When I picked up the needles again in October 2002, my knitting experience consisted of scarves and a couple of hats, none of which I wore save for the exception of my "Dr Who" attempt on really cold windy mornings. The encouragement of the people I became acquainted with (and now call knitsibs) and their work via the Internet helped me gain the confidence to try out new things.
One such person was a pun-loving lady called Khadija who loved knitting on things with needles no larger than a US 5. I took a sock class from her to learn how to do different methods of socks. It was she who taught me how to do short rows, a crochet cast-on directly onto the needle, and a patch toe for socks, which I will pass on to you here. I haven't heard from her in a while and hope she is doing well. This is dedicated to her, for without her gentle guidance and sense of humor I would not be as rich as I am today.
How to make a patch toe for socks
A patch toe is exactly that: a patch of fabric from whence the stitches of the toe begin when doing a toe-up sock. When completed it's absolutely seamless. It's my toe of choice when doing toe-up socks. It can be used for any size sock; once you're comfortable with the method you can adjust the number of stitches to your liking.
Step 1: Work a provisional cast-on of 10 stitches with waste yarn (I use a crochet cast-on).
Step 2: Starting with a purl row, knit stockinette until you have worked 9 rows (ending with a purl row).
Step 3: This part is easiest worked with 5 dpns. Turn work to knit across using one dpn, then pick up 2 stitches along the side, giving you 12 stitches total on the needle.
Step 4: Take a new needle and pick up and knit three more stitches evenly on that same side. Undo the provisional cast-on to give you live stitches and knit until you have 7 stitches on your needle.
Step 5: Take a new needle and knit the remaining 5 live stitches, then pickup and knit 2 stitches from the remaining side.
Step 6: Take your remaining dpn and pick up and knit two stitches off the side, then knit 5 stitches from your first dpn. You should have something that looks like the picture below. Or if you can't see the picture, like a rectangle within a diamond frame of dpns.
From this point, I place a marker, paper clip, or contrast yarn tie on the stitch nearest the beginning of the round. I work my increases along the picked up sides so that the line of stitches remains in the same direction as the rest of the fabric. In the picture those would be at the left and right points of the diamond where the needles cross. I used to use as my increase method knit in the front and back of the stitch but now I use the backward e as it makes less of a noticeable increase.
This picture of the toe of one of the Heart Wave socks shows how the patch toe is part of the sock toe.