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April 14, 2010



I knit socks all the time...I personally like the heel flap, primarily because of the way it looks. I've knit several pairs of socks with the short row heels and have never been really happy with the way they turned out.

Linda Hillin

I've never knit the short row heel, or ever thought I'd want to. Lately I've been reading some about socks and have read that short row heels fit low arches best. I's as flat footed as they come and have an extremely narrow heel and foot. I plan to try the short row heel, if for no other reason than to say I did it.


I have tried the short row heel in both the wrapped and non-wrapped (both from YouTube videos and book instructions) and I didn't care for them. They fit OK - just like the heel flap and gusset better and I do knit with striped yarns. Depending on my "mood" and the yarn I usually stick with either a stockinette plain knit flap, eye of partridge style, or sometimes a garter stitch heel flap and heel turn (makes a cushiony heel and it's cute with a yarn it looks good with) - OH and I go down a needle size for my heels and also sometimes the foot of the sock too.


I have narrow feet and narrower heels. Have knit several pairs of socks with short row heels and find they do not fit as well as traditional heel flap construction. The short row heel seems shallow and doesn't fit to the foot as well.

Marianne C

I have a narrow foot with a high arch and have found the socks I have knit with the short row heels move around where as the heel flap heel sits right where it should!


I tried an experiment. I knit one sock in the same pattern with a short row heel and the other with a heel flap. I don't see or feel a difference in fit. Both stay on my feet and heel just fine. So I now knit short row heels most of the time. By the way I also experimented knitting another sock top down and its mate toe up. Again no difference in fit that I can discern.

Elizabeth D

I have a very high arch compounded by a very high instep and short-row heels do not work for me at all. I don't think my heels are either narrow or wide -- just kind of ordinary. On a few occasions, when I didn't want to mess up a stripe pattern, I've done afterthought heels. I have to fiddle with them to make them fit -- working decreases every third row rather than every other row, for instance. And I have to reinvent it every time, too, because I never write it down.


I also have very high arches with high insteps, with a narrow heel and short foot. I have made socks with short row heels, but find they do not fit me as well as a narrow heel flap.

But, I can see they would be wonderful for my wide and flat-footed daughter!


I've knit close to 100 pairs of socks since I learned how to knit a few years ago and I'm no fan of the short row heel. I've done it enough to really know how it do it, etc. and I still don't like them. There is something about a heel flap that fits better *and* wears better. They hold up better in the wash and don't flop around on your foot as much when you're not wearing shoes.


Wow, I didn't expect to be so much in the minority!

I'm extremely picky about fit, and find that BOTH shortrow heels and standard heel flaps need little adjustments to fit nicely.

That said, shortrow heels are my favorite hands-down. They just look and feel normal to me. I have narrowish heels and a high instep, and my shortrow heel socks are usually knit toe-up. To customize the fit, I add a little gusset to account for the widening of the foot (ie, increase a few stitches as I near the heel). I usually start my gusset early and make it more slowly tapered than a standard one, but that's just my preference. The heel is usually knit over about half the total stitches after increasing (which often is about 55% of the number I started with), but for a very narrow heel I'd use fewer stitches to start. Then after I've finished the heel and have knit a few rows, I start working decreases into the pattern until it's back down to the number of stitches needed for the leg.

If you want to try shortrow heels, there's a way to perfect the fit that'll work for you -- it may take a few tries but that's normal for new techniques, and at least they're quick and easy to rip back and try again! If the fit is too long and pointy, try fewer shortrows. If the whole thing is too tight around your ankle, try a wider gusset, using more than half of the stitches in the heel, and/or knitting the heel deeper.


I thought that short row heels were too tight until I realized that you do not have to just use 50% of the stitches, especially for a simply patterned sock.
55-60% or even more can be used for a short row heel, for a 72 st sock instead of working a short row heel over 36 sts, try 40, 42 or 44; knitting more rows makes the heel deeper = better fit.

Virginia S Accurso

I knit a lot of socks and like the heel flap, because of the look as well as the fit. I have tried the short row heel and find that I don't care for it as well as the heel flap. For me it doesn't fit right on my feet and feels funny now having the extra thickness for cushion against the heel.


I'm not a fan of the short row heel but needed to find a solution for eliminating the pooling that so often happens with the gusset in handpainted yarns. Lucked out when I found the Band Heel used by Nancy Bush in Folk Socks. You can search for Band Heel in Ravelry patterns and get the recipe. It's a heel flap with no gusset--genius. Fits me nicely too. A great solution to eliminate pooling or when you want to do a contrasting color for the heel.


As an experienced sock knitter, I don't really have a preference. I don't do a gusset when I knit short-row heels, but one thing I do that prevents that "shallow" feel and appearance is knit about an inch of stockinette above the heel (between the heel and any leg patterning). This helps because, for example, on 32 stitches you usually knit 32 rows for a heel flap. But a short-row heel on 32 stitches might be 20 or 24 rows (short-rowing down to 12 or 8 stitches), so the extra stockinette rows above it at least make it look better. If you think about it, store-bought socks have short-row heels.
I'd recommend at least giving it a try!


I have done both and don't have a particular preference. I use short-row heels when I don't want to break the sequence of the yarn. I do, however, use Lucy Neatby's instructions and do my heels over more than fifty percent of the stitches. This won't work if you're doing an instep pattern that needs its fifty percent, but otherwise, works fine and they fit me. Disclaimer is that I have short, wide feet with no high arch.

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