The Eternal Debate

Occasionally, among those of us who consider ourselves sock knitters, a lively discussion can break out around one very important topic: Is it better to knit socks from the toe up, or top down? Even among the Interweave Knits staff, there are varying opinions. A very quick and informal poll reveals that most of us prefer to knit toe up, while a small percentage prefer top down.

Me? I'm lazy and will pretty much do whatever the pattern tells me to do. I have long feet, so one of the benefits to knitting toe-up socks is that I can easily try on the foot as I go to make sure it will be long enough. But since I usually use the Magic Loop method, I can usually do that with my top-down socks just as easily. Yarn conservation is another big reason to go toe up; by dividing a skein in half, I can easily use up as much yarn as possible when knitting toe up and make sure that my socks fit perfectly. This is especially helpful when using skeins that have shorter yardage, but now that so many yarns come in longer skeins, that's not always a problem. (An aside, I just discovered that the lovely ladies at Lorna's Laces are now producing 100g skeins of Shepherd Sock; color me excited!)

Being ambivalent about the beginnings of my socks, I'm so excited that the sock section of the Knits Winter 2010 issue features both toe-up and top-down constructions. Judy Alexander's Pinked Socks, Lisa D. Jacobs's Art Deco Argyle Stockings, and Kari Anderson's Stranded Boot Stockings are all written from the top down.


Pinked Socks, Art Deco Argyle Stockings, Stranded Boot Stockings

On the flip side, Jenna Hurry's Alpha Stockings and Chrissy Gardiner's Pavo Slipper Socks are both toe-up. The Alpha Stockings use the Middle Eastern cast-on, while the Pavo Slipper Socks use Judy's Magic Cast-On, which I've never used. Patterns that use new-to-me techniques inevitably get moved toward the top of my "to-knit list," and given that today is the first day it's snowed in northern Colorado, I'll probably attempt to knit up a pair of these for myself soon.


Alpha Stockings, Pavo Slipper Socks

So, sock knitters, which is it? Toe up, or top down?

P.S. – Are you on Twitter? You can now follow Lisa Shroyer and me!

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