5 Knit Short Row Sock Heels

There are not many things cozier than a well made pair of hand knit socks. I have been knitting socks for years using heel flaps and afterthought heels but only recently discovered the sheer bliss of knitting short row sock heels.

There are two major advantages to knitting short row sock heels. First, the heels are much neater looking than heel flaps. Second, there's no need to go back and insert the heel after the rest of the sock is made as for afterthought heels.

There are five common short row techniques

which are all easier than you may expect.
Earlier this month I shared tutorials for each  method. Now I'd like to take a moment to tell you about the advantages and disadvantages of each technique and tell you which are my personal favorites.

Yarn Over Short Row Sock Heel

The Yarn Over Method is my least favorite short row technique.

Pros - It's easy to see where the turning point is so you don't need to count or mark your stitches.

Cons - The diagonal join at the heel the loosest of all the methods and there is a very noticeable gap on each side of the heel that must be corrected when you finish your sock.

Wrap and Turn Short Row Sock Heel


The Wrap and Turn Method is the most commonly used technique for knitting short rows.

Pros - It's easy to find patterns that reference this technique and the diagonal join is tighter than the Yarn Over Method.

Cons - There is still a very noticeable gap on each side of the heel that must be corrected when you finish your sock.

Shadow Wrapped Short Row Sock Heel


The Shadow Wrapped Method uses simple "twin" stitches.

Pros - This is probably the quickest and easiest of all the short row techniques, the turning points are very clear without counting or markers and there is no gap at the side of the heel.

Cons - The diagonal join is significantly thicker on the inside of the sock than the other methods which can be a problem if you have sensitive feet.

Japanese or Pinned Short Row Sock Heel


The Japanese or Pinned Method requires the use of removable pins or markers to lift a strand of yarn up onto your knitting needles.

Pros - The diagonal join of this heel is by far the tightest and neatest of all the techniques.

Cons - The use of pins/stitch markers make this method slower and slightly more challenging than the other methods, especially if you are working with very fine sock yarn.

German or Double Stitch Short Row Sock Heel


The German or Double Stitch Method looks very messy as you are working it and then some sort of yarn magic happens transforming stitches that look like mistakes into a neat join.

Pros - This technique is speedy like the Shadow Wrapped Method, but the diagonal join is not as bulky.

Cons - The diagonal join is not as tight as the Japanese or Shadow Wrapped Methods.

I don't really care for the Wrap and Turn and Yarn Over Methods because of the gap that must be corrected at the sides of the heel. Also, the diagonal joins on both are a little looser than I like. So, I tend to stick with the Shadow Wrapped, Japanese and German Methods whenever I am knitting socks.

I use the Japanese or Pinned Method when I am knitting a solid colored heel. Even though it takes a little longer to work, the diagonal join is noticeably the neatest.

For heels made with variegated, lightweight yarn I prefer the Shadow Wrapped Method. The bulk of the diagonal join is not uncomfortable with a lighter yarn and I think this is the fastest short row method.

For heels made with a heavier, variegated yarn I go with the German or Double Stitch Method. It's fast like shadow wrapping, but the diagonal seam is not as thick.

No matter which technique you prefer, the nice thing about short row heels is that you can easily substitute your favorite method into any sock pattern that uses short rows.

Happy knitting!

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The Chilly Dog: 5 Knit Short Row Sock Heels
5 Knit Short Row Sock Heels
A comparison of 5 knit short row sock heel methods - wrap and turn, yarn over, shadow wrapped, Japanese or Pinned and German or double stitch
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