Hello everyone! Lately, I’ve been taking a break from knitting and crocheting familiar things and trying my hand at something new. There is a lot that I’ve been meaning to learn, but sock knitting has been on my list for years. I attempted to knit my first pair of socks about a year after I learned to knit, but could never get a pair of socks to look right.
This month, I’ve decided to pick it up again and go about it in a more structured way, and finally knit at least one pair of wearable socks. This post isn’t a pattern, but I hope my experience and tips can help you out!
In my first attempt at sock knitting, there were a few main problems I ran into that I wanted to avoid this time around. The main things I wanted to focus on getting right this time were the yarn, the techniques, and the pattern.
Knitting with finer yarn
If you’ve seen the patterns I usually share on this blog, you know I work almost exclusively with worsted weight yarn and then occasionally with bulkier weights. Although I love the look and feel of delicate sock yarn and fingering weight yarns, I don’t work with them often, and using such tiny yarn was a struggle for me when I first attempted sock knitting.
The yarn was so fine and fuzzy, it would snap as I worked. I would make so many tangles that I couldn’t undo, and my hands would cramp up working with such small needles and skinny yarn.
Since then, I’ve learned how to properly wind up yarn so that fixed the tangling issue. This time, I used a yarn that was altogether much easier to knit with and perfect for sock knitting.
This yarn is super soft and luxurious, as can be expected with 100% merino wool, so it was the perfect choice for something that’s going to be worn close to the skin. Most socks are made with fingering weight yarn, but this is a sport weight that’s just a little bit thicker. It was easier for me to knit with this yarn over other thinner weights since it wasn’t as delicate and it was really easy on my hands.
The twist in this yarn is also amazing! It’s spun tightly so the yarn holds together really well without getting fuzzy or thin even with I have to frog a section. The stitch definition the tight twist gave was beautiful.
You can see all the colors available and what I mean about the twist in the yarn over on the product page here. I got 2 skeins of it in the color Moss.
Taking the time to learn the skills
When I attempted sock knitting the first time, I didn’t understand the different ways to start a sock. Whether it was easier to start at the top or start at the toe. I didn’t look into different methods and just went with the one I found a video for. And that was for 2 at a time sock using Judy’s Magic cast on. Although it may be some people’s favorite cast on, it was too much for me to take on with the first pair. I followed a video in one place, a pattern from another, and attempted several times before I understood what I was supposed to do.
So this time, I got Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy D. Johnson.
And I read it through. This book is the only reason I managed to learn the techniques I did. Wendy takes the time to explain how to do everything right a the beginning of the book. She explains how to measure, how to find “the magic number”, and even how to choose yarn and tools.
There’s a section in the book called “Toe Up Essentials” and it is amazing. Wendy goes over 5 different ways to make the toe, 3 different heels, and a few different ways to bind off – all with figures illustrating how to do it. She explains it in a really simple way that even I, someone that wants a video and gets started before the video ends, can follow and appreciate. I learned how to work short rows with no trouble at all using this book. I’m even excited to learn some of the others now too!
Avoid overcomplicated patterns
Another thing I decided to do better this time around was to find a simple pattern. In my first attempt, I was way too confident and thought my first foray into sock knitting would be a pair of Perry the Platypus socks. If I found a basic pattern and created a little graph for the shape of Perry, I thought I could cobble together my own pattern.
But managing colorwork while trying to figure out sock knitting in the first place was a disaster. My yarn colors would get tangled, I would get confused on how to adapt the changes in the knitting pattern to my colorwork chart, and I just gave up once I turned the heel.
I used the Short Row Toe + Heel Basic Socks this time.
This was the first pattern in the book I mentioned above, and it’s a great beginner pattern. It uses short rows for the toe and the heel, so I didn’t need to learn a new technique for each, and it is super basic. There’s no colorwork or fancy lace pattern (but there are some later in the book!) and I could use my perfect merino wool to just enjoy the knitting process.
This pattern is also easy to adapt if you do want to get creative with color and yarn because it has a simple shape and the sections for the toe, the foot, the heel, and the leg are so clearly explained. I loved knowing just how far to knit before I had to think about doing something different and seeing it all come together.
Plus, I even made a second pair! I used the same pattern later to make socks with the toe and heel in contrasting colors from the rest.
Here are my finished socks! They aren’t 100% perfect, but they are miles ahead of what I made before. The biggest issue with these socks was in the fit around the leg. While the socks fit perfectly at my foot, my ankle and leg are not as wide so next time, I’ll have to decrease a bit to adjust that.
I also want to point out the difference between the 2 socks I made using the same pattern, but different yarns. For the green ones, I used the sport yarn which made a thicker, cozy sock that looks a bit bigger but fits the same. For the pink one, I used fingering weight yarn (a limited edition color from Knit Picks Stroll Sock Labs) and the sock it made is thinner and finer. It has more of a defined shape when it’s just laid out like this, and because it has a bit of nylon in the fiber, it seems to hold its shape better when the sock is worn.
Both of these yarns were great to work with, but I think starting with the Sport weight MillaMia really helped me get a feel for sock knitting. If you’re thinking about knitting socks for the first time, try a sport yarn if you’re not used to working with fingering weight yarn
Further Adventures in Sock Knitting
Now that I have the basics down, I’m excited to get into more complicated patterns and make more socks! They really don’t take too long to make and they only use about 1-1.5 skeins of yarn depending on long you want to make them. I’ll be trying out some of the lace patterns in Socks from the Toe Up, so stay tuned for that. I’ll share them on Instagram so you can follow me here to keep up with that.
What do you want to learn?
Right now is a great time to pick up a new skill or learn something that’s been on your mind. Grab a book, watch Youtube videos, or take an online class on something that interests you.
Let me know in the comments what you’re interested in learning. I hope you enjoyed this post and picked up a few tips for sock knitting. I’m no expert but I love sharing the journey with you. If you’d like to join me, be sure to subscribe down below! Just fill out the box below with your name and email and you’ll be added to the email list where I send free patterns, tips, tutorials, and freebies!
See you soon 🙂
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