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Let’s Knit Socks

October 3, 2013

There is something strangely intimidating about turning a heel. It seems a bit like magic, some decreases, some short rows, and boom: your heel fits perfectly in an item that is otherwise a tube. We assure you it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3! Heel Flap, Heel Turn, and Gusset!

Download a copy of the Rye sock pattern (it’s free!) and let’s get down to business. If you have been knitting along with The Simple Collection as each design was released, there are very few things that are completely new in socks so this will be a breeze!


::: Ribbing :::

Following the directions for your size cast onto double pointed needles (DPN’s) OR cast on to a 40″+ circular needle (for magic loop) 28 (32, 36, 40, 44, 48) sts.  This tutorial is illustrated using DPNs.

Tip: For DPNs, I recommend placing 1/2 of your stitches on needle 1, 1/4 of your stitches on needle 2, and 1/4 of your stitches on needle 3. This way you know your round starts at the beginning of the ‘full’ needle.

Work in 1×1 rib (k1, p1) for 0.5 (1, 1, 1.5, 1.5, 1.5) inches.

This means you will (k1, p1) around until your piece measures the specified length.

Change to larger needles. [an illustration of this technique shown here]

Round 1: k2 (3, 3, 4, 5, 5), p10 (10, 12, 12, 12, 14), knit to end
Round 2: knit

This establishes the garter stitch panel that runs down the middle front of the sock. When you are working back and forth garter stitch is created by knitting every row, BUT when you are working in the round it is created by knitting 1 on one round and purling on the next. So your sock will look like mine, pictured below: a panel of garter stitch surrounded by stockinette stitch [learn more about basic stitch patterns here].

Garter panel down the middle

Garter panel down the middle

Tip: If you are having trouble remembering where the garter panel goes (or you just want things to be a little more fool proof) you may want to place a marker on either side of the panel.

Optional: placing markers on either side of the garter panel

Optional: placing markers on either side of the garter panel

::: Cuff :::


Repeat rounds 1-2 until piece measures 2.5 (4.5, 5.5, 6.5, 7.5, 8) inches from cast on, ending with a round 1.

You will maintain the garter panel down the centre and the stockinette everywhere else until your sock measures 2.5 (4.5, 5.5, 6.5, 7.5, 8) inches from cast on.

Tip: If you like a short ankle sock or a longer cuff this is where you would adjust the pattern, making it shorter or longer.

::: Heel Flap :::blog-rye-04

Next round: k14 (16, 18, 20, 22, 24), then place these sts on hold. You will work the heel flap on the next k14 (16, 18, 20, 22, 24) sts.
Row 1 (RS): sl1, knit to end <link to slipped stitch tutorial>
Row 2 (WS): sl1, purl to end
Repeat rows 1-2 a total of 6 (7, 8, 9, 10, 11) times, or 12 (14, 16, 18, 20, 22) rows.

The heel flap is the part of the sock that goes over the back of your heel and is worked back and forth in rows. This means that you will want all of the heel flap stitches on one needle if you are working on DPN’s and that you will be turning your work after each row (instead of continuing in the round).

Finished heel flap

Finished heel flap

::: Heel Turn :::

This is the part of the socks that scares people but stay calm, take a deep breath, turn off the movie or send the kids out of the room!

The heel is shaped using short rows: this means that you will turn your work in the middle of a row without knitting all of the stitches. Fear not, we know you haven’t worked all the stitches and it’s okay.

Row 1 (RS): sl1, k6 (8, 10, 12, 12, 14) ssk, k1, turn work
Row 2 (WS): sl1, p1 (3, 5, 7, 5, 7), p2tog, p1, turn work

Now we are all set up. You should see 2 gaps in your work. They will occur where we turned our work. They look like this:


Row 3: sl1, knit to 1 st before the gap, ssk, k1, turn work
Row 4: sl1, purl to 1 st before the gap, p2tog, p1, turn work
Repeat rows 3-4 until all stitches have been worked – 8 (10, 12, 14, 14, 16) sts remain.

Knit across the heel stitches.

