Raindrop Heel Socks Part 3:  Turning the Heel | Wabi Sabi
February 16, 2022

Raindrop Heel Socks Part 3: Turning the Heel

by Lisa Reid

This article is part of our All About Socks series. To knit along, use the Raindrop sock calculator to generate a custom pattern based on your own gauge and foot measurements and follow along with this guide for more detailed instruction.

Once you've knit the heel flap, it's time to turn the heel.  Since there are lots of patterns out there that will tell you how to do this by the numbers, I'm going to use the navigational approach mentioned in the previous section, in the hopes that this will help you learn how to fashion a sock heel rather than just how to follow a pattern.   Once you've memorized how this method works, you won't ever have to worry about finding a pattern for a sock with a given stitch count.  Simple, easy to remember and effective!

If you want to use a strand of reinforcing yarn to keep the heel nice and durable, add it in here. Simply hold the reinforcing yarn together with the main yarn, and treat the two strands as one.

For sock knitters who prefer knitting the heel flap over an even number of stitches, this method can still be used.  Instead of marking the middle stitch, mark the middle of the work by placing the marker on the needle evenly dividing the left and right.  When the instructions say to knit to 2 stitches past the middle stitch, just read this as 2 stitches past the marker.

 

You should be about to start with a knit row.  Mark the centre stitch using either a scrap of yarn or, (my own preference) a removable stitch marker.  I'm personally very partial to the bulb style markers, since they come in a variety of colours and I can almost always find one that's a good contrast colour to my yarn.

Mark the centre heel stitch

Mark the centre heel stitch with a removable marker.
Row 3:  Knit to 2 stitches past the marked stitch. Knit two together through the back loop and knit one stitch further. Count the stitches that are left on the needle -- if there is an odd number, knit one more stitch.
Row 4:  Slip one stitch as if to purl, then purl to 2 stitches past the marked stitch. Purl two stitches together and purl one stitch further. Count the stitches remaining on the needle -- if there is an odd number, purl one more stitch.

When you have completed Row 3 and 4, your heel should look something like this.  The gap on the left is mirrored by the gap that is hidden where the needles cross.

It's important at this point to have a quick look at the work at this point, to make sure that nothing has gone wrong.  From left to right, with the knit side facing, your work should have an even number of stitches, a gap, an odd number of stitches in which the marked stitch is centred, the spot where your needles are currently (which will become a gap), and then an even number of stitches equal to that on the left flank on the right-hand needle.

Once the heel is centred, the next two rows are repeated.  Each repeat will increase the middle section, while the outside flanks decrease:


Row 5:  Slip the first stitch as if to purl, knit to 1 stitch before the gap. Knit two together through the back loop (using one stitch from either side of the gap to make up the decrease) and knit one stitch further. There should be an even number of stitches remaining on the left needle. Turn work.
Row 6:  Slip the first stitch as if to purl, purl to 1 stitch before the gap. Purl two together (using one stitch from either side of the gap to make up the decrease) and purl one stitch further. There should be an even number of stitches remaining on the left needle. Turn work.
Repeat the last two rows until there are no gaps and all the stitches have been absorbed into the centre section. There should be 19 stitches remaining on the heel.

The heel turn after a few repeats of row 5 and 6.  When about to start a right side row, the number of flank stitches on the left (4 in this picture) should always be equal to the unknit stitches on the right needle (also 4 in this picture).  If this is not the case, something has gone wrong and you should find and fix the error.

The most important thing to remember while repeating these last two rows is that the decrease will always happen across the two stitches on each side of the "gap". If you're unable to see the gap before starting the row, spread the stitches out a little on the needle, and it should become apparent. By decreasing with one stitch from each side, you close up any holes that would otherwise form when knitting these short rows.

The heel is finished when there are no more gaps remaining, and the heel itself should look somewhat like a gently rounded trapezoid at the end of the heel flap.

The heel turn when finished, knit side view.  The centre marker should still line up to the centre of the sock.

If you were using reinforcing yarn, snip the added strand here and knit with just the main yarn from here on.

Congratulations, the sock heel has been turned, and it's time to start working in the round again!

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