A Flap-and-Gusset Heel Recipe for Toe-Up Socks

October 21, 2019

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  • Kate, you’re the best! Thank you very much for these incredibly timely and helpful tutorials. Now, let me look at that new sock yarn…..

    • Thank you for this recipe! It worked perfectly! I thought the math was complicated, and I tried to simplify the calculations for my future projects. I thought I would share this with you, for people who hate math, because I think toe-up socks are awesome, and should be encouraged!

      Basically, I think a close approximation of the length needed for the heel is to take 73% of the total sock stitches, and divide that by your round gauge. This is based on your recommendation of 20% of total stitches for each side of the gusset. For your example of 56 stitches, this would be 3.41 inches, which is very close to the 3.33 inches in your example.

      This number you would subtract from your foot length to get how long the sock should be before you start the gusset.

      Then you would need to calculate 20% of your total stitches to get how many stitches you increase on each side of the markers for the gusset ( or multiply that x 2 for number of gusset rounds).

      Showing my work: 20% x 2 = 40%, which accounts for the gusset increases.
      For the heel stitches, 2/3 of the heel stitches equals 1/3 of the total stitches, as shown in your calculations, which is about 33 percent. 40% + 33% of total stitches = 73%. For 56 stitches, this is 40.88. (56 x 0.73). Then you divide this by the row gauge, for the inches to be subtracted from foot length

      Of course this only applies if you are using the 20% recommendation for gusset stitches which worked perfectly for me!

  • Thank you for this. Flap and gusset heels work best for most of the feet I knit for (we are a very high instep tribe) and this will make it easy to convert patterns with short row heels. Your German short row description is quite clear but, if anyone would find a video helpful, Melanie Berg has a fabulous one. It is linked on her Ravelry site. Go to her pages section and then links to knitting techniques. I am sure there are other great videos on this out there but I return to this one every time I need a quick refresher.

  • Since gauge changes with different yarn, mood, and who knows, maybe sun spots, do you check your rounds gauge like this on each pair of socks you knit??

    • Ha! Yes, you’re right about sun spots. Yes, you do need to check round gauge on toe-up socks. I always check after I’ve worked about an inch beyond the toe.

    • I don’t. The “right” answer is that you should, but ~3-3.5″ is about right for most fingering weight sock yarns, and then it comes down to personal preference on how snugly you want your heel to fit. One row off isn’t going to appreciably change how your sock fits unless you’re VERY picky. If you’re using a totally different weight of yarn than you usually do, for sure check.

      • Thanks! Truly love that the answer is yes/no/ymmv.v Thanks for this — gonna try it on the WIP.

      • Not to be boring, but the challenge is that the length required varies also based on how many gusset stitches you’re working, so it’s not quite as easy as it seems…. It can vary more than you expect!

  • I am confused. Heel flap row 1 &2, if I work to one stitch before the marker, am I not moving the marker one stitch ‘right’ not as written ‘left.’

    • Question: on the hell flap toss, when you are doing SSK or K2tog, is each DA considered one stitch? So you are actually knitting two double stitches together?

      • Hello! Each double stitch is considered a single stitch. You’re only working decreases with double stitches on the first two rows, if that helps?

      • I’ve tried all sort of things. Double knitting colour work cables and more. I’m not fearful of new thing but………..You have all just convinced me that knitting socks is out of the question. All this work and math and washing and in the end it may not fit the foot. Sorry, not for me. I was tempted until I read these comments.

    • I have this question too.

      • Ok I’ve worked out what this means for anyone like me who gets confused by this. Where it’s written “Remove the marker from its existing position and replace it here”, ignore the last four words for now. Just get to the point where there’s one DS on the left needle, remove the marker, SSK the last DS together with the next regular stitch, and replace the marker. Then turn.

  • I use a flap and gusset heel on toe-up socks all the time as they fit really well. I use shadow wrap short rows though. I have tried German short rows and find them very fiddly.

  • Great article, thank you. BUT, I have one question. Is negative ease not a factor in your foot length?

    • I was going to ask this, too! I though about 1/2″ of negative ease is preferred for the sock length, but that may be what I’ve been doing wrong. My Toe-Up Gusset socks seem to always be just a tad short even though I do the calcs each time.

    • The negative ease happens nicely as a side effect of how the heel curves around foot. Usually it’s just fine, but if you wish you can shorten the foot a tiny bit!

      • I’m confused. Do we subtract our final length of the heel and gusset calculations from the real foot length or from the foot length times .95?

  • Thank you! Thank you! This is exactly what I needed.

  • Thank you for this tutorial. I have your Custom Socks book and I am using it to teach myself toe up socks that fit ! I was confused by the gusset markers because I was using short circulars . I put them back on dps and with the help of your pictures I’m making progress !

  • Thank you for this! I wrote some javascript for a calculator to help me do the math – I’m happy to send it to you if you’d like use it for something.

  • Thank you for these explanations, I used them to knit my first heel flap sock, and it fits much better than short row heels ! (less tight).

    I think I spotted a mistake though, in the Heel flap row 4 (WS) section. You write “k to second marker”, but you must mean purl, since the heel in your picture is in stockinette, not garter stitch.

    Another question : in row 3 of the heel flap, you say to slip the first stitch with the yarn in front. Is there a purpose to keep the yarn in front rather than inside the sock?


    • I had this question on the heel flap as well. On both RS and WS (Rows 3 and 4) it says to knit the stitches. Should row 4 be purl?

    • Hi I had the same question too – when I get to that point I’m going to decide to knit or purl…

  • Thank you for the “where to start gusset” calculations! I never get round guage and am either trying to work out the ratio of my guage to theirs and calculate the difference or ripping out multiple times to get it right. Now I can calculate and stitch with confidence! Thanks again 🙂

  • Hi Kate, I have your book Custom Socks and would like to know if I can use the Heel/Gusset Length you provide in your tables for the German Short Rows (as all instructions and patterns in the book use Wrap&Turn short rows). Thanks.

  • Wow so helpful, thanks so so much I found your pattern, im kitting my husband sock and his food nearly 12’’ so can’t find the pattern for that huge sock. Thank you again and hope i can knitting sock

  • Yikes……. Lots of measuring, etc. I have done gusset heels by Wendy’s toe up books. I love toe up, taat. Almost always do FLK heels….. might give this a try. Ps. I have Wonderlust….have made couple pr of lovely socks from it.

  • Is Heel Flap row 4 correct? Shouldn’t it read: ….P to second marker?