Sock knitting – where to start!
Sock knitting has a reputation for being addictive, and rightly so – once you start, you really can’t stop!
1. Fibre – a blend is best!
It is wise to stick to natural fibres for sock yarns, thanks to the nature of feet and perspiration! 100% Acrylic yarns do not suit feet very well, and you’re better off with something breathable. A blend is best – even a small percentage of nylon will help to keep your socks in shape and make them washable.
Cascade Yarns Heritage Solids Sock Yarn comes in a rainbow of shades, and is delicious to wear and knit, but if you prefer a ball of yarn that you don’t have to wind, West Yorkshire Spinners 4ply is a great favourite with ‘sockettes’ (sock fans!). Regia yarns are super popular worldwide thanks to their fabulous range of variegated colourways, and their yarns are hardwearing and will withstand lots of machine washing too!
2. Toe up? Cuff down?
You can knit socks from the toe up, or the cuff down, and you can knit two at a time to avoid the well known “second sock syndrome” which affects sock knitters who never get around to knitting the second sock of a pair! It comes down to preference, there are devotees for both methods. These blog posts explore the methods: 4 ways to cast on a sock, Top down socks 101, but just make sure when you choose a pattern, that it uses the technique you prefer!
Jen Hagan’s pattern for Fundamental Toe Up socks contains 10 sizes in four different yarn weights
3. Patterns & Books
If you get the bug, it’s great to invest in sock knitting books – I love Rachel Coopey’s Coop Knits Socks and Socks 2, both are chock full of beautiful sock designs. Her gorgeous sock yarn, Socks Yeah! is a fabulous sock yarn too, 75% merino wool and 25% nylon – it’s delicious to wear too!
When you start out, a basic sock is the place to start, like this free pattern for Very Vanilla Socks by Jo-Anne Klim. Note the reinforced heel, and generous cuff – both easy to knit and a good place for starting your sock journey.
We have thousands of sock patterns here at LoveKnitting, for all sizes and ages! Remember that you don’t have to start with fine sock yarn, you could choose a chunky sock like Dana Gervais’ Chunky Socks, or aran weight sock like Cosy Socks by Dream in Color, if the fineness of sock yarn is intimidating at first. It’s a good idea to begin with a baby sock, like Christy Hills’ Basic Socks for Baby, before you tackle adult sizes – this will let you practise the technique in miniature first.
Some people knit with double pointed needles, and some prefer the magic loop method using a circular needle with a long cord.
Needle material is important – choose something that will match your yarn and knitting style. Metal needles are great for yarns that are a little bit sticky, and they glide through stitches easily. This can also make them slippery, so if you are a new knitter and not confident with metal needles, try something with more grip.
Bamboo and wood needles are perfect for slippery yarns as they have more of a grippy surface – ideal for cotton, bamboo and linen yarns, or indeed for new knitters who prefer a little bit more security with moving stitches.
When you buy a set of double pointed needles, there are usually five in a pack – and this is because you will use four (occasionally three) to hold your work, with the stitches shared equally between them, and the remaining fifth needle as your working needle. You can read all about how to use double pointed needles here.
If you’re a magic loop fan, you’ll need a circular needle of at least 100cm in length to keep the stitches pliable.
Coming soon! Our very first sock knitting videos!
More to explore on the blog! How to turn a heel on a sock, 4 ways to knit a sock heel, Lilybet Socks Editor’s review, Socks Yeah review.
Last updated: April 29th, 2017.