View Full Version : Sock knitting - toe up or cuff down

11-09-2010, 03:51 AM
im about to start to attempt sock knitting for the first time soon with the help of silvers sock class.

i was wondering though, what are the advantages/ dis advantages to either way of doing socks.

i did briedfly try a basic magic loop circle recently and found i wasnt keen on it. so im going to try either one sock on 2 circulars or with dpn's. i have some 4 ply acrylic thats not doing anything that i can use purely for practice. so im just going to buy two 2.5mm circular needles and one set of 6inch 2.5 dpn's.


11-09-2010, 04:25 AM
I knit my socks with dpn, always have ans still do. One at a time.

the 2 circs method sounds good to me, though, and I agree on magic loop: it is possible but it is not mine, really.

advantage of 2 circs: less needles, less risk of dropping one out, less needle changes, I have not done it, but it sounds good.

What I have done for hats when they get to small around for my circs: put one section on a dpn, work the rest off the circ. (I just did not own enough circs in equal sizes, but that just changed rapidly)

I used to knit all socks bottom down and was happy with it.
Lately I learned the diagonal heel with sort rows and LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I will do this as my prefered heel forever, I guess. It's easy, it is quick, no holes, no ridges, no fuzzing, no calculation.... all really easy. And it works toe up and bottom down.

Lately I got the book by Wendy D Johnson about toe up socks. So I just knit my first one. It is fun, really.

What are the differences?
Heels form differently, therefore some may prefer one way, some the other. With the diagonal heel: either way the same.

Directional patterns (lace in some cases, traveling ridges and such, for example) run either up or down...

When - as usual - you have no unlimited resource of yarn of one type, you can still make your sock as long as possible, because all that may be longer or shorter is the leg and not a missing tip or anything - when you work toe up.

you can try on toe up socks on the foot - and THAT is where a sock needs to fit best. If something is wrong, you do not have to undo so much (but I only ever undid the foot section, anyways, for fit).

My socks usually have a pattern only above the ankle, so that they fit into shoes if needed and do not rub me sore.
If you do that, it may be helpful to work the pattern section first of all (cuff down) and then have "mindless knitting away" for the rest. That seems to be a quicker finish for me.

My usual method is cuff down, but there are advantages for toe up. So I guess this is all just a matter of taste. I am happy I know both ways now and have learned a few new tricks along the way. Whatever I do with this in the future: trying both was a step ahead for me.

Have fun with socks.

11-09-2010, 05:16 AM
so its just what i prefer, so i reckon some experimenting is to be done.

is 2.5mm a good size to start with? assuming i like sock knitting i wil buy a full set anyways.


11-09-2010, 07:00 AM
I knit my last socks on 2.5 mm needles and they came out great.

If you do not want to adjust the stitch count, though, you may need other needles to obtain gauge.
I have 2 mm, 2.5mm, 3 mm, 3.5mm as short dpn for socks and a variety of bigger needles anyways.
But for a start 2.5 mm are just fine.

The gauge problem only becomes a problem, when you want to work with a certain stitch count (for a pattern or to follow the instructions precisely) and the sock shall fit.

11-09-2010, 07:04 AM

right reckon thats what i will do, but one set 2.5mm dpn's and 2 circular needles at 2.5mm too and use my acrylic yarn i have to practice with. then once ive tried a bit i can buy nice yarn. and by that time i may know which method i prefer :)

11-09-2010, 07:18 AM
good idea.
Which ever way you make your socks: for practice socks it is useless making a long leg, just keep that in mind. When I teach somebody to knit socks, (it was always top down), I make the socks just over the ankle, because all you need to really learn is the heel - and maybe the toe section. So what use is there in a looooooong leg on that?

Once you are beyond a "I'll never wear it anyway" sock... make them as you please!

Have fun, socks are great!

11-09-2010, 11:18 AM
Top-down or toe-up they both work and make great socks. DPNs or circular they both work and make great socks. Which is better is one of the age old discussions that will never have an answer other than "it depends." It depends on which way FEELS best for you. If it does not feel right, even it the sock looks and fits great, you will not continue. Try both, directions and type needles and use the combination you like best.

If you are looking for practice and to see which technique works best for you consider baby socks. They have all the same features as big-people socks but a whole lot less stitches. Make a pair top-down/DPNs and a pair top-down/circular, then make a pair toe-up/DPNs and pair toe-up/circular. Decide which technique you like best. You can make all four pairs in the time I will take you to knit the bottom of one big-person sock.

