Basic Toe Up Sock

There are times when a toe-up sock might be the preferred construction method, for example with slip stitch patterns that traverse multiple rows, like the fireflowers stitch pattern. Other cable or multi-row patterns may also benefit from a toe-up approach. It is more aesthetically pleasing to start and end a cable pattern in the middle; by starting long patterns at the toes, rather than the cuff, you are not left with awkward pattern adjustments to accomodate various foot lengths. You can more easily add a few stitch pattern rows before beginning the cuff for a pleasing transition, than reduce pattern rows on the foot to achieve a pleasing end. Perhaps the best reason of all for a toe up sock is when knitting for children--you can lengthen the sock as they grow, as you could for sleeves on a top down sweater for a child. For these cases there is a slightly modified cuff.

The Basic Sock series of articles has been popular, with gussets, toes and Kitchener stitch being the most frequently read sock construction articles. Readers have searched for toe-up sock topics as well; this basic series begins to address those inquiries. As with articles in the Basic Sock series, the demonstration sock is based on a woman's medium sized sock, in a fingering weight yarn with 64 leg and foot stitches.

Provisional Cast on or Foundation Row
The provisional cast on is the basis for most socks knitted toe up. I know of at least three different methods for starting the provisional cast on. My preferred method uses a crochet needle and single dpn to produce uniform tension. The waste yarn readily unzips to separate from the knitwork. The number of provisional stitches varies with the toe treatment: rectangular (12 sts), short rows (32 sts) and Kitchener stitch (64 sts). Some provisional methods require greater skill to achieve consistent loop size.

For step-by-step instructions and photos, click here: Provisional Cast On.

Basic Toe Up Sock - Toes
The rectangular method begins with a provisional cast on of 12 loops with waste yarn, followed by a row purled into these loops with the good yarn. A small 6 row x 12 st rectangle is subsequently created. Then the provisional stitches are transferred to a second needle and unzipped and additional stitches are picked up along each side of the rectangle to form a round having 32 sts. Increases are performed on alternate rows until there are 64 sts (32 sts on each needle, if circular needles are employed).

Click here for step-by-step instructions and photos for constructing the: Basic Toe Up Sock - Rectangular Toe.

Basic Toe Up Sock - Foot
At this stage the sock is knitted even in stocking stitch until a point at the front of the ankle is reached. The sock is tried on periodically to make sure sufficient length is knitted.
Click here for step-by-step instructions and photos for constructing the: Basic Toe Up Sock - Foot.

Basic Toe Up Sock - Gusset
The gusset, the widest part of the sock, is shaped with increases on alternate rounds. This is done with paired lifted increases on the sole side of the sock and results in a more subtle gusset than was demonstrated with the basic cuff down sock. As a quality and visual aid, yarn in contrasting colors is laced through stitches on the instep (white) and the sole (blue). In addition, a stitch marker is placed at row center of the sole stitches.

Click here for step-by-step instructions and photos for constructing the: Basic Toe Up Sock - Gusset. Basic Toe Up Sock - Turning Heel
At this stage of the toe up sock, the increases for the ankle have been completed (gusset) and it is time to turn the corner from the horizontal base of the foot, to the vertical orientation of the leg. Short row shaping is used to create a small cup, the turning heel, for this function.

Click here for step-by-step instructions and photos for constructing the: Basic Toe Up Sock - Turning Heel.

Basic Toe Up Sock - Heel Flap
As with the cuff down sock, the heel flap is knitted in rows with a slip stitch pattern and smaller needles for durability. One difference however, is that gusset stitches are decreased on each row, until all 30 (15 each side) gusset stitches have been absorbed by the heel flap. The other difference is that the wrapped stitches from the short row turning heel have to be worked in at the beginning of the heel flap.

Click here for step-by-step instructions and photos for constructing the: Basic Toe Up Sock - Heel Flap.

Basic Toe Up Sock - Leg or Body
Once the heel flap is complete and the gusset stitches absorbed, you are ready to knit the body or leg of the sock. The stitches are split between 2 circular needles, 32 stitches per needle and all rounds are knitted to produce the stocking (also called stockinette) stitch for the basic sock. Here is where circular needles shine--you can try on the sock at any time to check the fit and length. When the sock measures 8-9" from the base of the foot, you are ready to start working the cuff. The length of the sock (measured from the floor) depends to some extent on your foot size, as well as your preferences.

Click here for to read: Basic Toe Up Sock - Leg.

Further Reading
Cat Bordhi. Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles: A manual of elegant knitting techniques and patterns, Passing Paws Press, Friday Harbor, WA, 2006. This book is an introduction to knitting with 2 circular needles, but has some instructions for toe up socks, including short row heel shaping. It includes several patterns of various difficulty for both cuff-down and toe-up socks.

Ann Budd and Anne Merrow, editors. Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave, Interweave Press, Loveland, CO, 2006. This book has many patterns and a good description of the short row method of toe construction. /p>

Charlene Schurch. More Sensational Knitted Socks, Martingale & Co., WA., 2007. The book has charts for different sock sizes and includes instructions for various heels and toe-up and toe-down construction techniques. It also includes a number of stitch patterns and techniques. This book illustrates the "parallelogram" toe method, which the author calls "Easy Toe".

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