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My Go-To Simple Toe Up Sock Guide

There are a million of these floating all over the interwebs, but I’ve been asked multiple times how I knit my socks. I hope this helps! This is in no way tested by other knitters or perfect — it is just my method that I either stick to or tweak a bit until I’m happy with it. This is not so much a pattern to follow, but more of a guide. Enjoy!

Full disclosure, I’ve tried TAAT and can’t stand it. I knit my socks one at a time or otherwise concurrently, but never on the same needles. Feel free to adjust this to work with TAAT if that is what you prefer!

Concurrent Socks with KnitPicks Felici

THE TOE

The Cast On

I start by casting on 14-16 stitches using the Turkish Cast On method, which I’ve found to be the easiest to remember — not only to do. Nine times out of ten, I’ve started with 14 stitches, but recently have bumped it to 16. It is really personal preference and in my opinion, doesn’t make a huge difference. Just be sure to note it for the second sock!

I should also mention that I am always magic looping the toes. I’ve tried and failed miserably with DPNs because they just weren’t long enough.

I’ve often been asked what my favorite needles are and I will always choose Chiaogoo Red Lace knitting needles when using the magic loop method. The tips are very pointy and the cord is heavenly. I use a US 1 (2.25mm) for most of my socks — your results may vary.

An adorable toe. Colorway is my Sugar Plum Fae.
The Increases

Once you’ve finished the Turkish Cast on and you have live stitches ready to go on both needles, you can begin your increases. If you’re following along with the video linked above, I increase the exact same way. However, I add an additional row of only knit stitches after completing the cast-on. No reason other than it feels more sturdy in my brain. (That is probably completely false.)

Mark the ‘front’ or ‘top’ of the sock with a stitch marker so you can remember which side you started your increases on. Knit the first stitch and then yarn over. Continue knitting until there’s one stitch left on the needle, YO and knit that last stitch. Turn your work and repeat on the other side.

Once back to the side with the marker, knit all stitches for a round — knit the YOs through the back loop so it does not create holes. Your rows should look something like this:

Row 1: K1, YO, k to last st, YO, k1 (for both needles)
Row 2: K1, ktbl, knit to last 2 st, ktbl, k1

Repeat those two rows until you’ve increased to your preferred number of stitches. Most of the time this is 64 (32 on each needle), but it will depend on the size of needle and your foot circumference. There are loads of resources out there to help you figure out your magic number.

I want to mention that there are a number of ways to work the increases. For a long time, I would do the Make 1 method of picking up the ladders and yada-yada, but I always had to remember the difference between a M1L and M1R, which drove me bonkers. You also need to pay close attention to whether you’re on an increase row or not. With the YO method, it is really obvious so there is no remembering. Genius!

THE FOOT

If you’ve managed to complete the toe increases, you’re off to the races! Assuming that you’re planning on knitting a plain vanilla, stockinette sock. Obviously, if you were knitting any kind of pattern, you’d be following along with that and not this silly guide. 😉

The beauty of knitting toe-up socks is the ability to try on your sock as you go. Is it too loose? Decrease a couple stitches. Too tight? Increase a couple more. Once you’re happy, just knit. Turn on some Netflix, grab a tea/coffee/beer, and just knit. This would be a great time to set down your finished toe, grab a second set of needles, and repeat to work the socks concurrently.

I will also tend to switch over to use my KnitPro Zing DPNs at this point, too, but again, you do you.

Knit. Knit. Knit until you reach the spot where you’re ready for a heel.

THE HEEL

I would highly suggest purchasing the Fish Lips Kiss Heel pattern. It is only $1 US and the first few pages show you how to measure your foot for the length of each segment. I went along and created my cardboard foot cut-out (HELLO 2nd grade art!) which has been an invaluable resource as I’ve learned to knit socks.

I jump back and forth between the Fish Lips Kiss Heel and the Cut-in Afterthought Heel. I prefer the fit of a FLK heel just a smidgen more, but honestly they’re pretty interchangeable in my mind. I have a pair where I did a FLK on one sock and an Afterthought on the other because I was movie theater knitting and went right on past the heel. They wear the same in my opinion.

The photo below has a FLK on the left and an Afterthought on the right. Similar construction fit-wise, but they do look a bit different.

Yarn is Lucille by LoloDidIt with a mystery mini for the heels

If you’re knitting an Afterthought Heel, skip past this section and continue on to the leg of your sock. If you’re knitting a FLK heel. This is where that happens.

Some people are terrified of cutting into their yarn – and understandably so. It is an adrenaline rush, for sure, but once you’re past the first one, you’ll be good to go. 😂

THE LEG

Nothing to see here… just more knit, knit, knitting! Knit that baby until you reach the desired length. I shoot for around 5″ from the heel before starting the cuff, but it is entirely up to the person knitting and/or wearing them. Time for another Netflix binge.

