The Great Sock War – Dispatch From The Front

Posted by on Dec 18, 2011 in Knitting | Comments

I am currently hunkered down on the front lines with Donna Druchunas, yarn flying over our heads… skeins, balls, hanks…

As you know, this war has been raging for years between two passionate factions: toe-up sock knitters and cuff-down sock knitters… For many, hope for peace was lost long ago. Donna Druchunas, however, never resigned herself. She dared ask why these two methods of sock knitting couldn’t peacefully co-exist.

As I write this, Donna is taking great personal risk, shocking and horrifying knitters the world around, by openly and proudly proclaiming that she uses both methods… and calmly explaining, to all who will listen, that they too should learn to knit both toe-up… and cuff-down. GASP!

Brave, indeed. She isn’t stopping there. Her mission is to end this war once and for all! Knowing she can’t do it on her own, she has teamed with Craftsy. Being lovers (not fighters), we couldn’t say no.

Donna is preparing to share a big announcement on December 27th which will change the course of the Great Sock War forever.

See an Important Update From The Front


  1. Laurie says:

    Four reasons I like toe up (two at a time) is:

    I never have to worry if I have enough wool
    It’s a perfect fit
    They are both finished at the same time
    They are identical

    1. Bethany says:

      Laurie, I agree 100%! When I started knitting socks, I suffered from second-sock syndrome all the time. With toe-up, two at a time, I am certain to finish a whole pair, and I can generally get one pair of (my preferred style) ankle socks out of one 50g ball of sock yarn! I just keep knitting ’til I run out of yarn!

    2. Ellen (Lnand) says:

      Oh yes! Two at a time, toe up does it for me every time. I know I won’t run out of yarn, but the only issue is when to start the heels.

    3. Beth says:

      I totally agree. I use two circular needles and do both socks at the same time. No more trying to remember how many rows I did in the heel flap, or worrying if I’ll have enough yarn. Toe up Rocks!

  2. Debbie says:

    I like both but prefer cuff down. Can’t wait for the outcome!!!!!

  3. Heather says:

    I have tried toe-up socks, and do understand the appeal, but cuff-down has always worked for me, and my favorite heel is the traditional flap-and-gusset with a round heel – it fits perfectly and wears the longest! Short-row heels just don’t do it for me. I’ve heard of methods to do a flap-and-gusset on a toe-up sock…that might convince me.

  4. Kelly Pratt says:

    I prefer cuff down. I have been knitting socks for quite some time, have a U.S. size 11 and have yet to run out of yarn. I have knitted toe up and just didn’t find it as enjoyable. As far as two @ time that can be accomplished with either method. So this will be an interesting outcome.

    I did take a toe up class with a designer who has a couple published books and is extremely popular. She began her class with “I am teaching this class as requested, but I do not know why anyone would knit sock this way”. That comment did not help me love the toe up method.

  5. Lidia Amonson says:

    I think toe up (two at a time) is the best method ever, for precisely the same reasons that Laurie listed!

  6. Kristin says:

    I’ve tried both. Due to having rather thick ankles, I prefer toe up so I can knit up the ankle more to cover these bad boys. Now to find a pattern that is comfortable and fits well.

  7. Charlotte Sleczkowski says:

    After many pairs of socks knitted cuff down, I’ve decided the Toe Up wins. I have no left over yarn, I can choose how high I want the cuffs and don’t need to worry if I have enough.

  8. I’ve tried both methods. I don’t particularly like the points that are present on the toe up method; I switch the placement of the 2 pairs of stitches on the ends of the last toe rows in the top down method to avoid this. Other than that I have no preference of which method.
    I definitely prefer 2 at a time though. It is anticlimactic to finish one and have to start another.

  9. Kimberley says:

    I just made a pair of toe up 2 at time socks. I’m relatively new to knitting socks and I like the toe up method better but, and this is huge, my first pair of cuff down socks turned out better.

    1. Heidi says:

      That’s me. Any chance we each made the mate of the others? I am actually scared to start the second of the pairs cuz I am afraid I’ll knit looser or something. I have almost finished a pair of men’s croched socks. I like the knitted ones better but the crochet goes faster.

  10. Kristen says:

    I like toe-up. I much prefer a short-row heel, and the fit is better for me. Also, I can do a needle bind-off on the cuff and not worry about it being too tight.

  11. Jen P. says:

    Call me a sock slut; I like most methods of sock construction.

