near by toes it doesn't give any advantage. I love the fish lips kiss heel but I'm looking forward to trying out this new one :-)

    Your daughter's socks look lovely

  2. I love the whiz bang socks - the yarn you've chosen works really well with the stitch pattern. xx

  3. Splendid socks for your baby. Brightly colorful like her smile and the twinkle in her eyes.


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