Convert Socks Toe Up To Top Down

Okay, so you’ve mastered how to convert top down to toe up instructions. What if you’re a top down sock knitter who wants to knit a toe up pattern? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this second part of our sock series, Kate Atherley explains how to transform toe up instructions into top down instructions.

We’re going to start in the same way as the first article.

Converting a Sock Pattern: Gather the Key Info

Look to the pattern you want to convert and decide which size you plan to knit. Identify the stitch count for the sock at these key points:

• Cuff number: For a top-down sock, this is the number of stitches cast on; for a toe-up, it’s the number you end with.

• Leg number: The number of stitches the leg pattern is worked on.

• Foot numbers: The number of stitches used for the foot of the sock, the section between the toe and the gusset; identify the total and the number of stitches for the instep and the sole.

• Toe number: For a top-down sock, this is the number of stitches immediately before the toe decreases start; for a toe-up, it’s the number you have after the toe increases are complete.

The numbers might differ slightly at these four points to accommodate patterning—e.g., the leg pattern requires an odd number of stitches, but the cuff ribbing requires an even number—but it’s not hard to deal with. If they’re all the same, you’ve got your single magic sock number, the number of stitches for the cuff, leg, and foot! If not, the Toe number is the number you need.

Find the size of your vanilla pattern that matches (or is closest to) the number of stitches you need—either that single “magic” number or the Toe number. That will be the size you use for your sock.

Examine the stitch pattern used. Is it an allover pattern or a smaller pattern worked all around? Or a single motif, such as my Pivot Socks. If it’s a single motif, you’ll need to identify how it’s positioned on the sock, relative to the heel.

Single motifs that sit on the top of the sock are the easiest to adapt to be knit in the opposite direction.

In general, it’s easiest to convert a pattern that has plain toes and heels using nothing more complicated than a heel reinforcement stitch. We’ll discuss those conversions first. Read on for details on how to handle a patterned toe or heel flap.

On Changing Toe Up to Top Down

Cast on the number of stitches used for the Cuff pattern and work the pattern for the length stated. Make any adjustments to the stitch number for the Leg and work the leg patterning as written—starting any patterns at the point where the patterning on the toe-up sock finishes.

When the time comes to divide for the heel, there are two cases:

• If the foot is worked entirely plain, with no discernible front or back to the leg patterning, divide as you normally would for your vanilla sock pattern. If you need to make an adjustment to the stitch count to get to the number for your vanilla pattern heel, work one final leg round, keeping the instep in pattern and establishing stockinette stitch (or heel stitch) on the back of the sock, working increases or decreases on the non-instep stitches. Then complete the foot and toe as you normally would.

• If the foot is patterned, pay attention to the alignment of the pattern on the instep. You’ll need to make sure that the stitches worked on the instep line up properly, and the heel is worked on the rest of the round. If you need to adjust the stitch count for the heel, do it in the first row of the heel flap, on those stitches only.

Work the heel and gusset as you wish. When rejoining the round, retain the patterning as established on the instep and complete any gusset shaping as per your vanilla sock.

If the toe starts at a particular point in the patterning on the toe-up sock, you’ll want to try to finish the foot at that point. Once the foot patterning is complete, work one final round to adjust the stitch count to the Toe number if necessary for the toe shaping; increases or decreases are likely required only on the instep.

On the Patterns: Do I Need to Turn It Upside Down?

Most stitch patterns look virtually the same from either direction—for example, ribbing, cables, slipped-stitch patterns, symmetrical colorwork. When I worked the toe-up sock of the pair in my pattern, I just turned the top-down chart upside down on my Pivot Socks.

If there’s a chart, look at it upside down! If not, work a small swatch of the stitch pattern and see how it looks the other way up. Even if it doesn’t look precisely the same, it may well be just as good when oriented the other way. Lace patterns—or any pattern with increases and decreases—look most different when displayed the other way. You may decide you like it upside down, but if you do want to convert the pattern to be worked the other way around, you’ll need to chart it out and rework it. Swatch and experiment!

Convert Socks with Ease!

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