My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Sock This

A couple of questions about socks and sock yarns.

Lorraine asked:
Do you find yourself buying more sock yarn, due to the exemption of the Knit from Your Stash?

Huh? What? Mumble, mumble, mumble . . .

Mary asked:
When you finish knitting socks, do you wash them and dry on the sock blockers? Or are the sock blockers for “show.” (I use mine just to display for photos.)

I, too, use mine just to display for photos. (You can buy both plastic and wood sock blockers from The Loopy Ewe, by the way.)

Mai asked:
i’m sure you’ve been asked this question before, and i’m sure you’ve answered it before. i’m even sure that i’ve read your answer but have since forgotten it. so, inquiring minds want to know. how many pairs of socks have you knit? and where do they all go? do you gift them? or do you keep them and actually wear them all?

I don’t know how many pairs of socks I have knit. You can see how many pairs I’ve knitted since I started blogging, by looking at my knitting gallery, which is always linked to from the sidebar on the main blog page. There is a category for socks, and all socks knitted since April 2002 are there.

Where do they all go? Some I give away as gifts, soome I keep. The ones I keep, I wear.

Asaknitter asked:
Simply love Serendipity – what pattern will you be using?

I’m so pleased you asked. Because . . .

Warning! Warning! Warning! — Shocking Content Ahead!

I am not using my generic toe-up pattern.

Do not be alarmed — I am knitting toe-up. But I thought it would be fun to try something different.

So last night I did not knit on my mitered sweater at all. Instead, I futzed around with sock toes. I tried a Turkish cast-on and decided it was way too fiddly for me to use on a regular basis. So I used a tried and true old method.

I put a slip knot on one dpn and then using a backwards loop, cast on 10 stitches (in addition to the slip knot). Using a second dpn, I knit back on the 10 stitches and dropped the slip knot off the needle.

The purpose of the slip knot was to “anchor” the backwards loops on the needle while I knitted back on them.

Then I purled one row, knit 1 row, purled 1 row on those 10 stitches for a total of 4 rows in stockinette stitch to form a rectangle.

Then I picked up 2 stitches along one side of the the rectangle, 10 stitches along the cast-on edge, and 2 stitches down the other side of the rectangle for a total of 24 stitches. I arranged them over 4 needles and knit one round even. On the next round I increased 4 stitches thusly:

Needle 1: Knit 1, M1, knit to the end
Needle 2: Knit until the last stitch, M1, K1
Needle 3: Knit 1, M1, knit to the end
Needle 4: Knit until the last stitch, M1, K1

Then knit a round without increasing.

I did this until I had a total of 52 stitches. The Chewy Spaghetti is a sport weight sock yarn and knitting it on 3.0mm needles, a total of 52 stitches is just right for socks for me.

Here’s the toe:


In retrospect, I probably should have started out with more stitches because this is a little pointier than I like. But when I slip it on my foot, it looks fine. So be it.


Now, to further confound and amaze myself, I did not do a short row heel.

(At this point you might be thinking “Who are you and what did you do with Wendy?” I know. Chalk it up to Spring Fever or something.)

I tried an Eye of Partridge heel with a gusset. I did not like the look of the Eye of Partridge and ripped it out and did the heel plain.

And here’s my heel.


I tried it on and it fits, but I think on the next pair I’ll make the gusset a couple of rows deeper.

Why did I deviate from my usual sock process?

The reason I’ve always started my socks with a provisional cast on and used the short row technique is to avoid the fiddly bits — juggling multiple needles with just a few stitches on them. That is difficult to do on the train.

However, I am not a fan of the purling back required in doing the short row technique. Yes, I could knit backwards instead of purl, but I’ve found at fine gauges, I can purl faster than I can knit backwards. So I think I’ll experiment with this toe technique for a bit.

The heel? Just for grins. Change is good.

I will continue, however, doing socks toe-up most of the time. I really really like the idea of being able to knit until you run out of yarn.

The Chewy Spaghetti yarn, by the way, is lovely to work with. It is very soft and the colors are wonderful. They have a glowing, velvety look. I’m very glad I got two skeins of it when Sheri put it up for sale (I have a skein in “Lyrical” as well) because I think it’ll become one of my favorite yarns.

When you are a little sick of everything, there’s nothing like a sock knitted in sportweight yarn for some immediate gratification!

There’s also nothing like a making a different toe and heel to perk you up.

Lucy thinks I’m weird.



