Socktoberfest: Cast-ons for Comfy Cuffs

The sock cuff cast-on method can make or break your top-down socks. Not only can it add a nice decorative edge, but it can mean the difference between socks that go on easily and socks that don’t!


It’s important that your sock cast-on be stretchy enough to span the biggest circumference of your foot around the heel so you can pull the sock on comfortably. The top edge of the sock also has to stretch more than the rest of the sock leg, since it sits where the calf widens. If your socks are falling down, you might think that the ribbing needs to be tighter, but it could just be that the cast-on is too tight for your calf. These four cast-on methods are attractive, elastic, and particularly good for socks.

Double Start Cast-on

A variation of the long-tail cast-on that makes a decorative edge:

sock cuff cast-on

STEP 1 Make a slipknot and place it on the needle. Hold the yarn and leave a tail like you would for the long-tail cast-on method (Figure 1). The stitches are made in pairs; the slipknot counts as a knit stitch and the first stitch of the pair.

STEP 2 Second stitch of the pair (purl): Release the yarn around the thumb, and rewrap it in the opposite direction (Figure 2). Bring the needle down through the loop on the thumb, then under the back strand of the loop, then over the strand going to the index finger, then bring the needle back up through the thumb loop (Figure 3). Drop the loop off the thumb and, placing the thumb back in the original V configuration, tighten the resulting stitch on the needle.

STEP 3 First stitch of the pair (a regular long-tail cast-on stitch): Beginning at the base of the thumb, slide the needle up through the loop on the thumb, then bring it over the strand going to the index finger, then go back down through the loop on the thumb (Figure 4). Drop the loop off the thumb and, placing the thumb back in the V configuration, tighten the resulting stitch on the needle.

Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for the desired number of stitches, ending with a second stitch (Figure 4). The two stitches worked one after the other result in a strand running in front of two cast-on stitches, which looks like a pair. Distribute the stitches over your chosen needles and join for working in the round, beginning with a knit stitch.

PROS Can be worked quickly + good stretch.
CONS A little trickier than long-tail cast-on.

Old Norwegian Cast-on

A variation of the long-tail cast-on, with an attractive edge:

sock cuff cast-on

STEP 1 Make a slipknot and place it on the right needle. Hold the yarn and leave a tail as for the long-tail cast-on (Figure 1). The slipknot counts as the first stitch.

STEP 2 Bring the needle in front of the thumb, under both strands around the thumb, down into the center of the thumb loop, then forward toward you. Now bring the needle over the strand going to the index finger to grab it (Figure 2).

STEP 3 Bring the needle back through the loop on the thumb (Figure 3), turning the thumb slightly to make room for the needle to pass through.

STEP 4 Drop the loop off the thumb (Figure 4) and, placing the thumb back in the V configuration, tighten up the resulting stitch on the needle.

Repeat Steps 2 through 4 for the desired number of stitches. Distribute the stitches over your chosen needles and join for working in the round, beginning with a right-side row.

PROS Very stretchy + Can be worked fairly quickly, has nice edge.
CONS A little trickier to work than long-tail cast-on.

Alternating Cast-on

A cast-on that looks exactly like the rib¬bing at the top of the sock—as though the ribbing just magically begins:

sock cuff cast-on

STEP 1 Make a slipknot, and place it on the right needle; the slipknot counts as a purl and the first stitch. Hold the yarn and leave a tail as for the long-tail cast-on (Figure 1). Work using the two strands coming from the needle; ignore the loops around the thumb and index finger.

STEP 2 Knit stitch: Take the needle toward you and underneath the front strand. Bring the needle up between the two strands, then over and behind the back strand to grab it (Figure 2). Pull the back strand underneath the front strand to make a loop on the needle.

STEP 3 Purl stitch: Take the needle away from you over the strands, then under both the back strand and the front strand. Bring the needle toward you and up to grab the front strand, then pull the front strand underneath the back strand to make a loop on the needle (Figure 3).

Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for the desired number of stitches, ending with a knit stitch. Since this cast-on is not “knotted” onto the needle, it’s easiest to work one row flat before joining. When turning to start the first row, carry the working yarn to the back around the tail to keep the last stitch on the needle. After casting on, turn and work one right-side row flat before joining as follows: *purl 1, knit 1; repeat from * to end. Without turning, join work in the round at the end of this right-side row.

PROS Stretches as much as the ribbing does + doesn’t leave a visible cast-on above the ribbing, very quick to work.
CONS Only works for knit 1, purl 1 rib.

Channel Island Cast-on

A cast-on that makes a pretty line of yarn “beads” along the edge:

sock cuff cast-on

STEP 1 Holding three strands of yarn together, make a slipknot about six inches from the ends and place it on the right needle (this does not count as a stitch). Divide the three strands, using a single strand as the working yarn and the two remaining strands as the tail.

STEP 2 Place the single strand around the index finger. Wrap the two-strand tail counterclockwise around the thumb so that two wraps are visible below your thumbnail. Make a yarnover on the needle with the single strand (Figure 1).

STEP 3 Beginning at the base of the thumb, slide the needle up through both loops on the thumb, then bring it over the single strand, going to the index finger to grab it, then go back down through the two loops on the thumb (Figure 2). Drop the thumb loops and tighten all three yarns.

Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for the desired number of stitches; each repeat creates two stitches. Distribute the stitches over your chosen needles and remove the slipknot from the needles (but don’t undo it) before joining for working in the round, knitting the “beaded” stitches and purling the yarnovers.

Undo the slipknot just before weaving in the tails.

PROS Pretty + very stretchy.
CONS Slow to work + Takes practice to achieve even tension on the “beads”.

Read every blog in our Socktoberfest series to ensure your skills are well-rounded.

Prefer toe-up socks? Check out these toe-up cast-ons and cuff bind-offs for your perfect toe-up socks!


Nail Your Sock Cuff Cast-on!

 

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