The Joy of Toe-Up Socks

Note from Sandi: There's more than one way to work a sock, as many long-time sock knitters will tell you. Most of us learn to make them by starting at the cuff–but if you find that this method isn't making you happy, then perhaps you could try knitting socks from the toe up. Here to explain this versatile and easy technique is an excerpt from Interweave Knits Summer 2007 by Ann Budd, author of Interweave's Getting Started Knitting Socks. Ann's a huge fan of handknit socks herself. (Ann's bio states that she has not worn a store-bought sock in years, and has never met a handknit sock she didn't like!) Here's Ann!


Working Socks From The Toe Up

In general, I like to knit socks from the top down, beginning with a cast-on at the top of the leg and ending with the Kitchener stitch at the tip of the toe. But sometimes it's practical (and preferable) to work in the opposite direction–from the tip of the toe to the top of the leg. With this method, you cast on stitches at the tip of the toe, work the foot to the desired length, work short-rows to shape the heel, then work the leg to the desired length, finishing with a flexible bind-off at the top of the leg. One advantage of the toe-up method is that you can try on the socks at any point along the way to make sure that they fit just right.

Another advantage of toe-up sock knitting is that the heel is shaped in short-rows without a heel flap or gussets. You won't have to count rows in the heel flap or pick up stitches for the gussets, which can be particularly helpful if you're working with a highly textured yarn that obscures individual stitches or you tend to have trouble seeing the stitches. And best of all for many knitters, when you work from the toe up, you don't have to work the Kitchener stitch.

Working socks from the toe up is also a good idea if you're worried about running out of yarn. Begin with two balls of equal size, one for each sock. Work the foot to the desired length while you have lots of yarn, then continue up the leg as far as you can before the ball runs out. This is a great way to economize with expensive yarn–buy a single ball for each sock and use every precious yard.

— Ann Budd

The full version of this article, complete with detailed how-to information and stitch number charts, appears in the Summer 2007 issue of Interweave Knits. Check it out!

If you'd like a step-by-step guide to knitting socks, including size and gauge charts and basic stitch patterns, ask for Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd at your local yarn shop, or buy it here

 Want to try a toe-up sock?
 Here's two great free toe-up sock patterns!

If you've never tried toe-up sock knitting before and want a great free sock pattern, there's two in our FREE sock pattern ebook!

The Caspian Sea Socks are a knockout, with an intricate colorwork design, down to the patterned soles. This free sock pattern comes complete with detailed full-color charts and step-by-step instructions.

The William Street Socks were designed based on Ann Budd's article mentioned above, and sport big thick cables which stretch to cushion your feet…or the feet of someone you love! This sock pattern is appropriate for either men or women, and is specially designed to fit larger feet–because everyone deserves a pair of handknit socks!

This easy sock pattern is available in our FREE sock pattern ebook:

Knitting Socks with Knitting Daily:
7 Free Sock Knitting Patterns


Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily.

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