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Today we are talking sock knitting. That most portable kind of knitting—perfect for popping in your handbag (or do you say purse over the pond?) and working on when you get a few minutes here and there.

For most knitters, the biggest barrier to sock knitting is the heel. Today’s set of video tutorials guides you step-by-step through the process of working a short-row heel. I was tempted to subtitle this article “the only heel you’ll ever need” because it’s so very versatile. And simple to work—you’ll be moving round that heel-shaped corner with ease, before you know it!

Why is the short-row heel the only heel you’ll ever need? Well, it works perfectly whether you cast on your sock at the cuff, or at the toe. No matter which direction you approach from, this heel will snap into place. In these videos I’m working the Cuff-Down Socks pattern by Wendy Bernard from MDK Field Guide No. 11: Wanderlust.

Sit back, and let me walk you through it.

Wedging In

To knit a heel (once you have knit the cuff or foot as long as you like) you work across only half of your stitches. (The other half of the round will form your instep, and you can ignore those stitches for a while.)

Our first video tutorial shows you how to start working back and forth with a wrap and turn at each end. Those clever wrap and turns make sure that you don’t get holes in your heel before you’ve even worn your socks! And if you watch the video, I promise you can do them without breaking a sweat. The rows then get shorter as you go, and they start to create the wedge shape of your heel.

Your pattern will tell you when to stop working shorter and shorter rows, but essentially you just want a narrow-ish width on the final row in this section—it’s the part that will sit at the very back of your heel.

Working the Wraps

From this point on you will start to work rows that are longer each time. The video below will show you exactly what I mean, as well as how to work the double wrapped stitch. All these terms sound odd at first, but you will soon be into the swing of things!

Joining Up

And finally, once you’ve worked across all of your heel stitches, it’s time to resume knitting complete rounds. This video shows you first how to join heel and instep stitches (spoiler alert—it’s another wrap and turn!), and then how to return to knitting in the round.

I do hope that once you’ve watched all three parts of our Short-Row Heel video tutorial, you too will feel equipped to knit any sock your fancy!

Wishing you all very happy sock knitting!

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About The Author

We think Jen Arnall-Culliford is flat-out brilliant. Jen is one of the knitting world’s superb technical editors and teachers, and the star of the tutorial videos.

Cheerful. Cool headed. Supersmart. To take lessons from Jen ups our knitting game, every time.


  • Oh a coin has just fallen from my handbag ( or is that purse ?) NO Hole!!!
    Thank you for the clear video.

  • Here in the Canadian border states we say….pocketbook.

    • My grandmother used to say pocketbook. I always assumed this was generational and not geographical. She was from Pennsylvania, though.

      • My mom said pocketbook too, when I was little. Now she calls it a purse. I’m guessing it is generational. Like knapsack vs backpack

    • I grew up with pocketbook also. My mom was from upstate NY maybe that is why, now I seem to use all 3.

  • Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    • Here in beautiful Australia..its a handbag or if bigger a tote..

  • I have a difficult time watching any instruction video when they’re using dpn’s. Also, when they’re picking! I’m a thrower;)

    • Jen is also a thrower, no? She does it a bit more neatly than I do, I will say…

    • Actually, she is throwing.

  • I am anxious to try this heel. I am working on the second sock of my Helix Socks. That is one heel I never want to make again. It wasn’t a great pair of socks for a newbie sock knitter.

  • “ it’s so very versatile. And simple to work”
    You forgot to say “and it’s like magic.” After many years of knitting, this heel still gives me a thrill every time.

  • I love this. When Wanderlust came out I used it for toe-up socks and couldn’t do the short row heel without holes that were too big for my liking. Jen’s wrap and turn method and the way she does the next round after the heel is done is genius, and her explanations are always so logical. I can’t wait to try again.

  • Thanks for these! I did the pattern with German short rows since I’m not a big fan of picking up the wraps. Now I see that not picking up the wraps looks ok! I’ll give it a try! (Purse, btw).

  • Sadly, I have never been able to make this lovely heel fit my high arch and even higher instep.

    • Me too. I’ve attempted a variety of short row heels over the years. It always end in me, with gritted teeth, straining to get my new sock over my big old heel.

      However, I don’t do traditional wrap and turn heels, either. Rather, I picked up on Cocoknits’ Shadow Wraps as an alternative to traditional w & t and I’ve never looked back!

    • #metoo It’s very neat and all, but I can barely get the damn socks on!

      • I too can barely get on socks with short row heels.

    • I took a sock class from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and she validated what I’d always felt – short row heels and high insteps don’t go well together. She gave us a one-page handout for knitting a sock “in a locked room with nothing but your yarn and needles” which I loved but now can’t find.

      • If you support heron Patreon ($6/month, stop whenever you want), Stephanie does a master class on sock knitting.

  • Brilliant video. It makes short rows heels so much clearer. Thank You so much.

  • I love this short row heel so much! It fits my narrow foot so much better and is far easier than picking up all those stitches. But, after knitting 5 pairs with that pesky design element hole, I finally found a video just a few days ago showing what Jen is teaching right here! Brilliant and easy! Thank you ❤️

  • Now I am going to have to go try this new heel. Is it illegal to make two different heels in the same pair of socks? Thank you. I have saved this.

  • Thanks for this video. I tried to make socks from Wunderlust using this technique and ended up with a complete disaster. This video answers the questions I had and make things soooo clear. I get it at last. Love this heel and will use it from on. Thanks again.

  • Your videos are wonderful. Easy to understand. I’ve always dreaded short rows but, I think, now I’m ready to tackle them. Thanks so much.

  • Thanks so much for these videos! I needed a little extra show and tell to configure the heel correctly. I love all the patterns in the book, but was stuck on the heel, so I used the old standard flap and gusset, which is not always the prettiest. I will use this one from now on!

    • Aaaaand coming back to say I mastered it, love the look, but it does not fit my high arched high instepped foot! I’m afraid I am back to the ole flap and gusset, which I have adapted to fit my foot, and save this for my daughter’s small pretty foot. The videos are amazing though!

  • I’m so thrilled you’ve put this out here! I started doing short row toes and heels because of the fabulous book Simple Socks which really turned me into a sock knitter and now I reflexively do heels this way unless I’m looking for a little more strength in the heel flap. Yay for short rows!!

  • Is this the same technique I learned from Priscilla Gibson-Roberts?

  • Great videos, instructions very clear. I have one question, if you want to use this short row heel in a pattern that calls for another heel, how do you know how many stitches to leave when you finish your decreases?

  • Thank you so much! Yours is the first short row method that worked for me and I’ve just completed my first heel!

  • Jen, you are an inspiration. I am going to retrieve my partially-knitted Christmas stocking (meant for prezzies for Christmas 2022!) from the basket in which I threw it in frustrated fury last year. Watched videos, read instructions, but could not get this into my head. Your video was crystal clarity writ large. Brilliant. Slow, calmly-voiced and now I know how! Thank you. And here in England it’s handbag…a purse is something for money and credit and loyalty cards in our world. Do you do real life courses?

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