Knitting Sock Heels: Afterthought vs Boomerang

Knitting Sock Heels: Afterthought vs Boomerang

2017 is the year of de-stashing. At least for me. I’ve told you already that my challenge for this year to knit ONLY from stash yarns. And so far I’ve kept this promise that I made to myself (I haven’t even thought about buying more yarn, I must be seriously sick…). Also I want to learn a few new things this year, so let’s get started. Better late than never.

knitting heels: Afterthought vs Short Row Heel
knitting heels: Afterthought vs Short Row Heel

After an incredible sock-frenzy that yielded ten pairs of socks in three weeks only (!!) my Sockables are slowly getting more space to breathe (or whatever they are doing in my Sockables-drawer). Maybe I can motivate myself to at least half-empty it until the end of this year? Pretty-please? Well. One step at a time. For now I’m really happy re-discovering my own stash anew. there are so many precious yarns and colours squirreled away in there that it’s a real pleasure to dive into any of the drawers and grab whatever catches my eye first. Why hasn’t this ever happened before? I sometimes wonder where this stash-frenzy comes from…

So on it goes with de-stashing my Sockables. I have just started to finally use my hand dyed yarns, so this time a pair of socks for myself, from two of my favourite colours. Glitzy Golden Sunset and Chocolate Fudge Brownie. This time I want to try out a new heel, too, as I always wanted to test the Afterthought heel.

Hdnknit socks from hand dyed yarns
Socking it again, this time with hand dyed yarns

So far I am not overly impressed by the construction of the Afterthought Heel vs my preferred Boomerang (or German Short Row) Heel (as described in this free sock tutorial). Although I can see that it will work very nicely with self striping yarns! So it will definitely be worth the extra effort when it comes to showing off stripes.

Besides being great for self-striping yarns – its construction is easy enough:

How to knit an Afterthought Heel

Basically you just take a short break when knitting your sock and, wherever you will want to place the heel in the sock, knit half of the total amount of stitches on scrap yarn (I used 60 st for my sock, so I knit 30st on scrap yarn), then return them to the left hand needle (do not knit to end of the round). Once the scrap yarn is added to your sock, continue knitting the sock as if nothing had happened, you’ll add the heel later, when the rest is finished.

When you are done with the rest of the sock pick up the right leg of the heel stitches around the scrap yarn. You should have as many stitches on the needles as you cast on in the beginning (I had again my 60st). Using a spare needle, carefully remove the waste yarn to create an opening for the heel.

Afterthought vs Boomerang Heel
Afterthought Heel in the making

Attach yarn (I started on the bottom right needle and placed my beginning of the round-marker there) and work in the round.

Rd1: *knit all stitches across two needles (or half of your heel if you use cable needles) and then pick up and knit two stitches in the gap, repeat from *.  You added 4st to your total stitch count. (64st in my case)

Shape heel as follows:

Round 1:  *k1, ssk, knit to last 3 stitches on second needle, k2tog, k1, repeat from * on upper side of heel

Round 2 (and 3 for L-XL socks): Knit

Repeat rounds until only half of your original stitches remain.

Cut yarn with tail long enough to Kitchener Stitch/graft the heel. I have also seen this gap closed with a three needle bind-off, but I think it might be a bit uncomfortable to wear, so I prefer kitchener/grafting it closed.

It should then look like this

Afterthought heel vs Boomerang Heel
Afterthought heel
Afterthought heel
Afterthought heel

So far, so good. I’m still not 100% convinced to change my habit of knitting a Boomerang heel, but I might consider this one for self-striping yarns.

What I like about this heel is that you can just go ahead and forget knitting the heel until you are done with the whole sock. This might come in handy when knitting an intricate lace pattern or similar. Also you don’t need to know a lot more techniques than what you already need to knit a sock anyway, except for the Kitchener Stitch/grafting.

What I don’t like about this are the extra steps I have to do. Instead of just adding the heel as I go along, as I do with the Boomerang Heel, I’ll have to re-attach the yarn (which means more weaving in afterwards), pick up stitches, pull out the scrap yarn, and carry along a needle for grafting. All of which I don’t feel like doing when riding a train to work. But all in all I think this is a good alternative if you feel like knitting something different 🙂

So I competed my first Afterthought-heeled pair of socks and de-stashed a bit of yarn, but there is still so much more to go! Maybe I should try out another heel again for the next pair 🙂

Socks from hand dyed yarn
Socks from hand dyed yarn


Happy knitting!

3 thoughts on “Knitting Sock Heels: Afterthought vs Boomerang

  1. I’m knitting socks two at a time and often decide to do an afterthought-heel if I’m out where it is easier than knitting a heel. It’s just like knitting tube socks ecept the half row of scrap yarn.

    The afterthought-heel can be great as well if you don’t know whether there is enough yarn left. Better to have the heel in another colour than having to change yarn in the middle of the shaft 😉

    1. True, if you don’t know whether there is enough yarn for the socks is a good reason, too. When I’m out I prefer adding the heel as I go so that I don’t have to pick it up again after I finished it. But that’s a good reason, thank you!

  2. I actually really like the afterthought heel because it makes sock-projects really seminar-friendly =) I once made socks by just starting in rib, knitting the body, add in some scrap yarn for heels and toes, and finish in rib. While I am now a bit more used to knitting short row heels (I really like the Japanese short row heel: it’s easy, and I like the fit on my foot), it still requires a bit of my attention when I knit those. I do really like short rows for shaping in general, but not for socks.
    I have to say that I became a bit lax when it comes to scrap yarn for afterthought heels: I just omit that step, start putting in the smallest needles I own and simply cut the yarn. Knitted fabric is way sturdier than I initially thought =)
    Recently, I switched from magic loop to 9-inch circs, and while I still can’t knit at the same speed as with magic loop, socks are knitted way faster. Knitting heel flaps and gussets on 9 inch circs makes things a breeze. I definitely recommend!!!

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