Generic Toe Up Sock Pattern

This pattern owes much of its construction, instruction and inspiration to Universal Toe-Up Formula at

Before beginning, a word about gauge/tension and measurements. I don’t know of anyone who likes to knit a gauge/tension square and if the truth were known, I’ve never made one in my life, preferring to undo and start again than take the time to check my tension (all that wasted time!). However I do have a good idea of my own personal tension for most of the common yarns and needles, and it didn’t take me long to realise that for every size in needles I went down I gained a stitch for 8 ply (double knit/light-worsted), 10 ply (Worsted/Afghan) and 12 ply (Aran/chunky) or two stitches for 2 ply, 3 and 4 ply (also known as sock, sport, fingering, or baby yarn). Since I like to knit my socks on smaller needles (at least 3 sizes smaller usually) this saved me from having to knit a gauge/tension square. So really it’s up to you whether you knit one or not but it could save time (don't say I didn't warn you).

However, gathering some measurements before you start are not an option. Most of these have been taken from the Universal Toe-Up Formula.

My measurements and essential abbreviations are as follows:
Yarn = Y
Needles to give desired tension = M
Needles to give desired tension for ribbing at cuff (often a size smaller but optional) = O
Foot Circumference = FC
Multiply foot circumference (FC) by 0.9 to determine Sock Circumference (for a snug fit) = SC
Length of Foot = A
Desired length of sock leg from bottom of heel = B
Tension/Gauge stitches per inch or cm = G
Multiple Sock Circumference (SC) by Gauge/Tension (G) = C (answer in whole numbers)
Determine number of stitches to cast on for heel by dividing C by 2 = D
Length of Heel (measure after working heel or toe if doing toe-up socks) = H
Length of Sole to be knit and determined by subtracting H from A = F
Determine number of stitches at end of toe and heel by multiplying D by 0.4 (omit decimal places) = E

Other: Provisional Cast On: Using a smooth contrasting yarn cast on D stitches on M needles and knit 3-4 rows (i.e. in garter stitch). To remove (when indicated in pattern), carefully cut away the cast on edge and remove the remaining threads. Sometimes pulling just one thread will make it miraculously 'unzip' but how and why this works some times and not others remains as much a mystery as the sock that gets lost in the washing machine only to turn up five years later.

Wrap and Turn (W&T): On a right side row: knit to point specified in instructions, bring yarn to front of work, slip next stitch to right hand needle, take yarn to back, turn work, keeping yarn wrapped around first stitch on left hand needle, slip stitch just slipped to right hand needle,purl stitches from left hand needle. On a wrong side row: purl to point specified in instructions, slip next stitch to right hand needle, take yarn to front of work, turn work, keep yarn wrapped around first stitch on left hand needle, slip stitch just slipped to right hand needle, take yarn to back of work to knit stitches from left hand needle.

Yarn Requirements: I use two 50g (approx 1-3/4 ounces) balls for women's socks and three 50g balls for men's. But the advantage of both of these patterns is that since you knit the leg last, you can determine the length of the leg by the amount of yarn that is left (i.e. once you've run out of yarn it's finished). Be aware that some patterns may require more especially if cables or twisted stitches are involved.

Without further ado:


BEGIN SOCK: Using Provisional Cast On described above and one circular needle, working 3-4 rows garter stitch back and forth as with straight needles, and then switch to main yarn for sock (Y) and purl one row.

TOE (KNIT BACK AND FORTH): *** Row 1: Knit until one stitch remains, W&T
Row 2: Purl until one stitch remains, W&T
Row 3: Knit until two stitches remain, W&T
Row 4: Purl until two stitches remain, W&T
Continue in same manner until E stitches remain unwrapped between the wrapped stitches (this will be a wrong side row).
Next row: Knit to first wrapped stitch, knit wrapped st, W&T
Next row: Purl to first wrapped stitch, purl wrapped st, W&T
Continue in this manner until all wrapped stitches have been worked except for the very last one (i.e. omit last purl row). ***

Measure length of toe (H). This number will be subtracted from desired length of foot to calculate length of sole to be knitted (F).

SOLE AND INSTEP: Pick up D stitches from cast on edge and knit these stitches. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to turn the work so that the wrong side is facing, and beginning on the right hand edge, pick up the loops in the main yarn which can easily be seen above the last garter stitch row of the contrast yarn that was used for the provisional cast on. A stitch from each end will need to be picked up to give D stitches on both needles (C stitches in total). Work in the round using preferred method (i.e. four or five needles, two circular needles, or one long circular needle) until sock measures F.

HEEL (KNIT BACK AND FORTH): Work from *** to *** on just half the stitches (i.e. on D stitches). If the instep is patterned and the sole in stocking stitch then the heel will be worked on the needle that holds the stocking stitch stitches. If the instep and sole are both stocking stitch, then decide which will be the heel. It doesn't really matter as long as you remember to include a heel!

LEG: Return to working in the round across all stitches and continue until leg measures desired length less cuff. Work on these stitches in rib or pattern until desired length, on a needles a size smaller if desired. Cast off by purling 2 together then slipping the stitch on right hand needle back onto the left hand needle, purl 2 together, slip stitch to left hand needles, etc until end. Sew in yarn ends. Make a second sock to match.

Lime green socks knit on two circular needles in the round using Froot Loops pattern. Navy blue socks (for DH) and the variegated blue socks (for Son#5) knit on two sticks using a variation of Trail Mix pattern. Completed socks were knitted on two needles using merino wool and a twisted cable pattern which doesn't photograph well and which looks far more complicated than it really is.


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