When I started knitting, I didn't go into it lightly. I wanted to learn how to knit in order to make a doll for my daughter. I did the typical knit, purl scarf then dove immediately into this book:
After a couple of animals and a few hats, I tried my hand at knitting lace and a pair of diaper woolies. As the weather cooled down in Virginia I decided it was time to try sock knitting. I went back to my roots and bought a book. Did I buy an informative how to book full of easy beginner patterns? No, I'm a glutton for pointy stick punishment. I bought this book:
So, armed with 100% alpaca yarn in a worsted weight, a cheap set of DPN's, will and determination I began on my sock knitting journey. I'm sure there was was plenty of frogging and most likely some cursing but eventually there was one knee-high, cabled, wide cuffed sock completed. I was proud of my great accomplishment. I had defeated the odds and made a sock. An actual, put on your foot and wear it, sock. My giant bubble of satisfaction deflated as I looked down and realized I was gifted with not one, but two feet. And that, my friends was when my Second Sock Syndrome officially set in. This is an affliction felt by those who choose to do things in pairs. Socks, gloves, mittens, slippers, etc. You've accomplished a great feat and now you have to somehow manage to repeat that process in an identical manner to make a perfect little mate for the first one.
As you can see, you are working across one side of both socks first then you go on to working the other side of both socks to complete and entire round. These have a spiffy little design to them which makes it easy to knit them both the same length. If you don't have a design to follow then working socks one at a time can make it trickier to remember how many rounds you did or to measure them for equal sizing. One could argue that if you keep track of the rounds on the first sock, the second sock will come out the same size. This is true in most cases but not the method for me. I'm not just not good at keeping track of my rounds, nor do I want to count them after I've completed that sock. So, to work magic loop you have your working stitches on your front needle and you pull the back needle (leaving the back stitches to rest on the cable) out in order to work the stitches. For these socks I'm using a 24" US 1 pair of addiTurbo Sock Rockets. I would suggest something on the side of a 32" or longer cord though. I'm finding the 24" to be just a tad short for magic loop. If you aren't familiar with magic loop you might want to work up a smaller project like a mug cozy or baby hat to get used to it.
I typically work my socks toe-up with this method. This simply means I cast on for the toes and work up to the cuff. One of the most common cast-ons for toe up socks is "Judy's Magic Cast-On", name after it's founder Judy Becker. You can find a great video that Judy Becker has provided to demonstrate this cast-on on YouTube here. Another great cast-on is called the Turkish or Eastern Cast-On. I find this cast-on more finicky as it involves wrapping the yarn around two needles and then using a third to knit the stitches onto each of the two needles. In the case of circular needles, no third needle is needed since the cord can act as one of the needles. If that seemed slightly confusing and you need a visual, check out Relatively Crafty's video tutorial here.
While searching for the perfect sock pattern you're going to encounter several different heel styles. My go to heel is typically the Short-Row heel. You're best bet is to go with the heel suggested by the pattern. Most patterns won't just state "work Dutch heel" and that's it. Usually they have your heel pattern written out along with the rest of the foot. I love finding patterns with heel styles I haven't worked so that I'm always learning something new. When you work the heel turn turn and heel flap, you work flat. This means that you will only be working on one side of your sock. You have to create a little flap that wraps around your heel. Once it is worked to the appropriate size you will join it to the rest of the sock and continue in the round. You also have the option of working an "after thought heel" where you work the entire sock and work the heels at the end.
Another great piece of advice I can offer, especially if you are working plain socks with no pattern, is to take advantage of you stitch markers! Hang one from the front side of your socks to indicate the front as well as the first sock to work. You can also place them at various changes such as the end of the toe increases, or beginning of heel. This helps with any measuring or frogging you may have to do along your sock journey.
If you want to start with basic socks and ensure a great fit you can use the "Super Sock Calculator". I love this tool because you can use her preset measurements or enter your own and with the use of magic (or maybe just cool math stuff) you are given your cast-on count, increases, and foot length to begin heel. She also includes helpful videos for casting on, turning your heel and finishing your socks.
I hope that this has helped you on your sock knitting journey. Remember to take socks piece by piece. Whether you work toe up or top down, one sock at a time or two, just take it one section at a time. Work the toe and take a break if you need to. Enjoy the ease of knitting simple rounds for the foot before starting your heel. When it comes time to work the heel, concentrate and make notes at you work to keep track of your rows and stitch count. Once the heel is worked you are back to easy rounds for the leg and ribbing for the cuff. Be patient with yourself. Rome wasn't built in a day and your socks don't have to be either.
If you've recently worked up a pair of socks or currently are working a pair, please post pics in the comments! I love seeing projects completed or in the works! You can also share them to our instagram @afrayedknotnc hashtag #afksockknitting to share with other fellow knitters!
Crocheters, we want to see your socks too!!
Knitter, Crocheter, Small Business Owner, Teacher, Mom.