Fresh off the needles are a pair of Choppy Seas socks by Knitting Pirate.

Choppy Seas socks

Knit in a Regia Bargain Ball, the stitch pattern adds a bit of texture and a nice stretch through the fabric and I’ve changed the heel to incorporate what has become my first afterthought heel.

Finished afterthought heel

Like most seemingly difficult knitting techniques, it turns out there’s no real mystery to afterthought heels; if you can knit a sock toe then you can do this. Here’s a quick guide on how to go about it…

Choppy Seas are worked from the top down and have a 60 stitch cast on, so after working the leg to my desired length I knit across the 30 stitches for what will be the instep (top of the foot) then using a length of contrasting scrap yarn, knit across the 30 stitches for the heel. The Regia yarn is sportweight so I held a thin 4ply double for the contrasting stitches:

Afterthought heel || insert contrasting scrap yarn

Slip these stitches back to the left-hand needle and using your working yarn knit across them again.
Tip: Your afterthought heel is more than likely to be the same length as the finished toe (unless the toe uses non-standard shaping). You can use the measurement given for the toe to judge what depth the heel will take up. So for example, if the pattern says ‘work to 5cm less than the length of your foot’ you know the heel will be the same length so add this measurement to judge how long the finished leg will become. If making toe-up socks, subtract this from the finished foot length (minus a bit extra so they fit snugly) and you know when to stop knitting the foot.

That’s all there is to this bit! Keep on knitting the sock following the stitch pattern as set for the instep and working in plain stocking stitch for the sole.

When the toe is all done and dusted return to the heel and with right side of the fabric facing, pick up the right leg of each stitch (without knitting them) on either side of the contast yarn. I have 30 stitches for the heel so I pick up 30 stitches on each side of the scrap yarn giving me 60 stitches on the needles. Check you’ve got all your stitches before moving on:

Afterthought heel || Pick up stitches either side of the scrap yarn

Using a DPN or blunt tapestry needle, carefully remove the contrast yarn:

Afterthought heel || Unpick the scrap yarn

The stitches are now back on the needles ready to knit the heel:

Afterthought heel || Heel opened up and ready to knit

Re-join the working yarn and knit one round picking up a stitch either side of the heel and knitting it together with a stitch at either end to close the gaps each side of the heel:

Afterthought heel || Rejoin yarn and knit the heel

Now work as you would for a toe; *Knit 1, ssk, knit to 3 stitches before the end of one side of the heel, k2tog, k1; repeat from * across the second half of the stitches. 4 stitches have been decreased.
Knit one round.
Repeat the last 2 rounds until you have decreased to the desired number of stitches:

Afterthought heel || Decrease as for a toe

Graft the remaining stitches together using Kitchener stitch and weave in all the ends using the tails to close any pesky holes at the join of the heel with the leg:

Afterthought heel || Graft remaining stitches together

Ta-da! You’ve knit an afterthought heel:

Afterthought heel || Ta-da!

And they fit like a dream:

Afterthought heel || Back of leg with heel

I’ve really enjoyed knitting these and the afterthought heel is a technique I’ll definitely return to again in the future as it’s an absolute breeze. The Choppy Seas pattern comes highly recommended but as with so many free patterns, it would be fab if the designer had a ‘buy me a coffee’ button so people can choose whether or not to offer some recompense for their work, and Knitting Pirate I’d love to buy you a coffee!

Let me know if you try the afterthought heel as I love to see your finished projects.


  1. says

    Thank you so much for knitting (and blogging about) the Choppy Seas! I’m glad you liked the pattern. The yarn you used is great, almost nautical with its colours – and the afterthought heel is a nice modification!

    If you check out the patterns page on my website, there’s a donation button at the bottom. Please don’t feel that you have any obligation to tip, though!

    My first try at an afterthought heel worked pretty well, though if I do another I’ll probably work over more than half of the stitches to make it a little deeper.

  2. Andrea says

    I did my first afterthought heel a few months ago. I had to pick up 4 stitches rather than two at the edges and next time I will add a couple of “gusset” stitches just before the heel as they are just a bit too snug but I loved the technique and will definitely use it again.

    • Rachel says

      Thanks for your tips! I love how easy socks are to customise so you can get the right fit for your own foot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *