Afterthought Heel

In yesterday’s comments, Melanie asked what an afterthought heel was.
Rather than just respond to her, I thought I’d post it here in case anyone else was curious too.
An afterthought heel is a heel that’s knitted into the sock after the sock has been knitted.
OK, I know the sock that I posted yesterday isn’t done. Bear with me and all will be revealed.
Basically, you knit the sock to the point where the heel should begin. Then, instead of knitting the heel, you take some waste yarn (preferably in the same weight and different color as the sock) and knit half a row in the waste yarn.
Then, you go back to where you started knitting in the waste yarn, and just continue on knitting like normal, with the actual sock yarn. Meaning, the next half row will be knitted directly ON TOP OF the waste yarn you just knitted.
Now, traditionally you’d just knit the rest of the sock first, and then come back and do the heel. I only knit a couple of inches of the leg before going back. I wanted to be able to continue to try on my sock since I’m making knee highs and fit is important.
In other words, I can’t fit myself with a heel-less knee high tube sock.
So, after knitting a couple inches on the leg, I went back to that waste yarn.
I took 2 needles and pulled the waste yarn out 1 stitch at a time. You actually need to thread the yarn back out of the stitches. The yarn comes out of a leg stitch, then out of a foot stitch, and continues doing this until you’ve reached the end of the waste yarn. As each stitch is revealed, I put it on one of the needles. When I was done I had the same number of stitches on each of the 2 needles, and the total number (adding up the stitches on both needles)was equal to the total number of leg stitches.
Now that I had all my stitches on my needles I knit a plain row first for setup. Then I began knitting a basic decrease every other row toe. Yes, I said toe.
I knit this way until I had decreased half the total number of stitches.
Following me? OK, that’s a lot of math without any real numbers, so here are the specifics for my sock.
The foot has a total of 64 stitches.
I knit 32 stitches in waste yarn
When I went back and pulled the yarn out, I had picked up 32 stitches on each of the 2 needles.
I then knit a plain row.
Then I began knitting a decrease every 2 rows toe.
When I had 16 stitches left on each needle (meaning I had knit a total of 16 rows — 8 plain, and 8 decrease), I grafted the remaining stitches together.
It was a very fast heel and as a bonus, if the heel ever wears out I can easily take it out and replace it. And since these are big honkin’ knee highs, that’s a good thing.
In case my description wasn’t helpful (and I didn’t post pics since I didn’t take any while knitting it because I was too obsessed with watching Alias on DVD), socknitters has a good article on afterthought heels (with pics no less!) as well. Go check it out.
Added later: Susan suggested a star heel as a better alternative because it more closely resembles the actual shape of a heel. She left a link to Dawn Brocco’s site for instructions.
Thanks, Susan!

4 thoughts on “Afterthought Heel

  1. Fabulous! Now I have to go and knit some socks so I can try this out. Thanks so much for taking the time, and posting the link!

  2. Thank you for your nice comment and all this great info. Sounds complicated, but I hear it lasts longer than a regular heel. Will definitely give it a try, eventually. 😀

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