Knitting Socks

Everyone wants to knit socks!  Well, maybe not everyone. Many of you have asked all kinds of questions about knitting socks.  While I surely don’t know much about knitting socks, I’ll try to tell you everything I know about knitting socks.

  1. If you can knit at all, you can knit socks.  But . . you have to do it — you can’t just keep wanting to do it!  I knitted in college and as a young adult but put it aside.  I had wanted to knit socks for years and when Susan finally sent me yarn and a pattern, I couldn’t even remember how to cast on.  That’s how little I knew!  With help, I figured out how to cast on.
  2. If you can cast on, knit and purl, you can make socks.  If you get suck, there are plenty of videos to get you through the hard spots.  For the longest time, I had to watch a video to make the kitchener stitch (a grafting method for finishing off the toe).
  3. The pattern I started with and still my favorite pattern is Classic Socks for the Family by Yankee Knitter.  This is the website for the designer and she has other patterns!

There are many methods for knitting socks:

  1. Using double pointed needles (DPNs), you can knit from the cuff down (which is my favorite way) or knit from the toe up.
  2. Using one circular needle, knit one sock at a time, or using one really long circular needle, knit two socks at one time, either toe up or cuff down.
  3. Use two sets of needles (either DPNs or circs) and make two socks.  It’s the same as knitting one sock, then another but if you have a problem with finishing the second sock or remember how long to make the cuff or something, this method might work well for you.

The sock  yarn:

There are some fantastic sock yarns —  I most mostly buy mainly wool but some with cashmere, some with mohair, some with silk.  The yarns that have nylon added should last longer and I buy a lot of yarn with 10 – 15% nylon.

Much of the wool is superwash which means it can be machine washed.  I still wash all my socks by hand and lay flat to dry.

There are less expensive yarns at Hobby Lobby, JoAnn’s, and those kinds of places.  The less expensive yarns that I bought early on have held up really well but the feel of those socks don’t compare to the wool blends with cashmere, mohair and silk.  There’s a yarn out there for most everyone’s taste and everyone’s budget.

So far, my very favorite yarn of all time is this one.  It’s 55% Superwash Merino, 30% Silk and 15% nylon.  I love the colors, love knitting with it and love wearing it.  But, I have several new yarns that I haven’t tried yet.

The needles:

There are all kinds and sizes of needles.  I’m not crazy about the bamboo needles.  My knitting is tight and it seems to hang up on the bamboo.  I like metal or something called Quicksilver in 7″ DPNs.  I knit my cuff 7″ and from top of the ribbing to where I start my heel.  After the heel is formed, before decreasing for the toe, I knit 7″ (this is subject to change, depending on your preference, your pattern repeat, your foot length).  So, if I’m  using a 7″ needle, that’s also my measuring tool!  🙂

I have knitted patterned socks but my favorite  is just plain stockinette stitch with no pattern.  I don’t have to count, nothing has to come out perfect . . just mindless knitting.

I’ve knitted shawls and sweaters but still prefer just plain socks.  Here’s the only sweater I seem to have from when I knitted 25 or more years ago.

If you truly want to knit socks . . just try it and remember that the first ones may not be perfect, but they will be fun!

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    You are right about the bamboo slowing you down a little compared to metal, especially if you use Addi needles (they are super slick) but most of the time I love bamboo. My stitches never fall off, I can just toss the knitting down and not worry about losing a needle. They are warm and pliable, and quiet. But I do love how you can knit faster with the metal.
    The best thing about finishing a pair of socks is getting to start a new pair!

    • 1.1

      says

      I’m not sure Addi makes DPN’s. If they do, I haven’t found them. I do have some Addi and Addi Lace in the circulars but I rarely use those.

  2. 2

    says

    Thanks for sharing this information. I ordered the pattern you show here in October as you sugggested, watched the video to learn how to turn the heel. I’m on my 5th pair of socks – loving every stitch of them. My only problem: sock yarn is as addictive as fabric! I may have to do yarn busting next year along with stash busting! Again, thank you for all your help and support Judy. Without you I would have never fallen in love with sock knitting. I started a pair of “cotton candy” colored socks this afternoon and am ready to start the heel. Time sure flies with the knitting needles in hand.

