Knitting Help – Reinforcing Sock Toes and Heels

We’re going to talk about a couple of different
ways of reinforcing sock toes and heels when you’re knitting. [laughs] This has become really important to me. My
whole family lives in Alaska, I live in Texas. And I’m the only one who doesn’t live
there. Needless to say, they all want wool socks,
and they wear through them faster than I can knit them. And I haven’t always been very good about
reinforcing the toes and heels to keep them from getting, um, from wearing out after a
short period of time. I always have a pair of socks on the needles,
because I’m always trying to keep my family in Alaska in their beloved wool socks. So, I’m going to start using a couple of
these tricks now with every pair, so hopefully I won’t have to send as many pairs up there
as I do. Um, this works on, these can work whether
you’re in the process of knitting the socks, or I’m going to show you a way of doing
it after the fact. Okay. Let’s take a look. Here is my current sock project, and look
at my sock bag – isn’t that cute? It says “cheaper than therapy”. I’ll send you
a, I’ll give you a link to the company that makes those bags. And here we are with my current sock project. And if you’re wondering about these beautiful
needles, these are Signature Art needles, and I’ll give you a link to their website. They are gorgeous, and they are very nice
to work with. This is a toe up sock, I’ve finished the
toe and I’ve worked the foot, and I’m ready to get started on the heel. And this is where the magic comes in, I have
this bobbin of sock reinforcing thread. This is actually made by a company called Ja Woll,
or in English, it looks like “Ja Woll”. J-A-W-O-L-L. And this is a wool and nylon thread used for
reinforcing socks. You can buy this online at different places,
or you can just use any synthetic thread. Or a thread that is mostly synthetic. That
will work. As long as it’s thin enough it won’t disturb the wearing of the sock or
make it feel any different. So this is so simple, we should all be doing
this in all of our socks because it’s such a great idea! I’m going to get myself ready to work my
first heel stitch here. And I’m just going to hold the reinforcement
yarn with my regular sock yarn. Not for the whole sock, just for any part
of the sock that would be the heel or the toe. Okay. There we go. And I’m using a contrasting color here because
I didn’t go shopping for a reinforcement thread to match this sock yarn. But it can actually end up looking pretty
cool when you have a little thread of a different color running through just the heels and the
toes. So, that is the proactive way of reinforcing
toes and heels. You can see, you can barely see that reinforcement
thread in there. I will do this through the whole short row
heel. I didn’t do it in the toe – I’m going
to have to figure out something else! Um. It also works – this is a much chunkier
sock. It also works to do it in the heel flap and
the sort row heel of a cuff down sock. And then as soon as – really this is the
guideline. As soon as your pattern says, “heel” or
“toe”, just knit that whole section carry the extra thread of yarn to reinforce. Because
those are the places that can really wear out first. Now here is a chunky toe-up sock. I want to
show you a way that I just learned! I love this! I learned this on knitty.com.
And it’s a way to reinforce a sock after you knit it. If you’re like me and you realize
oh no! These socks are going to wear out! You can use the same yarn that you used to
knit the sock, and you’ll need a tapestry needle. I’m going to use a contrasting color so
you can see what I’m doing. Turn the sock inside out. And this works for the toe or the heel. The sock’s inside out and this is a stockinette
sock, so this is reverse stockinette. And all I’m going to do is to pick up purl
bumps through the heel. So I went up, and then on the next row, I’m
going to pick up every other purl bump on the way back down. Watching your tension there switching from
one to the next. If you pick up every other purl bump, this
won’t show through in the front of the work. And it makes a double thick fabric that’s
going to hold together a lot better. Whoops – I think I skipped a row. I sure
did. This is actually kind of fun to do. It’s
actually kind of fun to use a contrasting color of yarn! If someone turns the sock inside
out, they’ll be in for a surprise. So that’s how that goes. I heard somewhere that there are as many stitches
in a pair of women’s socks as there are in a woman’s sweater. And that’s because we’re using super tiny
needles and thin yarn for the socks. With that much work, we should all be doing
one or both of these techniques to get some more wear out of the socks! Good luck! [music]

Norman Bunn


  1. Perfect timing. I'm knitting socks right now….thanks for another great tutorial. I always check your posts first when I log on to FB. I also love your Basenji updates. I just adopted 2 B girls a few months ago.

