Knitting

Socktober 2022: Toe Variation

Finished Hele Socks in Rose Canyon Sock set

I didn’t think I was going to make it, but down to the wire last night on Halloween, I grafted the toes of my Hele socks together. Apart from all the costume-related activities absorbing my crafting time, some of my delay was because I was debating whether I wanted to choose a new toe variation.

Finished Hele Socks in Rose Canyon Sock set

Last week, we chatted about how and why you’d want to change your heel flap and heel turn to suit your particular foot shape. Toes are just as customizable.

Most toe shapes in knit socks are a sort of trapezoid, typically using a Wedge Toe pattern with two decreases worked on either side of the foot. If you look at your little foot digits, you might notice that they aren’t exactly a perfect trapezoid. You might have toes that splay wide or a really long and pointy middle toe (for example). By adjusting the number of stitches at the end of the toe, the rate of your decreases, and even the position of your decreases, you can adjust the shaping for your own fit.

There are a lot of toe variations out there, from Star, Wedge, Round, French, Wide, and even variations on each of those variations! Haha! I typically opt for a Wedge Toe Variation.

four different toe variation samples

How to Knit a Wedge Toe Variation

Assuming your round begins at the middle of the foot (underneath), a decrease round is worked as: knit until 3 sts before instep, k2tog, k2, ssk, knit until 3 sts before end of instep, k2tog, k2, ssk, knit to end of rnd.

Note: it helps to place stitch markers between those two single knit stitches between the decreases to mark off the instep.

  1. Working two decreases on each side of the toe every other round until about 50% of the total number of stitches remains. So, if I had 60 stitches, I’d decrease until there were 32 stitches (since I’m decreasing four stitches at a time, I’d have to choose between 32 or 28).
  2. Then, work two decreases on each side of the toe every round until there are between 16-20 stitches remaining. I like that width at the end of the toe because it helps curve along the sloped edge of my little toes.
  3. And then graft together.

Finished Hele Socks in Rose Canyon Sock setMy friend Charlotte recently worked a Star Toe (for a super-secret project that you can look for this coming December. Wink) for the first time and found that she really liked the fit for her long middle toes. It’s worked by decreasing six, eight, or ten stitches every other round (i.e.: k6, k2tog around for Round 1; k5, k2tog around for Round 2, etc.) until you end up with between 4-8 stitches and then you cinch them together instead of graft. This results in a pointier toe with a curvier shape.

How to Adjust the Length of Your Foot for a Toe Variation

When you make a toe change, you’ll need to adjust your total foot length worked on the sock, too.

  1. Calculate how many rounds your new toe will be. You’ll need to know how many stitches you’re starting with, how many stitches you’re ending with, and how many decrease and even rounds you’re working. Let’s take my Wedge Toe Variation from above. If I start with 60 stitches and decrease every other round to 32, that’s 14 rounds ([60-32]/2). Then, decreasing every round from 32 stitches to 16, another four rounds, making my toe 18 rounds.
  2. Divide your total New Toe rounds (18) By your Round Gauge to get your New Toe length. For me, 18 / 11 = 1.63 inches long.
  3. Subtract that New Toe length from your total foot length to know how long to knit before starting your toe: 8.75 inches–1.63 = right around 7-ish inches to work before starting the toe, measuring from the heel flap.

Finished Hele Socks in Rose Canyon Sock setI encourage you to test out some shaping variations for your own phalanges. If you’d like a little extra guidance, my course, Heel & Toe Variations for Top-Down Socks, over on the School of SweetGeorgia, has a workbook with four different toe shapes. Just follow the math prompts and knit a new-to-you toe.

In the meantime, I hope you eked out a new pair of socks during Socktober. Thanks so much for joining me through mine!

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About Tabetha Hedrick

Tabetha Hedrick, Design Director for SweetGeorgia Yarns, lives by the belief that joy comes when fully participating in the present moment. And that joy is ever so easy to find when immersed in the world of fibre! When not knitting, writing, editing, or researching, she fills the time raising two girls, two dogs, and one husband in Tennessee.

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