My current work in progress:

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



One of the things that I think makes people hesitate to knit a toe-up sock is the cast-on. There are a number of different ways to start a toe-up sock, some more elegant than others.

For years I did a provisional cast-on and short row toe because I found it pretty fool-proof — I’d get good results all the time. But in the past year, I got sort of sick of having to do the crochet chain to start a sock. I also decided I didn’t really like the look of the short row toe.

So I started experimenting. A cast-on that for me was nearly perfect is the Turkish cast-on. There’s a good tutorial for the Turkish cast-on at Misocrafty, here. Fluffy Knitter Deb also has a good tutorial here.

My only gripe with the Turkish cast-on is that I often ended up with some loose stitches, so I’d have to tighten them up with the point of a needle after knitting a couple of rounds. If you are more coordinated than I, you may not have that problem.

So I decided to look around for another cast-on. I discovered Judy’s Magic Cast-on. This cast-on, executed over two circular needles, is for me the perfect cast-on.

While I know you can use it to cast on over dpns, I strongly prefer doing it over two circulars. It makes it much easier to knit the first round, because you can slide the circ not in use so that the stitches are hanging on the cable while you knit up the stitches on the other side — it gives more “wiggle room” for executing the stitches.

I’ve been using this cast on for all of the socks I’ve knit in the Summer of Socks.

It’s Official

The latest sock design has officially been named Snapdragon Socks. And here they are.

Snapdragon Socks 080507

Snapdragon Socks 080507

Lucy Sez

Lucy 080507

Lucy 080507

“You woke me up for that?”


  1. Snaps for the Snapdragons!

    Caroline, the SockPixie

  2. Liz in IN says:

    I like the Turkish cast on, although it is a bit fiddly (I almost never make it work the first time round). I’ll have to look up the Magic cast on. A little magic can’t hurt, right?

    One surprising thing I found, knitting my first sock-on-two-circs, is that my usually loose-ish tension tightens up quite dramatically. Did you notice this at all, when you first started w/2 circs?

    On dpns, I use 2mm needles over 64 st, as you do. And I don’t have skinny feet. But 2mm is not going to work for me on 2 circs. I think it may have something to do with the length of the ‘solid’ part of the needles. I don’t get the leverage of the needle ends against my palms. Maybe? I’m using 16″ KP needles. Experimentation continues.

    Hope your back pain woes are being resolved, Wendy. Yours is the first blog I read every day and I’m sure I speak for many when I say thank you for it.

    Hi Lucy! Who’s a lucky cat, then? You are, that’s right.

  3. Oh my, what a lovely name…

  4. Isn’t it funny how everyone has their favorite? Mine is the turkish cast on (thanks Deb!). And I actually like the provisional cast on of yours for socks that stripe. (now if I could only figure out how to not knit the purl side of the short rows so tight they’d actually look prettier…)

    Will you be publishing this pattern? I really like it and I just *happen* to have some Dream In Color Smooshy sock yarn… from the Loopy Ewe, of course.

    Hope you’re feeling better missus.

  5. Renee from Louisa, VA says:

    Your words about the Mystery Stole 3 are ringing in my ears! The latest clue came out revealing the theme — Swan Lake — and a ghastly asymmetrical shape. Turns out the design doesn’t really support the theme and here is the kicker … if we don’t want to finish the stole with the swan’s wing on one end we can frog back 80 rows (80 ROWS!), break the yarn, and re-knit the design up to that point to make it symmetrical. Could she not have paced the clues to end at the midway point so that we wouldn’t have spent so much time knitting beyond it only to hate the design?
    Education once again has proven expensive.

  6. As a relatively newbie sock knitter, I’ve just gotten the hang of the dpns. I’m not so sure I want to move over to circulars just yet (although my LYS has offered several times to help). Is there a way to do your cast on on the two circs and then transfer them to dpns?

  7. Those Snapdragons are lovely! Must try that Magic cast on, you are right about the hesitation in doing toe-ups 🙂

  8. I agree with you on that Magic Cast-On toe; for my first pair of toe-up socks I followed your detailed directions (best. heel. ever. No holes whatsoever! Perfection!), but substituted the Magic Cast-On toe. This will be my framework for toe-up socks for the rest of my days, methinks!

    The Snapdragon socks are so beautiful. I love the color and the stitch pattern.

  9. How are you feeling, Wendy?? Is your back any better?? I live with pain as well and I know how awful it can be.

    Have a great week and I love your Snapdragon socks!!

