After you finish knitting the heel of a cuff-down sock and turning the heel, there are still a few tricky bits to get through before you begin the descent to the toe. One of those tricky bits is picking up stitches for the gusset of the sock.
Let’s take a look at how to pick up those stitches for a cuff-down sock gusset, plus a super helpful trick using a crochet hook.
Need more step-by-step help for knitting socks? Bluprint members are raving about Lucy Neatby’s My First Socks class. You’ll get helpful tips for knitting the heel, dividing stitches on the needles, picking up stitches, and more.
What is a gusset?
You may have knitted gussets for other knitted projects, like bags or even sweaters. On the sock, the gusset is the triangular section of stitches that connects your leg/cuff stitches to the foot stitches. It not only joins the stitches, but it also helps to form a more comfortable fit around your heel.
Have you ever worn a pair of socks that were just knit in a tube without a heel or gusset? You probably noticed that those types of socks slide all over the place. Sometimes they even slide right off your foot! The gusset works with the heel to give you a fantastic fit — not to mention a sock that doesn’t make you trip.
How to pick up stitches for the gusset
Take a look at the photo below. You’re looking at the wrong side of my turned heel. See those stitches along the top that make a neat braid all the way down the side? Those are the stitches I slipped at the beginning of each row when I knitted the heel. These are the stitches we’re going to use to pick up the stitches for the gusset.
We have a few options when picking up these slipped stitches. Some knitters like to pick up the back loops of the slipped stitches, which results in a pretty little line. Others pick up two loops from the stitch for a guaranteed durable gusset. I prefer picking up two loops, just because it makes the gusset more durable. You can choose whichever way you’d like!
In the photo below, I’ve inserted my needle into the first slipped stitch down the side of the heel.
Wrap your yarn over the needle as if to knit.
Then comes the tricky part. Pull that loop through the stitch so that you create a new loop on the empty double-pointed needle.
The crochet hook trick
Pulling the stitch through with a knitting needle is a step that a lot of knitters, including myself, struggle with. If you find that you absolutely can’t get that stitch to pull through the stitch, there’s an alternative: the crochet hook!
I was reminded of this trick a few weeks ago when my friend Haley from The Zen of Making posted a photo on her Instagram of picking up knitting stitches with a crochet hook. You just slip the hook into the stitch, pull the yarn through, and then transfer the stitch to your knitting needle. It’s easy! Try to find a crochet hook that’s smaller so it fits easily into the stitch. I usually go for a B/2.25mm or C/2.75mm size if I’m using size 1 or 2 knitting needles.
Keep chugging along, picking up stitches, until you’ve picked up the required amount of stitches according to your pattern.
Closing up any holes
Sometimes we pick up the required number of stitches but still have a bit of a gap between the gusset and the instep stitches. If that’s the case for you, just pick up an extra stitch or two, then decrease it out in the next round. No one will know, and you’ll avoid having a huge gap in your sock.