The Double-Stitch Short Row Heel – aka the “yo-yo” or “jo-jo” heel

Table of contents for Short Rows & Sock Heels

  1. The Double-Stitch Short Row Heel – aka the “yo-yo” or “jo-jo” heel
  2. Roomier Short Row Heels
  3. Sasquatch Report

So — a few weeks ago, I wrote about sock heels.  How I don’t really like flap-and-gusset style heels, and how the EZ afterthought heel usually seems too small for me, and how I’d been checking out all kinds of short row heels, in my search for the Best Short Row Heel of All Time.

I did knit an awful lot of sock heels (some of them truly awful).

And then… I found The One.REAL SOCK COMPLETED HEEL

This particular heel style seems to be (1) not very common, and (2) decidedly German in its heritage.  I’ve only found it online a couple of places:  one mention of it on an native Austrian knitter’s blog, and instructions for it on the Lana Grossa site (which seems to be down for the count these days).  In print, so far I’ve found it only in a Regia pamphlet.

This is a shame, I think, because this heel has a lot of positive qualities.  It’s easy to do, once you know what it is you’re supposed to do.  It makes a darned nice heel, IMHO.  It is not prone to gaps, nor does it require weird backwards YO’s, nor does it have odd-looking decreases up the sides.  The whole wrap & turn thing?  Forget it.  And the inside looks practically as nice as the outside.

And, it adds one more thing to EZ’s famous list of “things you can do wrong when you’re learning to knit that turn into a technique later on.”  You know how beginners sometimes take the yarn the wrong way over the top of the needle when they are starting a row?  Guess what?  There’s a use for that.  Trust ingenious German engineering to come up with one.

All that — plus the fact that I can’t quite wrap my head around what exactly is going on with the short row turns — just fascinates me.  I’ll get it figured out someday, but for now, I’m content to just be impressed.

In fact, the only thing I don’t like about this heel is… the name.  Yup, once again, I have a nomenclature problem.

It’s called the Yo-yo heel, or sometimes, and even more incomprehensibly, the Jo-jo heel.  I think both of those sound, well, stupid.  (And there aren’t any “YO’s” in it, anyway.  Let alone whatever a “JO” is, or might be.)

So, following in the great historical tradition of knitters calling things by different names, I have decided to call it the Double-Stitch Short Row Heel.  And here’s how to do it —

Please bear in mind that the light orange example shown in these pictures is knit at a much looser gauge than usually used for socks — mainly because I used my size 9 ebony needles, in order to clearly show what’s going on.  Thus the finished example heel may look kind of loose and hole-y — but at sock gauge, it’s marvelous.  Would I lie to you?  About knitting?

Double-Stitch Short Row Heel — First half

K across all heel sts, turn.

First WS row:

  • Hold yarn to front, slip next st pwise.
  • Take working yarn to back over RH needle; then take working yarn to front between needles, pulling snugly so that the slipped st falls to the back, and the stitch in the row below is pulled up over the RH needle โ€“ WS double st made.


  • Keep the working yarn to the left of the slipped st as you bring it over the RH needle, so the st that is pulled up from below IS NOT twisted.
  • P back across rem heel sts, turn.

First RS row:

  • Hold yarn to front, slip next st pwise.
  • Take working yarn to back over RH needle; pull working yarn snugly to back, so the slipped st falls to the back and the stitch in the row below is pulled up over the RH needle โ€“ RS double st made.


  • Keep the working yarn to the left of the slipped st as you bring it over the RH needle, so the st that is pulled up from below IS twisted.
  • K heel sts up to, but not including, the double stitch from the previous row.

** Next WS row:  Make WS double st; then P all the normal sts up to, but not including, the double st(s) previously made. Turn.


Next RS row:  Make RS double st; then K all the normal sts up to, but not including, the double st(s) previously made. Turn. **

Continue to repeat last 2 rows (between **), making double sts at beg of each short row, until your heel is divided almost into thirds: 

  • one third double sts on the left,
  • one third plain sts in the middle + 1 extra st,
  • one third double sts on the right, except 1 st short.