Heel accomplished! It will look like this:


Completed heel turn

::: Gusset :::


Now you have kind of a funny looking thing. It a tube with a flap and a little triangle, not really like a sock at all yet. Time to join it all back together into a tube. To do this we will pick up stitches along the sides of the heel flap (remember all those slipped stitches?).

Where to pick up

Where to pick up


::: how to pick up stitches :::

To pick up stitches you need the right side of your work facing you (the knit side).

Step 1:  Insert your needle into the stitch (from RS to WS)

Step 2:  Loop the yarn around your needle (at the back of work)

Step3:  Pull the loop through to the RS (using the needle tip, as though you were knitting a stitch)

Now you will have a stitch on your right hand needle. You have picked up a stitch!

Put your needle through the stitch from front (RS) to back

Put your needle through the stitch from front (RS) to back

Wrap your yarn around the needle

Wrap your yarn around the needle and pull the loop through

Stitches have been picked up!

Stitches have been picked up!

Once you have picked up stitches along the heel flap you work across the top of the foot, maintaining the garter panel as established and knitting all the other stitches.

If you are working with a circular needle you will need to place a marker after the picked up stitches. If you are working on double points pick up another needle and work the top of the foot on 1 needle.

Once you have worked across the top of the foot you will need to place a marker if you are on circulars and if you are using double points you will pick up down the other side of the heel flap using another needle.

Next you will k4 (5, 6, 7, 7, 8) sts (1/2 of your heel sts). If you are working with circulars you will place a marker here to indicate the beginning of the round. If you are working with double pointed needles you will want to knit these stitches with the same needle you picked up the second half of the heel with.

Picking up stitches complete. The beginning of the round is in the middle of the heel.

Picking up stitches complete. The beginning of the round is in the middle of the heel.

Round 1: knit
Round 2: knit to 3 sts before marker, k2tog, k1, work in pattern across top of foot to marker, k1, ssk, knit to end
Work rounds 1-2 a total of 5 (6, 7, 8, 8, 9) times.  [28 (32, 36, 40, 44, 48) sts]

Note: if you are working on double pointed needles there won’t be any markers (except maybe ones you have marking the garter panel), so when it says ‘knit to 3 sts before marker’ you will be knitting to 3 sts before the end of the needle. When it says ‘work in pattern across top of foot to marker’ you will be working to the end of needle 2. The end of needle 3 marks the end of the round.

Completed gusset will look like this

Completed gusset will look like this

::: Foot :::

Continue working in the round, keeping the top of foot in pattern until your piece measures 3 (5, 6, 7, 8, 9) inches from back of heel or 1 (1, 1.5, 2, 2, 2.25) inches short of desired foot length.

The foot is simple as can be! You simply knit around and around, maintaining the garter panel at the top of the foot as set.  You can try on the socks at this point to see how long they should be.

::: Toe :::


To shift beginning of round (BOR) remove marker, k7 (8, 9, 10, 11, 12), replace marker – this is the new BOR.

Note: if you are working on DPN’s the new beginning of round is at the end of needle 1.

There are 4 decrease points for the toe

There are 4 decrease points for the toe




Round 1:     k1, ssk, knit to 3 sts before marker, k2tog, k2, ssk, knit to 3 sts before end of round, k2tog, k1 (4 sts decreased)
Round 2:     knit
Repeat rounds 1-2 two (3, 3, 3, 3, 3) more times [16 (16, 20, 24, 28, 32) sts]
Then repeat round 1 until 12 (12, 16 16, 20, 20) sts remain.  Cut yarn leaving a 12 inch tail and, then graft toe using kitchener stitch [tutorial here].

Once you have grafted the toe, the socks are finished!  Simply weave in your ends inside the sock, and then wear with pleasure!  Blocking isn’t really necessary for socks, as they are snug and conform to the contours of your feet.  Congratulations – you have just finished your first sock!

Ready for the kitchener stitch

Ready for the kitchener stitch

Weave in your ends and block your socks.

This tutorial is part of The Simple Collection – our 100% free learn-to-knit series.  Check out the 8 fabulous free patterns sized from baby to big, and get started making modern seamless knits for the entire family!  Like our work?  Get our email updates and we will let you know about new patterns, tutorials, and events.