If they look good, give your test socks to a friend with a baby or frame them in a shadow box as your first knit socks.

11-09-2010, 12:37 PM
or frame them in a shadow box as your first knit socks.
cute idea!

11-09-2010, 02:30 PM
You have two feet and seven days in the week.

Add color choices and I am sure you could try just about every method (even combining some methods) and still have more socks to make. :)

I have completed a pair (my first and only) as toe-up, two at a time on two circular needles. I chose two at a time on two circulars because I didn't have a long-corded circular to try the magic loop method, and I am an adult with ADHD so would probably lose track of the completed one before finishing the second.

What I found is I don't have a stretchy cast off / bind off so one sock has a tight top. :doh: I used acrylic yarn, worsted weight, so they don't have any elastic stretch and get baggy. :shrug: I use them for slippers with the top ribbed cuff folded down. :thumbsup: (Call it a plan B solution.)

My needles start at size 7, so before I try socks again I'll be picking up new circular needles and "stretchy" sock yarn. :thumbsup:

Oh, I did try DPN's .... once....

long, long ago....

in a now forgotten WIP bag...

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2521/3864889659_87e590a8e9_m.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/40450421@N03/3864889659/)
SV0 Not_a_sock (http://www.flickr.com/photos/40450421@N03/3864889659/) by Off Jumps Jack (http://www.flickr.com/people/40450421@N03/), on Flickr
Photo dated Nov 2008, posted to my flickr projects set in March 2010. See notes and comment there with a click.

11-09-2010, 02:42 PM
What I found is I don't have a stretchy cast off / bind off so one sock has a tight top. :doh:

Having had the same problem - have you seen Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off (http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall09/FEATjssbo.php)?

11-09-2010, 02:55 PM
Having had the same problem - have you seen Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off (http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall09/FEATjssbo.php)?

Not sure if I found it before finishing my sock or after. Obviously I didn't use it when I finished my socks. :wall:

Now I can bookmark it and have it handy the next time. Thank you!

11-09-2010, 06:32 PM
I'm a toe-up fan, because I'm ALWAYS scrimping on my yarn (often using leftovers from a sweater to make matching socks), and it's a lot easier to improvise on the leg than the foot. I like the short-row heel and use DPNs, too - tried Magic Loop but it just didn't work for me. I cast off using a much larger needle, maybe 5 or 6 sizes, to give me stretch. It looks ruffled, but the ruffle goes away when wearing.
Be careful - socks can be addictive! Portable, quick, always useful, and they don't take much yarn so you can splurge or use up stash. Just make sure the foot yarn has some nylon for durability.

11-13-2010, 02:14 AM
Hi! :waving:

I am an avid sock knitter and decided early on that I wanted to try out as many different methods as I could find to determine which was my ideal. It turns out that what I learned from each style has proven to be invaluable in my overall bag of knitting tricks!

But I did find that doing two socks at a time on one long circular, per Melissa Morgan-Oakes' book, is actually my favorite. And I use the method whenever I'm doing two pieces that are the same, such as gloves, mittens, leg warmers, sweater sleeves, etc. It's wonderful not to have to count rows to make sure both items are the same length! It seemed that no matter what I did or how carefully I counted I always had one sock shorter than the other!!! But not with this method.

For fun, there is also a great method of knitting two at a time, either on circs or dpns, but working one INSIDE the other. Here's a link to the article from Knitty, and there are some video demonstrations on you tube if you get caught up. It's totally wild!!!

Whichever method you choose, have fun and enjoy. Socks, to me, are one of those wonderful pieces of civilization that really bring us comfort!

Happy knitting,

Ruthie :hug:

11-13-2010, 12:06 PM
I like the 2 circ needles. I have tried magic loop but keep going back to the 2 needles.
The toe-up are my favorite, then I can always make them longer.
The size of the needle I go down one size so the will fit..

11-16-2010, 12:57 AM
I find cuff down is MUCH easier when it comes to both c.o. AND heels. I've completed my first successful toe-ups this year (after about 25 cuff down pairs completed - and SEVERAL toe-up attempts frogged). Though I love the toe-up socks (see here (http://www.knittinghelp.com/forum/showthread.php?t=99773)), and highly recommend the author......I still enjoy the process of knitting cuff down more.

11-16-2010, 12:58 AM
I'm a HUGE fan of that bind-off, have used it on SEVERAL projects. Great for dog sweaters (ribbing around legs not too tight).