You should be about to work a RS row — which will take one more plain st from the middle and turn it into a double st.  Then everything will be nice and tidy.

Last RS row:  Make RS double st; then K all the normal sts across the middle of the heel up to the double sts.

Continue to knit across left side of heel, working the double sts by inserting the RH needle under both forward strands of the double st, and knitting as if for a k2tog. (Be careful to pick up both strands, and only the front strands.)


Continue working around whole sock now, across instep sts.  Knit the double sts on the right side of heel in the same manner.  Work around most of the sock a second time, across the instep sts, and stopping when you are about to work the heel sts again.

Second half of heel

K across 2/3 of the heel sts, turn.

First WS row:  Make WS double st, P back [one third of the heel sts, minus the one you slipped], turn.

For example, on a 36 st heel: 

First, knit across 2/3 of the sts = 24 sts.  Leave 12 sts of the heel unworked on left side.

Turn and use 1 st to make the WS double st, then purl back over

(1/3 of the heel sts – 1)  = (12 sts -1) = 11 sts.

Now 12 sts on the right side of the heel also rem unworked.  Turn.

** Next RS row:  Make RS double st, K to double st of prev row, K the double st, K1, turn.

Next WS row:  Make WS double st, P to double st of prev row, P the double st, P1, turn. **

Continue to repeat last 2 rows (between **), until you have purled the last st of the right side of the heel on your last WS row.

Last RS row:  Make RS double st, K to double st at end of heel, K the double st.  Heel is complete.  Continue working around sock.  One double st will rem at the beg of the heel, which will be worked on the next round.


Nice, eh?

  98 comments for “The Double-Stitch Short Row Heel – aka the “yo-yo” or “jo-jo” heel

  1. 02/21/2013 at 5:11 PM

    I’ve been searching for a heel that makes sense to me and this does!! Thank you so much for sharing so clearly and pleased to say i can stop searching now – thrilled to bits !
    thanks again ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 02/21/2013 at 9:51 PM

      ๐Ÿ™‚ backatcha!

  2. 04/04/2013 at 2:33 AM

    New socks, new socks, new socks is calling to me. Thanks for sharing this technique. It will be used in this new sock project.

  3. Sarah
    01/20/2014 at 6:32 AM

    Thank you, Tess, for writing up this tutorial.

    For those who are worried that they cannot pull the stitch up very far on the knit side, I couldn't either, but it all turned out fine. I found my knit stitches only pulled up half as much.

  4. Lucky Lu
    02/04/2014 at 2:01 AM

    Jo-Jo Ferse (english: Yo-Yo heel).

    The "Yo-Yo" is indeed the 'english' version of the german "Jo-Jo". It has absolutely nothing to do with 'yarn overs', but comes from the child toy – perhaps some of you older ones (myself included) still remember it from your childhood days. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And I found this page looking for ways to do a different simple heel as this is the only one I know. Not at all uncommon and hard to find if you're searching the german speaking knitting community. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Sanddra
    02/16/2014 at 7:09 PM

    Does this heel work with a toe-up as well as top-down? I prefer working toe-up as I can fit the sock as I go and am almost ready to work on the heels. Thanks for your response.

    • 02/16/2014 at 8:46 PM

      It sure does.ย  I tend to knit my husband’s socks toe-up for exactly the same reason.ย  Also, no running out of yarn with a partial foot…

  6. 03/23/2014 at 7:24 PM

    Fantastic, will try it. I do the Cat Bordhi Sweet Tomato Heel normally, it is the only heel I have tried – new knitter.

  7. Priscilla
    04/16/2014 at 3:22 PM

    Ok, fifty year knitter here.  I tried it and I like it.  I have been a defender of what I call the old tailored heel for many years and I still like it.  But, I can see that this would fit in shoes better and it looks nice and sleek.  I'm thinking of trying a smaller needle during the knit back part of the heel to tighten down the mitre a bit…it looks just a bit loose to me.

