The afterthought heel method enables one to work the heel after the sock is completed. Contrary to the “forethought” afterthought heel, where a piece of waste yarn is knitted into the sock where the heel is to be placed, and later unpicked to knit the heel, the “true” afterthought heel method doesn’t make space in advance for the heel: needles are inserted (with one row in-between) where the heel is to be knitted, and a stitch is snipped in the middle of the middle row to accommodate an opening for the heel. Lifelines may serve as guides to insert the needles in the right place.
The biggest advantage of the “true” method over the “forethought” method is that it doesn’t lead to the formation of gaps in the corners of the heel. The cut yarn remaining in the corners (the stitches left untouched when making the opening for the heel) forms an added layer on the inside, keeps the stress points strong, and prevents overstretching the fabric.
Another advantage (common to both methods): if the heel ever wears out, it can easily be unpicked and re-knitted.
You will need:
- An almost completed sock missing a heel, with some thin waste yarn (lifelines) threaded in where you want to add the heel.
- Needles (DPNs or circular) one size smaller than those you used to knit the sock (it is possible to use the same size needles, but it is a little easier with smaller ones)
- A blunt needle