In my quest to knit the perfect sock heel on a knitting machine, I stumbled on Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel. If you aren’t familiar with this type of heel or you’re simply interested in learning how to do this on your knitting machine, I’d suggest watching Cat’s video first.
Even if you don’t know how to hand knit, Cat does an excellent job of explaining what causes the gaps in a short row heel… and that’s the key to learning how to eliminate the gaps.
Intrigued? Here’s how you can knit a modified version of the Sweet Tomato Heel on a knitting machine, regardless of whether you knit your socks cuff-down or toe-up.
When knitting circular, the ribber knits right to left and the main bed knits left to right.
If you’re knitting your heel on the ribber or your carriages will knit in the opposite direction, you’ll need to flip these instructions around.
Preparing to knit the first wedge
- Begin by knitting up to the point where the heel begins.
- Knit on the ribber right to left and stop. Your carriage is on the left. This is where each wedge will begin.
- Set your ribber carriage to slip in both directions.
- Set your main carriage to knit and hold in both directions. Needles in HP will not knit.
If you’re knitting a seamed sock without a ribber, it doesn’t matter which side you start on. Just be sure to start each wedge from the same side.
Knitting the first wedge
- Set the ribber carriage to slip in both directions.
- Set the main carriage to knit and hold in both directions.
- Row 1
- Pull the edge needle opposite the carriage (right) to hold.
- Knit 1 row left to right.
- Manually wrap the held needle.
- Manually knit the next WP needle, pull it to hold and pull the yarn taut to tighten up the wrap.
- Row 2
- Pull the edge needle opposite the carriage (left) to hold.
- Knit 1 row right to left.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 on the left side — exactly the same way you did it on the right side.
- Now repeat rows 1 and 2 until the center 1/3 of your stitches remain in WP and your carriage is on the left.
- Push the held needles on the right to UWP.
- Knit 1 row left to right. Note that it may be a little harder to knit the needles in UWP because of the snug wraps.
- For circular socks with ribber:
- Use a transfer tool to carefully move the held stitches on the left to WP. Note that it may be a little harder to manipulate the stitches because of the snug wraps.
- Set the main carriage to slip in both directions.
- Set the ribber carriage to knit right to left.
- Knit 1 row right to left on the ribber.
- Pull the main bed needles left of 0 to UWP. Remember that these needles still contain the wraps and may be harder to knit. Pulling these needles back to UWP with the stitches behind the latches will help the stitches knit cleanly.
- For flat socks without ribber:
- Push the held needles on the left to UWP.
- Knit 1 row right to left.
One wedge is complete. Your carriage is on the left where it’s ready to knit another wedge or resume circular knitting.
You may find that the wedges create a slightly snugger heel. This may make the ankle stitches pull. To make the sock a little looser around the ankle, increase the number of stitches every 2 to 4 rows leading up to the heel and decrease back to the original number of stitches after you complete the heel.