Techniques in Depth: Socks Without Ears

August 8, 2018

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44 Comments
  • THANK YOU! That ear business has annoyed me for years.

  • Thanks Kate! for spelling it out & sharing. Soooo much neater & easier for the wearer. 🙂

  • YES! Directional decreases! I like that!!

  • Wow. I didn’t expect anything I hadn’t heard before, but this is totally new and interesting. Thanks for figuring this out!

  • What an excellent article! This has bothered me for years. Thank you.

  • Kate, have you been peeking in my windows? You wrote an article on the button band just as I was reaching that spot on a baby sweater and now this helpful and insightful article as I work on a pair of socks! Brilliant! Thank you.

  • Amazing and super helpful!! Thank you!

  • Thank you. This is a wonderful series.

  • When I learned how to knit socks, our teacher showed us to turn the socks to the reverse side and do a three needle bind off. It’s a lot easier then trying to remember how to do the kitchener. I always do my socks this way and they looks great. I am an addicted sock knitter!

    • What an interesting idea! I am only an occasional sock knitter, and when I do knit them, it is generally toe-up, mostly to avoid grafting. I do love the 3 needle bind off though, so I’m going to remember this!

    • Thank you! Love your solution to grafting! I’m left handed and grafting backward (which makes most sense to me) is a nightmare.

    • This is so brilliant! Thank you!

  • Excellent! Thanks 😀

  • This article is wonderful! I’m thinking mittens !

  • Thank you. I’ve always finished socks with the non grafted toe. Glad my first pattern was done this way. Socks are rounded and very comfortable Thanks for sharing this method with others

  • Do you have a go to patterns for socks? I am a beginner and need the simplest pattern. I made some in a class but found the pattern difficult to follow. Or perhaps there is a great site to ask questions.

    For instance. I was making my husband some socks. I cast on 48 mad knitted the leg I wanted. Then, divided the stitches and put 24 stitches on each needle. I work 24 rows for the heel flap and then moved to turn the heel. Once that is done I picked up 24 stitches on each side which gave me 62 stitches and then freaked.

    Was that right? Anyway, I ripped out back to the leg. Now, I need to find the answer and I just can’t find it.

    • Rebecca, avid sock knitter here. After you do the heel flap and turn the heel, you want to pick up stitches on either side of the heel flap to make the gusset, one stitch for each two rows. (If you slipped the stitches at the edges of the heel flap, you will be able to see pretty well how many to pick up.) Then you will decrease on the bottom side of the sock one stitch on either side of the gusset every other row until you are back to the original number of stitches that you cast on, in your case 48.

      I’m obviously not a pattern-writer, as what I just wrote above might be confusing. I suggest you get Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s book “Knitting Rules,” which has generic patterns for socks, hats, scarves, etc. with very clear instructions. If you keep at it, you will soon be able to knit socks without using a pattern at all. Good luck!

      • Two other good books for the beginning sock knitter are Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd and Teach Yourself Visually: Sock Knitting by Laura Chau. I found both of them to be helpful.

    • Are you familiar with my book? Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet. I’ve got the details for toe-up and top down socks for 9 gauges and 12 sizes!

      • (Kate’s book will knock your socks off! It’s great!)

      • Kate, your book is wonderful! There is so much information in there that I have not found elsewhere.

  • I love you.

  • That tippy toe decrease has been the way I have been doing it in like forever … since I wrote up my go to sock knitting instructions … oh … 10 years ago?! I have never been a fan of the Kitchenering of the toe closing up and my Ambach Oma did it this way when making my uncles socks way back when. It’s the German heritage of simple + beautiful + practical = priceless!

  • Thank you for this! Although “ears” have never really bothered me as I am not very picky, I dislike Kitchener because I don’t do it very often, so I will very happily skip the set-up. And maybe try some of the other tricks as well.

  • Hooray, thank you! I tend to use the last solution for socks, but your other solutions would be excellent for mittens.

  • The ears led me to become an avid toe-up gal. Now I have an alternative, thanks!

  • I love Kitchnering and i think this is genius – thanks!

  • This is timely! I finally learned how knit a sock (it’s so awful, but I love the poor thing), so now there’s this tip to work into my learning.

    I think sometimes you’re peeking in on what my latest knitting dilemma is, lol.

  • Thanks for these clear explanations! Very helpful!

  • Thank you for this amazing article and options for other than Kitchener stitch! I’ve never liked the “ears” and have tried to sew them down with the yarn ends with mixed results. Love your articles.

  • Hi, Kate! I’ve always done the 8 stitch pull through for socks, mostly because I hate having to look up kitchener. I’m glad to know I’m in stellar company with you! I make my toes a little stubbier, like my feet. Whatever fits!

  • Whoa! Clip n save greatness here! Thank you!!!

  • Definitely saving this! Thank you so much!

  • Perfect timing. Was at the end of sock number 2. I knew about Trick #2, but could never remember how to end it. This is one time that reading it worked better than watching it. Thank you!

  • Wow! Just when I thought I might try a top down again…. I’m sure if I read this while doing it I’d love it. Instead, I’m feeling completely inadequate. Thankfully I have wide toes and the second one is shorter! Seriously, FABULOUS tutorial. Thank you!

    And thanks MDK for the list of previous posts in the email. Ciz when I forget to read a post, I never recall it was forgotten.

  • My sock knitting on-the-road benefited greatly from learning grafting without a sewing needle, from TECHknitter’s blog. But I like the idea of the no-grafting finish for mittens, as I really hate the flat top for those. Thanks Kate!

  • Thank you for this article. I have been playing with different toe shapes for several years, and like a slightly rounded toe. I love having options for a custom fit.

  • As usually, amazing!! Thank you Kate, for your always great advice!

  • Thank you! I too have the pointy shoe toes, and hate the dogged ear look and feel. Love the last one the best.

  • Dear Kate,
    Initially I didn’t understand, but think I do now. For a 64 stitch sock is the method as follows?

    Row 1: K1, SSK; knit to last 3 stitches, K2 tog. I understand this is for both the top (instep) and bottom (sole) of the sock,
    Rows 2-4 Knit.
    Remaining rows as Row 1 until 8 stitches remain (eg 4 on each needle).

    Thanks for a brilliant new approach. Love it!

    • I took a look at my post and thought about it and it makes no sense–all it accomplishes is a longer toe, not a rounded toe. So! I have no understanding of the method described at all. I feel rather stupid given how many others get it. If anyone has the time to explain, that’d be great. Otherwise, I plan to try a method where I decrease multiple stitches per round to achieve a round toe. Thanks much!

  • Outstanding! I’m going to try technique #2 on my current socks. I’ve used the non-graft toe in the past and really liked it but had completely forgotten about it. Thanks for the great article!

  • Is there an actual video of your doing the grafted toe with the decreases?

  • Could someone help me with trick #4? I don’t understand what she means by “facing side” and “far side.” Does facing side mean the front needle and far side the back needle? I think I need to see a video for this. I feel stupid because I don’t understand these instructions at all.