60 Comments leave one →
  1. Lori permalink
    November 16, 2015 10:00 am

    I love this pattern and the detailed instructions are wonderful for a new sock knitter, like myself. I am working on my first pair using DPN’s (toddler size) and I have found once I have picked up the appropriate number of stitches and move the knit row, I am on the WS, so it is like I am inside out and I end up having to purl to keep the stockinette stitch in the RS (outside of sock). essentially for it to come out right I end up purling the knits and knitting the purls, I thought the first sock was just an error on my part. SO second sock I really paid more attention to be sure I wasn’t missing something and the same thing has happened. Any insight into what I may be doing to get mixed up like this?

    • November 17, 2015 10:28 am

      Hi Lori – do you mean after you have picked up sts for the gusset? You wans to make sure you are joining up with the heel sts to continue working in the round. The only part of a sock that is worked on the wrong side is the heel flap and heel turn.

  2. Knitsy permalink
    August 26, 2015 1:08 pm

    I’ve been muddling along with magic loop on this tutorial but I’ve reached the point where I’ve picked up the second set of slipped stitches but I’m really confused about which stitches go on which half of the loop now as the pictures are only good for DPNs…

    • August 28, 2015 10:55 pm

      Hi – it doesn’t really matter which stitches go on which half for magic loop, you will have markers where you need them.

  3. Tali permalink
    June 11, 2015 5:55 pm

    I can not for the life of me figure out the decreasing toe part. I end up ssk and k2tog 3 times in a row and then all the way at the “end” of the round! This is very confusing :( I am using the magic loop method and this is my 1st sock, making it in child’s size. Is there something I’m missing? I moved the beginning of the round 9 sts, and follow pattern as written, but it’s all wrong… I’m not experienced at socks enough to figure it out.

    • June 12, 2015 3:31 pm

      Hi Tali – sorry to hear you are having troubles! The instructions do work as written. What is it that is confusing? I’m not sure how to help clear it up…

      • Tali permalink
        June 23, 2015 1:47 pm

        I’m pretty sure this is a user error… it is specifically when you have to move the BOR… i think I messed it up. Seeing the diagram on this blog makes more sense. I will knit the 2nd one and let you know how it goes!

      • June 30, 2015 4:25 am

        Good Luck!

  4. Sara permalink
    May 20, 2015 4:09 pm

    I have enjoyed this pattern so much, until… Oh my! I put this down at the wrong time and dropped my stitch markers (and stitches!). I recovered the stitches, but not the markers. I’m JUST about to decrease at the toe on a small adult sock. Can you tell me where the BOR should be in relation to the garter stitch? Does this make sense? Would sure appreciate the help.

    • May 26, 2015 2:00 pm

      Hi Sara – the BOR at the start of the toe will be at the side of the foot. Divide your number stitches in 1/2 and the garter panel should be smack in the middle of the top of foot

  5. March 17, 2015 8:58 am

    Thank you so much!!! I am a new knitter, Male but I like to give gifts too my family. I love that I can make so many of your new free patterns for anyone and have fun learning!

  6. February 25, 2015 1:28 pm

    I am knitting my first ever pair of socks and you have made it a dream with your very clear tutorial it was recommended to me over on Ravelry

  7. Clare permalink
    February 24, 2015 9:41 am

    Hi I’ve really enjoyed knitting my first sock but I’m confused when it comes to the toe section. I’m knitting the largest size with the magic loop method & I don’t have a BOR marker & so I’m not sure where the decreases should be? Could you tell me how many stitches from the garter stitch panel they should be? Your tutorial is very clear apart from this bit…please help! Many thanks :))

  8. Deborah permalink
    February 16, 2015 10:30 pm

    Love your tutorial and this sock pattern. Tried socks with a different beginners pattern last year. Finished the socks but not without a great deal of confusion and frogging! This “rye”pattern is great and I am recommending it to my knitting group! Thank you…….