  12. Wendi says:

    I am new to knitting and have only knitted socks on two needles. While I do enjoy my socks and I am quite impressed with my center back seam (I cannot even feel it) I am ready to move on to more advanced sock knitting….this week I will learn on circular needles (I will move onto ddn latter) and I look forward to learning both methods! Right now, the war can go either way! Happy Knitting to all of you!

  13. jacky fields says:

    I have made socks with both methods, and I do have to say I prefer toe up. It just seems to go faster, I don’t know why. Two at a time? How do you do that?

  14. Jenny says:

    I like toe up, but willing to try anything…bring it on!

  15. Tgene says:

    I like toe up, they are easier to size the length of the foot as you go along, plus how much is left for the leg. You can easily try the sock on as you progress.

  16. Kath StoneDog says:

    Toe-up for preference – but I can do cuff-down as easily, especially if the pattern looks better that way up!
    Prefer toe-up because
    * You can control the amount of yarn you use accurately
    * It seems easier to customise the fit to start with, and then just keep going for the leg :)

  17. Racedogmom says:

    I’m a cuffer-downer with DPNs. I like the historical aspect. I really enjoy thinking about the generations before me that did the exact same thing. That is how I originally learned & practiced. That is what I am comfortable with. Re-inventing the wheel is not necessary for me.

  18. Loretta says:

    Cuff down, two circulars. And I like to work the sole on a smaller circ for increased durability. Can’t do that with magic loop or dpns.

  19. Yvonne says:

    I have always down cuff down but intend to learn toe up next year.

  20. Jennifer says:

    I prefer toe-up. IMHO, you can shape the heel and calves just as easily, and the reverse dutch heel is AMAZING!!!! :P

  21. Manuelita says:

    I am a cuff down, two at a time believer!! Have been doind them like this for a long time, never have had an issue with not enough yarn, have always been able to try them on so they are just right at all times. I keep a traced on cardboard cut out of the feet I knit for the most to insure size accuracy. In all the years have never had a sock be too small or too big. I always swatch new yarn, have kept all swatches done before with all info: needle size, yarn name and pattern swatched for. Happy knitting!!!!

  22. Janette Meetze says:

    I like to experiment with all the possibilities and find that often I like one method for some things and another for other reasons. Unfortunately, that leaves me with even more decisions to make every time I start a pair.

  23. Linda Garrett says:

    I have knitted socks both way as well, and do prefer the toe up method, due to the fact that aI hate the dreaded kitchner stitch. I knit Continental Style and have had to turn the stitches and never could get the toe to come out. Toe up for me for sure!!!!

  24. Irene says:

    I have made both types, toe up 2AAT magic loop is definitely my preferred method

  25. Kathie says:

    I’m a cuff down girl!

  26. Terry Myers Shuster says:

    Have worked socks cuff down 2 at a time. Plan on trying toe up sometime soon. Can’t wait to hear the outcome of this WAR.

  27. holly says:

    I am the Switzerland of sock knitters.

  28. Jo says:

    I have done both methods, one pair of each. I liked the toe up method best but would like to learn how to make them two at a time. Then I would be done when I get to the top. Someone mentioned a way to bind off without the cuff being too tight. Please share what that method is.

    1. Barbara G. says:

      Try the sew off method of binding off. It works wonderfully, its stretchy and goes over the heel easily. I learned in Knitter’s Handbook by Vicki Square – a fantastic reference for every knitter (the new edition even has a DVD with it).

    2. TrulyBlessed says:

      Try Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind off. I think you will like it.

  29. Anne N Stoddard says:

    After knitting socks for over 50 years, and having many many orphans (UFP – unfinished Pairs) I found that I finish ALL my pairs when I use the 2 at a time on 2 Circs. I also enjoy my sock knitting so much more this way. My eternal thanks to the knitter who discovered this method and shared it with the world… THANK YOU!! Anne

  30. Dee Dawson says:

    Cuff down for over 30 years, never a problem, snug fitting heels, I won’t mess with what isn’t broken. ; )

  31. Mary Pat says:

    I have knitted sox both ways, more frequently from top down because that is how I learned. However, my favorite, best-fitting sox are toe-up, in Dream in Color sock yarn,and I plan to do my next pair that way.

  32. Carol Raxter says:

    I love them both! But, the best part is knitting two at a time…second sock syndrome is a drag!

  33. Sandy says:

    I have tried the toe up once and couldn’t figure it out. I have taken 2 classes for knitting socks and just can’t get the pattern to fit my feet (size 12) right. I have managed to finish 1 pair of socks that would fit an elephant’s foot. I have many single socks and I have enough sock yarn to make socks for a lot of people.