THE CUFF

I like a 2×2 ribbed cuff. It is completely personal preference. I’ve done a 1×1 ribbing and a 1×1 twisted ribbing, also.

2×2 Rib: Knit 2, Purl 2 all the way around.
1×1 Rib: K1, P1 in the round
1×1 Twisted: K1tbl, P1 in the round

Continue working the cuff in your preferred method for as long as you’d like. I typically knit a 20 round cuff.

When you’re happy with the length, cast off using the Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off.

That’s it! Sit back and admire your HO (half-object) Sock. Take a photo, Instagram that baby, and tag me in it if you’d like! I’d love to see them!

[button link=”https://loftyloopsyarns.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/My-Go-To-Simple-Toe-Up-Sock-Guide.pdf” type=”small” newwindow=”yes”] Download the PDF[/button]


If you find this tutorial guide helpful, please consider showing your thanks by buying me a coffee.

More coffee = more knitting tutorials! 😁

28 thoughts on “My Go-To Simple Toe Up Sock Guide

  1. I knit in the car…any way we could get a printable version for on the go?

    1. Hi Christy! I can try to get a PDF made in the next few days! Thanks for asking!

      1. Can you tell me where to find the PDF, PLEASE

        1. There is a blue button at the very end of the blog post that says “Download the PDF”. If you are having trouble finding it, you can do a CTRL+F or CMD+F to search. Hope that helps!

    2. I love your way of teaching thank you so much.

  2. What length of needle are you knitting with? 9 inch

    1. Hi Georgia! I started knitting socks with a US2 but have since switched to a 1. I tend to bounce around between magic looping on a 32” cord, a 9” circular, or double points.

  3. […] Plum Fae Socks: Using Lofty Loops Yarns Sugar Plum Fae on Sock, plain vanilla using my Toe Up Guide (size 1 […]

  4. thanks for your sock tutorials. I found helpful info in them. I found the german short row heel fits my heel the best. I tried afterthought heel but didn’t like the “ridges” or the fit. My question is if I find a sock pattern with a heel gusset and flap can I substitute the GSR heel or am I limited to just the patterns that have GSR heels? I find knitting socks difficult but just want to master them instead of them mastering me. lol thanks for sharing your sock knowledge.

    1. Hello Susie! You can absolutely sub in any heel you’d like into any pattern! I do that fairly often. 🙂

  5. Where can I find the PDF version if available?

    1. There currently isn’t a downloadable PDF, but thank you for the reminder! I’ll get started on creating one and add it as a button on the post.

  6. Hello, I was wondering how many yards was used to make a pair of socks. I saw this pattern on Ravelry too and it says 218 yards but is that 218 for one sock or the pair? Thanks!

    1. Hi! It really all depends on the size of foot you’re knitting for so I can’t give you a specific amount of yardage. However, I can tell you that a 100g / 400yd skein of yarn should be more than enough to get a full-sized pair of socks from! As this is more of a loose guide, I would suggest also checking out some beginner vanilla sock patterns on Ravelry if you’re looking for more details. Good luck! Allison 💗

  7. WOW! Am I glad I found you! I’ve been knitting for ** years and for some reason decided to learn about socks. Love this toe cast on and will try the fish lips heel when I reach that point. I made a pair using German short rows, but the Turks have won my heart. Thank you, that you⭐️

  8. For the heel, I watched your video ( the one where you cut the yarn and pulled the row out leaving a couple of stitches on each side— what do you do with the yarn ends that are left hanging on each side? Thank you

    1. I just weave them in when I’ve finished the sock. 🙂

  9. I have knitted socks a lot and this pattern is a good one thx

  10. Love your video. I need a PDF pattern. It says to download the PDF, but it wasn’t there???? Where can I find it.

  11. Wow! This is great! Thank you so very much!

  12. Ooh, that looks much easier than the one I used which was much tighter. I shall be trying this next time! Thank you, a very clear instruction. I didn’t quite hear what you said about the slip knot you started with though>

  13. Great tut!! I learned the Fish Kiss Lips heel a while ago…nice design…easy to do…I changed over to starting my socks with that heel as the toe and then proceed from there…knitting the foot part of the sock , then the FKL Heel and leg/cuff…makes a beautiful toe!!!

  14. I loved your video for starting toe up socks – absolutely the best I have watched. Please keep posting more!

  15. I’m having trouble once I get about 20 on each needle. Its like the needles are too long. My ladders are horrible.

  16. All my fave sock methods in one, perfect! Do you do a gusset when working toe up? That’s the only part I’m having trouble with. Love your instructions!!

  17. I’ve done a few pairs of top down socks. Wow! I think I’m finally brave enough to try toe up. Thank you for this wonderful set of instructions!