How to avoid 'ears' on toe-up socks

An ‘ear-free’ sock toe

An ‘ear-free’ sock toe

It’s such a tiny thing to worry about in the greater scheme of things, I know. But if you’ve ever been annoyed by that tiny sticky-out ear that you sometimes get when you start a sock toe, then this tip might help you.

I’ve been starting socks this way for so long that I can’t remember where I heard it first. It might have been either via Paula of the Knitting Pipeline podcast, or Susan B Anderson - both fabulous sock knitting gurus.

It’s ludicrously simple to do - you just need to unlearn the first piece of advice you were ever given as a new knitter and don’t start with a slip knot. It is this tiny knit which sticks out in the fabric, no matter how tightly you try to pull it and gives that annoying little lump on the very outside part of the toe.

Don’t use a slip knot when casting on

Don’t use a slip knot when casting on

Instead of tying a slip knot, just drape the yarn over the needle and then arrange the yarn as you would do normally for a Judy’s magic cast on - yarn tail over index finger and the end nearest to the yarn ball around your thumb.

You might find it helpful to give a twist to the yarn before you start casting on - just to anchor it and give you something firmer to knit into on the first row. But once you’ve got that first fiddly stitch into the loose loop out of the way it’s plain sailing.

No, tiny knot and no annoying sock ears!

Do give it a go and let me know what you think.


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Making something out of nothing

The art of creating something from nothing: otherwise known as Judy’s magic cast on

No matter how many pairs of socks I make I never fail to be amazed by the sheer ingenuity, the brilliance and the downright magic of Judy’s magic cast on.

First popularised in the now-famous Knitty article the simple series of steps has revolutionised the world of the toe-up knitter and brought joy to the heart of all those knitters who secretly wish that Lord Kitchener had never dreamt up the eponymous stitch for closing a toe.

The beauty of the JMCO is that it magically creates two rows of live stitches from nothing with no need for a provisional cast on or other fibre faffing.

Hold the two yarn ends with finger and thumb, wrap the yarn around the needles just so, knit 2 tiny rows and there you have it - a perfect, seamless, baby sock toe. 5 minutes ago it didn’t exist and now it does. Sheer magic which never fails to amaze me as I stop to admire the stitches that have appeared between my needles.

It’s true that it does take a little while to get to grips with the wrapping, and the first 2 rows can be a little fiddly but once you have those mastered it you can cast on a pair of socks in less time than it takes to boil the kettle. And in the time it takes for your coffee to reach an acceptable drinking temperature you can have a fully fledged sock toe, ready to shove in your handbag and keep you company on your daily travels.

The original article is well worth reading on this subject - it explains everything brilliantly and far better than I can. If you want to see a demo in action I can highly recommend Clare Devine of Knit Share Love who has a fantastic video. Alternatively, check out this link for an video tutorial.

Like anything worthwhile it can take a few goes before you have the technique down pat, but once you do you can whip out your needles and a cake of yarn and before you know it - you’ll be knitting a sock.