Sunday, 23 April 2017

Sock Knitting Tips

I often get comments on my sock posts from people who would love to knit socks themselves but haven't yet given it a go, or from people who are too nervous to just give it a go, don't know where to start or from people who are having little problems when trying to knit socks. Although I'm not an expert when it comes to knitting socks, I thought I'd do a post with some hints and tips that I've picked up myself over my sock knitting journey which may help some of my readers out too.

The first thing I'd say is that if you want some help, then take a look at Winwick Mum's Sockalong posts. Christine from Winwick Mum gives lots and lots of tips as well as providing a tutorial and a simple sock pattern which is free to use. These are the socks I knit when I followed along with this Sockalong.


I find double pointed needles the easiest for me, however, when you first use them it can be very tricky. Don't let this put you off, you can use a small circular needle instead or even a longer circular needle with a technique called Magic Loop. Use whichever needles are comfortable for you.

Different makes of needles can be quite different too so if you find a particular brand too pointy then choose another brand which make their needles a little blunter, or vice versa.

I wouldn't necessarily spend a lot of money on the yarn for your first pair of socks as you may make a few mistakes. Drops Fabel is very reasonable, I'm knitting a pair of socks in it at the moment and it works up in to a lovely pattern. I would definitely choose a patterned yarn though, it does keep things interesting if you're knitting a plain sock. Regia is another affordable yarn and I've enjoyed using this brand in the past. There's some gorgeous sock yarn out there and once you know how easy it is to knit a pair of socks, there'll be no stopping you.


It's important to use a loose cast on otherwise the cuff will be too tight to get your feet through. I use the long-tailed cast on which is quite stretchy but I also use a larger needle than I'm going to use for the rest of the project. I usually knit my socks on 2.5mm needles but use 4mm for the cast on and transfer the stitches on to the 2.5mm ones as I knit the first row before joining in the round.

Make sure your stitches aren't twisted as you join in the round, it's easily done.

I always use stitch markers, usually three, one for the start of the round and the other two marking the instep. It keeps things clear for me.


When using double pointed needles, stitches at the end of each needle can sometimes pull loose creating a ladder effect in your knitting which can look a bit like a dropped stitch. Ladders are caused when the yarn isn't pulled tightly enough when moving from one needle to the next. You can prevent this happening by making sure that you pull the stitch tight as you change needles or do as I do and move the stitches around so that you're not ending in the same place on each row. Each time I get to the end of each needle, I just knit a couple of stitches from the following needle and that seems to work for me.

Learn how to kitchener stitch to graft the toe stitches together, it's easy when you know how to do it and makes a seamless toe.

Sock blockers aren't a necessity but they do give your socks a lovely shape once you've finished knitting them and have soaked them.


Once you've mastered a basic pattern there's lots of different cuffs, heels and toes to try out so that you can cobble together the exact sock you find most comfortable, and then it's time to try out some patterned socks, the world is your oyster.

Ravelry is a great source for free and paid for patterns and there's new ones being added all the time. I could spend hours on there and I've already earmarked more patterns than I can ever hope to knit.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Do feel free to leave any tips you have yourself in the comments as it's always good to help each other out.

28 comments:

  1. Some great tips Jo. I'm hoping to make myself some new socks shortly. I always struggle when it comes to picking up the stitches. Actually, I'm in more of a hurry for some since I managed to shrink my favourite wool ones just yesterday. Arrgh!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you tried the Fish Lips Kiss Heel pattern? It's on Ravelry and costs a pound or two but it's designed so that you don't have to pick up stitches. I haven't tried it yet but I'm definitely going to. Oh no, I feel your pain about shrunk socks, I must admit that I've been quite hard on my hand knitted socks and must learn to look after them better. I've got a couple of pairs which are on the way to being felted and a pair which has shrunk.

      Delete
  2. Thank you Jo, I'm one of the people that would love to knit socks but i've yet to take the plunge. But i will one day, I have everything ready :-) Did you make a tension piece before starting? I've notice that people cast on different number of stitches, how do you know what number to cast on?
    I will use Winwick mums tutorial when i do make a start it seems very detailed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You must take the plunge, just do it, your feet will thank you for it. I've never known such cosy socks as hand knits. I have to admit that I'm very naughty when it comes to tension squares, I rarely bother. I'm a size 6 shoe and I find that 60/64 stitches are fine, I can't remember knitting any socks that haven't fit. I usually go with 64 stitches if there's a pattern involved or 60 for a plain pair. I don't think you'll go wrong if you use Winwick Mum's tutorial, as you say, it's very detailed and I believe there's also a Facebook group where you can get lots of help if you get stuck. I love how our knitting community is so generous with their help and advice.

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. I know lots of people are on the look out for tips when it comes to sock knitting so I hope it helps someone.

      Delete
  4. Wonderful tips! I prefer Magic Loop for most things but when it comes to socks, I find the wire gets in the way so I go with double points.

    My cast ons were always too tight as well so I have now gotten into the habit of casting on over two needles (in whatever size the project calls for) instead of one. When the cast on is done, I just slide out one of the needles and I'm ready to go.

    Something else that works for me is making both socks at the same time. I haven't tried the two at a time Magic Loop, etc., but simply have the two socks going on 2 sets of needles and go back and forth between them for each section (i.e. knit the cuff for sock #1, then do the same for sock #2 before I go on to the body). This really helps with the "single sock syndrome".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A couple of brilliant tips there. I tried casting on over two needles when I first started sock knitting but I found it fiddly, it's good not to have to transfer the stitches on to new needles though, being able to just slide one of the needles out so I might try it again now. I've thought about knitting two socks at once as you do, it's such a good idea so that you have a completed pair when you come to casting off instead of having to start the second sock from scratch. Thank you for the tips, I'm sure they'll help others too.

      Delete
  5. I'm sure that all knitters will enjoy these tips.
    My Dear Mum always loved to knit ... alas I never got on with it ...
    Never Mind.

    Enjoy the rest of Sunday and have a good new week too

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mum was a brilliant knitter but she stopped knitting a number of years ago now, which is quite sad. She came from a big family so I have many cousins, all their babies were dressed beautifully in hand knits from my mum.

      Delete
  6. great tips and great socks, I love knitting socks and am just doing the afterthought everything socks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, good luck with that, I can't wait to hear how you get on with it as that scares me to death. It's certainly good trying out new patterns and techniques though until you find out what suits you best.

      Delete
  7. I have knitted socks but, to be honest, I don't think I'll be knitting any more. That's not because I found them hard, I just don't wear mine. Oh, I do wear them inside my wellies and I don't need more than one pair for that! I enjoy watching you making yours, though. :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I enjoy the making of socks just as much as the wearing. I've worn my hand knitted socks right the way through winter and I could do with more pairs now, but even if I didn't wear them I'd still have to knit them and give them away because I enjoy knitting them so much.

      Delete
  8. Ooh, thanks for the tips. You must have ESP, as I got out that sock wool on Saturday night, which I bought about 2 years ago, & then some needles, oh, then thought about it a lot, but didn't start as I want to finish the scarf first. I also find some nights I'd rather crochet these days as it can be a little more relaxing/therapeutic. I am determined to make some for this winter. I should be closer & you can both help & tick me off when I deliberate. Have a good week & take care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Start the socks when you've got time to concentrate, get the scarf finished first and then set your stall out, that's what I'd do. I'm sure once you're in the right frame of mind to take on a sock project you'll whizz through it and then you'll become addicted.

      Delete
  9. A post full of great information, I do all that you have suggested.
    Have you seen the Arne and Carlos 'Pairfect' wool for new sock knitters to make sure they get the perfect matched pair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't know about the Pairfect yarn, I've just Googled it, what a great idea. Self patterning yarn is brilliant but it can be a pain to match up sometimes so this takes all the guesswork out of it.

      Delete
  10. This is such a helpful post! It's always good to know what other people's tips are - there are so many ways to knit socks that there has to be a technique to suit everybody! Thanks so much for the recommendation, I always love to be able to help a new sock knitter discover how fab hand-knitted socks are! :-) xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As you say, there are so many different techniques when knitting socks that I think once you start you pick up your own favourite way. Like you, I love knitting socks so I do like to encourage others to give it a try too.

      Delete
  11. I do look at your knitted socks with much admiration and haven't had a try myself yet. I have so many things I want to make and socks are on that list, but I always think they look so tricky. I will get around to it one day xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was always daunted by socks before I tried them, I think they're much easier than they look. There's always so many things we want to have a go at, isn't there, if only there were more hours in the day.

      Delete
  12. The pink socks remind me of Bagpuss! :D

    I should probably give knitting another go... I just couldn't do it when Mum tried teaching me as a child.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's so many great tutorials out there these days, you should definitely give knitting another go. I learnt to knit as a child, I was so young that I can't even remember not being able to knit.

      Delete
  13. A really well written post for all those frustrated knitters out there. I've never tried it, maybe one day! I shall certainly come to you for advice if I take it up.xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Knitting has become very popular again. I remember most people knitting when I was a child but it seemed to go out of fashion for a long time. Most things seem to come around again if you wait long enough.

      Delete
  14. If anyone is thinking of giving socks as go I bet they would find these tips invaluable. That's what is great about blogging so many kind people sharing info to help others.
    Lisa x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got lots of help from a blogger when I started knitting socks so it's good to repay the favour and help others. You're right, the blogging community is so generous with their help and advice.

      Delete