One foot in front of the other

Maelstrom in Panda Soy yarn

When I first started knitting socks, it was for the challenge. I’d heard so many good things about the satisfaction and sense of wellbeing achieved through knitting socks, and seen the fascinating patterns that were being developed. When I first heard these tales of delicious yarn and a Zen-like state of bliss I resisted taking the plunge: I sold socks for a living and had every kind of sock coming out of my ears. I’ve since discovered that wearing handknit socks can make me happier than any number of commercial anklets, stripy knee-highs or squishy cushion-soled workhorses.

I first learnt to make socks top-down, from the cuff, using the flap heel method, but moved on to the even more challenging figure-8 short row toe-up sock after working through this excellent tutorial.

Toe-up socks appealed to my appreciation for thrift: I loved the idea that you could continue knitting the leg of the sock until you ran out of yarn. But therein lay my downfall: the problem with leaving the choose-your-own-length leg until last is that, for me, what keeps me knitting a sock is the challenge. I find turning sock heels endlessly fascinating and magical, and think of it as ‘the good bit’. So, in a toe-up sock, after the good bit is done & I’ve only got the leg standing between me and a finished sock—well, let’s just say I’ve got a lot of short handknit socks in my sock drawer.

Recently, however, I was so keen to knit Cookie A‘s gorgeous Maelstrom sock that I knit the pattern as written (very rare for someone who can’t help but tinker with patterns or recipes)—and rediscovered the top-down sock in the process.

The top-down works for a little cheaterbug like me (hey, I can’t be the only one!) because it means the leg is only a precursor to the super-cool heel-turny part. Then when the heel’s done there’s only the foot and toe to go—both essential features for a wearable sock, so there’s no room for shortcuts! It works for me, anyway.
What’s your favourite sock-knitting method?


2 thoughts on “One foot in front of the other

  1. The heel is my favorite part, too! It’s my treat for bothering to work all that ribbing (since I work top-down). And then the foot goes by quickly, what with all the decreases for gusset & toe, and the sense of “almost there, why stop now”.

    Toe-up socks vex me – I keep trying them, but they always look ugly to me & I frog it out. Practice, practice …

  2. hee hee, I’m exactly the same! If I work top down, i work a much longer sock than if I go toe-up – I just get so impatient by the end!

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