The sock drawer is happy either way

When I was in California post-Sock-Summit, I met up one afternoon to hang out with Erin in Berkeley, I was knitting along on my socks (these ones, now finished) over fries and beer (they have good beer and fries there). At one point Erin stopped and said, “I couldn’t help wondering about your socks.” And I said, “Yeah? They’re Socks That Rock Mediumweight. Super fast.” And she said, “But it seems like they’re just ribbing. Are you really just making ribbed socks?” And I said that yes, yes I was.


Now don’t get me wrong – I love me some complicated-ness. The last thing I want is to be bored to tears by my knitting, and believe me I wear my own Viper Pilots socks just as proudly as the next knitter. But it can’t always be complicated knitting all the time, and I can still always use another pair of socks for the sock drawer, so my go-to simple project is a basic ribbed sock. I still knit stockinette occasionally, but usually not find it quite interesting enough, so I reserve it for gift knitting primarily.

And sometimes, when a big chunk of my day looks like this:


It’s okay if my sock knitting looks like this:


(Those are the current grandfather-gift-socks, on 2.5mm needles in some Knit Picks “Stroll” in a vintage “Firecracker Heather” colourway.)

If you’re looking for simple sock patterns to get started or just to get on with, my Nice Ribbed Sock pattern is always available for free, either in the Free Patterns page on my blog or in my Ravelry store, and for a worsted-weight option that includes a step-by-step slide show, check out my Weekend Socks over at Canadian Living online. My own Weekend Socks are my favourite slipper substitutes in the cool months!

What sort of project is your go-to knitting for simplicity?
Happy knitting this Thursday!


  1. I like plain stockinette socks for a quick, simple and mindless knit. My ribbing is a bit sloppy though 🙂

  2. danadoodle · ·

    I can’t help but notice your sizing calculations for a sweater, and maybe you have some tips for me? I’m planning on revisiting a few sweaters patterns I’ve made over the years in order to add sizes, but I’m not sure of the best way to go about it. I’ve got a few sizing measurements charts, and I get the math part, but if you’ve got any advice I’d really appreciate it!

  3. 1) Diagonal squares for a group blanket project I’m working on. (The kind that aren’t mitered, but go from one corner to the diagonal one.)

    2) Noro Magic Striping Scarf. One done, one part way done. *Just* interesting enough with the 1 x 1 rib to keep my fingers busy, and the changing colors keep my brain happy. Nice, fairly mindless work for my stage of knitting expertise. (Advanced Beginner with Some Aspirations Due to Working Garment Knowledge. 😉

  4. I am a huge fan of the simple ribbed sock as it gives me the ability to make the yarn the centerpiece of the project. I love varigated yarns and if you are doing a complicated pattern it all ends up looking messy. For mindless knitting I always seem to have a sweater or vest or some other larger garment that requires alot of stockinette stitch which I will pick up. I like fingerless mitts too for a quick easy project.

  5. Plain stockinette socks. Or I get a sudden urge to cast on an enormous garter/stockinette stitch sweater in fingering-weight. 😉

  6. Yes! Weekend socks! I expect that they will be my simple socks over and over and over….

  7. Oh, yes. Been there, done that, plan to do it again. And again.

    Both of the socks here are just plain lovely. Sometimes plain is what is loveliest, after all.

  8. For simplicity: anything mostly stockinette. Usually sweaters, but I’m about to cast on the Sheer Poncho by Amy Arifin. Laceweight stockinette for miles!

  9. I love plain or ribbed socks… which show off self-striping/patterning yarn beautifully 🙂 Very pretty colours!

  10. Recently, my simple projects have been small things, like simple gloves and fingerless mitts. Or boot socks made out of worsted weight yarn, in stockinette. And if I’m really brainfried, I have a Featherweight cardi on the go past the “interesting” raglan stage, so it is just endless stockinette down the rest of the body. Sometimes, boring knitting can be a good thing. An audiobook or some good music and miles of stockinette? On certain evenings after a busy day, that sounds like something very desirable indeed.

  11. I appreciate simplicity very much, both in knitting and in sewing. It’s not because I can’t make anything complicated (because I do and like that also) but I find “clean” forms and textures pretty and very welcome in my wardrobe. And aren’t the most simplest garments the most usable? A lot depends on the material I’m working with, variegated yarns for example “likes” to be knitted in st st with a slight touch of sth extra, they look more stylish that way (of course it’s just my opinion).

  12. I’m only working on my first ever pair of socks, but when I need a simple knit, I go for a ribbed hat.

  13. I’m with you. I always need a semi-mindless knit around….something that can be picked up/put down as the day allows…or my mind 😉 I always give my husband a rough time for the rib socks that he likes, but there’s something soothing in the repetition….but I’m not going to tell him that..ha!

