A common complaint about afterthought heels is that they don't
fit well. Often they are too shallow. This happens when the heel
is made exactly as we might make a toe.
The crystal heel is deeper, with facets of decreases accelerating
as one knits. This makes a more human-shaped sock heel. The extra
rounds at the beginning of a Crystal Heel compensate for the
lack of a gusset, and create a sort of shaped arch as well.
Since this is not a standard afterthought heel it may look long
and awkward when off the foot. The proof is in the wearing!
This toe-up sock uses a flat-knit Bosnian stockinette square
toe. Both the toe and heel are shaped in a swirl rather than
a wedge shaping. Swirls are common in historical knitting and
have a soft, pleasant look. They fit a heel particularly well.
Recommended needle size [always use a needle
size that gives you the gauge
listed below -- every knitter's
gauge is unique]
#1/2.25mm needles for working in the
US #3/3.25mm needles for working in the round in Stranded Colorwork
length of smooth waste yarn in contrasting color
30 sts/42 rounds = 4 inches
in stockinette stitch in the rnd using smaller
30 sts/42 rounds = 4 inches in stranded colorwork in the rnd using larger
PATTERN NOTES [Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here.]
The toe uses a backwards loop CO because it
is not bulky and is effective for a small number of sts. If
you prefer and know how, use a provisional CO.
Because stranded colorwork is structurally less stretchy than
one-color knitting, this pattern specifies
a larger needle size for the colorwork
sections. In the leg section, it must stretch sufficiently to
pull on over the heel of your foot.
The stranded-knitting stitches should be able to stretch on
the needle, resting at least as far apart as your needle is
wide. It is good practice at first, to knit perhaps 8-16 stitches
and then stop and stretch them on the needle before proceeding.
Make sure the unused strands of yarn on the inside of the sock
are relaxed enough to allow this desired stretch.
In the same vein, be sure that your bind off is similarly relaxed.
Binding off is naturally un-stretchy. A relaxed bind off may
look a little wobbly off the foot. It will, however, be an asset
when you pull the sock over your heel.
If you are new to knitting with two colors in the same round,
hold the yarns any way which is comfortable to you. There are
strong opinions on the “best” way to do it, but
the same fabric will result whether you hold one color in either
hand or control both colors with the same hand. If you typically
knit primarily with your right hand controlling the yarn, I
suggest just dropping the un-used yarn and picking up the new
color as needed. If you do this, don’t twist
the yarns around each other – that will just tighten up
your fabric and drive you insane.
When picking up the heel stitches, using needles one or two
sizes smaller than your working needle to pick up stitches can
help ease the process. Remember to start knitting the first
round of the heel with your regular-sized needle.
Grafting: Instructions for grafting can be
Toe up cast on
Using smaller needles, CC1 and the backward
loop method, CO 10 sts. Do not use a
slip knot to start. Just hold the yarn with the
ndl in your right hand and start making
This flat rectangle will become
the very tip of your sock. Row 1 [RS]: K. Row 2 [WS]: Sl 1, p to end. Row 3 [RS]: Sl 1, k to end. Row 4 [WS]: Sl 1, p to end.
Repeat the last 2 rows 4 more times.
12 rows in total.
Establish the round:
We now will knit around the edge of the
rectangle. This involves picking up and
knitting (creating new sts) on the 3 edges
where you do not have live sts on your
With RS facing, k5: this will become
the start of round. Place a marker
or start a new needle at this point. Continue
working around: k5 to end of live stitches;
pick up and knit 4 sts along first edge
of toe rectangle; pickup and knit 9 sts
in cast-on edge of rectangle; pick up
and knit 5 sts along second edge of toe
rectangle. 28 sts total; K5 to get to
start of round.
You are positioned in
the center of the sole; the first 7 sts
of the round are the first side of the
sole; the next 14 are the instep, and
the last 7 are the second side of the
Distribute sts as you prefer and
join for working in the round.
Continuing in CC1, begin working
in stockinette in the rnd, increasing as
follows: Round 1: K7, pm, k7, pm, k7,
pm, k7. Round 2: [K to 1 st before
marker, m1, k1] 4 times. 4 sts increased. Round 3: Knit.
Repeat Rounds 2 & 3 until 56[60,
64, 68] sts total.
to larger needles and work ZigZag Pattern
When 8 rows of pattern are complete,
change back to smaller needles.
Continue to work solid in MC until sock
measures 6.75[7, 7.5, 7.75] inches from
tip of toe.