  34. Fawn says:

    I have done both ways. Toe up is good one at a time. If you have ADD. You get side tracked either way. Lol

  35. Nancy says:

    Cuff down, dpn. I can get a better fit that way. Have size 11 narrow feet!

  36. Kittenears says:

    I prefer toe up on two circs because I’m not quite that good yet with sizing, I can try them on as I go. But there’s a few top down patterns I love and want to try- so when I’m better at sizing/shaping, I plan on trying another top-down pattern. :D I love DPNs, but they tend to poke holes in me and my stuff in my purse, so the circs are more transportable.

    1. TrulyBlessed says:

      Try DP Wip Tubes from They are cardboard tubes that hold your sock in progress on DPNs safely in a cardboard cylinder. They run $6.50 for 3. I am currently lusting over a Knitzi…a wooden tube used the same way. The price on those….and they are beautiful starts at around $38. US.

  37. Julie says:

    I have only ever knitted cuff down, tried toe up, but didn’t like that after thought heel.

  38. Mary Kay says:

    I have never tried as of yet toe up so I have to say cuff down.

  39. Barbara G. says:

    After knitting 48 years I finally decided to learn to knit socks ONLY because of the magic loop method. The first pair I did cuff down one at a time – HATED that I had to do it all over again. (Hate the Kitchner stitch also.) Then my LYS offered magic loop toe up 2 at a time and I was in love! I started out using short row heels but came upon the gusset/reinforced heel flap and the angels sang!! I have made so many pairs of socks this way. I don’t need a pattern unless I want to do a fancy stitch pattern. You’d have to threaten my life to get me to use double points, cuff down, one at a time………and even then I’d have to think about it. (LOL!)

    1. TrulyBlessed says:

      I would love to know what pattern you use for the reinforced flap with gusset on toe-ups. Please share.

      1. Barbara G. says:

        “Socks from the Toe Up” by Wendy Johnson. She has 3 heels to choose from and as I said, I now prefer the gussett/reinforced heel flap. It makes a really nicely cupped heel.

  40. Jan says:

    I love both methods, but, toe-up heels are a pain. I like cuff-down heels wilth heel flaps the best. P.S…. I do both methods two at a time. Why not?

  41. cherry hulmes says:

    is this the wrong place to say ive never knitted a pair of socks….!!!

  42. Deborah says:

    I do believe there is room for both of them to survive in harmony till the end of time :o) LOL
    Truth is I’m just a beginner so am very interested to see how this goes and read the girls (and guys if they are here :o) comments.

  43. Elisa says:

    I haven’t been making socks long, I’m just finishing up my 3rd pair, but I love knitting socks. I learned from the get go to knit 2 socks at a time on 2 circular needles toe up. I know myself and I would get bored making the same thing twice and the fact they they weren’t exactly alike would drive me nuts. Knitting from the toe up makes more sense to me and I love to wiggle my toes in the socks from time to time while I’m knitting them. I see some lovely top down socks that I’d love to make, but I would probably modify the pattern to knit them toe up rather than top down.

  44. Alison says:

    I would like to knit some of these but where do I find a pattern?

  45. Panuti says:

    Cuff Down, I don’t have sock anxiety if the 2 aren’t identical. Just the joy of knitting socks.

  46. Pat says:

    I have knitted many socks and have used both toe-up and cuff-down methods. I believe that the toe-up method has made my best fitting socks. The method I use requires some math skills to calculate when to begin the increase for the gusset, but it also helps you to understand the construction of the socks much better. However, I do have the majority of my socks made cuff-down. because the patterns used were written that way. Practicing both methods helps to understand sock construction. Knitting should be pleasurable, so I am a firm believer in doing what makes you happy.

    1. TrulyBlessed says:

      What pattern are you using for your toe -up socks that you like so well?

  47. kathy says:

    cuff down, two at a time socks! didn’t like afterthought heel, but got a new book on two at a time toe up and am willing to try again. just learned the sweet tomato heel, cat bordhi

  48. Pamela says:

    I prefer cuff down, dpns. I have size 10.5 feet, and the toe up heel is just not big enough. And I like knitting enough to enjoy knitting the second of a pair.

  49. Teresa says:

    I have only done one pair of toe up’s and I did like them but…..have done many cuff down socks and love them all! I really want to try the toe up 2 at a time….I’m sure I’ll be hooked like everyone else seems to be :) I love making socks!

