Knitting Tutorial: Yarn Over Short Row Heels

Sock Knitting Tutorial: Yarn Over Short Row HeelsHere'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

Yarn Over Method

There are two types of yarn overs you need to be familiar with before starting, a regular yarn over (YO) and a reverse yarn over (rev YO).

YO - Bring the working yarn between the needles and to the back of your work (if it's not already there). Lift the yarn over your right needle.

rev YO - Bring the working yarn between the needles and to the front of your work (if it's not already there). Lift the yarn over your right needle.

Let's make a heel!

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 1 stitch remains, turn.

Technically this is only half of a row. We'll deal with the other half of the row a little later.
Row 2 (WS): Yarn over,
purl across row until 1 stitch remains, turn.
Row 3: Reverse yarn over,
knit to 1 stitch before the yarn over, turn.
Row 4: Yarn over,
purl across to one stitch before the yarn over, turn

Repeat Row 3-4 for the required length.
Remember Row 1 was only half of a row? Now it's time to work another half row. First, reverse yarn over, then knit to the center of the row.
For my example, looking at the stitches from left to right, I have six stitch/yarn over pairs, six stitches, six yarn over/stitch pairs.

So it goes... st, yo, st, yo, st, yo, st, yo, st, yo, st, yo, 6 stitches, yo, st, yo, st, yo, st, yo, st, yo, st, yo, st.

Now, we need to work those pairs of stitches and yarn overs together.

Row 5: Knit to the first yarn over,
rotate the yarn over clockwise by bringing the right needle up through the back of the yarn over and slipping it off the left needle,
slip it back onto the left needle without twisting,
knit the yarn over and the next stitch together, turn.

(Again, technically this is half of a row and we will work the other half later.)
Row 6: Slip 1 stitch, purl across to the first yarn over,

Pro Tip: Slipping the first stitch of this and the following rows is my own personal preference. Most patterns and tutorials using the yarn over method have you simply purl or knit across the row. However I find that slipping that first slip creates a slightly firmer join. (There's a comparison photo at the bottom of this tutorial.)
slip the yarn over knitwise,
slip the next st knitwise,
insert the left needle through both slipped stitches so it is behind the right needle and purl those two sts together (that fancy maneuver is abbreviated ssp meaning slip two stitches individually knitwise then purl them together), turn.
Row 7: Slip one stitch,
knit across to yarn over,
rotate the yarn over clockwise by bringing the right needle up through the back of the yarn over and slipping it off the left needle, slip it back onto the left needle without twisting,
knit the yarn over and the next stitch together, turn.
Row 8: Slip one, purl across to the yarn over, ssp, turn.

Repeat Row 7-8 until all of the yarn overs have been worked together with a stitch.

Remember Row 5 was technically only half a row, so we need to work the other half now. Slip one stitch and knit to the center of the row.
That's it! You are done with the short row shaping and your heel is complete. I slipped my held stitches back onto a dpn, because the rest of the sock is worked in rounds.
Here's the heel from the side.

No, you didn't make a mistake!

Once your heel is complete and you continue working in the round you may notice something discouraging. There will likely be a noticeable hole on each side of your sock. Don't panic. It's actually relatively easy to fix.
If you look at your work closely, there's one strand of yarn that can be lifted and pulled to close the gap.

Use a knitting needle to gently lift the strand so the gap disappears.
Continue working across the from the heel towards the top of the sock lifting a leg of your stitch and distributing that loose strand across the row.
As long as you don't pull each stitch too tightly, you should be able to close the gap and distribute the yarn strand before you reach the center of the top of the foot.

Close the gap on the other side of the sock in the same way.

Sock Knitting Tutorial: Yarn Over Short Row Heels


I made two heel samples using the Yarn Over Method. They don't look significantly different, but the one on the left uses slipped stitches at the beginning of each row and the right sample doesn't. The joins on the left sample are slightly tighter, which is why I choose to slip that first stitch when I am working the wraps and stitches together.

Sock Knitting Tutorial: Yarn Over Short Row Heels

Next up, The German or Double Stitch Method.

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The Chilly Dog: Knitting Tutorial: Yarn Over Short Row Heels
Knitting Tutorial: Yarn Over Short Row Heels
Learn how to knit socks using Yarn Over Short Row Heels.
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