How to Cast On and Knit the Toe

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When it comes to toe-up socks, the cast-on and toe are the most involved steps. Two kinds of cast-ons are covered here. The Easy Toe and Eastern cast-ons both use increases to shape the toe.

Cast-on numbers

This table contains rough numbers for the cast-on of a toe-up sock when working an Easy Toe or Eastern cast-on. Of course, you can adjust this number to suit your taste or foot shape.

Toe-Up Sock Cast-On Numbers
Yarn Weight Cast On at Toe: Easy or Eastern (per needle)
Worsted (5 sts/in.) 8
DK (6 sts/in.) 8
Sport (7 sts/in.) 10
Fingering (8–9 sts/in.) 12

For a wider toe, cast on more stitches in a multiple of 2 — you will need fewer increase rows in the toe to reach the total number of stitches for the sock.

For a narrower toe, cast on fewer stitches in a multiple of 2 — you will need more increase rows in the toe to reach the total number of stitches for the sock.

Easy Toe cast-on

Using four double-point needles, The Easy Toe cast-on incorporates a provisional cast-on and several plain rows of knitting before increases begin to shape the toe. The Easy Toe can also be worked on one or two circular needles.

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  1. With waste yarn, provisionally cast on the number of stitches specified in the table for your yarn type.

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  2. Work 4 rows even in stockinette stitch [knit 1 row, purl 1 row] twice.

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  3. Rotate the work so that the provisional cast-on is above the working needle. Pull out the provisional cast-on (waste yarn) and place the live stitches onto another needle.

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  4. Rotate the work again so that the working yarn is attached to the right-hand side of the top needle.

    You will now begin knitting in the round.

  5. Divide the stitches evenly over four needles by slipping half of the stitches off each needle purlwise onto new needles.

    Each needle should have the same number of stitches.

  6. Increase as follows:

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    Needle 1: k1, m1, k to end of needle. Take up another empty needle.

    Needle 2: k to last st, m1, k1. Take up another empty needle.

    Needle 3: k1, m1, k to end of needle. Take up another empty needle.

    Needle 4: k to last st, m1, k1.

    You have now evenly divided the stitches over four double-pointed needles and increased the total number of stitches by 4.

  7. Place a split marker or piece of scrap yarn in the work to indicate the beginning of the round. Now begin alternating toe increase rounds with plain rounds.

    Round 1:

    Needle 1: K1, m1, k to end of needle.

    Needle 2: K to last st, m1, k1.

    Needle 3: K1, m1, k to end of needle.

    Needle 4: K to last st, m1, k1.

    Round 2:

    All needles: Knit.

  8. Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until you reach the total number of stitches in the sock, according to the table on p. 64 (top-down sock).

    The Easy Toe is complete!

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If you are working a pattern stitch across the top of the foot, make sure you have the correct number of stitches for the pattern repeat. If necessary, increase extra stitches across the top of the foot on the last plain round to provide the right number of stitches.

Eastern cast-on

The Eastern cast-on is an easy method that does not require a provisional cast on or waste yarn. It can be worked on double pointed needles (as shown here), one or two circular needles.

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  1. Hold two double-pointed needles parallel in your left hand. The upper needle is labeled “A”, the bottom needle is labeled “B”. Catch the tail of your yarn between the needles, leaving several inches free behind the needles.

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  2. Wrap the yarn under needle B and over needle A.

  3. Wrap the yarn around both needles in this direction until you have the number of stitches prescribed for your yarn weight.

  4. With an empty needle, knit the stitches of needle A by inserting the needle tip into the first stitch and between the two parallel needles, and then bring the working yarn below needle B to knit the stitch.

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  5. Once you work all the stitches on needle A, rotate the two needles 180 degrees so that the working yarn is on the right edge. Knit across the stitches on needle B.

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  6. You are now ready to begin knitting in the round. Follow steps 4–6 of the Easy Toe cast-on to divide the stitches over four needles and increase for the toe.

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