How to Knit Your First Sock – Part 2

The How to Knit Your Sock series covers knitting a sock in four step by step articles. In Part 1: you covered the anatomy of a sock, knitting the cuff and the leg section. It is aimed at knitter’s who are knitting their first sock. I have used Opal sock yarn in the lovely Fairies and Elves colour 5523 to knit this pair of socks.

Finished Step by Step Sock

In How to Knit Your First Sock – Part 2: you will learn how to knit a strengthened heel flap which gives comfort and helps lengthen the lifespan of your hand knit socks.  Then you will turn your sock heel.

The Heel Flap
  • Part 3: shows how to set up for the gusset and gusset shaping.
  • Part 4: looks at knitting the foot, toe shaping and finishing.

You are now ready to continue knitting your sock and we will dive straight in.


  • k   knit
  • p   purl
  • ssk   slip 2 stitches knitwise, one at a time, to right needle, then insert left needle from left to right into front loops and knit 2 stitches together – 1 stitch decreased
  • p2tog   purl 2 stitches together – 1 stitch decreased
  • sl 1   slip 1 stitch purlwise
  • st   stitch
  • st st   stocking stitch/stockinette stitch

Heel Flap

The heel flap is the section of the sock that is at the back of your heel. It protects your foot from your shoe rubbing. It adds comfort and padding. In some patterns the designer will continue her decorative stitch pattern along the heel flap and this can look gorgeous if you are intending to show off your lovely hand knit socks with clogs or birkenstocks. But remember that if you are going to be wearing the socks with shoes a lace pattern or cabling may not be comfortable.

The heel flap that you will be knitting for your sock is worked over half the number of stitches cast on (30 stitches). You will knit 2 stitches at each edge which creates a garter stitch edging. This gives a smooth edge when you are picking up the stitches later for the gusset.

Garter Stitch Edging

You will use a slip stitches for strengthening the heel so it will not wear into a hole too quickly and it adds a little padding for comfort.

You have 30 stitches on one needle and 15 stitches on both of the other needles

From this point you will be knitting the heel flap flat, starting with a purl row. Note that you will be working the slip stitches on the purl row.  This is simply because I assume that like me, you prefer knitting to purling.

Slip 1 purlwise, purl 1… repeat
  • Row 1:  K2, (sl 1, p1, across to last two sts), k2, turn
  • Row 2:  K, turn
How the slip stitches look on the wrong side of the heel flap
  • Repeat these two rows a total of 16 times (32 rows)
  • When you have finished working the 32 rows, the heel flap should measure 6.25cm/2  1/2 inches.
  • Ending on a knit row.
A guide to the length of the heel flap

There are other options for working the slip stitch strengthening for the heel flap.  The best known is the eye of partridge where you slip one, purl one then on the next purl row instead you would purl one, then slip one.  The slip stitch creates a checkerboard pattern on the right side.

You are now ready to turn your heel.

Turning the Heel

After you finish knitting the heel flap, it is necessary to do some shaping (think of it as turning a corner) so that the heel will be comfortable to wear. The shaping is done by working short rows with a decrease p2tog on the purl rows and ssk on the knit rows.

  • Row 1:  P17, p2tog, p1, turn.
This means you have worked across 20 sts of the 30 sts.  There are 10 sts left unworked on the needle.  Turn means that you will then be working across some of the 20 sts that you have just purled on Row 1.
  • Row 2:  Sl 1, k5, ssk, k1, turn.
On row 2 you will slip the first stitch purlwise, then knit 5 sts, ssk ( slip 2 stitches knitwise, one at a time, to right needle, then insert left needle from left to right into front loops and knit 2 stitches together – 1 stitch decreased). Then k1 (there are 10 stitches left unworked on the needle). Turn your work to start row 3.  So for Row 2 you were working on the central 9 stitches of the heel.
  • Row 3:  sl 1, p6 (1 stitch remains before the “gap”), p2tog (combines the stitch before the gap and the stitch after the gap), p1, turn (8 stitches left unworked on the needle)
Purl until one stitch remains before the “gap”
  • Row 4:  sl 1, k7(1 stitch remains before the “gap”), ssk, k1, turn (8 stitches left unworked on the needle)
Knit until one stitch remains before the “gap”
  • Row 5:  sl 1, p8, p2tog, p1, turn (6 stitches left unworked on the needle)
  • Row 6:  sl 1, k9, ssk, k1, turn (6 stitches left unworked on the needle)
  • Row 7:  sl 1, p10, p2tog, p1, turn (4 stitches left unworked on the needle)
  • Row 8:  sl 1, k11, ssk, k1, turn (4 stitches left unworked on the needle)
  • Row 9:  sl 1, p12, p2tog, p1, turn (2 stitches left unworked on the needle)
  • Row 10:  sl 1, k13, ssk, k1, turn (2 stitches left unworked on the needle)
  • Row 11:  sl 1, p14, p2tog, p1, turn (you have reached the edge of the heel shaping)
  • Row 12:  k16, ssk, k1 (18 sts)
  • You have completed the heel shaping.
Congratulations! You have turned your heel.

You are ready to continue to part 3 of how to knit your sock.

Leave a comment if you have any questions about part 2 of this series.

How to Knit Your First Sock Links

About Nicolette


  1. Hi Nicolette, your tutorials and post are just so wonderful, love them!
    I have a question, i am knitting a 6 threads opal sock a thicker yarn, casted on 52, worked my leg and heel flap. Now i need to do the heel turn and in the brief explanation i am following it says 8/10/8. So what does that mean, i can’t follow your tutorial anymore now 🙁 Cant seem to find one for the thicker yarn either. Hope you can help me a bit.
    All the best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.

  2. Thank you so much for all your help. I would like to try a tube socks do you have any patterns ? And how do they hold up in the heel?

    • Hi Kay, I’m sorry, I’ve never actually knit a pair of tube socks. I did try on the tube for a pair of afterthought heel socks before I put in the afterthought heel, but didn’t find it was something I could have worn. At the time, I thought it would work best if the tube was mainly a stretchy stitch like a 2×2 or 3×1 rib, but I think you’d still want stocking stitch for the sole for comfort. Sorry I can’t give any other advice. Happy Holidays, Nicolette

  3. When knitting the heel flap do you slip the first stitch on EVERY purl row?

  4. Great directions and photos. I always get stuck on the heel and put away the socks until I can find help. Now I have your get directions. Thanks so much.

  5. carol olinger says:

    For several years now I have wanted to knit socks on my own without having to wait to get help. I have gotten further but get stuck on the heel. Your directions are wonderful. I wish I had a printer to print your instructions. I have spent so much money on books and they did not help. Your instructions are so easy to understand. If it would be possible could you send me directions? {Address Removed}
    I think you have a gift for teaching others. I am so glad I pulled up your site.
    Thank you so much

    • Nicolette says:

      Hi Carol, Thank you for you kind comment. I am pleased that you are enjoying knitting the sock. Good luck with turning your first heel. Happy Knitting.

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