Cuff-Down vs. Toe-Up Socks Part 4 Toe-Up French / Round Heel

The orange sock was knit toe-up and purple sock was knit cuff-down. The flap-and-gusset heel design looks nearly identical.

This is my final blog post about knitting socks. I haven’t covered everything about knitting socks because there are already many great resources available for free on Ravelry and Instagram. I am simply filling in the blanks where I feel there could be better information (e.g., bind-off options, rounded vs. pointed toes, how to adjust heel height to accommodate different types of arches, and toe-up flap-and-gusset heel design). But really, the only way to know how to knit socks is to just start knitting a lot of socks. That’s how I learned what works best.

The general flap-and-gusset design is the best heel shape if you need to make adjustments for different types of arches. High arches will need a longer flap, and low arches will need a shorter flap. In my last blog, I showed how to adjust the heel flap length for cuff-down socks. I used a flap-and-gusset design with a rounded heel. This is probably the most common heel design for cuff-down patterns. However, for toe-up socks, you don’t see flap-and-gusset designs anywhere. The most common heel for toe-up socks is short-row heels. Short-row heels only work for low arches. They are a terrible fit for average and high arches.

This post will walk you through how to knit a flap-and-gusset heel on a toe-up sock. It will look exactly like the cuff-down rounded heel from my last blog post. The best part of knitting a flap-and-gusset heel toe-up is that you don’t have to pick up stitches at any point. You also don’t need to redistribute stitches if using the magic loop method. I definitely prefer toe-up socks now because the method is ever so slightly easier to manage, as you will see.

Width of Foot

I have gotten a few comments and questions about sock sizing. I’ve intentionally been rather vague about this because it’s so subjective. When I talk about how many stitches you need around for the main part of your sock, this will relate to the widest part of your foot. However, the number of stitches you will need depends on (1) how wide your foot is and (2) your knitting gauge. I currently knit with 60 stitches in the round. Before I got my gauge tight and consistent, I actually knitted around with 56 stitches, but my stitches were too loose. Again, practice, practice, practice to figure out how to keep consistent tension and to determine how many stitches you need to comfortably fit your foot. The number of stitches I’ve seen in adult sock patterns ranges from 52 up to 68, depending on the foot’s size. I’m not going to give you a formula or exact answer because you really just need to test it out for yourself.

Heel Shape

Even after you have a sock with the perfect number of stitches in the round and precisely the right length, the heel flap, if tailored incorrectly, will still cause the sock to not fit right. If the heel flap bunches up and gets in the way of shoes, your heel flap may be too long. This happens when you have flat feet like me. On the other hand, if your sock crawls down into your shoe even though you have plenty of length, you may have a heel flap that’s too short. People with long, thin feet and high arches like Ryan have this fit problem. Flat arches will have excess fabric above the heel. High arches will have socks that keep slipping down.

Ryan and I have the exact same length foot and we both have narrow feet for our shoe size. However, I have a flat arch and he has an extremely high arch. Around the diagonal, my heel measures 12 ¾ inches and Ryan’s measures 13 ½ inches. To account for this difference, he needs a longer heel flap and I need a shorter heel flap.

In my last blog post, I stated that for a 60 sts sock, 15 sts along the heel flap / gusset was considered “average”. For most knitted sock patterns, 30 rows for the heel flap is considered “average” and then you pick up every other row along the heel flap/gusset edge (i.e., 15). I will be providing the same heel flap size information as I did previously: average heel flap, small heel flap, and large heel flap.

  • Average heel flap is 30 rows with 15 stitches for the gusset
  • Small heel flap is 28 rows with 14 stitches for the gusset
  • Large heel flap is 32 rows with 16 stitches for the gusset

Heel Flap Size

Average (small, large) instep for a sock with 60 stitches.

Glossary

  • k – knit
  • k2tog – knit 2 stitches together (1 stitch decreased)
  • m1L – make one left
  • m1R – make one right
  • m1P – make one purlwise
  • p2tog – purl 2 stitches together (1 stitch decreased)
  • rnd(s) – round(s)
  • RS – right side
  • sl – slip stitch
  • sm – slip marker
  • ssk – slip 1 stitch knitwise, slip a second stitch knitwise, move these 2 stitches back to the left needle and k2tog tbl (1 stitch decreased)
  • st(s) – stitch(es)
  • tbl – through the back loop
  • WS – wrong side

Gusset

Knit the same number of rounds as you did for the cuff-down version. For our foot size, that means knit 50 (52, 48) rounds for the foot (excluding the toe).

  • Rnd 1 (Needle 1): knit to end.
  • Rnd 1 (Needle 2): k1, m1L, knit to 1 sts before end, m1R, k1. 2 sts increased.
  • Rnd 2: Knit.

Rep the last 2 rnds 9 (8, 10) more times until you have added 20 (18, 22) sts; 30 sts on Needle 1 and 50 (48, 52) sts on Needle 2; 80 (78, 82) sts total.

This should be the same number of stitches as Rnd 1 of the gusset for cuff-down socks, just distributed on your needles differently. You should have 15 (14, 16) sts for each gusset, same as before. There are 18 sts for the heel turn, same as before. Don’t forget the 2 additional stitches that were originally picked up to close the gap between the gusset and instep on the cuff-down and are needed to close the gap between the heel turn and heel flap for toe-up.

Heel Turn

The heel turn for this sock is the same no matter what size heel flap you are knitting. After the set-up row, you will be knitting back and forth on Needle 2:

  • Set-up Row 1 (Needle 1): knit to end.
  • Set-up Row 1 (Needle 2): knit 34 (33, 35), m1L, turn.

The rest of the heel turn will be worked on Needle 2:

  • Row 2 (WS): Sl1, p18, m1P, turn.
  • Row 3 (RS): Sl1, k17, m1L, turn.
  • Row 4: Sl1, p16, m1P, turn.
  • Row 5: Sl1, k15, m1L, turn.
  • Row 6: Sl1, p14, m1P, turn.
  • Row 7: Sl1, k13, m1L, turn.
  • Row 8: Sl1, p12, m1P, turn.
  • Row 9: Sl1, k11, m1L, turn.
  • Row 10: Sl1, p10, m1P, turn.
  • Row 11: Sl1, k9, m1L, turn.
  • Row 12: Sl1, p8, m1P, turn.

You should have 30 stitches on Needle 1 and 62 (60, 64) stitches on Needle 2 for a total of 92 (90, 94) stitches. Of the stitches on Needle 2, you should have 15 (14, 16) stitches for the left gusset, 32 stitches for the heel flap, and 15 (14, 16) stitches for the right gusset. The 2 extra stitches in the middle for the heel flap will be reduced to 30 sts during the heel flap set-up to make sure there’s no gap.

Heel Flap

All rows will be worked back and forth on Needle 2:

  • Set-up Row 1 (RS): Sl1, k18, ssk, turn. (1 st decreased)
  • Set-up Row 2 (WS): Sl1, p28, p2tog, turn. (1 st decreased)
  • Row 1 (RS): [Sl1, k1] 14 times, sl1, ssk, turn. (1 st decreased)
  • Row 2 (WS): Sl1, p28, p2tog, turn. (1 st decreased)
  • Repeat [Rows 1 & 2] 13 (12, 14) times more. You should have 32 sts on Needle 2.
  • Final row (RS): [Sl1, k1] 14 times, sl1, ssk. You should have 31 sts on Needle 2.

Instead of turning, start knitting in the round again.

  • Rnd 1 (Needle 1): knit to end.
  • Rnd 1 (Needle 2): k2tog, knit to end.

You should now have 30 sts on each needle for a total of 60 sts. Knit the leg as long as you want and check out my post about how to knit the cuff for toe-up socks.

Excluding the set-up Rows 1 & 2, you worked 29 Rows + 1 Rnd for the average heel flap, 27 Rows + 1 Rnd for the small heel flap, and 31 Rows + 1 Rnd for the large heel flap. That is exactly the same number of Rows knitted for the cuff-down version.

Conclusions

No matter which way you decide to knit socks, hopefully, my four-part series helps you refine and improve your sock knitting adventures. You can check out all four parts here:

2 thoughts on “Cuff-Down vs. Toe-Up Socks Part 4 Toe-Up French / Round Heel”

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