If you've been looking at sock knitting patterns and techniques lately, you may have noticed that as well as several styles of sock, there are also different styles of heels! I'm going to show you how to make and turn the square (Dutch) heel which is my favourite heel of all time. It's such a convenient type of heel that I use it in all of my sock knitting patterns.
The flock socks (above) have a square heel.
How is it shaped?
The square heel is shaped by making some simple increases, short row shaping and decreases. Don't be put off by 'short rows' as it is simply knitting to a gap, turning around and knitting back to the next gap. It's very easy to do once you understand the basics. I use M1R and M1L to increase the stitches.
Where does a square heel sit? Is it comfortable?
A square heel sits just under the heel of your foot. As the skin is usually harder here, I wouldn't say that you can feel the edges of the heel underfoot. This experience could be different for you though! Some people who have a higher instep might prefer a bigger heel such as the flap and gusset heel but I'd still recommend trying all heels before your write any of them off.
This square heel is a neat convenient sock heel and is quite hard wearing too. If you just want a pair of classic knit socks that are a workhorse through cooler months, you have to try this heel.
Is there a heel flap and gusset?
Not quite. Increasing for the heel takes place as you are knitting the sock leg. That's the gusset part! There is some flat knitting involved (knit on the right side and purl on the wrong side) when actually turning the heel but you never come away from the rest of the sock. There is no need to pick up any stitches along the sides of the heel. It is integrated into the sock. When it comes to decreasing back down to your original stitch count, you just make some decreases and some careful slipping of stitches to ensure that you don't create any holes.
Is the square heel adjustable?
Yes, it is. Just add a stitch either side until you get to the desired width or if you have narrower heels, don't increase as often as the pattern tells you to.
Here's how to do a square heel. This example is from the advent mini sock pattern which can be found here.
This example heel is from my free sock knitting pattern here.
Increasing for heel:
Round 1: M1R, PM (marker 1), K16, PM (marker 2), M1L, Knit to end of round. (2 sts increased)
Round 2: Knit all sts.
Round 3: Knit to marker 1, M1R, SM, Knit to marker 2, SM, M1L, Knit to end of round. (2 sts increased)
Repeat rounds 2 and 3 another 2 times, until 8 new stitches have been created.
You now have 24 sts for the heel, 16 sts for the instep and 40 sts in total.
Decreasing for the heel
Row 1: Knit to marker 1, SM, K11, SKP, turn, leaving the remaining stitches unworked.
Row 2: P7, P2tog. Turn.
Row 3: Knit to 1 stitch before gap, SKP. Turn.
Row 4: Purl to 1 stitch before gap, P2tog. Turn.
Repeat rows 3 and 4 another 2 times.
There you have it- a square heel.
You have decreased back to the original stitch count: 16 sts for both the heel and the instep, and 32 sts in total. You should be right side facing, with marker 1 on your right-hand needle.
‘Fixing gaps’ round: Remove marker 1, insert needle into gap as if to make a M1R and slip the bar onto the right-hand needle, K1, PSSO, Knit to marker 2, remove marker, insert needle into gap as if to make a M1L and slip the twisted bar onto the right-hand needle, K1, PSSO, Knit to end of round.
If you'd like to have a go at knitting your own socks with a square heel, I have a collection of sock knitting patterns here: