My current work in progress:

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


Temptation Top-Down Socks

ย Sock 012208

Sock 012208

Yep, that sock was knitted top-down. Sneaky of me, no? Here’s a transcript of my telephone conversation with L-B last week when I told her about it:

Me: I’m knitting a sock top-down.

L-B: What??!! You need to warn me before making a shocking statement like that!

Me: I was thinking: why can’t I reverse my slip-stitch heel from my toe-up sock to make it work top down? I’d do the gusset increases while working the slipstitch heel, then short rows to turn the heel, then decrease the gusset stitches, and work the foot. That way I can do a top-down sock without counting heel flap rows or having to pick up stitches along the sides of the flap.

L-B: I like picking up the stitches along the heel flap.

Me: I don’t like having to keep count. When I’m on the train, I like my knitting to be automatic and not have to think.

L-B: So, in other words, you are going to all this work because you are lazy.

Me: Yeah, pretty much.

There it is. L-B pretty much nailed it. I figured out this heel because I am lazy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

To recap, what I did was to cast on (over a needle 2 sizes larger than my working needle), knit a ribbed cuff and stockinette leg. I started the slipstitch heel and gusset increases while still working in the round. Then I worked only on the heel stitches to short-row a “heel cup,” and then worked short rows back and forth only on the heel and gusset stitches to decrease the gusset stitches back down to my original number. Then I worked in the round to the toe. For the toe I did 4 decreases every other row until I had 12 stitches, then grafted the toe shut. Ta-da! A sock.

I tricked many of you who entered the contest by knitting top down, because I am always bleating about how I hate knitting socks top down. I also tricked a number of you because my photo really didn’t show the toe too clearly — you really couldn’t tell that it was grafted. So I didn’t take any points off for people who got the toe construction wrong.

Toe 012208

Toe 012208

(Incidentally, if you can figure out how to get from my blog to my flickr page of this sock, you can view a huge version of the photo.)

A number of you got it right. And a lot of you guessed other creative ways of constructing the sock. You people are smart! So I picked a winner at random from those of you who figured it out. The winner is:

Alexis D! Alexis has been emailed, and the skein of Wollmeise will soon be wending its way to her.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a guess. A number of you suggested heel constructions by names that I’d never heard of, so this was an interesting exercise for me.

Anyhow, I wrote up the pattern and here it is, in pdf format:

Temptation Top-Down Socks

The pattern is also posted on my free patterns page (link in the sidebar).

L-B suggested the name. I was gonna call it the Top-Down-No-Pick-Up-Stitches-Along-the-Heel-Flap-Gusseted-Slip-Stitch-Heel Sock, but that seemed a bit much. Because the prototype was knit from Tempted yarn, and the temptation was strong enough for me to briefly abandon my toe-up only status, the name seems fitting.

Note that the pattern is written in two sizes, medium and large, and in the pattern I am starting with either 66 or 74 stitches. For the sock I knit, I started with 64 stitches so I could do a k2 p2 ribbing around, then I increased a stitch in the heel stitches before I started the heel.

Also note that I wrote this pattern up from my scribbles as I worked the sock. It really hasn’t been thoroughly tested yet, so proceed at your own risk. I am currently knitting the second sock, so I’ll be able to test my pattern as I knit to make sure there are no errors. If you find one, feel free to let me know.

SIP 012208

SIP 012208

I make no claims to having invented this heel, but I did figure it out myself by doing it. That doesn’t mean that someone else didn’t figure it out before me. I have just never seen it.

Will I start to knit all my socks top-down? Heavens, no. But it is nice to have options. If I see a cool top-down pattern I want to make, and the pattern doesn’t lend itself to being turned upside down and knit from the toe-up, I will likely be able to adapt it to fit this pattern.

I started another project.

New Project 012208

New Project 012208

And Lucy is back on the job!

Lucy 012208

Lucy 012208


  1. Awwwww, Man! Hey at least I got it right except for the toe bein grafted that is ๐Ÿ™‚
    I thought the heel looked like one of your slip stitch heel flap toe up heels only worked the other way and I cant wait to try it! Thank you so much for another great pattern!

