Here's some sock knitting tips to get you started!
Why knit socks?
- It’s fun, once you learn how.
- It’s a portable knitting project while traveling.
- You can make a sock to fit you just the way you like it.
- You can choose the exact fiber content of your sock.
- You can use all kinds of fun colors!
- You will expand your knitting skills while learning to knit socks.
Here is a Facebook video I did last week that covers sock yarns, types of heels, and a variety of sock knitting patterns.
Now that you have decided you want to make socks, here are nine key tips to get you going in the right direction.
1. Find an inexpensive yarn suitable for socks. Knit your first pair of socks from worsted-weight yarn; the larger gauge makes it easier to see what's going on. Berroco Vintage Worsted is a wool/acrylic blend that washes up beautifully, and Plymouth Encore is a wool/acrylic blend that is bullet-proof, i.e. super durable! Encore Colorspun and Encore Dynamo can be used to add striping and patterning to a plain stockinette stitch sock.
2. Find a DK- or worsted-weight sock pattern in three sizes. Having three sizes to choose from ensures that there's a size to fit your foot.
3. Knit a pair of baby socks. If you want to learn to knit the traditional gusset and heel flap, how about a few pairs of baby socks? The small scale of these socks makes it easy to learn sock knitting fundamentals. And if you don't have a baby in your life, you can always donate them to your local hospital!
4. What kind of heel should I learn first? If you're trying to learn the art of sock knitting and you're intimidated by short rows but you do know how to make simple decreases, then knit a few pairs of socks with simple ribbing and an afterthought heel. Next, you might try a sock knit with German short rows, and then you might tackle the traditional heel flap and gusset. After that, you should be a pro! Here’s an article we did on how to choose your heel.
5. Always use a light colored yarn in a plain or lightly variegated colorway. With light colored yarn, you'll be able to see your stitches better. I've seen many people try to knit their first pair of socks with dark yarn and they have trouble. Don’t set yourself up for failure, just choose a light color and your sock-knitting experience will be much more pleasant!
6. Knit your first pair of socks in stockinette stitch. Choose a simple stockinette-stitch sock knitting pattern so you can concentrate on learning sock knitting instead of a new stitch pattern or colorwork design. I have a rule that works well for me: Don't try too many new skills at one time. Remember, you need to get some sock-knitting confidence under your belt before you try more advanced patterns.
7. Don’t turn your heels late at night. Never, and I do mean never, knit sock heels late at night. That’s when most knitters make a mistake and give up on sock knitting altogether. This is one reason I recommend knitters have more than one project on the needles at a time. Having a “mindless” (i.e. easy) knitting project that you can work on when you’re tired or at open knit groups where it’s noisy, just makes good sense. We have quick 1-minute videos to help you along the way.
8. Once you have knit a few pairs of socks and are ready for fingering-weight sock yarns, here are some great options:
- Ultra Alpaca Fine is a 30% nylon, 20% alpaca, 50%, wool blend, 433 yards (400 meters)
- Madelinetosh Tosh Sock is 100% superwash merino, 433 yards (400 meters)
- Madelinetosh Twist Light is 75% superwash merino 25% nylon, 420 yards (384 meters)
- Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 is 70% superwash merino, 20% cashmere and 10% nylon, 400 yards (366 meters)
- Zen Yarn Garden Superfine Fingering is 100% superwash merino, 400 yards (366 meters)
- Lang Jawoll Color is 75% Wool and 25% nylon 459 yards, (420 meters)
- Berroco Comfort Sock is an 100% acrylic that is wonderful and squishy, 447 yards (408 meters)
Superwash yarn is treated so that you can machine wash it, but we recommend laying your socks flat to dry.
9. Which needles are best for knitting socks? There are so many options! First you must decide which technique you're going to use; a small circular needle, such as a 9-inch circular needle, double pointed needles, two circular needles, or the Magic Loop method. I recommend using the method that feels most comfortable to you. The goal is to become familiar with the art of knitting socks not learning a new knitting method.
If you decide double points are best for you, there are many options—wood, metal, round or square needles. I like metal tips because the dogs and cat can’t chew them apart. We carry many brands of double pointed needles, including Knitter’s Pride, Chiaogoo, Brittney, and Hiya Hiya.
Square needles are good for those folks with arthritis or other ailments that impede your ability to grip the needle.
Here's a video where I review the different circular needles we carry so you can choose what's best for you if you decide to knit your socks with circular needles.
I personally use the 2-at-a-time Magic Loop method. It is a very handy skill to learn! No second-sock syndrome for me. Some of my favorite needles for knitting socks using this method are Addi Sock Rockets, which have the turbo metal but a lace tip. Dreamz by Knitters Pride are nice if you like wood and Knitter's Pride Karbonz have carbon fiber, which feels like wood, with a metal tip.
10. What length circular needle do I need? When I knit my socks using the Magic Loop 2-at-a-time method, I find the 40- to 47-inch cords work best. Some people feel a 47-inch cord is too long for socks, so you might want to try a 40-inch if that's a concern.
You can also use a 9-inch circular needle, or two circular needles. If you choose to use two circulars, most people choose a 24-inch needle and a 16 inch needle, so they don't get the two confused.
One Final Tip
Check your yarn's yardage to make sure you have enough. Some sock yarn (also called fingering yarn) come in 175-yard skeins, and others come in 500-yard skeins (and anywhere in between!). You'll need 400 to 450 yards to knit the average pair of socks, so check your yardage to make sure you have enough. I love Frabjous Fibers Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat, which has a whopping 512 yards per skein. You can knit knee socks with just one skein!
I hope you love knitting socks as much as I do.