  9. Ann Kinderknecht permalink
    January 24, 2015 1:12 pm

    I like the pattern and finished my first pair…! How could I adapt this to use sock yarn? I made a size small for myself…thank you…the second sock looks better :)

    • January 28, 2015 8:58 am

      Hi Ann – Congratulations on finishing your socks! If you wanted to make a sock-weight version, I would suggest casting on 60 sts for an adult size, and working a garter stitch panel of 18 stitches. Then you’d work the heel over 30 sts. But the pattern doesn’t have instructions for that size a heel, so you’d want to follow a pattern that does… if you worked the heel over 32 sts, you could use the instructions from the Monkey Sock Pattern (it’s an excellent design if you want to try a lace sock…) It’s a free pattern on :

      • Ann Kinderknecht permalink
        February 11, 2015 12:51 pm

        Thank you….am doing my second sock now but doubled sock yarn and made size medium….still need your notes:).

  10. Vivian permalink
    January 11, 2015 8:16 pm

    I’ve started knitting socks and I really want to try this pattern but I only have #4 and #6 needles. Will those work for making kids socks?

    • January 12, 2015 6:26 pm

      You might want to work the size down, since knitting is pretty stretchy and they will come out a bit big on those needles.

  11. Linda Cividino permalink
    January 6, 2015 3:52 pm

    Question: re: Toe decrease: In Round 1 you state K1, ssk, knit to 3 stitches before marker, K2tog, K2. How can you K2tog, then Knit another 2 if there are only 3 stitches left before the marker?

    • January 12, 2015 6:30 pm

      You are always slipping the marker as you come to it so you will be working a k2tog, knitting 1, slipping your marker, knitting 1, then ssk etc.

  12. October 3, 2014 9:51 pm

    does ‘rye’ exist with toe-up directions too?

    • October 17, 2014 2:43 pm

      We were keeping it simple with just the top down version, but will take your suggestion under advisement!

      • Eva permalink
        February 5, 2015 2:11 pm

        I’d like to second this request. I’m just learning socks and would love to try both styles. :)

    • Ann Kinderknecht permalink
      January 26, 2015 11:49 am

      Would love to also try toe up….new to socks and want to see which one I like better

  13. Erin permalink
    July 31, 2014 9:54 am

    Do you block your socks with pins or just lay flat? Thanks!

  14. Janelle permalink
    July 7, 2014 3:52 pm

    At the gusset and foot section, it says to pick up and knit 12 (in my case) stitches and knit 7, but where are those 7 supposed to come from? I have 7 that could be picked up in order to meet the stitches where I began, but am I supposed to ignore them?

  15. June 27, 2014 6:00 pm

    When will the detailed sox pdf be available?

  16. June 27, 2014 7:05 am

    When will your detailed pdf handout be available?

    I’m a newbie, and have somewhat successfully created one (albeit mildly deformed!) sock. Eagerly beginning its mate.

    Don’t always have access to a computer so a printed handout would be helpful.

    Love your informative site; the tutorials are fabulous and easy to follow. Many thanks!

  17. mcarmickle permalink
    June 22, 2014 8:31 pm

    I am having a very difficult time with the gusset & foot section. I am using the magic loop section technique. I have looked at the printed tutorial but it isn’t showing magic loop. Do you have an online video of this section with the magic loop? I will really appreciate your help!

  18. Debby permalink
    May 5, 2014 9:15 am

    I am so excited I found your blog! Well done…. *jumping for joy in my new socks*

  19. Barb permalink
    February 8, 2014 7:56 pm

    My question is about determining size. When I measure for the cuff, about 6 inches abode my ankle, I get 10 inches which is bigger than a large. I am not a heavy person. I typically wear a size 9.5 U.S.
    Also, what cast on is good to use for this sock?

    • February 11, 2014 8:34 pm

      Hi Barb
      I would use a stretchy cast on, like a long tail. You probably want to knit a medium, remember knitting is really really stretchy!

  20. Lea permalink
    February 6, 2014 2:36 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial !
    I’m a beginner and i have almost finished my first sock :)

    But i have a problem, i have to make the toe parts and i have lost my BOR and PM, so i can’t follow this step.
    Could i please have some information to find their positions?

    Thanks again!