  50. TrulyBlessed says:

    I love ‘em all! I think afterthought heels are great for people who are hard on their socks (read growing children, particularly boys)…you can easily replace them when worn out. You can also unravel toes and re-knit them if the socks become outgrown or develop a hole that is too large to darn. I am not a fan of Magic Loop as I feel there is too much pushing and pulling, would rather two at a time on shorter circs. I love double points too! Especially my signature stilettos!. I have tried the sweet tomato heel only a couple of times so cannot really make up my mind. It is great for mindless knitting…no counting and no picking up gusset stitches. Now the biggie….toe up or cuff down. I like to mix this up. If I am knitting for big feet I will start around the ankle with a provisional cast on, knit the foot of both socks and kitchener the toes (I don’t mind grafting toes at all) Then go back and pick up the provisional cast on and knit the leg and cuff until I run out of yarn. I use Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind off. Peace! Top down and toe up united. My foot does better with a flap and gusset heel. But I am open to other options. I want to try the German Strap Heel as I have wide heels. Toe up has some nice features in as much as you can do your swatching while you are knitting the toe. I think it is a bit easier to know where to place the heel and get a deep enough heel knitting cuff down. My husband likes a long cuff on his socks. I prefer either a shorter cuff or a long cuff that can be turned down into “Bobby sox. So there you have it. I LIKE SOCKS!

    1. Kori says:

      The sweet tomato heel looks appealing to me; I’ve just yet to come up with / find any kind of pattern allowing me to use it. I want a hand knit sock by me to be noteworthy, so plain stockinette will not do. And I have yet to purchase the sweet tomato heel book (or find it); I’ve other things to look at.

  51. I have tried many styles of socks. toe-up, cuff-down, afterthought and even a sock that started with a spiral heel. I find that I like either toe-up or cuff-down as long as I can do 2 at a time.

  52. Kim says:

    I like cuff down. I love turning a heel!

  53. Raggapuzz says:

    I have knitted socks and baby booties ( we call them baby Welles ) for years. i have never heard of toe up??? before. I love the fact that every sock is different,, that to me is the joy of knitting. long live cuff down !!

  54. Loretta says:

    I have 2 pair of socks started, both from the cuff down. One sock is with circular needles and the other is with dpn. I still need to figure out how to finish them. When I finish them, I hope to learn how to do 2 at a time so I won’t have to figure out how I did the first one because it’s been a while since I took the class. Help!

  55. Darcia says:

    Toe up, two at a time, Magic Loop. Definitely!

  56. Mary Alderton says:

    I’ve done both but much prefer cuff down and I love my dps too! I just love knitting socks!

  57. Nance says:

    Toe-Up …. 2 at a time! I LOVE to knit socks and have plenty of sock yarn to prove that.
    I have done both heel flap and short row heel. Next pair of socks I want to try the tomato heel.
    They fit so nice, whether I am knitting for me, my husband or young children.

  58. Kathy Kangas says:

    The toe up sock had become my preference, though still do both. It is nice to be able to make the leg part of the sock whatever lenght of yarn you have left if are working with limited yarn. Overall just love that are completing both socks at the same time, regardless of which method used. Now, just work on two mittens at a time!!! :)

  59. Rita Bolognani says:

    LOVE KNITTING SOCKS!! Recently I have started two at a time cuff down and I like doing them 2 at a time as they are always the same length. I haven’t tried toe up yet, but heck I will give anything a try and it sounds interesting. Guess my next book will be two at a time toes up. Doesn’t matter to me as long as I am knitting. Once you start knitting socks it is a whole new knitting addiction!

  60. Carolyn says:

    I have made many pairs of cuff down socks and love making them this way. But, wanting to try something new, I just started toe up socks on double pointed needles. Had a little trouble getting started this way, but so far, so good. Are circular needles easier and is it just as easy to do 2 at a time? That will be my next challenge. For now, I’m still happy with cuff down and will vote that way until further notice!

  61. I am fairly new to knitting socks, have only done them top-down. Problem is, I’ve found that on the second sock I get “sock-block.” I just cannot get excited about the 2nd sock! My Mother is getting my a book on knitting socks toe-up two at a time, so hopefully that will help!

  62. Sanibean says:

    Toe up on double points, just can’t get the hang of 2AT, but intend to keep practicing.

  63. Margaret T says:

    I learned top down many years ago and in the last year or two have discovered toe up. I like both and see the advantages and disadvantages to both methods. I do love making two at a time using magic loop. They are exactly the same and when you’re done, you’re done!

