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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

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Anatomically Correct Sock Toes

look at that huge toeI have long big toes, and when I'm making socks I like to shape the toe area to fit my foot "like a glove" (well really "like a sock", but you know what I mean). Yes, this does mean that you have to pay a bit more attention when you put on your socks (to make sure they are on the right foot), but hey, if you can do it with shoes, you can do it with socks.

I developed these instructions through trial and error, but I now use them for all of the socks I make for myself. I hope my fellow large-big-toed knitters will find this helpful.

Anatomically Correct Sock Toes
(for Top-Down Socks)


These directions are for use with typical sock-weight yarn. You may have to reduce the number of rounds in each section for use with heavier yarn. [However, I just used these directions for my Log Cabin Socks, which were made with a bulky weight yarn on US6 needles and they worked out fine.]

For ease in writing these instructions, I will be assuming that you are using 3 DPNs, arranged like this:

I will also be assuming that you have:

  • 1/4 of your stitches on needle 1,
  • 1/2 of your stitches on needle 2, and
  • 1/4 of your stitches on needle 3

*** I will be referring to the point between needle 1 and needle 3 as the end of the round. If you are using 2 circulars (as I usually do), just consider the end of the round to be at the middle of the bottom-of-the-foot needle.

As you are knitting the foot of your sock, keep trying it on (put stitches on a piece of scrap yarn, if necessary) and stop when your sock reaches the base of the toenail of your little toe (basically the point at which the width of your foot starts to decrease). WRITE DOWN how many rounds you have knit on the foot so far. This will be useful information for the 2nd sock. Skip this step, and regret it later (I know I usually do.)


Start Little Toe Decreases:

[Basically, here you are decreasing every other row, but on the little-toe side only.]

Round 1:
Needle 1 - Knit.
Needle 2 - K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 3 - K1, SSK, K to end.
Round 2:

Repeat these two rounds 7 times, and then repeat Round 1 once more (so 15 rows total). [The sock should now reach approximately to the tip of your middle toe. If not, adjust accordingly, but end with a decrease round.]

Start Big Toe Decreases:

[Basically, here you start decreasing on the big-toe side (at first every other row, then every row). Also, you switch to decreasing every row on the little-toe side.]

Round 1:
Needle 1 - K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 2 -- K1, SSK, K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 3 - K1, SSK, K to end.
Round 2:
Needle 1 - Knit.
Needle 2 - K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 3 - K1, SSK, K to end.
Rounds 3, 4, & 5:
Repeat Round 1.
Round 6 (partial round):
Needle 1 - Knit.

excuse my pillingGraft the toe stitches together. [I find it easier to graft the sock closed fairly loosely and then go back and tighten the stitches one by one, working the extra yarn toward the loose end.]

Pull the yarn tight at the end (to eliminate any bumpiness at the end of your grafting) and weave the end in.


Oh, bother. I'm tired. Can't I just take the easy way out and say, "reverse the shaping?"

Fine, here it is, reversed for your second sock pleasure.

Start Little Toe Decreases:

Round 1:
Needle 1 - K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 2 - K1, SSK, K to end.
Needle 3 - Knit.
Round 2:

Repeat these two rounds 7 times, and then repeat Round 1 once more (so 15 rows total).

Start Big Toe Decreases:

Round 1:
Needle 1 - K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 2 -- K1, SSK, K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 3 - K1, SSK, K to end.
Round 2:
Needle 1 - K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 2 - K1, SSK, K to end.
Needle 3 - Knit.
Rounds 3, 4, & 5:
Repeat Round 1.
Round 6 (partial round):
Needle 1 - Knit.

Graft toe stitches together and weave in end.

Leave me a comment if you have any questions. If you actually make these, let me know how they turn out.

Pattern & images © 2006 Tamara Stone-Snyder.
May be distributed freely for personal use only. Cannot be reprinted on the web or otherwise without permission.

Leave a Comment 47 comments:

Emily said...

What a great idea! I don't knit too many socks, but if I ever do get around to knitting some for myself, I'll definitely try this out.

Dipsy D. said...

Thank you so much for sharing this information and instructions - I do have that long-toe-problem myself, and this is certainly a great idea that I'm going to try out as soon as I'm going to knit a new pair of socks! Thank you, and best wishes from Austria!

Jess said...

I don't have that problem but how cool :o)

Got any snow yet? ;o)

Extra Planet said...

Brilliant solution! Next thing I must try this because you're right, why bother making socks by hand if you aren't going to fit them to your feet? -Selena

Wendy said...

Thanks for the pattern! I knit lots of socks, and while my big toe isn't as long as your, I get annoyed when the stripes skew. Plus I think that the socks will last longer when they fit the feet, instead of having to pull over the big toe!

alliesw said...

