As the socks turn....

OK, I'm on my 2nd pair of socks. Toe up this time, and I've ripped out the heel turn 7 times so far today.
I've tried the stockingette back and forth, stopping 1 stitch before the end, then work to end of row, knit or purl 2tog, m1, and it's BULKY!
I tried the classic W&T, and it looks sloppy...
Tried the Cat Bordhi "concealed" W&T, and ended up with lace....
any other suggestions/thoughts?
Help me!
Love ya guys!


I share your frustration.

Logically toe-up socks make a lot of sense--you can try them on, you don't have to worry that you will run out of wool before you get to the toe...etc--but I have never found that any of the heel methods match the beauty and, more importantly, the comfort of the traditional padded stitch heel of a leg-down sock.

Maybe I am revealing my Ludite bent but the more I knit the more I realize that the old, tried and true ways are the best.

And as to the supposed advantages of toe-up, I question their true worth.

For me the problem is never too little wool but too much wool. Furthermore not having enough wool to go far enough up the calf would be more problematic. I can always finish off the toes with other wool--they are hidden in my shoe--but I would always be tugging on a too short leg.

As to trying on the sock, after the first few socks you become very adept at judging when to start you toe decreases. And until you get comfortable judging you can use this little trick.

Before starting the toe decreases mark the stitch that begins the round 5 rounds back. Make sure it is secure. Then finish your toe right up to the grafting of the toe. before proceeding mark the first stitch of the round by running a thread through it. Now using another piece of wool of a very different colour, graft the toe. Do not cut the original wool.

Try on the sock. Is it the correct length? If so pick up the stitches that you grafted. They are easy to see because of the contrasting colour. If you have troubles picking up the stitches, try using a smaller sized needle. Make sure you distribute the
stitches onto the needle as the were before the grafting. Remember you have the first stitch marked. And make sure the stitches are not twisted. Now graft with the original wool.

If it is too short or too long, you will have to rip back the toe and re-knit it. You have a marker indicating 5 rounds back from the shaping so adjustments are quite straight forward. Rarely are you off by more than 2 or 3 rounds, that is why you mark 5 rounds back. For example if you need to add two rounds knit even until 7 rounds from marker. If you need to to take away 2 rounds, rip back until there are 3 rounds after the marker. Then just repeat shaping the toe.

Trust me re-knitting a toe is a lot faster and easier than re-doing a heel which is what you have to do if you try on a toe-up sock.

Whatever approach you choose to adopt, good luck with your knitting.

Bill's picture

I see no reason to knit toe up. (OK, I'm an old man...but the traditional way of knitting a sock and heel is very comforting.) I've never knitted a toe up sock, so I can't help with the heel.

Kerry's picture

I'm with you Bill. I knitted a sock toe-up once, it worked well and fitted fine but it didn't convince me to give up the top down method.

ronhuber's picture

I have tried toe up socks and have never worn one because for me the fit is not comfortable (4 different types of heels). I have heard people say that the heel is not as comfortable as the top down sock and still continue to make them. For the first top down sock you knit for yourself, figure out how many rows you need for the toe decrease and measure them on your sock which is, at this point, a huge swatch. If it is comfortable, use it for the next and the next and the next.

MMario's picture

?? YOu can do virtually any heel done top down with a toe up sock.....there may be some differences visually but the shaping can be made identical.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

rjcb3's picture

I attempted doing toe up socks once.

Key words: "attempted" and "once."

The attempt is still a swatch that I look at every now and again, if the cats haven't used it as a toy for the fleeting moment just to leave it somewhere else around the house.

...but I still wish you the best of luck on yours and sincerely hope that it turns out really well.


Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I always tell myself I'll do a pair of toe-up socks someday but that day never seems to dawn. I think a lot of it is, as Bill says, the comfort and ease of what is familiar. My misgiving is the heel shapings; all of them seem awkward and I wonder how well they actually fit. I've been working on a pair of Magic Loop socks for several months which are actually a second pair. I knit the first pair with the heel and toe worked as recommended by the pattern [side to side] but this pair is based on the traditional front to back orientation. I've found it less confusing as I do the decreases and all that. Still, I realize that a lot of the longevity of the project is that I just don't enjoy Magic Loop. I figure the same, for me, will be true of toe-up. It's great that other knitters enjoy them and make them their sock of choice. But if you find you don't, move on to another style that you like better. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Tallguy's picture

I am doing a sock now toe-up, because that is the only way it fits correctly. I have done the cuff-down, and it is okay, but I like the toe-up better.

I also like the peasant heel (slip stitch flap) and I have developed a method to do it from the bottom up. I think I like the challenge of doing something "in reverse" which means you really need to understand how to do it top down in the first place.

I have just turned one heel, working on the second. If I can stop long enough to take a pic, I'll post that soon enough.

I find it rather odd that someone that has never done a toe-up sock will be so adamant that it won't fit! Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Bill's picture

You are always so tactful and polite!

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I add my rebuttal...I never said I was adamant [nor implied the same] as to how toe-up heels fit. I just said that they looked awkward to me and wondered as to how well they would fit. I then made the later comment that I am glad that other people found them to their tastes and enjoyed them. My main point is that if a knitter doesn't like toe-up [or, conversely, top-down] they should try other styles and find what suits them. I have always held the belief that every knitter should go with whatever works for them and yields the result THEY want, not what other people expect. [If Tallguy's remarks weren't specifically towards me, I apologize. However, my take was that they were.] -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Bill's picture

Eric, I felt bad that I couldn't help with your heel I did a search on You Tube...
here's what I found...

there seem to be you might do a search for" toe up sock heel"

Hope it works out well!

grandfatherknits's picture

Eric -
I find Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' method of heels a good heel. It is short-rows so there are no gussets. Her book "Simple Socks, Plain and Fancy" gives a good description of how to do them.