Knitting Tutorial: Japanese or Pinned Short Row Heels

Here's a little knitting secret that I would like to share. Once you learn how to knit socks using a short row method, you will likely never make heel flaps or afterthought heels again. They look much neater than heel flaps and there is no need to go back and insert the heel after the rest of the sock is made as in afterthought heels.

At first, the idea of short rows seems a little mysterious, but in my opinion they are easier and actually speed up the sock knitting process.

Five Common Short Row Techniques

The Japanese or Pinned Method

Besides yarn and knitting needles, you will need one additional item for this method, removable stitch markers or pins. In a pinch, you can also use safety pins or even paper clips.

Here's the cuff of an ankle sock I am making with worsted weight yarn. For all short row methods, the heel is worked across half of the sock's stitches. You'll notice my round ends at the center of my heel stitches. I am going to slip my non-heel stitches onto a stitch holder for demonstration purposes, but normally you can just keep them on a spare dpn.
Row 1 (RS): Knit across until one stitch remains, turn.
Technically this is half of a row, so we will work the other half later.
Row 2 (WS): Slip one stitch from the left needle to the right,
hook a removable stitch marker or pin on the working yarn,
purl across the heel until one stitch remains, turn.
Row 3: Slip one stitch and hook a removable stitch marker or pin on the working yarn, notice that all of your markers/pins are going to be on the wrong side of your work,
knit across the heel until you reach the marker/pin, turn.
Row 4: Slip one stitch and place a marker/pin on the working yarn,
purl across to next marker/pin, turn.

Repeat Row 3-4 for the required length.

Remember Row 1 was a half row, so you need to work the other half now.

Slip one stitch and attach a marker/pin to the working yarn, knit to the center of the heel.
The right side of my sock looks pretty normal, but let's flip it over to the other side.
The wrong side of my sock has 6 pins on each side of the heel.

And now, the second half of the heel.
Row 5: Technically this is a half row and we will work the other half later. Knit to one stitch after the first marker/pin,
looking at the wrong side of the sock you can see that there is a marker dangling under the stitch I just finished knitting on the right needle,
lift the marker/pin and without twisting, slip the lifted strand of yarn onto the left needle, remove the marker/pin,
knit the lifted strand and the next stitch together,
turn.
Row 6: Purl across to one stitch after the marker/pin, again notice the marker is dangling under the last stitch I worked,
to make sure both sides of the heel look the same, you have to reverse the order of the stitch and lifted strand on wrong side rows, slip one stitch,
lift the marker/pin and without twisting, slip the lifted strand onto the left needle, remove the marker/pin,
slip one stitch back from the right needle to the left,
purl the stitch and the lifted strand together,
turn.

You will notice that there is a large gap between the stitches where you lifted the marker/pin on the previous row.
Row 7: Knit to the gap,
lift the marker/pin and without twisting, slip the lifted strand of yarn onto the left needle, remove the marker/pin,
knit the lifted strand and next stitch together,
turn.

Again, there will be a noticeable gap between the stitches where you lifted the marker/pin on the previous row.
Row 8: Purl to the gap,
slip one stitch from the left needle to the right,
lift the marker/pin and without twisting, slip the lifted strand onto the left needle, remove the marker/pin,
return one stitch from the right needle to the left,
purl the stitch and lifted strand together, turn.
Repeat Row 7-8 until one marker/pin remains on each side of the heel.
Since Row 5 was a half row, we need to work the other half now.

Knit to the center of the heel.


Even though one marker/pin remains on either side of the heel, we are going to begin working in rounds from this point so I slipped my held stitches back onto a dpn.

Round 9 (RS): Knit to he gap, lift the marker/pin and without twisting, slip the lifted strand of yarn onto the left needle, remove the marker/pin,
knit the lifted strand and next stitch together,
knit across the stitches that were held,
lift the marker/pin and without twisting, slip the lifted strand of yarn onto the left needle, remove the marker/pin,
knit the lifted strand and next stitch together,
knit to the beginning of the round.

All the markers/pins have been removed and the heel is complete.

Continue working the rest of your sock in rounds.
Here's what the heel looks like from the side.

The nice part about the Japanese or Pinned Method is there are no unsightly gaps at the sides of your heel as we had with the Wrap and Turn, Yarn Over and German Methods.



To finish up this series of short row heel tutorials, in my next post I'll teach you the Shadow Wrapped Method.

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The Chilly Dog: Knitting Tutorial: Japanese or Pinned Short Row Heels
Knitting Tutorial: Japanese or Pinned Short Row Heels
Learn how to knit socks using Japanese or Pinned Short Row Heels.
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