  64. adrienne517 says:

    Toe-up for me. I learned this method recently, and absolutely prefer it!

  65. Katie says:

    Love toe up! Seems easiest to fit and always have a beautiful and durable heel.

  66. shirley says:

    I would say cuff down is my chose. But, then I have a sock knitting machine. And that is the way they are made on it.

  67. Chris says:

    Ditto on the toe up method. I learned sock knitting cuff down and made many pairs that way, but I much prefer toe up – for all the reasons already mentioned. Besides, I can start a pair of socks without any pattern, and decide what to do as I go.

  68. Jenny says:

    Hello Ive knitted a pair of fishing socks with oiled Arron wool by following a pattern..I would like to make some everyday socks and have been reading your comments…I dont understand what cuff-down and toe-up and heel flaps are, would you explain please.Im from the UK and havent heard these expressions before.
    Also do you have a patterns for socks please
    thank you

  69. suzin says:

    top down .. two at a time on circs !!! never worry about 2nd sock blues. but .. is there a toe-up two-at-a-time? hmmmmm

  70. Karen119 says:

    I’ve been knitting for about three years now with socks being about the only thing I make. I’ve never tried toe up and can’t seem to get the hang of knitting two socks at a time but I’ll dig out my books and try it again.

  71. Betty says:

    Love knitting socks and cuff-down is my preferred method. I love the flap heel with its gusset. I also prefer DPN’s to a magic loop, and doing one at a time, watching the pattern develop.

  72. Linda Kluck says:

    I want to make toe up two at a time, but can’t figure out how to start. I’ve made one pair cuff down 2 at a time.

  73. Lyn Minoff says:

    I go either way. I don’t have a preference and will always try a new way to do old things. I also do either one or two socks at a time and use dpn or two circs or magic loop, sometimes I even change mid-sock. Guess I’m easy. I am looking for any Eastern European patterns – especially Macedonian. I know Donna is an expert in this area.

  74. Patricia Breault says:

    I love Cuff down because it leaves the fun part for the end. The kitchener weave stitch creates a beautiful finish. That said, I am open to trying toe up, as I have never done that. I am flexible.

  75. Malinda says:

    One at a time so far, and cuff-down… small enough to carry with me when I commute, I’m the only one who’s pleased when the train’s half an hour late: I get more knitting time! When I get to the heel or toe, I take time out ( at a knit and natter if I can) to enjoy a coffee and concentrate on doing all the counted bits in one go, with people to cheer when I’ve done it! I can usually get 3 ankle socks out of a ball, which spreads the wear more evenly., even if the toe does sometimes have to be a different colour on the last one! And if I can do kitchener stitch, so can anyone… (though I do still need the book open in front of me)!

  76. Christine Hanley says:

    I am a toe-up fan all the way on DPN’s. Haven’t tried 2 at a time on circulars yet…maybe someday. For now I’ll stick to this way because I always finish the second socks.

  77. sandi says:

    cuff down.. and i just knit the two at once to avoid second sock boredom.

  78. Kimberly Burk says:

    Toe-up on 9″ circulars for me! Perfect for traveling! (Especially if you use Flat Feet yarn!) I like to make my Judy’s Magic Toes, using two 9″ circs, one metal and one bamboo, so it’s easy to know when you come to your increase rows (or I paint a secnd set of bamboo with nail polish). As soon as I have my full number of stitches, I knit onto only one needle (metal if it’s a tricky stitch pattern). At any time, I knit my stitches onto DPNs for a round to free up both needles, and make my 2nd toe. Once I get to one needle again, I get the first sock onto it’s needle, and work them both as I wish. If I’m knitting in public a lot, I can switch to the sock with less tricky stuff going on (heel or cuff), or grab the one that has the most left to do to keep me busy longer. I knit half my stitches onto a DPN to do my heel, and the little circ stays nicely out of the way. I only ever have one tiny sock on a tiny needle, that I can cram into my bag without even tugging the ends of my circs out, and the stitches never come off the needles! I use a Stretchy bind-off like the Norwegian bind-off, and the socks slip easily over the heels. Or I can choose a fancy Tulip bind-off, etc. I can’t imagine doing it any other way, now!

  79. Andrea Mills Needles & Hooks says:

    Toe up! I love the smooth toe, no seams, no need to do the darning stitch at the point of the toe. Another plus: as long as you are certain you have enough yarn to make it past the heel, you’ll end up with a sock!