Note: At this row gauge, your Crystal heel
will measure 2.38[2.66, 2.85, 3.14] inches
long. If you wish to adjust to your own
foot, subtract that amount from your desired
finished sock length.
Transition to heel: Using
MC, k42[45, 48, 51] sts. This puts you at
the start of the heel stitches.
Leave your working yarn where it is, dangling
at the side of the sock.
Switch to waste yarn and knit 28[30,
32, 34] sts. Cut ends of waste yarn about
4 inches from sock, hanging to outside until
later. Do not tie knots.
Go back to where you left your working
yarn. Using that yarn, k 14[15, 16, 17]
sts in MC to return to start of rnd.
Leg Round 1: K all sts with MC.
Change to larger needles and work ZigZag
Pattern #2 around.
Cuff Break yarn CC2, the rest of the sock will
be knit in CC1.
Switch to smaller needles. Rounds 1 & 2: K all sts. Round 3: P all sts.
Repeat Rounds 2 & 3.
Repeat Round 2.
BO purlwise, using larger needle in right
hand to work the stitches.
Hold sock so that
the toe is down. Using
the smaller needles, pick up the 28[30,
32, 34] sts on top of the waste yarn,
picking up the right-side leg of the V-shaped
pick up the corresponding 28[30, 32,
34] sts below the waste yarn, picking
up the right-side leg of the V-shaped
Note: If you turn the sock upside down
to pick up some sts, you may end up with
one extra st (which you can dec out during
the first knit rnd).
Once your sts are secured, pick the waste
yarn out of the gap between ndls, using
a strong knitting ndl, a darning ndl, or
a crochet hook. You may cut the waste yarn
ends shorter at times, to ease this process.
When the waste yarn is completely removed,
you will begin working in the rnd from bottom
of sole/beg of rnd. If the sts on the ndls
for this first rnd are seated incorrectly,
adjust them as you work the first rnd. Place
a marker or note the start of the round.
Part 1 -- Knit without Decreases:
of Crystal Heel starts with 3 rnds even,
to compensate for not having gusset depth.
In this pattern those rnds are decorative. Round 1: Using MC, (k14[15,
16, 17], pm) 3 times, k to end of round. Round 2-3: Using CC2, k all
Cut MC and CC2. The rest of the sock will
be completed in CC1.
Part 2 -- Decrease Every 4th Round: Round 1-3: K all sts. Round 4, Swirl Decrease
Round: (K to 2 sts before marker,
k2tog) 4 times. 4 sts decreased.
1-4 2[3, 4, 4] more
times. 44[44, 44, 48] stitches rem.
Part 3 -- Decrease Every 2nd Round: Round 1: K all sts Round 2: Work Swirl Decrease
1-2 3[2, 1, 3] more
times. 28[32, 36, 32] stitches rem.
Part 4 -- Decrease Every Round:
Work Swirl Decrease
Round: 2[3, 3, 2] times. 20[20, 24, 24] stitches
5 -- Kitchener/Graft or otherwise close heel: Cut yarn leaving a
12 inch tail. Kitchener stitch/graft final sts on heel together,
or turn the sock inside out and use a
three-needle BO (its minimal extra bulk is not typically
detectable during wearing, because of
its position on the foot).
Notice that there are small gaps which form on either side at
top of heel (where ends of waste yarn were located). Use MC
on a sharp darning ndl to make a loop/drawstring on the inside
around the hole. Once you stitch the loop around, pull loop
tight and use your sharp needle end to pierce the drawstring
on either side of the loop (cutting circle in half). This will
hold the hole closed.
Weave ends inside sock. Block with water or steam, ideally
drying on a sock blocker to maintain a recognizable foot shape
while sock is flat.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
ColorJoy LynnH has been obsessed with color since childhood, and
socks since the wildly-colorful 70’s. In 2001 she discovered
one could knit her own socks. Life changed. Lynn focuses
on stranded colorwork (Turkish Socks, Andean Hats and more). The
more colors, the better!
Lynn was honored to teach at Sock Summit 2011 (including Turkish
Socks and Crystal Heels). She has a design in the book Joy of
Socks, and has been published in KnitCircus, CraftSanity Magazine,
MagKnits and Heels & Toes Gazette.
Sometimes she also sings with her husband
Brian Hefferan at Ukulele Festivals,
as The Fabulous Heftones.
Visit LynnH’s website.