  1. Aussie Rosemary says:

    Love the colourway.I have printed out this method and will use it next

  2. That is a beautiful color on those socks I am jealous.

  3. I can’t find those beautiful colors over here in Arizona.

  4. Cathy-Cate says:

    Hey, change is good!
    At least when it’s your own idea!
    I didn’t like the tiny little ridge I got when picking up the caston stitches when I used a similar method; I guess it’s the princess & the pea thing, my delicate toes! So I tend to use your knitty Easy Toe method (I find my gauge is bigger knitting back and forth with a short row toe or heel, so it gets baggy unless I switch needle sizes); and if you’re into trying new things, have you checked out the Widdershins pattern on Knitty? It’s a toe-up sock with a reinforced slipstitch heel — that’s how I knit my daughter’s socks that I emailed a photo of — I liked it!
    Love the Chewy Spaghetti yarn — and its name!

  5. constant reader says:

    First? No way.

    I just wanted to delurk to say that I’ve been reading your blog faithfully for months, and that I have you to thank for my current obsession with sock knitting. I had never even heard of toe-up socks before encountering your recipe–had tried once to make a top-down sock but was defeated by the tedium of starting with 2 inches of 1 x 1 ribbing or whatever it was. But I love the toe-up! Love the short-row toe and heel! Love trying on the sock as it goes! (OK, I’ll stop now). Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  6. Marianne Y says:

    I really do like the way that the Chewy Spaghetti in Serendipity is working up! It is gorgeous, so bright & happy-looking!

    I can’t quite see the heel in that pattern. Is that back to your generic heel?

  7. Excellent tutorial. I will be asking questions about it the next time I start a new pair of socks.

  8. Turkish, fiddly? And I thought the short-row toe was fiddly πŸ˜‰ go figure. I usually cast on 12, for a total of 24, liking a less pointy toe, also.

    Sigh I want some chewy spaghetti now.

  9. I am reassured that I am not the only person who buys the same colorways over and over and over. Why do I bring this up? Because “Serendipity” looks a bit like “Lucy”. Not that there is anything wrong with that!!!

  10. Me again – the sneak up is here !! the sneak up is here !! and it is still 2 days until payday *sigh*

  11. I’ve never done a toe-up sock because the provisional cast-on and short rows sounded too fiddly for me, but this toe sounds like one I must try.

    Lucy is looking very regal today.

  12. Thanks for the pattern and your explanations…

  13. Funny – that colorway looks almost as close to Lucy’s colors as the actual Lucy colorway!

  14. Weird? You? Of course! But in the best possible way, of course.

    (What, you think I’m going to contradict Lucy? Nuh uh. My own furry friends have trained me too well.)

  15. So did you just do a standard heel worked backwards? Love those colors!

  16. Great sock! I just started using your toe-up pattern and I love it — I usually knit my socks top down. Could you show instructions for the heel (and did it involve a lot of math)?

  17. That yarn is so nice. I didn’t get a chance to get any this time but I will look for it again.
    I was wondering about the feather and fan pattern. I’m doing my socks toe up using my sock wizard and then I pick a leg pattern from my perpetual calendar or one of my books.
    For socks for myself I use 52 stitches on four needles….if I do the feather and fan pattern I would have to increase 5 stitches per needle. Would that look really weird or does the pattern draw it in like ribbing does? I’m also wondering how firmly the leg would hold. It’s a beautiful pattern and I would love to try it sometime!

  18. Hmm, that heel looks pretty similar to the one I do, based on Judy Gibson’s Generic Toe-up Pattern – altho I do a slip stitch heel. I’m not that keen on Eye of Partridge, but I love me a good slip stitch heel, I do.

  19. What fun! I’m still trying new cast ons, so I’ll try this one too. You’ve definitely converted me to the toe-up sock!

  20. The sock looks great!

  21. I’m sure my two cats think I’m weird too!

    I’ve just mastered your toe-up pattern; now you want me to try something else new???

    Lucy is lovely as always.

  22. I want to stick up for the turkish cast on!! I bet if you practice on a sock or two you might find it is less fiddly than using a provisional cast on. I first learned it on a pair of gloves knit fingertip to wrist, and I love it now. That is how I do all my toe-up socks. (I hate kitchenering) It also makes the self-striping stripes relatively even, much like the afterthought heel. I also like the turkish cast-on because you don’t need anything extra-no waste yarn, etc. I also start with 12-14 wraps, so right off the bat I have 6 or 7 stitches on each needle. πŸ™‚

  23. What about a sequel to Wendy Knits (perhaps in your spare time), with a compendium of all the various sock techniques, but with your commentary, guidance and photos? The various toes, heels, cast on’s, bind-off’s, patterns and other aspects you’ve kindly shared with many of us rookie sock knitters. I learned toe ups from your knitty toe up guide and online free pattern. I think most people would happily pay for your expertise. It would be a lot more helpful than some of the sock knitting books I’ve seen recently that are expensive and not terribly enlightening. The ladies at my LYS claim socks are the new scarves.

