When I knit my first sock, I definitely thought the gusset was the most stressful part. I always struggled to make sure that it looked straight and tidy. Even though my gussets might not be perfect, I now find it to be one the most satisfying parts of the sock making process. If you are new to knitting top-down socks, here are some tips and a quick guide to gussets.
What is a sock gusset?
A gusset is the small triangle shape where the sock orientation turns from being vertical, for your leg, to being horizontal, for your foot. It is also the widest part of the sock. This also accommodates the width of your heel.
How do you make a gusset?
When you finish the heel flap and turning the heel, you pick up the gusset along the edge of the heel flap. During the heel flap, patterns instruct you to slip the first stitch of every row. These slipped stitches are what you pick up along the side of the heel flap. I always pick up and knit through both legs of the slipped stitches for a clean, secure gusset.
Here is a short video of what it looks like to pick up the gusset stitches.
- Pick up and knit stitches down one side of the heel.
- Knit the stitches across the foot (that have been resting while you knit the heel flap).
- Pick up and knit the stitches up the other side of the heel flap.
- Now you will be back to knitting across your heel turn stitches, and you are ready to decrease the gusset.
To make sure the gusset looks tidy, the most important thing to think about when picking up the stitches is to consistently work along one column of stitches. Sometimes it can be difficult to see which in column the slipped stitches are. However, just making sure that you are consistent in picking up your stitches, will make the edge look neat when you are finished.
Some patterns may explicitly mention to pick up extra stitches when picking up stitches along the heel flap. Even if they don’t, I still recommend picking up 1 or 2 stitches between the the stitches picked up for the heel flap and the stitches along the top of the foot. This will prevent gaps in the corner of the gusset.
Decreasing the gusset
Once you have picked up and knit all the stitches around the gusset, you will be knitting in the round again. Also, you will have many more stitches on your needles than what you started with. That is why the next part of working the gusset involves decreasing the stitches. This usually takes place every 2nd row on the last 3 stitches before, and the first 3 stitches after knitting across the top of the foot, using K2Tog and SSK stitches. You continue decreasing until the the number of stitches on your needles is the same as what you started with.
I hope this walkthrough of knitting the gusset of a top-down sock was helpful. At the end of the day, it takes practice to get the techniques down. So if you really want to get good at knitting gussets, just make more socks! Do you have any tips or tricks when you are knitting the gusset of a sock?