Cuff Length on Socks

DSC02829A few people have asked me how long I make the cuffs on my socks, and whether or not a certain skein of yarn will make 2 socks. Here is my first String Theory sock, folded over (not yet washed or blocked. Just in case you’re looking that closely). I wear a size 11 shoe, so my socks are always a good test of yardage. That’s one positive, I guess. I like my cuffs to be the same length as the foot of the sock, when folded in half. Once in awhile I’ll make them a little longer if I’m having fun with the pattern and there is still plenty of yarn left, but normally, I double them. When knitting socks, I split the skein into 2 equal balls using a winder and a scale to measure the weight, and then I knit toe up. This way, I never have to worry about running out down by the toe, from having knit cuff down. You can see the little bit of yarn I had left from this first String Theory sock. Actually, I screwed up the two balls a little and I used the smaller ball first. So I can say with great confidence that there is PLENTY in that skein to make a pair of socks. I knit this one on size 1 needles with 60 stitches. I can also say with great confidence that whenever we wrap up a set of small sock blockers, I am totally jealous of that person with the small feet.

DSC02828I also knit up a Spirit Trail Fiberworks sock out here. I love the colors (this one is Turkish Stone) and I used my default no-brainer pattern – the Baby Cable Rib. That’s the pattern I use when I don’t want to have to think while I knit. (3 rows of K2, P2, then one row of K2tog but leave on the left needle, knit the first stitch again and pop it both stitches off, then P2). It’s a very stretchy, comfortable sock. We’ll have a Spirit Trail re-stock again soon. I had a lot of fun meeting Jennifer in person at Maryland Sheep & Wool in May, and picking out colors for our next order in person.

So, are you mostly a toe-up sock knitter or a cuff-down sock knitter?  And how long do you like your cuffs?

Sheri enjoyingthealmostdailyafternoonthunderstormsthatlastabout20minutes


  1. Welcome to the joys of having long feet. (Notice that I didn’t say big). I too have size 11’s and I like you do perfer to have the cuff at the same length or longer than the foot. To answer your question I have never tried toe up but am looking forward to learning how. I think that would help ease the fear of running out of yarn.

  2. With the advent of the toe-up two-at-once Magic Loop technique in my sock knitting life, I am firmly addicted to it. No more mismatched (for one reason or another) socks and no more worry about running out of yarn. I have a tendency to like cuffs that are longer than the foot (size 8). The color of your String Theory socks is lovely!

  3. Still working on my first toe-up socks for my brother-in-law (he has men’s 13 wide feet!!!!!). I’m still trying to figure out how many sts I need for his “flippers”, I keep over compensating and the sock toe looks like the start of an oven-mitt!

  4. Don’t hate me, but I’m one of those with the small feet (size US7). I like the cuff to be 8 inches from floor to top of sock. I normally knit toe up, but I love hemmed cuffs, especialy the picot hemmed cuff even though it’s fiddly. For some reason all my BFL socks have a rolled cuff, I can’t explain why. I have a list of parts I like (Sherman heel, round toe, picot hem) and I pick and choose what seems like a good idea at the time.

    I did knot a pair of socks for a woman with bigger feet that you Sheri, I used Oceanwind Knits yarn and got an 8 inch cuff out of it with a full two yards to spare!

  5. I have some of those small feet, size 5.5. Not fun trying find shoes in the department stores…GRRRR! What is fun is that I can make socks to fit my feet. I’ve never run out of yarn:-)

    I like doing both toe-up and cuff-down. When I try vary techniques so as not to get too bored. As for cuff-length, the longer the better. Most of my socks have 8″ cuffs but I love even longer cuffs for warmth.

  6. I either like a knee sock or something a few inches over the ankle. My calves are huge and if I knit much further than that, I have to add stitches.

  7. I’m another one who likes the cuff the same length as the foot – I think it’s the symetry of it. 😉 Lately though, I’ve done a couple of cuff down socks and I can’t tell you the anxiety I feel while working on the foot, wondering if I’ll have enough yarn! It’s back to toe up for me as soon as I finish my latest pair.

  8. I have guess I have normal to small size feet. I wear anywhere from a 6.5 to size 8 depending on the shoe. I prefer cuff down. I don’t like messing with the toe to start the sock and I really enjoy using the kitchener stitch to sew up the toe at the end of the sock. I usually make my cuffs six or seven inches from the floor. Right now I am working on my first handspun socks with some roving I got from you.

  9. I have a small foot (size 6 1/2 but wide). I ran out of yarn when using Panda Cotton and making an 8 inch cuff .Thanks to Loopy Ewe, I was able to finish them as they had the yarn in stock (although a different dye lot). My LYS didn’t have anymore nor would they order it. I always knit the leg 8 inches before starting the heel flap. There are a number of sock yarns that only allow for a 6 to 7 inch cuff.

  10. I’m most comfortable with cuff-down. I did challenge myself with the Pillars of Fire pattern and did them toe-up. I didn’t dislike it, will probably do toe-up again. Someday.

    I can’t wait to get my String Theory in Tourmaline today; and I also have STFiberworks in Thunder Mountain in my stash.

    Glad you’re enjoying the humid-less days.

  11. I love that you wear a size 11 – that must be why there was PLENTY of yarn in my first 2 sock club kits. I wear an 11, my 10 year-old daughter wears an 11, my 12 yr old son is working his way to a men’s 12 – yikes!!

    I knit socks any way – top down, toe up, 2 needles, 4 needles – the only thing I don’t do is 2 at a time – since I have longer than average feet, I sometimes have to make modifications to conserve yarn (contrast toes, heels, cuffs) and I sure would hat to rip back 2 socks because I was running short on yarn.

    I always try to make the leg the same length as my foot – it falls just under my calf muscle.

    I knit socks because the big & tall girl socks are just men’s socks and they aren’t narrow enough to be comfortable.

  12. I’m a stick-in-the-mud cuff-down sock knitter, but one of these days I’m going to master toe-up socks. Not only do toe-up socks eliminate the problem of running out of yarn (and eliminate the “yarn anxiety” that accompanies the knitting of cuff-down socks), they also make sense when you knit with handpainted or hand-dyed yarns that are “one-offs”.

    Thank you so much for the Hoisin Pork Roast recipe! Husband made it in our crockpot yesterday, and it was wonderful! We thought at first that the ingredients would be hard to find, but our grocery had both the hoisin sauce and the seasoned rice vinegar.

  13. Count me in as another with smallish feet (US 6.5-7). I mostly knit top down and I like my cuffs no shorter than 7.5″ before starting the heel flap(I was a teen in the 80s so I scrunch my socks down around my ankles). The cuffs of my socks are usually a little longer than the foot when folded over.

  14. I nearly always knit cuff down. I’m going to push myself to do more toe up since I got Wendy’s new book. I like a 6 1/2″ cuff and that is about the same length as the foot. I wear a size 8.

  15. I have a large calf and a big foot (size 11s unite!), so I find myself knitting shorter cuffs to compensate. So far I have only knit socks cuff down, although I did have a couple of false starts with toe up socks. I think I am a really boring sock knitter at heart. I only really like knitting plain old cuff down socks with 2×2 ribbing on the cuff and instep. Snoooooore. Zzzzzz. :^) But that’s okay, because that is what I like to wear too!

  16. I love toe-up but I’ll knit whatever the pattern calls for. I like my cuff fairly long, like you, at least as long as my foot. I am glad your carrying String Theory. I won some of their yarn from SKA on Ravelry and the color was just outstanding. I am a semi-solid color lover most of the time.

  17. I generally prefer cuff down – the gusset heel fits me best. I’ve done toe-ups with gussets but I find it harder to get the fit right. I tend to make the legs of my socks about the shorter thatn the length of the foot. I’m in a generally warm climate (N. Californa) and I wear my socks with skirts so they don’t need to be very long.

  18. I knit top down. Usually stop with a 6-inch cuff, although I’d prefer longer, because I have a very wide size 10 (women’s) foot, and need to use 68 stitches. I think, with most yarns, I could stretch the cuff to 7 inches, but I’d be too nervous about running out of yarn.

  19. Hmm…I like the process of knitting toe-up better (for some reason, it feels more “right”) but, my results are MUCH better knitting top-down! I have no idea why. I usually make sz. 8 womens socks, and normally about 6.5″ cuffs- longer sometimes, but not often. Usually I have scraps left over, so I am planning to make a pair of crazy stripe socks with the remains!

  20. I’ve only ever made cuff-down socks, but as soon as I finish my mobius, I’ll be starting my first ever toe-up sock. Since Wendy taught me how to cast on for that at Fling. 🙂 I’m excited. I’m doing a plain one out of Numma Numma Baby Boo in Peas and Carrots. I’m REALLY excited! (Yes, I said it twice.) But yes, I’m always afraid of running out of yarn. I always get an extra skein for multi-skein projects, and have a LOT of leftover that way.

  21. I knit most of my socks toe up. And I like all my socks to have about a 2-3 inch cuff- nothing longer. I’m all about ankle socks.

  22. I’m definately a toe-up girl as I have a size 10 extra wide foot and like you envy the smaller feet – especially when it comes to finding shoes. I basically live in sneakers and flip flops as I can never find shoes that fit just right and when I do, I buy 5 pairs of them.

  23. I’m a toe-upper but can go either way. What’s more critical to me is that I can use two circulars or magic loop. I prefer 7 inch cuffs which is about the same length as my foot when sock is folded in half. I love Claudia’s and Jitterbug but don’t buy them often because of my preference for longer cuffs.

  24. So far I’m a cuff down knitter, 2-at-a-time on 1 40″ circular. But with my large, size 10 WIDE feet, I need to learn toe up (quickly as I need to know before Sock Summit). I like to get the cuffs as long as I can but usually do a 6 or 7 inch because I’m afraid of running out of yarn. Toe up will solve that issue. 🙂

  25. I made my first pair of socks as a teenager–top down, worsted weight, Xmas present. I can do a toe-up sock if I want to. I just never want to. Top down just feels right.

  26. I almost always knit toe-up socks for my on-the-wide-side size 10 feet. 😉 After running out of yarn once before the second sock was finishd, I also divide the yarn and wind 2 separate balls.

  27. Every sock I have knit so far (more than 80 pair) has been top down. So, I think it’s safe to say that’s my preferred method. :o) As for the cuffs, my preferred length is 6-7 inches. I wear a women’s US 9. Your new socks look great!

  28. I’m a size 9 and I like a 9 inch foot (heel to toe) and a 9 inch cuff (heel to top). I knit top down and have only run out of yarn once. I regularly knit men’s size 12/women’s size 11 socks for two married friends and they trade socks constantly. So, I always feel like they’re getting two pairs in one. lol

  29. Toe up for me! I have relatively small feet (size 7) so I guess lots of time amount of yarn isn’t much of a concern, but it’s still my favorite way (which is why I’m drooling over Wendy Knits recent book – it is my new go to for socks). Recently, I’ve realized I think I like my cuff a bit shorter – on my first pairs of socks, I’d feel guilty if I didn’t use all the yarn, so I’d make them as long as I could. But now I think I like them a bit shorter than my usual mid-calf length.

  30. I almost always knit my socks toe-up because I’m incredibly paranoid about running out of yarn. The only exception is when I knit for my sons, whose feet are still small enough that I KNOW a skein sized for an adult will work for their little-kid socks.

  31. I do either way, depending on the pattern. I prefer a shorter cuff since I have small
    feet and large calves. I live in a warm climate (Florida) and don’t need socks
    necessarily for warmth. I just love the way they feel on my feet. I enjoy magic loop and 2 circs most often. I’m getting better at adapting and reading the pattern when it calls for dpn’s. Wish I could get faster and have more time to knit!!

  32. I like top down socks mostly because i the gusset heel fits me better and having small feet running out of yarn is a pretty rare occurance. The height of the socks is another thing though to be honest my favourite socks are the ones that are half way between anklets and standard sized socks so the cuff is probably about 4-5 inches roughly. That’s not to say i don’t make toe-up socks or longer cuffs at times, I’m flexible like that 🙂

  33. I am a top down knitter & knit my cuff about 7 1/2 to 8 in..I want to learn to do a toe up sock..that was my goal for this summer…I did knit a pair of socks with the 9 in hiyahiya…my fingers cramped a little…i do enjoy dpn’s but want to learn 2 circulars!! happy 4th of July

  34. I have been successful with the toeup socks, I am a newbie sock knitter. I have tried the cuff down and got so far and didnt know what to do. And the socks length is like what you do, folded them and have the cuff meet the toe, by that time I am sick of the sock.

  35. I like to knit my socks from the top down, but I also will do a toe up pattern now and then. Love Wendy’s book and the first sock club sock.:) I have small feet, size 5 to 5.5 so rarely worry with my amounts of yarn. However I knit for others and have not run out of yarn yet up to a size 11.5. I am so excited about getting the new sock package!!

  36. I like toe up and I divide my yarn exactly like you do. Since I have small size 6 feet, I’ve found I can usually make a pair of kids ankle socks along with mine if I have at least a 4 oz skein. It’s the only mommy and me thing my son will wear.

  37. I have size 8 feet and knit cuff down – the length of the cuff being how long it takes till I am bored and can’t go another stitch! I haven’t tried a patterned cuff yet – maybe that would help. I also like shortish cuffs.

  38. I like my cuffs to be just long enough to cover my ankle bones. I don’t like tall socks. When socks are tall, I always end up scrinching them down, and why bother to knit all those inches if they’ll never be seen?

  39. I like my cuffs to be about as long as the foot part of the sock, too – but you can be jealous of my feet, because I’m about a size 6. So the cuffs are not very long. I’ve only done cuff down since I don’t worry about running out of yarn, but learning toe-up is on my list of things to learn!

    By the way, I placed an order with you last Thursday and received my yarn that Saturday – two days – I realize we are both in the Midwest, but I am always impressed with how quickly my orders from The Loopy Ewe arrive. Thank you!! (And the yarn is gorgeous, by the way!)

  40. I do about half toe up and half cuff down to keep things interesting (but I always cheat when there is a pattern that is supposed to go all around the leg; I make it on the front only!). I also like the leg and cuff to be the same size for me, but my husband has long calves so his sock legs have to be a couple of inches longer than the toe. I also have big feet, size 10, and I’m not very tall, so it’s kind of comical…

  41. Toe up most of the time. I only do cuff down if the pattern can’t easily be converted to toe up. I like my cuffs to be rather long, 8″ or so. After that my calves need extra stitches. I either split my yarn into two equal balls or weigh it before I start so I can check that I don’t use too much on the first sock.

  42. I do my cuffs the same way! Gotta be the same length as my foot 🙂 And totally a toe-up gurl 2AAT! It ensures I will have a complete set! Haha!

    Have a great holiday weekend Sheri!!

  43. I am a cuff down sock knitter, but I got Wendy’s book and want to knit a toe-up one. But I wear a size 10 shoe. So it all depends……….I like a 6 to 6 1/2 inch leg. Sometimes just alitte shorter.
    But I try to get yarn that has at least 380 to over 400 yds per skein. I know I will get a pair
    out of them.

    HAPPY JULY 4 th!!!!!!

  44. I have always knit my socks cuff down, but I am planning on getting Wendy’s new book and trying toe up. Usually my cuffs are about 1 1/2 inches long. I have been knitting small ankle socks lately and making a very small cuff. My daughter likes that kind of sock, but I seem to have way too much yarn left over when I am done.
    Happy July 4th, and enjoy the rest of your vacation!!!

  45. I’m in the middle of my first toe-up pair (Wendy’s Sprucey Lucy) and it’s really interesting to work in a different direction after always knitting cuff-down. I don’t know which I like better and I think I’ll find good opportunities and “right times” for both.

    Somehow, I misssed out on the long foot gene and have size 6 1/2 feet! (Actually slightly longer, but not size 7s.) I’ve only had one pair of socks where I was seriously worried, and they were cuff-down. The idea of knitting until I run out of yarn has great appeal although I felt like I was playing chicken with the ball of yarn on my Sprucey Lucys (hmm, do I think I have enough yarn for the cuff still?).

  46. Wow! We share our preferences in cuff length & toe up techniques in common in addition to our birthdays and shoe sizes! Do-do-do-do (Twilight Zone)

  47. Toe-up all the way! That discovery changed my sock-making life forever. (The change was born after I did an elaborate pair of lace socks top-down with Koigu, and ran out just before the toes. (And I only have size 7 feet.) I swore that was never going to happen to me again.

    Oh yeah, and I generally make my cuffs 7 1/2 to 8 inches.

  48. My first few pair of socks were toe-up, but once I did a cuff-down, I was hooked on those, primarily because I hated trying to do the toe with that waste-yarn crocheted chain to start. I know there are other ways to start a toe-up and will learn those … eventually, although after making over 100 pair of socks, I’m not sure it will be anytime soon. My feet are a nearly size 9, which means I usually get two socks from 100 grams of yarn, even if I put my favorite length 8″ leg on first. However, a lot of the pair of socks I knit for people are size 11s and 12s, so they may get only a 7″ length.

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