  24. Adrienne says:

    Yay! That’s how I do the increases on my toes. You were my inspiration to knit toe-up socks in the first place (and it’s almost all I do now) so it’s neat for me to see you doing a toe the same way I do. =) I do use the Turkish cast on though, and I will echo what Pattie said above- try it again sometime. It is fiddly but goes much better after the first few tries.

  25. anne marie in philly says:

    lucy is looking particularly majestic in today’s picture.

    I am half expecting her to wave her paw in the air like HRH QE2 greeting the unwashed masses.

    all hail queen lucy!

  26. Hmmm………”futzed”…….a technical or Old English word no doubt!

  27. After the toe you described, doing the Turkish Cast on with my FEET would be less fiddly!! I agree with the masses, try it again only magic loop it (one circ) and switch to your preferred DPN’s once the toe is finished — WAY easier, I promise!

  28. Change is good. I think even I could do a toe-up that way instead of short rows. Unless you would consent to do a video of your method of short rows. I just can’t seem to get it right.

  29. Add another to the list of top-down knitters waiting to see how you get around the heel. Love the brown/tan/blue color combo. Gotta go stash-diving and try toe-up – Thanks for writing it all out for us.

  30. Debra in NC says:

    I have a question for you… do you do the M1 without it creating a hole? I’m currently learning how to knit socks toes-up and so Sunday I knit a swatch trying out different ways of increasing. When I knit the M1, it left a gaping hole. I then tried the M1 knitting it through the back loop, and although it was better there was still a hole. I tried L1 instead and it came out great! Any advice will be greatly appreciated!!!

    Thanks for your wonderful blog, I read it every day and have learned a great deal from you. Plus, I’m a big fan of your dear Lucy! BTW, how’s her leg doing?

  31. Here’s a question for you…

    How do you was all of those handkinit socks? You can’t possibly knit in exclusively superwash! Do you handwash them? Or do you use a machine?

  32. I usually don’t do toe up socks because I prefer the gusset heel. How did you do the heel on this sock? I haven’t found a good method for doing a gusset heel on a toe up sock yet.

  33. Thanks for the toe up pattern. I will add it to my list of patterns.

  34. I echo hazel here: How *did* you do that gussetted heel?

  35. Any hints on how you did the heel? To me it looks like a small gusset and then a short-row heel. Is that what it is? How did you do it?

    BTW, I like Judy’s Magic Cast-on (from I use Magic Loop, that’s less fiddly than very few stitches on 5 dpn’s I think.

  36. If it makes you happy, it makes beautiful socks; and they are πŸ™‚

  37. Shirley, in PA says:

    I also love the look you’ve achieved with your new toe and heel. Could you explain exactly how you did the heel? I’m mostely a top down kind of woman, mainly because I love the way the gusset heel feets my long thin foot (with high arch). By the way, I received my new STR package – love the yarn and hate the pattern. What are your thoughts (don’t want to give anything away).

  38. Oh Lucy, humans are ALWAYS weird. So my Guys tell me when I pick them up and smother them with kissies!

    There are other ways of doing the heels toe-up? *sigh*… just when I’ve mastered the short-row method.

  39. Inspired by you and your blogging of toe up socks, I’m working on my first pair. Cider Moon’s Prickly Pear colorway purchased from the Loopy Ewe. I used the Magic Cast on from, though I ditched the slip knot and worked the heel using the short row with Yarn Over technique. I’m curious what your gauge is using sport weight yarn? I know it’s a personal thing, but still curious!

  40. Lucy thinks you’re weird?

    The Meezer thinks the whole world is weird except her Mommie! (As long as I follow her direction, that is…lolol!)

    Now, of course, I have to try your new toe-up method!

  41. Relatively new reader here, those socks are lovely, I just want to *eat* that yarn. The real reason I’m commenting though, is I have a question (and pardon me if you’ve written on this before, but I can’t find it): what sort of camera do you use? I’m looking for something to take pictures of my own knitting with, nothing fancy, but I was hoping you’d have some insight. πŸ™‚

  42. Michelle from Arizona says:

    That was a funny post – you made me laugh with the WARNINGs. I think I *read* about Turkish cast on somewhere and didn’t even try it. I have been doing your plain Wendy’s toe up on nearly all my socks and am quite happy with them. You are right though that once in awhile we need to change things up a little. I do like the new toe method though and may give that a go next pair.

