Seeking tips for socks

Okay, I'm taking the plunge. I have size one needles and fingering weight sock yarn. I'm looking for tips, tricks and suggestions before I start. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.



Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I recommend using a very basic pattern that is just ribbing [preferably 2x2, for maximum stretch]; a tube for the leg; a simple heel flap that has an easy turn [I usually teach the German Heel] with slipped edge stitches that make it painless to picking up the gusset; another plain tube for the foot, and a basic toe that you finish off like a stocking cap. [That way you avoid having to Kitchener stitches - unless you don't mind that technique.] To cast on the top, I normally use the Old Norwegian cast on - which is a slightly twisted long tail - as it gives lots of stretch at the top, casting on over 2 needles held together for extra insurance.
If you have any questions, etc. you can always contact me by private message. However, be aware that I'll be at the Rocky Mountain Men's Knitting Retreat this weekend and it may take a while before I respond - I imagine I'll have a bucket load of emails and such to catch up on next week.
Good luck and remember to be patient with yourself - as with all new tasks, it may take a while before you catch on. And you can always get out a bigger needles and yarn to make practice pieces for any stage of a sock you aren't certain about - the larger size makes it easier to see what happens at that stage before attempting it with "toothpicks and string" [as a friend calls it].

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.


First either get someone to help you start. Either friend or on the internet or take a class. I don't think knitting socks is something a person can do off the top. (this is just my idea) second like Joe states start something very simple. perhaps ribbing and body of the sock.
I found out that using a marker helped me quite a bit. When knitting in the round its very difficult to remember when you end and where you started.
make sure you read your pattern FIRST. Although most are good you might find something missing stitch which could mess you all up. I found keeping your number of stitch exact to be also very important.
I prefer long tail cast on myself. just easier to start with. Working with finger weight is tricky as first. gotta watch your stitches dropping them can be a problem keep crochet hook on hand to help fix the dropped stitch.
I sometimes and lately have been using a smaller sized needle for the toes and heal thats just my preference they help to give more strength to these areas that wear out fast.
when it comes to the gussets some people here vary. i make sure i pickup an extra stitch for the hole that sometimes shows up. some people count the number of rows. i try very hard to pick up the correct number of end stitches. (read your pattern some make you measure some make you count rows, good to keep a counter close to you)sometimes that is difficult (you should be slipping the end everyother row for this) sometimes you might be off one or two thats no problem you can fix that latter, but if you find your REALLY off start again.
Other thing is if you enjoy it keep practicing it. You will develop your own way. My way of picking up the ends might differ from someone else, like my knitting teacher stated "can you life with it" is important.
For me its the whole process that I love. Seeing the magic of the heal turning and shaping of the actual sock is worth all the time.
Good luck hope you enjoy.

Thunderhorse54's picture

Thanks so much for your support. I'm not above asking for help...Believe me!!!

bobinthebul's picture

My recommendation as somewhat of a sockaholic would be to just practice knitting in the round first, if you haven't done it already. If you already know how to do that, then start with a simple worsted weight sock (my own favorite pattern is Thuja, available for free on ravelry) before you jump into a fingering weight. That way you can get acquainted with the basic concepts before you take on the commitment of "knitting thread with toothpicks" as one person described it. :)

My first sock (besides a toe-up tutorial sock that a friend walked me through) was pretty damn ugly, so I just frogged it. Then I made another and that's when I learned that gauge is important. I kept one of them as a Christmas stocking, if you get my drift.... Then I found the Thuja and the only part that had me flummoxed for a bit was the turning of the heel, because I didn't know what short rows were. :) The principles of the basic Thuja pattern (44 stitches in a round on 4mm neeedles) are perfectly applicable to thinner yarn and more stitches in a round.

And of course feel free to ask if you get stuck anywhere!

Thunderhorse54's picture

Worsted weight is a good idea. I've been making Residual Limb Covers for our soldiers using the magic loop method. I'll see how it goes. And thanks for the offer of help. Terry

SAPBrown's picture

Short Rows, Toe up or Cuff down, if it has a heel, you are going to run into them. has a free tutorial, teaching 4 different ways to do them:

Welcome Back

Thunderhorse54's picture

Thanks, I keep for getting about Craftsy. I will check that out. And, I'm glad to be back.

Take all of the above advice--also consult KNITTING WITHOUT TEARS by Elizabeth Zimmerman. Every technique has its advantages----Find the ones that suit your mind and fingers and practice a lot. Mostly, though, do it to have fun.

ronhuber's picture

I agree that that "Knitting Without Tears" has a great section on how to make socks and I know many people who have read those two pages and are now great sock knitters.

Tallguy's picture

There is a myriad of tips one can give; in fact, I think we can run a whole course on knitting socks! (or has someone already done it?)

But I'll tell you a secret -- don't tell anyone. Knitting socks is not that hard at all. It really is very simple! You know how to knit, to purl, to pick up stitches, to decrease, and.... well, I guess that's all! Nothing to it.

