There’s no crime in not knitting and not knitting socks but for anyone who’s ever wanted to try knitting socks, I encourage you to try it. This post will be a “Socks in a Nutshell” type post. I will try to cover everything but if you have questions, please ask in the comments because others may have the same questions.
First, most anything you might want to know, whether it’s how to make a toe up cast on, or a stretchy bind off or how to turn a heel – there are youtube videos available for everything!
Second, do not try to figure out step 2 before you’ve finished step 1. It really does all fall into place. Yesterday when I got to the heel on the socks I was working on, it had been a while since I’d knitted a heel from Sockmatician’s pattern and I was a bit confused but then decided to just follow the instructions and not try to figure out how or why and it worked out perfectly.
Third, it’s yarn! It isn’t brain surgery. If you mess up, rip back and start over.
There are so many patterns. For a beginner, I recommend Socks for the Family by Melinda Goodfellow (Yankee Knitter) or Sockmatician’s Toe Up Socks.
Socks for the Family is a cuff down pattern and it’s the pattern I started with – back when there were only printed patterns. This pattern is basic, plain vanilla socks but the beauty is that it has sizes for babies through men in fingering, sport and worsted weight.
Sockmatician’s pattern, as I mentioned yesterday, has a bit of math but you measure your own foot (one measurement) and go from there. If you like snug fitting socks, he tells you how to achieve that. Same if you prefer looser fitting socks. You can absolutely get perfect fitting socks for anyone and for any yarn with this pattern and when I say a bit of math, it’s minimal. I’m 100% sure a child could do it.
This is mostly my opinion but I would not make socks with a yarn that doesn’t have at least 20% nylon. Having said that, there’s an exception to every rule but unless you are very familiar with yarns, stick with at least 20% nylon until you’re ready to venture out a bit. I’ll give some great sock yarn examples below.
When I first began knitting socks, I made my mom a pair of socks out of 100% wool. I know she took very good care of them but within a few times of wearing them, she wore holes in the heels. That’s how I learned my lesson about 100% wool for socks. As a general rule, at least for me, the softer the wool, the less likely it is to go into my socks.
There’s so much to consider when making socks for others. Since Addie loves the socks I make for her, and with Nicole working, I understand that Addie’s socks often get washed in the washer with her jeans so I no longer make socks for Addie unless they’re machine washable. Also, she will run outside on the concrete, across the street, through the rocks without shoes so she definitely needs yarn that’s a bit more rugged.
Sock Yarn Recommendations:
Opal Yarn – This is a yarn that I’ve used a lot! Simply Sock Yarn is one of the online companies I’ve patronized since the very beginning of my sock knitting.
Miss Babs is a dyer whose yarn I’ve loved for a long time. Hot Shot is a sock yarn I love but it’s been discontinued. A lot of yarns by many dyers have been discontinued recently because the mills are no longer able to get them. That’s what’s happened with Hot Shot and with Tigger Targhee mentioned below. I feel like Miss Babs will soon get a replacement for this workhorse yarn.
Yarns carried by Eat, Sleep Knit that I love for socks – these all have at least 20% nylon: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock, Manos Alegria, Madelinetosh Twist Light, Nerd Girls Bounce & Stomp, Squoosh Beefcake,
The yarn I was going to recommend that is 100% wool that I love for socks – is Blue Moon’s Tigger Targhee and I somehow missed that it’s a discontinued yarn. I love that yarn and have used it often for socks. There are still a few skeins in a few colors so if anyone wants to try that yarn, grab it while you can.
There is so very much fingering weight yarn out there that would be great for socks. These are just a few that I like and feel like they’ve held up well through years of wear.
Needles for Knitting Socks:
My preference for most sock yarns is a 2.25 mm needle, though some people like smaller and some like larger. If I’m using one of the thicker Opal yarns or Tigger Targhee, I may go up to a 2.5 mm but the tighter the stitches/knitting, the better most yarns will hold up.
Ways to Knit Socks:
- Double Point Needles (DPNs): These are the fairly short sticks with points on each end. Four or five needles are used. This is how I learned to knit socks and for so long, I wouldn’t consider knitting socks using any other method. Once Vince and I were driving from here to somewhere far away and trying to make decent time. Twice within about an hour, I dropped one of my needles, it rolled under the seat and we had to stop so I could find my needle. That convinced me to try some method using circular needles.
- Magic Loop – one at a time: For some reason, I struggled learning to use the Magic Loop but once I got it, like so many other things, I cannot now figure out why I had so much trouble.
- Magic Loop – two at a time: This is my preferred method now. You’re actually knitting both socks at the same time on either a 32″ or 40″ (or longer) cable. The beauty is that everything comes out exactly the same – the foot length is the same; the heel flap is the same, the leg is the same, the ribbing is the same and, best of all, when you’ve finished one, you’ve finished both of them.
I’ll do another post later today with examples of some of the socks/yarns I’ve done through the years.
Appreciate this post very much! I have started several pairs of socks & have never finished any of them. I have taken several classes. I am going to go step by step through the patterns you mentioned, just bought the Sockmatician one, using the detailed information you have given. Hope this gets me going & I can love knitting socks, too. Thank you, Judy!
Susan Nixon says
I have the feeling, from recent posts, that you are on a sock cycle. =)
Judy Laquidara says
I definitely tend to be a cyclical knitter.
I love my 9″ circulars, chiaogoo needles are great. I used magic loop to cast on my toes, but as soon as my toe is done I switch over to the 9″ needles. I think they are less fiddly and faster than others. I use the flexi flips to put in my afterthought heels, they are easy to use. There are so many ways to do things, it’s fun discovering the different ways to do things!! 🙂
I like socks on 2 16” circular needles, half the sock on each needle…you do have to buy 2 needles the same size, but generally they are not too expensive….and takes up almost no space so more portable.
Judy Laquidara says
Thank you for adding that additional method!
Peg Turner says
Thank you for posting all this info! I’m going to get everything ordered so I can get started learning to do this.