How to find toe-up sock nirvana

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Or at least come closer to toe-up sock happiness.

Sundae Socks

Cuff-down socks are the more “traditional” way to knit socks, and many of us have our basic cuff-down sock recipe or technique down pat. In fact, toe-up sock knitting gives some knitters fits, and for a pretty good reason. When you’re working a cuff down sock, and you make the sock a bit too short or too long, all you have to rip out is the toe. Just 1.5 – 2″ of knitting to redo. No big deal, right? If you make a toe up sock and it’s too short or too long, you are stuck ripping WAAAY back, to before the gusset increases, and losing a ton of knitting time. This is most likely due to a row gauge issue.

Sundae Socks plus sundaes

Because stitch gauge is inarguably more important to achieve than row gauge in most patterns, that’s what we aim for, and if we achieve stitch gauge (or a close approximation of it), we find ourselves content, and we begin our projects. But, it’s not uncommon to achieve stitch gauge and NOT achieve row gauge. Generally, we can fix that by working to a certain length, instead of the stated number of rows, but when that length is actually dependent on row gauge, as it is for a toe-up sock gusset, you could find yourself with a sock that doesn’t fit the way you need it to. There is a fairly easy way to figure out how to accommodate a row gauge discrepancy, and that is with a few key pieces of information: you need to know the row gauge YOU are getting, and how many rows the gusset takes up. That’s it. Know these numbers, and you can figure out how many inches your gusset will take up.

Here’s the formula:

  1. Gusset Rows DIVIDED BY Row Gauge over 1″ EQUALS Gusset Length
  2. Foot Length – Heel Turn Length – Length of Gusset = Where to begin Gusset Increases.
  3. For Heel Turn Length: add approximately .25″ for the Heel Turn.

SO, in practice, and using the numbers from my Sundae Socks pattern (size Medium), here is what the formula looks like:

28 Gusset Rows / 8.75 sts to 1″ = 3.2″ Gusset Length + .25″ for the Heel Turn = 3.5″.

Subtract that number from the total length of your foot (in my case, an embarrassing 10″), so I start my heel increases at 6.5″ every time I’m using fingering weight socks and 60 sts. Ta-Da!

I hope this helps in your quest for toe-up knitterly nirvana. It’s one of those really simple but really basic formulas that can make a world of difference in your knitterly happiness.

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