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Top-down or toe-up . . . you decide!

Apr 13, 2012

Have you tried toe-up sock knitting? It's a fun departure from the usual top-down sock patterns; I'm a fan of this technique because I have short feet, and I like to be able to try on the foot as I go so I can make it short enough. You can try on top-down socks, too, but somehow I have more success gauging foot length when I'm knitting toe-up.

Wyeast Socks by Chrissy Gardiner, from Sockupied Spring 2011

I also label the Kitchener stitch as my enemy and Judy's Magic Cast-On as my friend, so toe-up allows me to surround myself with friends.

In the Spring 2011 issue of Sockupied, Chrissy Gardiner's pattern, Wyeast Socks, are written so that they work top-down or toe-up. The cabling is simple but makes an impact.

And these are great unisex socks because of the classic cable design and because they're written for a sportweight yarn. I find that men like a thicker sock, so instead of rewriting the pattern for a thicker yarn, here's one that's good to go.

Chrissy also wrote an article in this issue of Sockupied about switching heel techniques from sock to sock, which includes a handy calculator. For example, if you're doing a top-down pattern that has a heel flap and you want to knit it toe-up instead of top-down, Chrissy gives you several options for how to "flip the heel" if you will.

To use the calculators, you simply plug in the number of heel stitches you have in your pattern and your row gauge and click "calculate." The program spits out step-by-step instructions for knitting the heel. It's really handy!
The short-row heel in the Wyeast Socks

My favorite is the short-row heel. Some knitters prefer the heel flap because it's more durable than the short-row heel, but I've never had a problem with my short-row heels. A bonus is that the short-row heel is worked the same whether the pattern is toe-up or top-down. And I love the way it looks, too.

I have so much sock yarn, and I'll bet you do, too. In fact, I was just saying to my knitting group that I'm going to start knitting plain stockinette socks to use it up and fill my drawer with handknit socks. But I love the cable pattern in the Wyeast socks, so I think I'll use it for my sportweight yarn—I probably have three or four pairs' worth.

Don't have this issue of Sockupied? Download yours now and try knitting some top-down socks toe-up!


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socklady2 wrote
on Apr 20, 2012 4:36 AM

heel flap is my favorite. i also need a deeper heel. it fits much better than the short row heel.  short row heel... to many holes.

Ccez wrote
on Apr 17, 2012 8:52 AM

Wish the 2011 issue do sockupied would come in iPad format. Would love to have the calculators but can't get this format. Will you be hopefully adding this?

marychance wrote
on Apr 16, 2012 6:59 PM

Toe-up is the best if you're not sure just how much yarn you have for the socks.  That way you have the foot done and the cuff will be as long as the remaining yarn makes.  I hate it when the yarn quantity is wrong (either pattern or my stash) and I find myself running out before I get the toe finished.

Top down has the cool flap heel where you can do some interesting stuff.  I wish I could figure out how to do the flap heel from backwards so I could do toe-up AND flap heel.

moneka wrote
on Apr 16, 2012 5:06 AM

Thank you so much for your sending to me always e.mails and i'm so happy that i'm a member in your site and i  want  to say thank you to Kathleen Cubley

the editor of Knitting Daily.

Thanks a gain to her.

on Apr 14, 2012 11:32 AM

I made a pair of socks with the heel shown in the picture a number of years ago.  I never liked it - it was tight around the arch of the foot.  the traditional heel seems to fit much better.

bookcase wrote
on Apr 13, 2012 8:02 PM

So glad to know that someone else is a big fan of short row heel, but so many patterns do not include it.  Would love a simple conversion for my many sock patterns.  RC

knitnanny10 wrote
on Apr 13, 2012 6:48 PM

My favorite heel is hands down the short row. Not only does it knit up faster for me it also fits better.  When I teach a sock class depending on the width of the heel you can leave more or less stitches unworked to really cradle the heel nicely.

aussiebead wrote
on Apr 13, 2012 6:45 PM

I have only knitted socks top down, and enjoy producing the pairs of matched stripes from the computer wool. Means making socks one at a time, as it usually takes a full pattern repeat of the colours to find the start point for the other sock. I often work the heel, and sometimes the toe in a contrasting wool.  This makes the stripes continuous on the top of the instep. Stopping for the toe at the right point of the wool pattern repeat makes starting the next sock easy without the difficulty of finding the next sock start point.

laureen227 wrote
on Apr 13, 2012 4:16 PM

I knit sox toe-up, 2 at a time, w/Cat Bordhi's Sweet Tomato Heel! it's the only heel i've been able to master - of course, i've only been knitting socks for about 6 weeks.

Wendelika wrote
on Apr 13, 2012 2:49 PM

I bought the Spring 2011 issue of Sockupied and was SOOO excited to dig into it - then realised that I can't read it on my tablet because mine uses the android platform.  I'm hoping to someday see Sockupied for android.

on Apr 13, 2012 12:48 PM

I always use a heel flap but am willing to try another technique.

Jamie Wang wrote
on Apr 13, 2012 9:08 AM

I find that heel flap heels work best for me. I have a high arch and relatively thin ankles and I find that the flap gives me enough room to easily slide the sock on without having a loose and floppy ankle area.

ValH@5 wrote
on Apr 13, 2012 8:26 AM

I generally knit toe up two at a time because I get better yarn usage, a better fit, the cuff turns out the same length, and they seem to knit faster. That is not to say I don't ever knit one at a time toe up or cuff down.

on Apr 13, 2012 6:59 AM

I knit toe up about 90% of the time and I use a gusset and heel flap--I really don't like short row heels.    This style of heel just fits my foot best.  I love toe up because I can use up every bit of my yarn and it also allows me to get a better custom fit up my calves.

Palenque1978 wrote
on Apr 13, 2012 6:39 AM

I've never knitted toe up.  

Been knitting socks for about five years now... I love Kitchener... don't have a problem with it.  And, I don't have any problem fitting the foot either.  All I need to know is the size shoe and I have a chart that tells me how long the foot portion of the sock has to be.  

My favorite heel is: on the knit side:  1st row: sl 1, k1... across; then on the purl side: 2nd row:  sl 1, then purl across the row.  Makes for a nice strong heel.  I knit rows as many as the pattern calls for, so that I have the correct number of "loops" at the edges for the making of the gusset; another fun part to knit.  

I LOVE to knit socks... for all, babies, toddlers, little kids, teens, adults; women and men.  And for me too, of course.  

Rosiesmith wrote
on Apr 13, 2012 3:10 AM

I so agree with you for all the same reasons.  I only wear Crocs so my heels never wear out.  2 at a time also omeans both socks are the same size.