  14. Garter stitch scarves with some lovely yarn are my favourite no-brainer.

  15. Lately, when I am in the midst of more than one large project, sometimes I need a bit of instant gratification, something I can finish in a day or two. For me, I was doing socks, but lately I have been making toys. Bunnies, bears, goats, pigs, owls, dollys, you name it. They are small, cute, great gifts for kids and sometimes, I’ll fill them half with fiberfill and half with fragrant herbs like rosemary or lavendar and give them to friends as a sachet for their cool undies drawer or to hang in the closet. Makes good stocking stuffers. I make em, toss em all in a box in the closet and when yuletide rolls around, I have a head start on my stocking stuffers and gift giving. Good way to use up leftover sock yarn too.

  16. Your A Nice Ribbed Sock pattern was my very first pair of socks! It’s the best ever 😀

  17. addictedtoyarn · ·

    I love your ribbed sock pattern and have knitted two of them so far. Easy without being boring and make an awesome fitting sock that really shows off the yarn! Great knitting does not have to be complicated! Thanks!

  18. My go-to sock pattern is your ribbed socks. Since I discovered it last fall I think I’ve knit at least 6 pair. Interesting enough to keep me engaged and simple enough to be perfect go-to knitting. Thanks!

  19. I’m knitting my first pair of socks at the moment. I decided to go with a top-down plain stockinette for a simple first sock, but it’s so dull I can’t get past the first foot. I wish I had seen your pattern first!

    Incidentally – I love the colours in that yarn, they are beautiful.

  20. Your pattern is my favorite. I make almost all my socks in this rib. Looks great and, most importantly, they stay up!

  21. I am with you, sometimes you need an easy project to balance a more challenging one, particularly if you want to take your project out and about with you. Its impossible to take a complicated charted pattern with you and have a conversation with someone. I just can’t.

  22. I love the Thuja pattern from Knitty. It’s a simple ribbed sock with a twist, works in all weights. Check out other ravelers projects to see mods. They’re easy peasy, fit well, and work in solids, semi-solids, stripes and handpaints. Many more pairs are in my future!

  23. I love your blog. I’m new to blogging but I’ve been “knitting to stay sane” longer than I can remember. Check out my posts sometime.

  24. I am a fan of your ribbed socks. I am new to socks and wanted to do yarn harlot’s no-pattern socks to teach myself how the math works and how to think about sock construction. My first 2 pairs of socks were basic lace patterns that took me most of a year to complete. But the thought of stocking stitch round and round and round was too much, even with Lorna’s Laces patterned yarn. So I remembered your point about not being too proud to do basic socks 🙂 and dug out your rib pattern, and I’m perfectly happy. They are my purse/car/kids swimming lessons project and i’m almost down to the heel on sock 1. thanks so much!

  25. I am a stalker but have been so delighted by ALL your knitting. However, the last 3 pairs of beautiful socks pushed me over the edge and I have to say how wonderful you are. I’ve never knitted a sock in my life but it looks like socks coming up!!!! Thank you so much.


  26. I keep a ribbed sock-on-the-go in my purse. Sometimes I use a quick stockinette hat as relief. Last fall I started a Shawl That Jazz which was to be mindless knitting when I needed an occasional break from the two lace projects I was doing. Didn’t work. For some reason I couldn’t put it down. The lace languished for three weeks as day and night I gleefully worked miles of garter stitch. Guess I needed more of a break than I thought.

  27. dutch margreet · ·

    Plain stockinet socks, all selfstriping yarn needs no more, the interesting thing being making identical twins, not girl/boy twinsocks, ugh, I’d rather buy two skeins and make two different pairs of identical socks out of the same yarn name and colournumber, these socks are for me only. If you like cousin socks do niot feel offended, it is just a me thing. I do hate how r1p1 or r2p2 ankles of socks look when they are laid out flat, so small in comparison to the foot. R3p1 does not do that cropping together. My pattern is like yours on Canadia etc. except for the toe, which is k2 ssk k up to 4, k2t k2, 2nd needle start with ssk 3rd needle finish with k2tk2, one round over etc. This is the basic pattern we were taught in Netherlands schools in 1958 and the one our mothers and grandmothers etc. used too. Perfect pattern, no need to change. I also like raglan down kids stockinet sweaters, sometimes using up many colours and a favourite, the BSJ. I knit childswear for charity in Eastern Europe groups and like simple patterns to watch TV doc.s and DVD’s of BBC costume drama and folkgroups music DVD’s, beautiful Irish/Scottish landscapes with beautiful music. I have bought myself a woolstash at charityshops, now almost tumbling down the stair when I open the closet on top of it, so now I have to knit myself out of my stash. Plain stockinette and the BSJ are just the thing the docter prescribed and all benefit. Once in a while I knit myself a lace shawl with beads or nupps and you are right, never think you are too good a knitter to knit a plain sock. Besides, due to an old injury I wear above the ankle fitted shoes, so there is nothing to be seen of my socks. But I as in IIII like seeing them in my sockdrawer and when I put them on and take them of and on the washingline. And sometimes, just for the fun of it, I knit a very intrigate sock pattern and quite a different design of shaping the foot.

  28. Lori Branin · ·

    What is the colorway of the STR? It’s my favorite sock yarn!!

  29. Knitting socks is the perfect quick knit project for me. I love working with the self striping yarn. It goes with the “mindless knitting” and always turns out great. Your great rib knit socks look absolutely comfy.

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