  2. Wonderful! You didn't mention that sometimes the thread can be found inside the skein of Jawoll sock yarn. And yes, avdpierre, Basenjis rule!

  3. Thank you! especially for the 'after the fact' version. I've just finished the first sock from home spun wool and now realise I should be reinforcing them – they are 'payment in kind' for the fleece given to me so will be worn by a farmer. I'm guessing he'll wear through heels and toes as quickly as your Alaskan family do! Thanks – Katy in Scotland.

  4. I absolutely love your videos. Thank you for all the time and money invested in these. I, for one, am very grateful.

  5. I absolutely love the "after the fact" reinforcement, I just finished a pair of socks…on my way to stitch heels reinforcement! Thanks for tip!

  6. I tried using wooly nylon thread to reinforce my sock heels, but it looked HORRIBLE. The thread got all fluffy and poofy and stuck out of the sock, rather than blending in with the yarn. I found some of this Lang Jawoll on Amazon and am going to give it a try. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

  7. I'm not familiar with Wolly Nylon, but you can really use any thinner yarn or thread for this technique.

  8. I used the wooly nylon but I stretched it as I knitted and it came out perfect! You can't even tell its there!

  9. That's great. I must not have been stretching it enough. Thanks so much for the tip; I'll definitely give it a try.

  10. Hi Laurie, love this method.   I usually do the slip 1 knit 1 method; makes it bulkier.
    I am an avid beader and use fishing line, 2, 4, 6, 8 & 10 lb.     Could I use either the 2 or 4 lb. weight for this job?        THANKS FOR THIS METHOD. 

  11. I'd love to see a tutorial of reinforcing the whole heal after knitting.  It's so hard to figure out which stitches to pick going round the heal and in the heel flap (especially if it is a slip stitch heel. 

  12. You have the BEST tutorials–thank you! So my question is may I use lace weight yarn for my reinforcing? Seemed like such a good method of using up leftovers!

  13. nice video! I'm going to buy some new pair of double point needles and what do you recommend to use of the lengths 15 cm or 20 cm for knitting socks? And what types do you recommend to use of karbonz or wood cubics?

    greeting Niclas 13 years old from Oslo! 🙂

  14. In the "reinforce as you knit" portion, you do not address what to do with the extra thread after knitting across the heel and continue in the round for the rest of that round. If you just drop it, then when you knit back around to the heel, your reinforcing threat is on the wrong side of the heel. How do you handle this issue?

  15. OK, that works for flap-style heels, but what about short-row heels with gusset? Do you have any help for them?
    Thanks for any thoughts on this.

  16. I recommend you also send your relatives a small skein of the yarn with each pair of socks along with a link to a tutorial on darning. 😉

  17. Bless you Staci, just what I needed to know. Happy knitting Madeleine

  18. Hi Staci, I was wondering if you would need to reinforce DK or worsted weight socks?

  19. is linen thread a good idea? commercially reinforced socks often say linen

  20. First I want to thank you for your video. Secondly, I have a question. Oh, I am from Alaska too and I know what you mean. I am from Kodiak. Years ago, in Anchorage, a lady that owned the knit shop I went to told me not to reinforce the heels and toes of my hand knit socks. She told me that my socks would actually wear out faster because the yarn would be rubbing against the reinforcement yarn/thread instead of the other yarn in the sock. Is this true?

  21. Stacy, could you please tell me the kind of sockneedle-holder you use, if possible, its brand? I live in Switzerland; to get hold of good knitting needles is not easy here, let alone knitting-aid material. Thank you.

  22. haha -yes i just started sox and i realize my 2nd pair 's heels are spacey so i will reinforce them now . thx !! G_d bless you . — now why havent you used the afterthought heel ? it looks like a lot of work to me to replace ?

  23. OH I AM USING sirdar dk weight for my sox with 40 % nylon 30 % wool and 30 % acrylic . i hope it softens after washing ! my ques. is as i am new to sox what needle should use ?they sat usa 6 but that would be too loose for sox . i am trying size 1 / 2 1/4 mm . i hope they wont be too tight . with arthritis every st. is a labor of love . –i too hope to knit sox for my family . i am trying to decide on what heel method is best ? for wear also . do you know ? have you experimented with your family ? THX IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR TIME !! MY DEAR

  24. Can you recommend the type of merino wool nylon yarn that you use for your families socks?? I am from the Pacific NW and live in wool socks…which are increasingly hard to find without that horrible padded stuff. So I am forced to make my own. I love the fit of your basic sock pattern which I purchased and did in a worsted wool ease and am now making your basic cuff down magic loop version. I need a heavier wool percentage that will work for 9 months of the year of wet feet.