    Speaking of…is there a link to Eye of Partridge heel? I am unfamiliar with it.

  43. Variety. It’s a good thing. πŸ™‚

    I always do the same basic sock over and over again… next pair I will follow your example and shake things up a little. πŸ™‚

  44. I don’t comment often, but I just want to say I adore that Chewy Speghetti colorway. Something about blue and brown together–just like the ‘Lucy’ STR colorway and their new Blue Wall I think it’s called (blue and beige). But that yarn is much more vibrant. Can’t wait to see how they finish up!

  45. Ann in CT says:

    That is a very nice looking toe. Now, did you use the Windershins heel formula, or being a knitting goddess, were you able to make it up on the fly? I want to give Windershins another try–the first yarn I used was not good for sock and was black, so the whole sock got frogged.

  46. I thought of you right away when I read the following story on the Mason-Dixon Slogalong site:

    β€œThis morning I choose to take the train to work. While waiting on the platform, I pulled my sock out of my purse and happily counted stitches. The train came, I squeezed my way in and looked out to the platform and saw a man waving at me. I waved back. Then, as the door closed, I realized he was waving at me not to wish me a safe farewell but because my precious ball of Regia Bamboo (colourway affectionately named “64 box of Crayola”) was sitting on the platform. The sock it was attached to was on the needles, in my hand, inside the train. RIP Regia Bamboo. How I loved swatching you.”

    Wendy, have you ever had any complications along this line with your Metro knitting? (I enjoyed the story of your experience with the Swedish-speaking girls in the train!)

  47. I like the technique you describe for toe-up socks. I learned something similar from the first Charlene Schurch sock book (which is an excellent resource for understanding the various techniques for making toes and heels) that still involves a provisional cast on. She also has a great toe-up gusseted heel technique in there that I really like, too.

    I love toe up socks. I’ve tried short row toes before and just cannot seem to avoid tiny holes along the edge of the short rows. However, when I worked the short row _garter_ stitch toe on the first 2007 Rockin’ Sock Club pattern, the tiny holes didn’t seem quite so noticeable or bothersome to me as they do when created in stockinette.

    So, I’m now making a pair of socks started toe-up with the short row garter stitch toe. I’ll use the short row garter stitch heel on them, too. The pattern is a garter rib, so the garter stitch toes and heels should look nice. So far, so good. BTW, I’m using Tofutsies and it’s working very well for me. Only twice has it split a bit and the fabric feels very drapy and soft.

  48. I love that picture of Lucy! She looks so haughty and disdainful.

  49. I too have been experimenting with differnt sock techniques. I love the colorway of this pair.

    I also wanted to tell you that I enjoy visiting your blog to see your kitty. Lucy is so cute. Do you take pictures of her everyday? I find that there are times when I take lots of pictures of my kitties, but only when they are doing something hilarious.

  50. Wendy – I know you’ve got more then one knitting bag, like me. I’d love to see what you and everyone else has got and how many). I posted mine on my blog, let’s see a flash of yours!

  51. I love this new start for the toe up! The wraps and turns are too hard for my “over 50” eyesight to do correctly. This is awesome!
    Question – how did you do your make 1? Lift the bar?
    Thanks again for sharing. I can’t wait to get home and cast on!
    Denise and the Six-Pack + 1
    Hope Lucy is 100%! Is she still limping?

  52. Here’s a two-needle option for toes that doesn’t involve purling: start with a tubular cast-on (the Italian method doesn’t even require any waste yarn), and double-knit them. There are instructions and some discussion here:

  53. I’m sure this is another question that you’ve answered before, but how do you split your skeins in half to make sure you don’t run out of yarn??

  54. i’ve very excited to try this method of toe – my other attempts at toe-up cast ons haven’t gone very well. but i have a question. how do you approximate or measure how many sts you should increase to for a toe-up sock? since this is my first one, i’m not quite certain what number works well. do you just inc to the number that you typically decrease to on a cuff-down sock? i usually dec down to 24 total sts with fingering weight, but that doesn’t seem to be enough, somehow, on a toe-up

    any guidance you could give would be most appreciated!!!

  55. wendy, you are not weird and thank you for writing up (in better english than i could) how i’ve just decided to try toe-ups (the knit 4 rows and then have fun increasing). … thank you!

    though i didn’t think (or know) to drop the slip knot with backwards loops (the only way i knew to cast on until a year ago) .. thank you!