Knitting Blog

Picking Up Stitches for Cuff-Down Sock Gussets + A Simple Trick

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.

Very Vanilla Socks with yarn bowl

Need more step-by-step help for knitting socks? Craftsy 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.

Slip stitch edge of sock

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.

Inserting the needle into the slipped stitch

Wrap your yarn over the needle as if to knit.

Wrap the stitch 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.

Picking up stitches on sock gusset

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.

Have any tips to share for picking up gusset stitches? We’d love to know how you do it!

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9 Comments

Susan Ackerman

That is exactly how I do it and it always turns out great and I’ve made close to a hundred pairs of socks

Reply
darlene

I always use a crochet hook but don’t transfer each individual loop. I just Pick them all up and then slide them on the needle from the handle end of the crochet hook. Easy peasy.

Reply
Cate Lohse

Thank you for the great photos for picking up sock stitches… I pick them up by deciding on the loop I want to attack, then insert my needle from the back (behind) and then twist it clockwise. Once I have it turned enough I just proceed with a normal knit stitch.
This gives both and a nice little design forms. I’m going to give the crochet hook a go.
I love how we can share and find new methods.
I knit the cuff and leg section on two needles and then transfer to 4 needles a few rows before I get ready for the heel work. A simple seam up the back later sorts this out just fine. I find that applying a pattern to the leg section really easy to do as you are knitting flat. CATE

Reply
Linda

I pick up the all the stitches (like Darelen) with a crochet needle before I transfer them to the knitting needle, usually by pushing them off the back end of the crochet needle. If I’m picking up more stitches than the crochet needle can handle, I pick up what will fit, transfer those stitches, then start picking up stitches again. I am left handed, so I knit backwards, but I think this way works for right handed people, too.

Reply
Lyn

I also pick up the stitches on a spare needle before knitting them. I find that it is easier to get the required number. I also knit into the back to twist the stitch, makes it stronger. At the join with the main part of the sock, I pick up a back loop and knit two together with the last stitch picked up for the gusset. This helps to avoid a hole. Difficult to describe in words, I hope it makes sense !

Reply
Pauline

I have a problem with that gap. I have knit a lot of socks and would love to solve that problem. Can you email me and just explain it to me again. So much appreciated.

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Helen (of Troy)

Charlene Schurch, in her first sock book “Sensation Knitted Socks” has excellent illustrated instructions for this. ( I hope the html code works!)

Basically, as you come to where the flap separated from body of sock, stick the needle into ONE half stitch(one loop of a knit stitch) on flap side, and ONE half stitch (one loop of a knit stitch on instep side) (2 loops on you needle)
THen make 1 stitch, (wrap yarn round the needle) and pass both loops over the new stitch–pull up snuggly.

This is the perfect solution to the small holes in the upper corner of the flap. HER images are 1000 times better (and easier to understand–See if you can’t borrow a copy of this book, (i think the directions for closing the corner hole were worth the price of the book!)
It means you’ll have one extra stitch in each gusset, (and one extra round to do) but NO HOLES> (see my sock collection on ravelry–(oftroy)–no holes!

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Helen (of Troy)

There is another option–a german selvage. When working the heel flap, K2 at the beginning and end of the flap,
R1: K2,(heel stitch (aka K1, slip 1)), end with k2
R2: K2, Purl, K2

Then pick up stitches in the (your choice) the purl “bumb” (aka Ridge) or in the knit “ditch”.

The 2 stitch garter selvage, (vs the slip stitch chain selvage) is more common in many parts of Europe, especially Germany. I like it and use it all the time.

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barbbfly

well done and thx — what if i pick up too many st. ? as my c/o was 72 st and i did 20 gusset rows and 1 sock is about 21 st and the other sock is more like 36 st6 . ? thx in advance fort your help ladies !!Shalom God bless you

Reply

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