Of course, you should know how to knit in the round. That is not hard either, if you have done a hat. I also suggest that you start with a heavier yarn, but I did my first sock with very fine threads -- I was so new to this, I didn't know better! -- and it worked just perfectly.

I also would suggest that you take an in-person class, if at all possible. You need someone to show you what to do, and to look over your shoulder to see that you are on the right track. After that, you just need to practice.

All the tips the guys have given you here are valid. But keep them in the back of your mind somewhere (print them out and put them into your sock binder for later reference) because you want to concentrate on just doing a basic tube, with a bulge for the heel. Nothing to it!

I love doing socks because there is always something new to do. You can't get bored with them, like you would with a sweater or a scarf. The only problem I have with them is that I have to do two of them!! Then I learned 2-at-a-time socks, and I love that too!

Thunderhorse54's picture

Thanks!! I like the idea of just jumping in. I've done sweaters and hats in the round, and even stump socks for our amputee soldiers. I think I just might be able to handle it.

CLABBERS's picture

I have recently discovered sock knitting and enjoy it a lot. As others have mentioned, I started out using worsted weight socks. On the site you can find a lot of good stuff on sock knitting. I don't enjoy doing the wrap and turn short rows. Liat Gat is really an excellent pattern writer and she has patterns that don't require a wrap and turn, although she has another method that is simple and not as fiddly. I prefer the toe-up socks, but don't like provisional cast ons, and Liat has a nice solution to that as well. She uses Judy's Magic Cast On and I do as well. Someday I'll master provisional cast ons and wrap and turns, but not today. :)

Of course YouTube is a great resource as well.

I asked her for some advice and she was great in responding. She gave me a very good sock pattern that you can use once you work your way through one of her patterns, or any sock pattern for that matter. She gave me instructions on making my own pattern. I have pasted it below.


Making up your own sock pattern
There are many sock patterns available in books and on the Internet, and many more variations you can make using the techniques above. But let’s say you want to design your own toe-up sock pattern! The formula is really easy – I must give credit to Fleegle, who published this easy formula for us all to enjoy.
I describe it to you in my own words here.

Toe-up cast-on
Using a size needle that is appropriate to your yarn weight (suggested on the label), and using Judy’s Magic Cast-On, cast on about an inch and a quarter of stitches.

Increase for toe
Increase just like we did for our project, stopping when the sock is as wide as your foot at the “ring” (fourth) toe. You don’t want to increase until the sock is as wide as your whole foot, because then it will sag and fall off. No fun.
Count the stitches on your sock – you will use this stitch count when we get to the heel.

Knit foot, increase for heel.
Work even until the sock reaches the front of your ankle, and then increase on the heel needle just like we did for our worsted-weight sock, stopping when you have, on the heel needle, two less than the total number of sock stitches you had for the foot.

Turn heel
Placing a marker at the midpoint of your heel stitches, knit to 2 sts beyond the marker. Decrease, K1, then turn and purl back to 2 sts beyond the marker. Decrease, P1, and turn. You may remove the marker. Continue turning the heel by working up to the gap, as I showed you in Lesson 3, decreasing, working 1 more, and then turning your work.
You are done turning the heel when your K1 after the decrease is the last stitch on the needle. Working exactly like we did on our project, knit once across the instep and do a final decrease on the right-hand side of the heel. You should be back to your original number of stitches!

Work cuff and ribbing
Knit even for the cuff as long as you like. If you want to make long-cuffed socks or even knee socks, try on the socks after you have knitted 8 inches – you may need to increase one stitch on either side of the sock. In a few more inches, try on again, and increase as needed. If you are making knee socks, do at least 1.5-2 inches of ribbing, decreasing at the very top to adjust for the leg getting narrower at the top of the calf.

Bind of invisibly, weave, and block
Bind off using the invisible ribbed bind-off, weave in your ends, block your socks, and you’re done! This is the formula that I’ve followed for all my toe-up sock patterns, so you should feel comfortable with it once you’ve knitted the socks along with me.

Thunderhorse54's picture

Thank you, thank you, I'm going to print that out, and put the info in my sock knitting notebook that I've started. I appreciate your time and advice!

teejtc's picture

You probably have all the information you need, but I'd echo making a pair out of worsted weight before using sock weight. You get the idea of sock-making and it goes much more quickly (and there's less time in between each section so you don't have as long to forget). I like the hiking sock pattern in the Knitters (Man)ual by Kristin Spurkland. (Honestly, I'm kind of a junkey about that book, it's a great starter for all sorts of things!)

Grace and peace,

Thunderhorse54's picture

Thanks for response, I will definitely check out that book!

CLABBERS's picture

Tim, I really like the Knitting Man(ual) as well. I have made several things from it. The great thing other than the designs is that she replies to questions when you get stuck.