Afterthought Heel

A true Afterthought Heel can be both intimidating and liberating. Cutting into the beautiful sock you’ve just finished knitting to insert a heel is a lot of fun and makes the sock knitting process incredibly potato chippy as you just have to knit a tube and think about the heel measurements later in life. Therefore, socks with Afterthought Heels make for great social projects, road trip projects, or TV knitting.


Typically, you’ll work an Afterthought Heel with the same stitch count you had when working the sock and pick up 4 extra stitches to close up any gaps, two at each end of the heel. You then work the heel in the round, decreasing 4 stitches every second row, until you achieve a certain stitch count. However, Peasant Heels also give you the opportunity to be creative with your decreasing, creating swirls/stars, a wedge, etc depending on the placement and frequency of the decreases. Play around! 


If picking up the correct stitches for an Afterthought Heel makes you nervous or you find it difficult with a knitting needle, you can always put in a lifeline before and after the row you’re cutting out with a small tapestry needle and some dental floss, ensuring that you’ll get the exact stitches you’ll need. It can make it much easier than trying to stick your knitting needle through each stitch, particularly if you’re working with a unique fibre type.

My favorite thing about knitting an Afterthought Heel is how amazing they look in self-striping yarn! You’re able to continue the stripes right through the heel without them being disrupted unnaturally and have an outstanding bullseye effect in your heel. They’re also ideal for those who find traditional heel flap and gusset constructions too roomy for their low insteps or narrow feet as it has a very snug fit.


Dec: Decrease.
Inc: Increase.
K: Knit.
K2tog: Insert the right needle into 2 stitches simultaneously and knit the 2 stitches together. (1 st dec.)
Rep: Repeat.
St(s): Stitch(es).
Ssk: Slip 2 stitches, one at a time, knitwise. Knit the slipped stitches together through the back loops. (1 st dec.)


These directions for this Afterthought Heel will create a standard wedge heel, are for magic loop, and based on 48 [52, 56, 60, 64, 68, 72, 76, 80, 84, 88] stitches, having the stitches divided evenly between the two needles. They can be worked using DPN’s or mini-circulars, being mindful of where each half of your stitches begin and end. You’ll find general foot information here should you need it.

The directions assume you’ve already completed the entire sock, exclusive of a heel. These measurements are based on a gauge of 32 stitches by 40 rounds in the stockinette = 4″ / 10 cm, after blocking. If you’re working with a different gauge, check out the modifications at the end of the directions to adjust to your personal gauge. Gauge is crucial in obtaining the correct fit. Changes in gauge will result in a size difference for your finished socks. 

With your sock laying flat with the sole facing up, measuring from the toe along the sole of the foot, measure 1 [1.25, 1.5, 1.5, 1.75, 2, 2.25, 2.5, 2.5, 2.75, 3]” / 2.5 [3, 3.5, 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5, 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5] cm less than your desired foot length and place a locking stitch marker to denote the round you’ll be working from. With your sock toe pointing down, working right to left, pick up the right leg of all the stitches directly below the stitches of your selected round (that you marked with your marker). Rotate work, so your toe is now pointing up, moving right to left, pick up the right leg of all the stitches directly below the selected round. You’ll now have 24 [26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44] stitches on each needle, half picked up above the selected round and half below the selected row, leaving the row with the marker unpicked up.

Using your tapestry needle and a pair of scissors, cut the center of the marked round. Gently pull out the marked round yarn, unraveling it until you reach the edges of your picked-up stitches (do not pull yarn out further than your needle stitches, or you’ll unravel your socks). Join your yarn and begin working in the round as follows:

Round 1: *Pick up 1 st to close the gap, knit across the needle, then pick up 1 more st to close the gap; rep from * once more. (4 sts inc.)
Round 2: Knit across round.
Round 3: *K1, ssk, knit to last 3 sts on the needle, k2tog, k1; rep from * once more. (4 sts dec.)


Repeat Rounds 2-3 until you have 40 stitches (20 on each needle), then work Round 3 three more times; you’ll have 28 stitches (14 on each needle). Cut yarn, leaving an 8” / 21 cm tail, and Kitchener Stitch your heel closed.


If you’re working with the same stitch counts, but with a different gauge, we can do a little math to help calculate how much length you need to reserve for your heel from your desired length. The directions for this peasant heel are worked across 10 [12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30] rounds which is what gives you your heel depth.

Step 1: Determine your round/row ratio. You’ll divide the swatch by the number of rows you worked.

Imperial Example; 4″ swatch divided by 40 rounds = 0.1
Metric Example; 10 cm swatch divided by 40 rounds = 0.25

Step 2: Multiply the heel rows for your size by your ratio.

Imperial Example; If I was working a 64-stitch sock, I’d have 18 rounds in my heel. 18 multiplied by 0.1 = 1.8″ heel depth. This can be rounded to the nearest 0.25. I’d need to work my sock until it’s 1.75″ less than my desired length.
Metric Example; If I was working a 64-stitch sock, I’d have 18 rounds in my heel. 18 multiplied by 0.25 = 4.5 cm heel depth. I’d need to work my sock until it’s 4.5 cm less than my desired length.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *