Reader Request: Provisional Cast-On Socks

Last week I blogged a post asking what readers wanted to learn/get tips about on this blog. One reader asked for info on provisional cast-on socks that start at the ankle. I’ve never done it, but it certainly would be possible to do. Most sock patterns, with the notable exception of knee socks and a few specific designers, have the same number of stitches in the calf/ankle and the foot. To start, pick a top-down sock pattern (like my freebie DNA Marker socks) and cast on the recommended number of stitches using any provisional cast on. I have a tutorial here if you need one.

dna marker socks

Then just skip over the entirety of the cuff directions and begin at the ankle. When you’re done knitting through the toes, remove your provisional cast on and work up the cuffs. This does solve the “will I have enough yarn for the cuffs?” dilemma, but…The main problem with this method is that you may need to flip or entirely rework your charts for the cuff to keep the pattern from coming out upside down on the cuff. If you’re worried about having enough yarn and not sure how long to make the cuffs, there’s a much, much simpler solution. Toe up socks (like my Brambleton).

Brambleton- Whole Sock

Your foot is going to be the same size no matter how much yarn you have. There’s no getting around that one. It really doesn’t matter if you knit the foot from toe to ankle or ankle to toe. Knitting from toe to ankle, however, eliminates the complication of a provisional cast-on as well as the complication of your foot pattern going in the opposite direction of your leg pattern. You just keep knitting until you run out of yarn, period. Easy.

4 responses to this post.

  1. So very true but sometimes you need someone to explain things simply, as you have done here. Great post. 🙂


    • One problem with not knowing things is that there’s no way to know exactly what it is you don’t know! I frequently run into that problem with spinning – I have an issue I’m sure other people have had before, or do something and feel there *must* be a better way, but I don’t even know what questions to ask to get the info I’m seeking. Likewise sometimes I’ll have been happily doing something a certain way for years and suddenly stumble across someone else who has a waaaay easier way I never would have considered. That’s why I love to read blogs and articles and talk to people about all my favorite things – it’s amazing what you learn.


  2. Thank you 🙂 I actually was going nuts trying to find a pattern I liked that I felt I could knit forwards for the foot and backwards for the cuff. Everything I like has lace or cables, and I’m pretty sure reversing those would be beyond my skill level at the moment. Toe up does seem to make more sense!

    I guess it should have been obvious this method wasn’t a good idea when I couldn’t find any patterns written that way – but I had seen it suggested once on a provisional cast on tutorial and the idea kinda got stuck in my head.


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