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The sock that changed my life
Completed on 19 February 2007


For a long long time, I have been wanting to master the toe-up sock technique.

And I've found out the secret: A toe is just a heel. A heel is just a toe. A frown is just a smile turned upside down.

There are many ways to start a toe-up sock, but this is what I did. Cast on 60 sts provisionally, arrange on 4 DPNs, knit once around to establish circle, then start decreasing to the toe in your favorite toe way. Once the toe is complete, unzip the provisional CO, pick up those live 60 sts and start knitting upward and onward.

Now, of course, you could have started with four or eight sts then increased up to the required, say, 60 sts. But I prefer to decrease than increase, don't you? Anyway, knit as you like, up to the point where you believe your heel should be located. Incidentally, I am utilizing the nice rib and cable pattern that Nancy Bush published in the fall 2005 issue of Interweave Knits magazine.

The sole side of this sock is in straight st st. To insert the heel (which you will deal with at a later point), just knit across 30 sts with white waste yarn, then pretend as though you didn't do that at all and just pick up your red yarn and knit over those white sts.

Continue working upward until the cuff is the length you prefer. BO very very very loosely. (I am warning you.) To ease discomfort, BO with larger needles.

Now, gingerly frog the white waste yarn and pick up live sts as you proceed.

Arrange those live sts on two DPNs. There should be 30 sts on each needle.

Divide those live sts onto four DPNs to create a heel. Knit one round in st st to establish circle. Because it's better to be safe than sorry, pick up an extra one or two sts at the original two corners, to ensure that coverage is at optimum capacity.

Now just decrease as you would for any old toe! Now, if you're a purist, you will naturally want your toe to match your heel. But, I was feeling a little daring, and went out on a limb, and decreased this red sock heel to the tune of Mona Schmidt's toe in her Embossed Leaves Socks pattern, published in the winter 2005 issue of Interweave Knits magazine.

Mona's toe (used for our heel here) is an interesting toe, and as a heel it really hugs in all the right places. Gosh, I just discovered that it's difficult to take a photo of one's own heel. Who knew?

I am a toe-up convert. With the toe-up variety, you can just continue knitting upward and onward till your yarn runs out, which is a welcomed relief and will do away with all those annoying leftover partial skeins of sock yarn. And, since you are just knitting continuously upward, there is no break in pattern, which is a joy. Essentially, you knit a continuous tube.

Also, the toe-up sock is downright better constructed. The heel is more integrated into the sock, rather than the horrid heel flap of the toe-down method and its horrid picking up of 15 st (or whatever) alongside the heel flap.

For my next toe-up socks, I plan to extend the pattern (cables or lacework) to the sole, because your sole deserves to be as pretty as the rest of your foot.

And, I will research different toe-up methods (and rounded toes in particular) and continue to experiment with technique.

Knitting specs:

These red cabled socks were knit with Cygnet brand 100% wool superwash, DK weight, 200 grams required.

Knit on 2.75mm Brittany birch DPNs.

The yarn was purchased the first (and last) time I ever attended the madness that is the Ally Pally stitching show in London.

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