The Flap Heel: Flap and Turn

Somebody may have requested at some point a tutorial on sock heels. Since I have, somewhat recently, inflicted some basic socky knowledge on two other of my dear, unfortunate friends, I thought it might be nice to provide some visual aids to the basic construction of a top-down, heel-flap style heel, which is what I use almost universally.

What I am going to provide for you is basic concepts. I don’t want to steal the thunder of all the great basic sock patterns you can get out there, and for goodness sake you can get all this info on youtube if you really want to. So if you want actual numbers and instructions, look at a pattern, but this is yet another way to state the basic procedure of sock heel construction, in the hopes that someone’s way of saying it will help it make sense to you eventually.

Allow me to introduce my lovely assistant, Clocking the Second.

No matter how you did it, if you’ve managed to make the leg of a sock, you’ve essentially knitted a tube.

Demonstrated here in sitio.

A heel flap is generally made of 1/2 of the stitches that were in your leg-tube. So determine which 1/2 of your stitches cross the back half of your leg, and knit across them. Then turn around (that means stop knitting in the round) and go back the way you came. You’re going to keep working on just these stitches, back and forth, flat-like, until you have done about as many rows as you have stitches in the heel flap. So if, for example, I had a leg of 64 stitches, I’d be working back and forth on 32 stitches for 32 rows.

Now, different patterns will have you do different things on a heel flap. Some will have you slip every other stitch on one or both sides; this strengthens the fabric of the heel flap, which is usually the first thing to wear out in a sock. But the one thing ALL heel flaps will have in common is that the first (or last) stitch of the heel is slipped. This creates a sort of chain of stitches along the side that will be really useful later. More on that tomorrow.

When you’re done, you will have a nice little flap that reaches about to the bottom of your heel.

Next comes the actual turning of the heel part. This is a bit funny, but every sock pattern I’ve ever met has given very precise instructions on how to turn a heel, so read them and just do what they say. Here’s how they basically work:

On the next right side row of the heel flap, knit until you’re a couple of stitches past the middle. Do a left-leaning decrease (SSK or SKP; I’m an incurable SKP-er myself), knit 1, and turn. That’s right; stop what you’re doing right in the middle of a row, and turn the whole mess around to start going the other way. Now that you’re turned around, slip 1, purl until you’re a couple past the middle of the heel flap. Purl two together, purl 1, then turn again.

Each time you turned and slipped, you left a little gap in your row. Now that you’re turned around, slip 1, then knit until 1 stitch before that gap, then do a left-leaning decrease. This closes the gap. knit 1 and turn. slip 1, purl until 1 stitch before the gap, then purl 2 together, purl 1, and turn. See a pattern?

Each time you do this, you are working back and forth on more and more of your heel flap stitches. Keep doing it until you’re working all of them. When you’re done it will look like the above. If that doesn’t make sense, here’s a closeup of your flight path.

Everything clear as mud? Great! You fuss with that, and tomorrow we’ll move on to the gusset stitches.

2 thoughts on “The Flap Heel: Flap and Turn

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