Haven't realy posted about myself in awhile.

But I do have a question. Started a "toe-up" sock class today. Never made socks before.

Between this method and "top-down" ...once you learn one, there really is not a difference in the end result, right? Both get you what you want by different methods, right?

Would I ever need to learn "top-down" except for following a pattern written for that?

Sorry for the silly questions but I have two weeks til we have the second/last class and was curious.

scenter's picture

I learned top-down socks first, but I have done some toe-up ones. Either one works, I tend to follow the pattern as written, so that is what usually decides it for me (less thinking involved). If I am creatting a new pattern from scratch, I tend to go with the top down, as the patterned part tends to be the leg, so this way I can see if I like the design w/o having knit all the way from the toe before seeing the design, but it is not a hard and fast rule, merely a guideline.

There are differences - the toe-up socks I've done don't have a heel-flap - they used short row or afterthought heels, top-downs usually do have a heel-flap, which is the traditional construction technique.

ronhuber's picture

I am just the opposite. I have been knitting socks since I was about 8 and if I did a top up sock I would have to pay attention to what was happening. With a top down sock they sort of finish themselves and I don't have to think about anything unless I am making them for someone else. However, a sock is a sock is a sock and it doesn't matter from which end you start (or finish). Good luck and when you put on that first sock you will be addicted.

I agree with Ron. I've learned how to do both, top down and toe up. Sometimes I start at the top and go down, sometimes I start at the toe and go up. I ordinarily have more than one pair going at a time, then I can switch back and forth according to what I more feel like doing at the time. I recommend you get a hold of "Sensational Knitted Socks" or the sequel "More Sensational Knitted Socks." Both are a wealth of information re: sock construction, toe up, top down and about a million different patterns. Good luck. If you don't believe sock knitting is addicting, look through the MWK archives. Since Scottly learned how to knit socks, we haven't heard from him.


Thank you all for your responses.

Maybe I need to teach myself just to say I know how to do a top-down.

But it is a weird experience to knit socks. Some people may know what I mean (like those on the dark side of sock knitting). When I say weird I mean....It is so cool I am creating this! It sort of connects you to centuries of people.

And much thanks again!

crmartin's picture

I agree that it probably doesn't make a lot of difference which method you use, there are pros and cons to both. I personally prefer toe up for no particular reason, just seem to like it better. You will soon become a member of the sock knitters addicts club! All those beautiful sock yarns out there! Wnat method are you using, DP's, magic loop, 2 circular? My favorite is to start with magic loop until I get past the toe increases, then switch to my beloved 9 in circulars.



Well, I am using a circular. Do you use 2? What kind of heel?

I really did not know there were different heels. This one is suppsoed to be "after-thought."

crmartin's picture

There are several different types of heels. I like a Gusset and Slip-Stitch Heel . I only use 1 circular, a 32" for the magic loop method and a 9 " after I get past the toe increases.



grandfatherknits's picture

How do you manage such a small needle? I use 16" occasionally but find that they really make my hands cramp because the needle is so short. And I don't have big hands.

crmartin's picture

I really have no problem at all with them. The first half hour or so after I first got them I think I was tensing my hands for some reason, but now I can knit for multiple hours with them without cramping. Maybe your need to adjust the way you hold them. My hands are on the large size I think, I can easily play a 10th on the piano, good for Ragtime and Rachmaninoff!



OKknitguy's picture

I learned top down but after I did my toe up class. that's the only way to go. Learn the magic cast on off Knitty. Its amazing and very quick. Much much easier and nicer than a provisional cast on. makes a great toe cause there is no seam or ridge.
i always split my skein into two equal halves before I start. I use a small scale that weighs in grams. So my two balls of yarn are exactly equal.
You start the toe, you knit the distance from a straight line down thru the ankle to the toes. Then you start the heel
Do the short row heels. I always do my heel the same as the number of stitches I started wtih on my toes. so if I started with 16 stitches on the toe and increased up to 32 on each needle, I do short rows down to 16 stitches then back up.
I always do garter heels. My purling is looser than my knit. I think garter heels look good too.
Then you knit the leg after you do the short row heel. The nice thing about doing toe up is you never have to guess about how much yarn is left. The worst thing going top down, would be that you run out of yarn as you are decreasing for your toe! With toe up, when you have gotten tired of knitting or think you just have enough yarn left for 2-3 rows, you stop and bind off.
Since your two balls were exactly the same, you know the two socks will be exactly the same too!

Much much easier and better to do toe up. I made 36 pairs of socks last year. Believe me!

YarnGuy716's picture

I've learned both toe-up and top-down and just prefer top-down, mainly because I like a nice heel flap on a sock. I also like turning the heel because it just makes you feel like the smartest knitter on the planet.

Sock knitting is truly addictive. Especially if you were one of those who thought the idea of knitting socks was insane. We tend to be the darkest of the dark side of sock knitting. ::grin::

Can't wait to see your finished socks.

PhilNmtl's picture

Top down......toe up.......
At the end of the day I'm not sure that I have a preference but I agree that socks are purely addictive. Just as much fun though is collecting sock wool for the stash - how much harm can there be in buying another two little balls of wool? Every once in a while I find another two, four or six balls tucked away that haven't yet migrated to the main stash. My story is that they are multiplying. How else could I end up with enough sock wool to outfit several armies?

JDM511's picture

I kept hearing Kelley Petkin talk about how wonder hand made socks feel, so I picked up a book, some cheap yarn to try it out. The instructions just confused me, but they also said to trust the pattern and just follow each step. I got to the heel and was very confused, but just trusted the pattern and did the short rows as instructed. All of a sudden I saw the heel forming. It was like magic. Sadly this sock did not come even close to fitting, it was way too big. But I really did this to try it out on cheap yarn, before buying more expensive sock yarn. Now I am ready to try again. Maybe next time I will try toe up. If I could do this you can also.

Sadly my socks will have to wait as my wife found this pattern and I just have to make it for myself before the fall.

After the sweater I will start the socks.


Toe up. Top down. This is your last warning. After you try both of ways, you're going to try magic-loop, two circular needles, two-at-a-time on two circular needles, two-at-a-time on magic loop. You should turn back now, or your going to spend your money on nothing but sock yarn. You will no longer care about anything else but the next pair of socks. Friends will quit coming around. You are going to need a lot of help if you don't turn back while you still have the strength and ability to do so.


Aaronknits's picture

I learned top down first and I still prefer it. I tried toe up on one and on two circs. Then tried it again. Thinking the third time would be a charm, I gave it yet another go. It wasn't for me.

I like my dpns.

Good for you for doing socks though! Yes, they are addictive. I only make socks for me. Pampering my feet, my foundation, my connection to the earth, with my own hand made socks is so nice!

Kilted Knitter's picture

Top down on DPNS...

I leared top down and on dpns, I have been encouraged to try the magic loop method and have even bought the Addi turbos to take the class. I'm a big chicken and still do my socks the way I first learnd and love my bamboo dpns. I agree with the other guys , once you start you will become addicted.
Barry the Kilted Knitter

Thank you for all your kind words and encouragement. I think I may soon give the top down a try too. I suppose it is good to learn cause it may broaden your ideas or the way of doing the sock.

But first, I gotta figure out how to get this circ needle straightened out. I tried placing the plastic "wire" in boiling water etc and nuttin! Damn thing keeps curling.