How To Choose the Perfect Heel for Your Hand Knitted Socks

How To Choose the Perfect Heel for Your Hand Knitted Socks

Bought socks just can’t replace handknitted socks when it comes to personalized fit. This is especially apparent when it comes to the variety of heels that you can knit to ensure that it fits the wearer’s foot perfectly.

In this article we’ll have a look at the different heels that you can knit for your socks, when to use them as well as some video tutorials to make it easier to follow when you’re first learning.

Types of popular heels for knitted socks:

  • Traditional heel flap/heel flap and gusset
  • German short-row heel
  • Afterthought heel
  • Fish lips kiss heel
  • Peasant/forethought heel

Other types of heels for knitted socks:

  • Square heel/Dutch heel
  • Round/French heel
  • Swiss heel
  • Fleegle’s heel (a combination of the German short-row and traditional heel flap heels)

Did you know?

The “common heel”, which has a seam that is sewn together, is now seldom used outside Victorian or modernized Victorian sock patterns.

How to choose the best knitted heel for your socks:

Type of Heel  When the Heel is Used
Traditional heel flap

Mostly used for toe-up socks.

German short-row heel

Use for toe-up or cuff-down socks.

Afterthought heel
  • To use an afterthought heel, you will need to knit the rest of the sock completely and then pick up stitches and add the heel.
  • Unlike the peasant heel, no waste or scrap yarn is used to delineate where the heel will be.
  • Great for colorwork or socks knitted with self-striping yarn.
Fish lips kiss heel
  • Quick and easy to work, this heel can be used for cuff-down and toe-up socks.
  • There are no stitches to pick up with this heel as there is no gusset, making it a favorite of many knitters.
  • Don’t use it if you or the intended recipient have a high instep.
Peasant/forethought heel Knitted in much the same way as the afterthought heel, however, scrap or waste yarn is used to delineate where the heel will be.
Square/Dutch heel
  • Use for cuff-down socks.
  • Works on any stitch count and gauge.
Round/French heel
  • Use for cuff-down socks.
  • Works on any stitch count and gauge.
Fleegle’s heel
  • Combination of flap and short-row heels.
  • Only for experienced sock knitters.
  • Gives a neat heel without holes at the gusset.


Tutorials for the different knitted heels

  • Traditional heel flap/heel flap and gusset

This is probably the first heel that most knitters learn when they learn to knit socks. It can also be made very durable by using slip stitch patterning on the flap (the part that goes over the heel). It can also be personalized very easily.

Here is a photo tutorial for a toe-up sock using the heel flap and gusset heel and here is a tutorial for a cuff-down sock using the heel flap and gusset heel.

Video tutorials:


  • German short-row heel

Ida from Knitgrammer notes that knitting a German short-row heel for toe-up socks is quite simple once you’ve done the math. To make things easier, she’s done the maths for you and has also supplied a pattern to make this hourglass-shaped heel.

Video turorials

German short row heels, three ways by Roxanne Richardson

Wrap and turn short row heel without holes by Knitting with Suzanne Bryan


  • Afterthought heel

Ida from Knitgrammer explains the placement of the afterthought as follows:

“All you need to know is the number of stitches you have per sock and your row gauge. Based on those numbers this pattern calculates also the placement for your heel”.

She also has a thorough tutorial and pattern for the afterthought heel on her website.

Video tutorial:

How to knit an afterthought heel by The Chilly Dog

  • Fish lips kiss heel

The fish lips kiss heel is an easy heel pattern to learn as it doesn’t have a gusset and no stitches need to be picked up in working it.

Here is the paid pattern for the fish lips kiss heel (Ravelry).

Video tutorial:


  • Peasant/forethought heel

The peasant heel, that’s worked with waste yarn, is a beautiful option if you want to knit the heel of the sock last and not bother with it while you’re busy knitting the rest of the sock. Use this heel for socks you know will get a lot of wear, as the heel can be removed and a new one re-knitted if the wool should wear out. No need for darning!

This heel, like the afterthought heel, is used a lot in traditional patterns from the Middle East, Balkans, and Eastern Europe.

Tip: For waste yarn, use a different colored yarn that is easy to spot. This will make removing it later on much easier!

Video tutorial:


  • Square/Dutch heel

The square/Dutch heel is a deeper heel than the fish lips kiss heel and is a comfortable fit. Used for cuff-down socks, it can work on any stitch count and any gauge.

Here is a pattern using the square/Dutch heel.

Video tutorial:


  • Round/French heel

The round, or French, heel is used for cuff-down socks, like in this simple sock pattern that uses the French heel. Like the square/Dutch heel, the French one will also work on any stitch count or gauge.

Video tutorial:


  • Fleegle’s heel

The Fleegle’s heel is a combination of the German short-row heel and the

Here’s the link to the pattern for working a “Fleegle’s heel”.

Finally, if you’re unsure about how to pick up stitches in your knitting, here’s a lovely photo tutorial from Modern Daily Knitting.

What’s your favorite heel to knit? Tell us in the comments or in the KnitPal Facebook Group!



Casey Morris

I was excited to see a “Swiss” heel in your list but was disappointed when I did not see any reference to a video or instructions…

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