  2. Great construction idea! I like picking up gusset stitches, too (Hi L-B!!), but I frequently end up uneven and vexed.

    Lovely gloves and mittens!! I love that HK yarn!!

  3. Well at least I was right about the top down!!

  4. Hey, looks like I was right!! I’m tickled pink that I figured it out. Wish I coulda won the Wollmeise but to be honest, I’m just happy I got an “A.”

    I think there is a heel something like this in the Cat Bordhi New Pathways book but I would have to run down to the basement to get the book and double-check and I’m feeling kind of lazy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. And lo, the day of legend had arrived. Spoken of from the beginning of time, as a sign for the end of days, hell had frozen over. For Wendy, knit a sock cuff down. May we rest in peace.

  6. So, those beeps weren’t calls-waiting? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Great sock, and thanks so much for the pattern. You are so generous. Love the color too.Lucy is so funny. She reminds me of my Jack same markings and color.

  8. Thanks for the pattern!!

  9. It’s a good idea to have a top-down sock in your repertoire for the occasional one-way lace top (I ended up having to graft my RSC Lenores)

  10. Yeehaw! I got it right! Whoo-hoo! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hurray for top down! thanks for the pattern! Hope all is well and you’re keeping warm! Off to spin!

  11. I figured it was top-down because that’s unusual for you. That’s where I quit since I am only on my first sock and am ignorant.

    Have you ever tried the two-socks-at-the-same-time thing?

  12. Man, I thought I was a rebel when I converted to top-down socks! So shocking was the news that I had to scroll up and read again. Of course, I’m a sock knitter in the first place because of you and your toe up generic sock pattern – so it still holds a special place in my heart.

  13. Top Down?? FPS, what were you thinking? (But way to expand your horizons…..) ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Hee, I fit the winner’s name and initial, but still not me, since I got it totally wrong!

  15. thanks for another pattern!

  16. WHOA! I clicked on the link and there was the Sock That Ate the Eastern United States!

    Very lovely, though, and I love seeing the details.

    When you do what you did, it’s called “reinventing the heel”, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. I can’t believe I got it so spectacularly wrong! I’m going to try the socks though.

  18. Theresa in Italy says:

    I would have guessed top-down with grafted toe only because I figured that’s what you’d do to throw us off the scent, but I had no idea what you were doing with the heel. Cool. Thanks for the pattern!

  19. Very interesting! I’ll definitely put that pattern into my binder of things to try! The new project looks like fun. And Lucy does her job so very well.

  20. Michele In Maine says:

    I, too, will print out for my sock files.

    So, is the newest project a neckwarmer for Lucy?

  21. That’s a cool sock. I’m a top-down sock knitter, and I’ve figured out that it really doesn’t matter very much if you get different numbers of stitches picked up on the two sides of the sock. I’ve never seen it be more than 2 stitches difference (almost never more than one, actually). And I just do an extra decrease row on the gusset if there’s an extra stitch there. It’s been amazingly freeing to realize that!

    It’s probably always a good thing to try something new. Keeps the brain exercised, ya know?

  22. Tralala – I was right except for the grafted toe. Thanks for a fun contest and a pretty pattern.

  23. Just in case you’re ever again tempted to do a top-down sock….. you really don’t have to count rows or picked up stitches or ANYTHING to knit a standard heel flap. Just knit that sucker back and forth (with whatever texture you like in your heel) until it’s square, slipping the first stitch of every row. You don’t even need a measuring tape or ruler to check if it’s square – if you fold it back on itself diagonally and the flap makes a triangle, then it’s square. After turning the heel, just pick up one stitch in every slipped stitch (slipping that first stitch makes the rows easy to see). No counting, and the heel comes out to be the right shape every time! Like Shelda says, it doesn’t matter if there turns out to be a stitch or two different on each side of the gusset. At sock gauge, one stitch is negligible. Just do an extra decrease on the gusset to get rid of it. I learned this method from the Yarn Harlot, and it has seen me through many, many successful sock heels!

  24. Courtney (known as knittymonster!) says:

    I really like how your socks are coming! what color of Temptations yarn are you using?