  10. Love the Snapdragon socks! I hope you do offer the pattern, I have Cocoa kiss sitting here waiting for a good pattern!

  11. The Magic Cast-On is indeed magic – I love it. I actually did my first toe-up just so I could try it. The version on Judy’s site, to which you linked, eliminates that starting knot — perfection!

  12. Those are simply too cute! I might have to get over my fear of toe ups to try them.

  13. Christine says:

    I have severely underestimated you. You declared this a “knit from your stash year” and you’ve stuck to it within your rule – all declared at the start. And you’ve been sock only during the summer of socks. I was guessing that you would have been majorly sidetracked by now. What should have been the clue is that you start a project, stick to it and finish it. You have stick-to-it-tiveness. Once you set your mind to something ….

  14. Wendy I love the newest pair of socks, I have to get me some of that Smooshy yarn. The last pair of socks that I knit were a pair of baby socks that I did toe up on the Magic Loop. I did them with short row, but I didn’t have a crochet hook on me I ended up picking up the stiches instead. It came out pretty good, you can see a slight line but I put it on the bottom. I am going to have to try the other toe up methods, I do miss the look of a pointer toe.

    Thank you for sharing your socks and sock yarn with us, they really are beautiful.


  15. Aussie Rosemary says:

    Turkish cast on for me using one 8ocm circular needle. I pick up the first half of stirches by knitting into the back ,undo the slip knot and continue ,using the magic loop method.

  16. Beautiful socks (again)! Even more beautiful Kitty! (I swear Lucy grows more beautiful every day!)

  17. I LOVE those socks.

    I also love Judy’s Magic Cast-on, and I teach it in my toe-up magic loop socks class. Invariably everybody is cranky about it at first, and then magically they all love it by the time they’ve knit a few rows and see how perfect it is and how smart it makes them look. 🙂 I tried it on DPNs and, you’re right – the first row is HARD.

  18. There’s a video tutorial of the magic cast-on at:

    NAYY, but made much more sense to me than trying to follow the pictures. Maybe it’ll help someone else, too!

  19. The socks look great.

    I’ve only done one cuff-down pair of socks, out of my vast trove of 5 pair knitted. I’d been doing the figure 8 cast-on for my toe-ups and liked the finished look but not the fiddling to get it tightened or the occasional wonky corners.

    This last sock I used Judy’s Magic and have a perfect toe with 0 fiddling, even at 11 spi. I’m a convert.

    Hope the back feels better. Backs can take a while to sort themselves out. Let us know when you’re up to e-mail questions again so we don’t bug you before.

  20. Just goes to show we all can change! Beautiful Snapdragons!

  21. I too have always done my toe-up socks with a provisional cast-on and ever since discovering the Magic cast-on, I haven’t looked back since.

    The Snapdragons are fabulous by the way!

  22. Hi!
    I would not have ventured into socks if not for your encouraging blog, thanks!
    My first toe-up was made with Judy’s Magic cast-on and I love it! Your recent patterns with the easier (to me 🙂 gusset heel turns out perfect since I haven’t gotten the short-rows right yet..Thank you again!

  23. The snapdragons are beautiful!

    I have only done 1 pair of toe up socks and had a misserable time with them. I had the age old problem of them fitting fine once I turned the heel, but the longer I knit up the leg the more my foot wouldn’t go through the heel turn/arch section. Not knowing anything about the toe up process I was very discouraged and don’t know what to do to make that area looser. The foot and leg section were the right size for me, but that heel/arch section just refused to fit. *Sigh*

  24. Katherine says:

    OK, I know this is the summer of socks, (which I have been happily knitting) and not the summer of lace, BUT I just found this website with gorgeous lace shawl patterns and I immediately thought of you. If you haven’t seen them yet, well…let’s just say I’m impressed! The designer is French, and her patterns are in both French and English. I haven’t seen anything else quite exactly like them. I am particularly enchanted by ‘Châle ” Champ de pivoines’ which must be French for “really pretty triangle shawl with complex deep border”. I hope you enjoy them!

  25. aren’t you tired of knitting socks?

  26. I love the snapdragons! I have so enjoyed my foray into toe-up socks, and this is where I read about it first. Thanks for the tips on the cast on — I pushed myself through the provisional cast on, and when a friend showed me the magic cast-on I was so excited. It’s interesting to see how others move to different methods in knitting.

