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March 2008

Sock Tips - Heel and Toe Formulas

Have you ever wanted to know how to turn a heel and finish a toe on any number of cast on stitches? If you find yourself knitting socks without a pattern in front of you, the following heel and toe methods work for any size socks.

The formulas are included in this overview of how to knit a sock. If you just want the heel and toe formulas, scroll down to the yellow boxes.

 

If you are using a 4ply sock yarn (such as Regia, Fortissima, Opal, etc...), use 2.0mm - 2.5mm double pointed needles (set of 5). Cast on loosely the desired number of stitches and join into a round. Generally for women's socks 60 - 64 sts should work, and for men's 68 - 72 sts. However, you may need to cast on more or less depending on the foot size. As long as the number of stitches is divisible by 4, the heel and toe methods will work. Click for the Channel Island Cast on - a stretchy cast on method.

Cuff: Knit 2X2 ribbing (k2, p2) or 1X1 ribbing for approx. 2".

Leg: Knit stockinette stitch (knit every round) for desired length.

Heel flap: Knit half of your stitches onto 1 needle (the heel flap stitches) - so if you have 72 sts total, 36 stitches will be on one needle for the heel flap, and the other 36 will be left on the other needles to be worked on later (the instep stitches).

Work back and forth across the heel flap stitches using this stitch pattern - Row 1: sl 1, k1, sl 1, k1...across the row. Row 2: slip the first stitch and then purl across the row.

Working the heel flap stitches
Working the heel flap - the reverse side. The stitches on the other needles are left alone - these will be the instep stitches.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have knit approximately the same number of rows as you have heel flap stitches (ie. if you are working across 36 heel stitches, do 36 rows). OR knit until you can fold the heel flap in half diagonally, and one side meets the other side.

Completed heel flap
Folded diagonally one side meets the other, therefore the flap is long enough.

Now you are ready to turn the heel! The following method can be used for any size sock.

Turning the heel:

  1. Knit to the middle of the row, k2, ssk, k1, turn.
  2. Next row: sl 1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn.
  3. **sl 1, knit to within first st from gap, ssk, k1, turn.
  4. sl 1, p to within first st from gap, p2tog, p1, turn**
  5. Repeat from ** to ** until all heel sts are used up. Simple!
ssk = slip, slip, knit 2 slipped sts together

 

Turning the heel
Turning the heel is completed.

Gusset: Knit half of the heel stitches. Rounds now start in the middle of the heel flap. Knit remaining heel stitches with needle 1, pick up one stitch in each of the slipped edge stitches along the heel flap, and 1 additional stitch where heel flap and instep join. Knit across the instep stitches (needles 2 and 3). Pick up and knit one stitch where instep and heel flap join and one stitch in each slipped stitch along the other edge of the other side of the heel flap, work remaining stitches left from heel flap (needle 4). Needles 1 and 4 should have the same number of stitches. Knit one row.

Stitches are picked up along both sides of heel flap.
Ready to form the gusset.

*Next row: Knit to last 2 stitches on needle 1, k2tog. Work instep stitches on needles 2 & 3. On needle 4 ssk, knit to end. Work 2 rounds of plain knitting. Repeat from * until 1/4 of the original number of stitches are left on each needle. For example, if you casted on 72 sts, you would stop decreasing when there are 18 sts on each needle.

Foot: Continue in plain knitting until foot is desired length, leaving about 2" for the toe decrease.

Now you are ready to decrease for the toe. Again, this method will work for any size sock! Plus, with this method you don't have to graft.

The Star Toe

Round 1: K2tog the last 2 sts on every needle.

Round 2: Knit

Work these 2 rounds 6 times, then round 1 until 8 sts remain. Thread yarn through remaining sts and pull tight, darn in end.