    • February 11, 2014 8:34 pm

      The BOR for the toe decreases is at the side of the foot, you should be able to find this by looking at the heel.

  21. mdneal permalink
    December 10, 2013 6:53 am

    This is my first “go” at sock-knitting. I’m working on the cuff and it appears inside out. Did I make a mistake?

    • December 11, 2013 5:12 pm

      I doubt you’ve made a mistake! Try flipping it the other way, and you may find it’s really the right way out. Hope this helps, and let me know if it still is not coming out right!

      • mdneal permalink
        December 16, 2013 8:11 pm

        Yay! I’m good now, thanks!

  22. Kara permalink
    November 7, 2013 4:26 pm

    Hello I’ve just started this as my first sock pattern. I’m using magic loop and have a question about knitting on round 1 and 2 to my reasoning a round would be knitting both needles until in my particular example the cxast on tail is at right (starting point) but the pictures of the pattern show only one side with the garter stitch only on one side. Does this then mean that only one side of my tube should contain the garter and the other side should just be knitted?


    • November 7, 2013 10:14 pm

      Hi Kara

      Yep, the garter panel is only on the ‘top’ of the sock (only on one side). Whether you are using magic loop or DPN’s a round is a round, it starts at your beginning of round marker and ends back at that same marker.

  23. November 1, 2013 3:11 pm

    I am loving your rye sock pattern! First of all Rye is special to me because I got married at Rye Beach, NH and every summer we travel there and spend time with my inlaws and now my four year old son. I do have a question though I get stuck everytime ( working on DPN’s) when I get the toe section. First what exactly is needle one? Do I start knitting on the two/ three stitches before pattern design then use those markers? Then start the K1, ssk, before the marker design? I am just a bit confused, this is the only issue I have had with this pattern. Yipeee! I can’t wait to do mittens, and your simple sweater! Thank You this has been such a nice, enjoyable experience with no cussing or throwing my needles across the room :-)

    • Bett Weiss permalink
      August 24, 2014 12:36 pm

      I have been trying and trying and trying to knit my first sock, but cannot seem to rejoin the yarn in the round after turning the heel. I’m confused about “how many and which stitches go on what needles”. Could you please explain the gusset & foot part where you pick up and knit the 8 stitches, work in pattern, pick up and knit the other side with 8 stitches, and then k4 to mark the new beginning of the round. Does that mean that the picked up stitches are on the first needle, the stitches across the top of the foot are on the second needle, and the second set of picked up stitches along with the next 4 stitches are on the 3rd needle?

      • August 24, 2014 2:35 pm

        Hi Bett

        I like to distribute my stitches by keeping 1/2 the heel sts and the first set of picked up stitches on my first needle, the stitches for the top of the foot on the second needle, and the picked up sts and the other 1/2 of the heel sts on the third needle. That way I can treat the ends of my needles as markers and don’t need to place a marker (the BOR is in the middle of the heel sts).

  24. Patricia permalink
    October 24, 2013 5:14 am

    Thank you ,thank you.the tutorials are very good. I just finish a sock, very happy that at last I knit a sock. Thanks a million

  25. brittanywelsh permalink
    October 18, 2013 4:00 am

    Thanks, this is great! Loving this pattern. The tutorials are all really helpful — I will be referring people here in the future!

    One confusion I have — when knitting the heel turn, at the end it says “Knit across the heel stitches.” I’m not sure what this means – complete the “ending” row with knits? Do I add another row of knits? This is confusing to a beginner.

    • October 23, 2013 11:35 am

      This means that after you have completed the heel turn, you will knit across the remaining heel stitches (knit all the stitches). Then you are in position to pick up stitches along the side of the heel flap, with the RS (right side) of the work facing you. Hope this helps!

      • brittanywelsh permalink
        October 27, 2013 12:22 pm

        Makes sense — thanks for the reply! Socks are challenging, but this tutorial makes them more accessible :)

  26. October 3, 2013 10:41 am

    I love this simple but classic sock pattern. Thanks for sharing and the tuturial.

  27. October 3, 2013 7:10 am

    Absolutely fabulous tutorial! I’m about to start a pair of socks and this really helped lay it all out for me. Thank you!


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