    Thank you for a very good lesson and technique.

  8. Megan
    04/23/2014 at 8:03 PM

    Wow!! I've never been a fan of toe-up because of the heel, but this one changed my mind. I had just tried, yet again, a typical wrapped short row heel. It sucked, it was ugly, I got lost, I ripped it out… And then I remembered seeing this tutorial a few weeks ago. BAM!! First time, straight thru, no problems, and it turned out awesome!  So easy and straight forward, and it makes sense. If this works for both toe up AND cuff down, I might be saying bye-bye to the old faithful, flap and gusset. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 04/23/2014 at 11:16 PM

      ๐Ÿ˜€  I love comments like this.  LOVE THEM.
      And yes, it works in both directions.

      Not only that — you can just do the first half twice, and I think it looks even better.  Check out the bottom half of this post.

  9. Emma Rogers, Lancaster, UK
    05/03/2014 at 2:43 PM

    Fantastic! Thank you for your clear explanation of a very very new technique to me! Only knitting my first ever baby sock from a regia booklet and getting so confused by the heel. You’ve cleared up the mystery for me. Thank you so much! I’m now looking forward to finishing my first ever sock!
    Knitting hugs. X

  10. CJ
    06/23/2014 at 12:35 PM

    I found a YouTube video of this technique.  It is in German and they call it a "bumerangeferse"  or boomerange heel.

  11. Chloe
    10/11/2014 at 8:24 AM

    Wonderful explanation.  Thank you so much.  One question please.  In ALL cases do you knit the double stitches together like a k2tog?  I found the semantics in the video of this technique confusing.  She used the phrase "knit/purl THROUGH the double stitch ." (Otherwise Karen's video was extremely helpful and I am grateful.). Thank you, Tess!

  12. Heather
    02/13/2015 at 8:21 AM

    I love toe up socks and love short row heels…but hate short rows. Found German Short Rows and thought it would be great for socks – and I found your instructions! Marvellous! 

  13. Heather
    02/13/2015 at 8:23 AM

    Forgot to ask though – how many inches to you need to leave before working this heel on toe up socks? Is it just a matter of calculating the number of rows worked x row gauge? Thanks!

    • 03/17/2015 at 5:30 PM

      Hi Heather, sorry for the lack of response but I get so much spam these days — some real messages fall thru the cracks.ย  Anyway, I just work the foot until it reaches the bend in the ankle, and then I do the heel.

      • Viv
        06/02/2015 at 3:31 PM

        When using this toe up do you do any gusset increases?

        i am still trying to put together my perfect sock pattern, and think I will try this heel next


        thankyou for posting this

      • 06/03/2015 at 12:19 AM

        You’re welcome!

        I have done gusset increases on a few socks but that is only because DH prefers his socks skinny and snug.ย  Check out this post.ย

  14. Vicki Grierson
    08/04/2015 at 2:45 AM

    I have just found your wonderfully clear instructions for this short row heel. I have the Regia booklet but couldn't really undestand what to do until I read your description. I've completed my first baby sock successfully! I also like the idea of knitting from the toe up to get a perfect fit when I eventually knit a pair for my husband.  Many thanks for posting this. 

  15. Tara
    11/08/2015 at 2:49 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing this technique. Great instructions! I’m a fairly new knitter & love to make socks, but always dread the heel. Now, I can just love making socks! *happy dance*

  16. Anna Bindi
    01/01/2016 at 6:24 AM

    I am looking for a double-stich (German Short Row) sock pattern(s) for all sizes: men, women, children. Also looking for a good video on how to do “double-stitch” short rows.

    Appreciate any help.



    • 01/01/2016 at 10:15 AM

      I just did my first video a few weeks ago. I will put this on the list!