Gosh, what a great idea....now that you've thought of it, I can't believe it's never come up before! I DO want to try these, thanks so much!

KarenRebecca said...

thank you so much! my long toes and socks thank you too :)

Mary Nichols said...

I have been looking for a pattern like this, I knew someone would have it. Thank you so much, I shall use these instructions a lot making socks for Christmas.

Sticks, Strings N' Stash said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I have a big toe even more dramatic than the one shown in the picture. This is only my second pair of socks I'm gonna make, but I'm definitely gonna try to use this tecnique. Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

30 years ago I was hooked on making socks for a boyfriend. At that time all they had were men's patterns. Now my niece has me leaning to knit socks on 2 circular needles. I will try your technique because I believe I actually have a longer big toe than you show here. Loved pointy shoes for this reason. Always room for that big toe. Thank you so much for a great idea.

Kit Kita

Anonymous said...

These look great, can't wait to try them. My husbank has diabetes and must be very careful about his socks. I think these will work out well in a nice soft yarn.

Kelley said...

Bless you, bless you, bless you! I too am blessed with long big toes, and I have such a hard time getting my sock toes to fit. (Well, not anymore hopefully!)

Thanks for sharing.

knitphomaniac said...

steller sock pattern :) I'll have to give these a go!

plumbum said...

Thank you, I love you, and I may wish to have your babies... this is just what I was looking for, being the owner of great toes so ludicrously long that when I was 12, my mother actually asked the doctor if he could get them chopped off (NO, *seriously* - she tried to get my big toes amputated!!)

I have just knitted my first pair of socks, have yarn for 5 more pairs waiting but I knew I could not continue with the straight toe end. Having only done one pair so far I didn't have the confidence to work it out for myself - so you have my undying gratitude!

I would like to link to this article, if I may?

greenmama said...

I am knitting a pair of socks with
a Yankee Knitter sock pattern and Australian Merinos yarn. I used your toe pattern, and I really love it! I made the right sock first, though, because I didn't know what SKK was. I'm a pretty new knitter, so this might be silly, but is that a typo for SSK, or is it a different stitch that I don't know yet? Anyway, the pattern is GREAT!!! Thanks!

Persnickety Knitter said...

Thanks, greenmama. You're right -- there was an error in the pattern. It was in rounds 1 and 2 of the left sock only. I changed it from "SKK" to "SSK" Good catch.

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! I used this on my first pair of knitted socks. I have long and wierd toes - and what a wonderful pattern - easy to follow for this beginning knitter. I tried making one pair without these instructions after and won't do that again. I always find I'm pulling this pair of socks from my drawer first. I'll be making every pair this way from now on....

Thank you!

Veronica B.

Michael said...

I've just finished knitting a pair of socks with this pattern and they look great and fit very nicely. Thanks for your very clear instructions.

Anonymous said...

Boy was THIS a BIG HElP for my womens 13 clod-hoppers. There is a 3 inch difference in the length between the tip of my pinky toe and my big toe, and women's socks in stores don't fit me anyway. I've made due with mens socks for years..... Can we say YUCK!!!!! So now I have my first pair knitted with this technique for the toe and all my socks for now on will also. Thanks just dosn't cover it.


Dear One, THank you very very much, Having a foot and toesies just like yours I APPRECIATE this so much!! May all your stitches be happy ones,
I am so very grateful,
i am in Ravelry under HALALSILKS

Anonymous said...

Great idea, I can't wait to try it. Just out of curiosity, do you have any pictures of your feet without socks on? If not you should post some. thanks!


Anonymous said...

I was knitting a wonderful pair of socks for my son-in-law this Christmas and had just started the toe decreases when I came across your website. I had him try one on, and when I saw his foot I knew I had to try this! He LOVES them!
He's not one to rave over things,
but I could tell he was thrilled
with this sock! (Other one to follow immediately!) Kathy
P.S. The normal toe shape on hand-
knitted socks never did make sense
to me!!!

Nervous Knitter said...

If you could see my son's feet you'd know how grateful I am for your anatomically correct sock toe pattern.

Anonymous said...

Thank you , I have been looking for socks with a shaped toe for more years than some of you are old!!! . Now, I will need to make them!!! Good.


Jaden said...

I really like these toes. Thank you for sharing!

My second socks ever are made using this method and I think I will always use it. The fit is perfect.

You can see some pictures on my blog (the text is in German, though).

Kirsten said...

Hey! I linked to this awesome post on my blog; I hope you don't mind! http://hobbyupdate.blogspot.com/2009/10/sock-it-to-me.html

Terry said...