    • 2.1

      says

      Julie, I’m so glad you love knitting socks. It’s so fun to choose the yarn, knit the socks and then . . wear the socks!

  3. 3

    says

    I don’t knit, but my mom knitted me some socks for Christmas. Only problem is that they sag down. She was knitting some elastic thread in with the ribbing, but still the sag. Any suggestions? I’m wondering if maybe the socks are just a little too tall?

    Thanks

    • 3.1

      says

      They make something called sock garters that fit around the top. How much elastic thread did she run? Maybe a little more would help. Do you know what type yarn it is? How much ribbing is there at the top? I’ve never had a pair that droops but I’ve heard plenty about it and know it’s probably just a matter of time til it happens to me.

      • says

        It’s about 3 inches of ribbing at the top, with elastic thread knitted with the yarn for all of the ribbing. The yarn is a washable wool, with (I think) a small % acrylic.

        What is a sock garter? Is it something you wear around the top of the sock or is it something you use while knitting it?

        Thanks,
        owlfan

  4. 5

    says

    It’s funny that you posted this today. I’ve been reading over the 3 books I bought on sock knitting and I was even going to just pick up some inexpensive yarn at Joann’s to practice with but I couldn’t find the two needles I wanted so I put it all back. Of course, I got home and I have the size needles the pattern calls for here.

    I spent half the day wondering if I really wanted to make the effort to figure this out….

    Anyway I went on line and ordered some plain sport weight sock yarn and a different set of needles although I bet the ones I had would be fine.

    Hopefully I’ll manage to knit a pair because I want to try some socks with the cool yarn too.

  5. 6

    Tamara says

    I got a book on crocheting socks for Christmas since I find it easier for me. Today a friend offered to teach me to knit socks. I bought some yarn and if all goes well tomorrow, we are going to met up to start me first lesson. She has agreed to help and hold my hand if need be.

  6. 7

    says

    Oh I love knitting socks. I started knitting last April and worked on a vest but dearly wanted to make socks. I just plunged in. My first pair were perfect but they fit and I loved how they felt. I am working on my fifth pair now.

  7. 9

    Elizabeth K says

    I’ve been knitting socks for a couple of years now. They are very addictive!
    Yes the sock yarn is as addictive as fabric but it doesn’t take as much room to store 🙂
    I like knitting socks because they are so portable. I can take them to Quilt Guild meetings as well as work on them at home.
    The one problem I have is everyone wants me to make them a pair but I want to keep every pair I make 🙂
    I’ve started (note I said started) a sweater the same year I took the sock class and I still haven’t finished it.

  8. 10

    Judy C in NC says

    Judy L – thank you for all the information you provide to all us “Judy Wannabees”. I am halfway there as I am a Judy, I just need to stretch a little more on the socks knitting – I ordered the book – next will be the yarn – after I look through the book. Judy C

  9. 11

    says

    I don’t know how to knit; tried casting on to no avail. Part of my problem is that I’m left handed and instructions are mostly written for right handed folks. I have this problem with crochet too but I have actually made a pair of crochet socks. I find trying to see the pattern in the mirror complicates things even more.

  10. 12

    Martha says

    The Yankee Knitter has it’s own website with all the patterns shown. Melinda is a very talented designer. She has been designing and knitting for many years. She was taught by her Mother who was the original Yankee Knitter. Both are wonderful people…. also my cousins.
    Please visit the site to see all the patterns!
    http://www.yankeeknitterdesigns.com/

  11. 13

    Eve says

    Judy, one of the things I’ve loved about you for quite a few years now is that you are so generous with your knowledge and with encouraging people to try things. I, for one, am thrilled that I decided to jump in and start knitting socks over a year ago. 23 pairs down, and yarn for at least another 20-30 pairs hanging around waiting their turn. Yep, it’s as addictive as quilting!! Eve

  12. 14

    Trish says

    I finally learned how to make socks, but have now stopped for a while to work on this year’s Christmas gifts, some of which are “Soldier’s Glommits” from the Knitting Daily site. If you can knit socks, you can knit these, and they’re perfect for both men and women. I just happened to catch Knitting Daily on television a couple weeks ago where they showed this pattern, and instantly knew I had to try them. For those of you still wanting to learn to make socks, keep at it. Once you get the hang of working with the smaller needles, it really is pretty easy 🙂