  27. Wendy Thank you so much for the links and the encouragement, I am getting so excited about making some socks in the future. I am getting ready and losing the fear of it. You make Knitting so much fun. Thanks for shairng

  28. I’ve moved mostly to the Magic Cast-on, too.

    The reason I wanted an alternative in the first place was that I didn’t like how the short row toe worked with stripes and certain variegated yarns.

    I found that I like the Magic Cast-on for a couple of other reasons, too. First, I don’t need anything other than the yarn and needles to get started (w/ a short row toe, I needed waste yarn and a crochet hook). Second, once I’m done with the toe, all I need to do to move on is knit, whereas with the short row toe, once you’re done, you have to stop and undo the waste yarn and maneuver the stitches onto the needle.

    In the end, the Magic cast-on simplified things and saved me time, in addition to making the toes of striped socks look better.

  29. I love the name and the socks. I moved the other way — from Judy’s Turkish cast on to the Magic Cast. Makes starting a toe-up sock SOOOO easy.

  30. They’re completely gorgeous! Hee hee – I never have to wake up kitties for finished knitting. If I twitch, i have kitties there to check out what I’m doing…

  31. Hi Wendy
    I want to ask about something totally out of the subject on this post.
    Sometimes earlier you blocked a schawl on what you called foam boards in shape of a puzzle. We discussed this at my knittinggroup and one of the girls was sure they where from IKEA, went there but they denied any knowledge of it!
    Where can we find them? What are their supposed to be used for. I´m from Sweden so any hint that can lead us in the right direction are welcome.

  32. I don’t have trouble with the cast on, I have trouble with the heel of a toe-up. So far every time I’ve tried toe-up I ended up frogging the whole thing and starting over cuff down. Can you direct me to a tutorial on toe-up heels?

    Love the Snapdragons!

  33. Wendy, those are beautiful socks. I’m with several other commenters in wanting a book of Wendy’s Sock Patterns.

    For Rosie: I’ve cast on toes using Judy’s Magic Cast On with one dpn and one end of a circular. I put the circular needle on the top and the dpn on the bottom and cast-on as shown in her directions. Then picked up my dpns to start the work, putting the circular on the bottom, pulling through to the cord and working from the dpn. Wendy is right, the looser tension around the circular cord on bottom makes it MUCH easier to execute the first round stitches. Continue around, working from the dpn and when you get to the circular, work the stitches off from it and onto your dpns. This worked really well for me. I’m not even sure that the two needles were exactly the same size, but they were close enough and worked fine.

  34. Having gone and looked at both cast-ons, I may be lured back to trying socks. My problem has always been the famous hole-in-the-toe, because my cast-on left some loose stitches that couldn’t be adequately fastened down.

    I just knew when I started reading about the Summer of Socks that I was going to be lured back to trying them!

  35. Karen in AZ says:

    I have found the Aloha Cast-On from Queen Kahuna (aka Mary Ann) very easy to use for casting on toe-ups. It’s written for 2 circs, but I use magic loop (1 long circ) and have found no problems adapting it. It’s basically using the long tail cast-on to cast on 2 needles at once.

    (I apologize now. I’m not very blog savy and just copied the URL in here, not sure if this works or not.)

  36. The magic cast on changed my sock life. I looooves it. OMG I’m really so geeky there’s no hope for me.

  37. Well, I have previously loved the Turkish Cast-On, but I also have the problem with loose stitches. I guess I will be trying the Magic Cast-On, and see how I fare with that one.

    I love the Snapdragon socks! And Lucy, at least your momma loves you enough to share fun things with you. Even if she does wake you up to do it.

  38. I have always done my socks cuff down and can do it in my sleep. I would love to do toe up. I tried once. Casting on was easy. The fit over the ball of the foot-perfect. It was when I got to the heel that I fell apart. I just can’t figure out how to work gussets, turn a heel and have a heel flap that for me is in reverse. So I don’t thing cast on is a problem, I think it’s the heel for a toe up that’s the problem.

  39. Lucy is just adorable. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but is she a little cross-eyed? I mention this because I grew up with a cross-eyed siamese (Clarence, God rest his soul), and so I’m particularly fond of them (even though Lucy is a ragdoll). I currently have a rescue siamese (Bailey) who isn’t cross-eyed, but is a little pigeon-toed.

    Don’t they just make life so much better? –robin-m