Since I’ve been chattering a bit about socks lately, I’ve had a few folks ask me a bit more about the whole sock knitting thing. If you are relatively new to this whole experience (perhaps you came to knitting sometime after the great Sock Knitting Renaissance of the late ‘aughts) then let me pull up a chair and drop you a few suggestions. Sock knitting is not for everyone (or rather, it is not everyone’s favourite thing ever), but it’s nice to at least try something once to see for sure if it’s not for you, and if you’re in the try-something-at-least-once phase, here are a few little bits of knowledge, from me to you.
So, since we did have that great Sock Knitting Renaissance of the late ‘aughts, when it seemed like everybody was knitting socks all the time and if you weren’t knitting socks you must be some kind of creature that lived under a rock, a whole whack of sock patterns have been produced. There are so many kinds of socks out there, guys. Choice feels like your enemy at first. So, start with the simplest sock pattern that appeals to you.
One of the first ones I knitted was the Basic Sock Recipe in Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. It’s a stockinette sock work from the cuff down and also includes a good description of how socks are constructed, so that even if you don’t have a pattern you can still knit socks. It’s still the first thing I recommend to new sock knitters and the whole book is awesome.
I also have my own Nice Ribbed Sock pattern, which is a top-down sock knitted in 3×1 ribbing, and is free. However, if you’re uncertain about knitting socks on sock weight (fingering weight) yarn, which is fine and makes small (slower) stitches, try a pattern that uses DK weight or worsted weight, to give you more speed and satisfaction off the top. Some of the most popular ones on Ravelry in this category are the Blueberry Waffle socks (which are free), the Stepping Stones socks (which are in the Knitter’s Book of Socks), and these Toe-Up Heel Flap Socks (also free).
Then ask your brain what it wants to do next.
You might finish your first pair of socks and immediately love it and march yourself to the yarn store and buy twelve skeins of sock yarn and spend the next month doing nothing but knitting socks. If so, you would be in excellent company and many of us would happily empathize. On the other hand, you might finish your first pair and vow never to knit socks again, and go right back to shawls/cowls/sweaters/etc, and that is also totally valid and also there will be knitters right there to empathize with you.
It’s also quite likely that you’ll fall into the large and vague middle category, where you sort of think this could be neat, but [insert here] about the process didn’t really do it for you. Chances are, there is a personalized solution out there for you for whatever that thing is.
Did you try a cuff-down sock pattern and wished you could do it from the toe up instead? (which is handy if you want to be exact about how much yarn you use per sock) There are just so many toe-up sock patterns to choose from.
A lot of sock patterns are written for double-pointed needles. Maybe you tried that and it wasn’t your thing. Magic Loop is a nice alternative, and again, there are lots of tutorials: Knittinghelp.com, KnitPicks, my own wee photo tutorial, or heck, a quick YouTube search are all possibilities. Similar to Magic Loop is the two-circular needles method.Finally, thanks to the innovation of knitting world, you can also get circular needles that are small enough to use for a sock circumference, and 9-inch circular needles are more popular now for socks.
All of these methods are applicable for knitting in the round for any small circumference. You might find Magic Loop useful for sleeves, for example, as an alternative to double-pointed needles.
Figure out where sock knitting fits into your life.
I knit about half a dozen pairs of socks over the course of a year, mostly by choosing simple patterns that are easy to pick up and put down at a moment’s notice, and by keeping a sock project in my handbag for portable knitting. I’ve heard from other knitters who say they do this kind of knitting at certain times of day or while waiting for regular appointments or kids’ activities to finish up. Once you get the hang of it, sock knitting can easily fill little bits of time like this and eventually, you end up with a full sock drawer and then your family starts getting socks as gifts because you can’t stop. (Or that could just be me. Hm.)
Personally, I alternate between double-pointed needles and Magic Loop, depending on what I’m knitting, and prefer working cuff down. There are so many options! Try a few techniques and decide for yourself what you like the most.
This has been your Wednesday ode to sock knitting. If you’re new to this world, welcome! It has much to distract you with. ;). Happy knitting!