Hello Sock Lovers
this will be great for my sister whom I call "Spaghetti Toe"!!
Happy Knitting
Terry in B.C. Canada

Kaaren said...

I have the same kind of foot, although my second toe is actually longer than big toe, but they both are longer than the others. As an added problem, my right foot is more than one size larger than left, so a long, long time ago I started knitting my socks. I am going to use this hint, cause it sure looks comfy. It's great to get wonderful hints!! Sunmoonglow

Michael said...

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Sherry in Idaho said...

Thank you for this. I like these toes so much better for my socks. I had complained that my feet were not shaped right for socks. I appreciate your effort.
Sherry in Idaho

Anonymous said...

I love the AC toe and have used your pattern in the past. Now I prefer to knit socks from the toe up, and I am just finishing a pair where I reverse engineered your instructions for use in my toe up pattern. Worked great. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

hi ive never knitted socks before and was just wondering how you make the rest of the sock because most patterns ive looked at start from the cuff and end at the toe

M. LeBlanc said...

I actually have a question. I am missing a big toe on one of my feet how do i ajust this pattern so the sock will fit my foot.
M. LeBlanc

Judith said...

I made these, they are brilliant thankyou, also thanks for doing the reverse shaping for the right sock.

Anonymous said...

how many do you cast on?

Anonymous said...

How many do you cast on? I really wanna try this pattern but I've never knitted a sock before so I don't know how to start...

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea. All other socks that are straight across pull so hard on the big toe.
I have gout in the big toe and this is much more comfortable.
Great pattern easy to follow, Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Sooooo cool. Have been using your pattern for over a year now, even though I have average feet. Just starting socks for bro (& he has super long big toe!!) so will be adapting your pattern 4 him. Also works for other longer toes with bit of thought to where big toe decrease starts.
THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

S Westphal said...

I just finished this toe for the first time and it hits EXACTLY where it should. As has been said before, I will be using this anywhere I can adapt a pattern. Thank you for posting this. I no longer hate top down socks as much (toes were the bane of my top down experience)


Knitting socks is a fairly new endeavor for me, and the toes have been the one area I've felt there should be a way to adapt to the foot. THANK YOU for being experienced and smart enough to figure this out for the rest of us!! I am making my first pair of socks for myself...so I plan to use your method on them. Wish I'd had them for the pair I just completed for my husband (size 14)!! Next time... ;) DMA ckroflite@gmail.com

Anishka Rani said...

I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles.

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Seema Nanda said...

I would like to say thanks for your sharing this useful information. Nice post keep it up. Hope to see you next post again soon. Tips And Toes services.

Autumn Winter said...

I am a young but seasoned knitter with many a sock in my repertoire. The issue I have is the opposite of yours: my Greco-Roman heritage has given me those long 2nd toes that are evident in all the ancient Greek, Roman, and Italian Renaissance portrayals of goddesses. Although it's nice sometimes to think of it that way, the fact of the matter is that the only socks that fit properly have a rather sideways-canted pointy toe. And that being said, most sock patterns are written for the normal-footed sort such as my Husband, whose entire family boasts toes that are all the same length. I pray that our future children will inherit the foot genes from his side of la famiglia. I also happen to be rather jealous of those knitters who can make one skein yield two pairs of socks; I sometimes need two skeins to knit a proper pair of socks for these flippers! Hoping that the sasquatch genes will somehow fall by the wayside, I shall continue my quest for the perfectly-fitting long 2nd toe sock pattern. Any advice? autumn.wintersgill@gmail.com

Surreal Sadi said...

I'm just learning to knit socks. I've made a pair for myself using a basic rounded toe for a toe-up pattern cause I bloody hate kitchner stitch. I'm looking at your pattern, and seeing if I can't re-work it for toe-up, for my mother. She has very long big and 2nd toes(she's part Italian, and while I also inherited that long 2nd toe, it's not as bad as hers), and a standard toe won't work for her. If I manage to reverse engineer it for toe-up, I'll do a follow-up post!

Pam in Montrose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pam in Montrose said...

A link to your tutorial is posted on Ravelry with the Fish Kiss Lips Heel pattern, which I'm trying for the first time. I have a different problem than you, my toes are quite blunt and short, slanted in an off-centered way. Normal toe-up socks are longer in the middle of the foot, and my big toe is the start of a slant that ends with my little toe. Adjusting the cast-on so that the longest part is over my big toe and most of the increases are on the outside gives me the same number of stitches for the foot, but the shape matches my foot exactly. Thanks for the explanation, I can only say "why didn't I think of that before?" Big improvement in the fit of my socks.

MB Billington said...

I'm always pleased to find patterns that are already or are prepared to adapt to the individual. My toes are short and small, but with information to adapt a pattern, one can do anything. Thank you.