My Favorite Sock Knitting Techniques
Ask anyone who identifies as a sock knitter for their favorite techniques, and you’ll probably be stuck for a while listening to said knitter describe, in exquisite detail, their preferred cast-on method, heel design, toe shape, and bind-off method. Ask a group of sock knitters about toe-up or top-down sock construction and you could get caught in the crossfire of a heated debate about the merits of each.
My approach to sock knitting is a little more laissez-faire. I choose patterns that I think go with the yarn I want to use—if a pattern says “start from the toe-up,” I start from the toe-up. Same goes for top-down sock patterns. That said, I will typically substitute my own preferred methods whenever applicable.
For the record, in case you’re interested these are some of my favorite sock knitting techniques for top-down socks:
- Old Norwegian cast-on. This is also called the Twisted German cast-on, if you’re familiar with that term. It’s a simple variation on the long tail cast-on, so it’s easy to remember, and it has a nice defined edge that’s stretchier than long tail cast-on.
- I love a good heel flap and gusset combination, though I freely admit that there’s many heel options I haven’t yet tried. Kate Atherley created a Gapless Gusset video and Go-To Sock Pattern for practicing perfect heel flap and gussets.
- Finally, I like a basic wedge toe, with decreases at the sides, and Kitchener stitch to finish.
For toe-up socks, things get a little wild.
- I love a short-row toe. There’s just something about the way it looks that I really like! I generally substitute a short-row toe for every other toe-up start, unless strongly compelled otherwise.
- Likewise, I tend to work a short-row heel for toe-up socks. Though I really want to try other variations—have a preferred toe-up heel method? Let me know in the comments!
- Here’s where I just go all crazy: I love me a tubular bind-off for toe-up socks! I’ve you’ve never tried a tubular bind-off, here’s a trick: it’s pretty much just like grafting. If you can work Kitchener stitch, you can do a tubular bind-off. I promise.
If you, like me, enjoy trying out different sock knitting techniques, be sure to check out Ann Budd’s excellent Sock Knitting Master Class. Ann’s book covers all the techniques I mentioned here, plus soooo many more, and it even includes a DVD to help you master the sock knitting techniques.