Beginner's Guide to Knitting Socks Part Two
Now to the dreaded part... knitting the heel. Don't panic. Once you get going and follow your pattern step by step it will all happen.
The Heel Flap
To construct the heel of the sock, you will be knitting with approximately half of your stitches (the number may vary slightly between patterns) while the rest are placed on a stitch holder. The stitches on the stitch holder will later form the sock part that sits on top of your foot.
You are now concentrating on just the heel stitches that are still on your needle and knitting back and forth. The Tin Can Knit pattern heel is knitted in stocking stitch (knit one row and then purl the next) but yours may have a pattern. When you are knitting back and forth, you're making the heel flap which sits on the back of your foot. Remember to keep a record of your rows so your socks are the same size:-)
Tip: Slipping the first stitch of each heel flap row gives you very clear stitches to pick up later.
Short rows are where you knit across part of the row and then turn the knitting around and work back across the row. Short rows are used in socks heels to create a curve so the sock heel begins to sit under your foot.
Picking Up the stitches on the side of the Heel Flap
In the photo above you can see what looks like a chain. To pick up the stitches you need for the side of the heel follow these steps.
1. Have the right side of your knitting facing you. Insert your needle from the right side of your knitting through both loops.
2. Wrap your yarn around the needle and pull the needle back through the two loops to the front as if you were knitting a stitch.
3. You should now have a new stitch on your right hand needle.
Continue until you have the correct number of stitches.
Avoiding a hole where the heel and top of the foot stitches meet
Try to have a reasonably firm tension between the stitches from the top of foot and the picked up stitches along the side of the heel as this can be where a small hole forms. If a small hole should appear, this hole can be fixed with a darning needle and yarn of the same colour later.
I found this video helpful for explaining how to pick up stitches and avoid a hole.
Once you've picked up the required amount of stitches you will be knitting in a round again. Most patterns require you to decrease a small amount of stitches on either side of the heel so that your sock will fit snuggly on your foot.
Well done! You're now on the home stretch to finishing your sock.
Grafting the Toes (the closing seam across the toes)
A stitch commonly used to close the gap between the stitches on the top of the sock and underfoot of the sock is the Kitchener stitch. This stitch is used instead of normal sewing up as it leaves an invisible seam so no rubbing on your toes. Here is a step by step guide to the Kitchener stitch.