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.
laith4Rachel Coopey’s Laith Socks from Sockupied Spring 2015 are worked from the top-down, the perfect opportunity to try out a new sock knitting cast-on method.


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.
7870.millends3.jpgMill Ends Socks by M K Nance, also from Sockupied Spring 2015, start at the toe—time to try out that super stretchy bind-off method!

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.

Let me know about your favorite sock knitting techniques in the comments! I can’t wait to try new methods for making socks.

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