  17. Sheena
    01/17/2016 at 3:33 PM

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!!!
    I’ve been searching for DAYS on how to do the second half of this heel.
    I’ve found a few videos of the initial “decrease” but had no luck on part 2 of the “pocket”.
    You’ve saved the day.
    Thanks so much.

  18. Dewi
    04/09/2016 at 5:08 AM

    Hello, thank you very much for this tutorial! I have knitted my first pair of socks, using this tutorial for doing the heels instead of the wrap and turn technique indicated in the pattern, with success!

    I wonder if we can do different color for the heel with this technique?

  19. Heidi
    12/06/2016 at 4:16 AM

    I love the tutorial and the heel, but I don’t understand all of it.. i guess it’s because my english is kinda bad:) so, you may not understand what i’m woundering about but i will try to explain.
    I think i get it until i reached the “last RS row” on the frist part of the heel.
    When i have knittet the middel and reached the doublestitch AND knittet that one as well, do i turn? Or do i continue to the left? Knitting the next doublestitch on that side? And If so – when i’ve knittet all these doublestitches on the left side – THEN do i turn? Or do i continue in to the non-heel-part? I wonder because another english pattern i’d read “knit around” meant “knit the heel-side back and forth”..

    AND the second thing i wondered about is : hos do you purl the doublestitch? Is it as you show in the 4. picture – with the “needle under both forward strands of the double st”, or is it with the two strands on “top” of the needle?

    I really hope you understand this and could help me:) but i dont blame you for not understanding anything of this:P

    Thanks anyway!:D

    • 12/06/2016 at 11:59 AM

      Hi Heidi, your English is way better than my rusty Russian, Portuguese, or Spanish!
      So if I understand correctly —
      Question 1: at the end of the first part, you knit across the middle, then you keep going to the left and knit ALL the double stitches on the left side. Then you continue into the non-heel part.

      There are heels that do not include these 2 rounds all the way around the sock. I’ve heard them called “boomerang” and “yo-yo”. Supposedly the “yo-yo” only goes back and forth, while the “boomerang” goes all the way around and comes back. So maybe this is really a “boomerang” heel, but I find if you don’t do these 2 rounds, you get holes at the corner of the heel.

      Question 2: I don’t understand this question as well, but I think the answer is like picture 4, with the โ€œneedle under both forward strands of the double stโ€. Basically, your needle should be going into the double stitch right next to the needle it is sitting on.

      Hope that helps! good luck.

  20. S
    09/04/2017 at 1:50 PM

    Hi, thanks for your hard work putting this together! I think I finally found my toe up heel! My question, though: what next? Once the heel is finished, do I just knit in rounds until the bind off, or do I need to do some fancy instep work?
    Thanks in advance!!

    • 09/12/2017 at 2:15 PM

      Hello, sorry for the delay in replying, I was traveling.

      Basically, yes. Going toe-up, once the heel is done, you just start working in the round again over all the stitches, and that’s the leg: you can incorporate any stitch pattern you like, carry on from whatever you did on the instep, go until you run out of yarn, etc etc.

      Some sources suggest that a half-inch of plain stockinette above the heel before starting any ribbing makes for better fit, and I’ve seen it on commercial socks, but I feel that’s a matter of preference more than anything else.

      If you want to check out my own idea for a really stretchy bind-off that’s way simpler than the well-known one, take a look here:


      • S
        09/15/2017 at 12:12 AM

        Fantastic, thanks so much! I’ll try this bind off this afternoon. I think you’ve just upped my sock game ๐Ÿ˜€

  21. Katie
    11/12/2017 at 4:52 PM

    I tried this and it just looks like a slipped 1st stitch with a YO.

    • 11/13/2017 at 9:51 AM

      Hmmm, that’s not the results most people get. Hard to say what you might be doing differently since I can’t see it. Maybe you should look for a video version and see if that helps? I don’t have a video of this but I’m sure there are some out there.

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