  25. Thanks for this tutorial! I've been listening to the podcast and heard about the tutorial and had to check it out. Is crochet thread an okay substitute for the Jawoll thread? Jawoll seems to be available online only and I'd love to finish this pair of socks! 🙂

  26. Wonderful ! Can't wait to start knitting socks. I wonder, after 5 years of doing this now, did you measure the efficiency of the techniques ? For fun, do you know how much longer the socks survive ? Sorry for my English.

  27. Excellent idea and hopefully I won't need to keep mending the socks —- !  Thank you so very much !

  28. Tried reinforcing with yarn after finishing the socks today on a pair of gift knits. After doing the heel half way it felt a bit rough to the touch. Like every purl bump were raised more from the reinforcement yarn so I just ripped it out. Has anyone else encountered this? Will it soften up after blocking/washing/wearing?

  29. I came here thinking this would be some complicated type of stitch I'd have to learn…but no! Your solution is so simple, practical and effective! Thank you for this great tip!

  30. Wow what a super idea….thanks so much I'm definitely going to try this….I'm getting that special tread….asap! Love this simple but wonderful idea.

  31. I noticed the pink sock didn't have the holes, we all dread in the gusset/heed intersection. What is the pattern and yarn you used? Thanks so much.

  32. my socks all wear through on the bottom of the heel (and ball of foot) so I'm assuming I could do that after-sock-is-fully-knit technique except do it only on the bottom. Do you think that might work for me?

  33. LOVE your videos. Thank you. Instead of buying many colors of special sock darning thread, which could be a little expensive, I bought a spool of colorless, nylon thread. It's like fishing line, but thinner. I could hold the colorless, nylon thread along with the yarn, just like you say. QUESTION: Do you have any tips on how to make that nylon thread stay put? It isn't elastic; it wouldn't give & take with the knitted fabric. I don't know about making a knot with it? I'd really appreciate your thoughts on this. Thank you. :)))

  34. Great video … you explained these techniques so well and so clearly … exactly what I've been looking for. I knit a pair of socks for each member of my family for their birthday each year … I'm up to nine per year. One question: What do you do with the tails of the reinforcing yarn?

  35. Very cool, thanks! I actually am curious about your needle holder you had your work hidden in, not the needles but the holder; I need a holder like that! Did it come with the needles?

  36. where can i order that bag whee you put your knittingpens in?and the yarn for de heels…….here i can't find it (Netherlands)

  37. hi i have found the place for the reinforcing from the soks,now i have to find the therapybag were i can put my knitting in……please where can i find this???

  38. Ah, I wish I knew this before I wore out my first pair of socks, will be doing this now.

  39. Wow thank you! I knitted my first pair of socks and will reinforce them now before I put them in use. But I also realize I need to to this on the mittens I am currently working on! Imagine how much warmer my mittens will be if I use the reinforcement technique for the back of the hands. As I didn’t make them two colors that make extra yarn running inside I can still make them much warmer!

  40. Would the technique you used to reinforce after knitting be as effective as duplicate stitching over those spots? I hate duplicate stitching and this seems to much easier! I have a ton of socks that are juuuuust starting to get worn out at the ball of the foot that have to be strengthened. Thank you!

  41. So thankful for your videos. Thanks for your contribution to all us knitters out here. Could you please give me any link to the JaWool wool/nylon reinforcing thread. I currently live in Florida, but would prefer a company that ships. Appreciate your time.

  42. Great tutorial. I have been looking everywhere on how to reinforce my toe up german short row heels and your solution is perfect. Now just need to find the reinforcing yarn you used here in Australia. Thank you so much for the great video

  43. Thanks so much for the very helpful video. I also learned how to use the tube that you had your needles in. I have a couple and had no idea how to use them, except for storage. 🙂

  44. Hi, I've been grateful for your videos for over two years now and was just wondering if you provide a link somewhere to more info about the knit items you ware in each video. I really want to know more about this burgundy ruffle scarf you are wearing in this one. Thanks, I guess seven years is a long time later for me to ask this :-0

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