Why Aren’t You Knitting Socks?
I’ll be honest, I’m not a sock knitter…….yet! I’ve knitted all of two socks in my knitting life, and they’re not even a matching pair! But perhaps this will be the year that I jump on the sock knitting train - it looks like it will take me to fun places!
There has been a lot of talk in our Facebook group and among our TWT staff at the start of 2024. Maggie and Emma even talked about their sock goals on Shopcast 213, our end-of-the-year recap episode.
Are you thinking of hopping on the sock knitting train? Or perhaps you’ve already been a happy passenger for a while? Perhaps you’re content to let this one pass by as you wait for a different train, and that’s okay too! But if you’re looking to dive into the world of sock knitting, here are some of our best tips to get you started!
I asked the sock knitters on our TWT Team and here’s the advice they have to offer. Thank you Kelsey, Erika, and Mary Claire for your helpful insight!
So why aren’t you knitting socks yet? Let’s jump in…
I find socks intimidating.
We highly recommend walking through a tutorial or course to get started with sock knitting. Not only will the teacher show you the steps, but they might also have suggestions for which pattern to start with and lots of other tricks!
Here are a few favorites:
Denise DeSantis of Earthtones Girl. Her YouTube channel has a free No Fear Sock Knitting online course to follow!
Tin Can Knits also has great resources in the form of blog posts and tutorials. Their Rye Socks pattern was suggested by all three of our team members!
Very Pink Knits is a useful YouTube channel resource for all things knitting, and she has a sock-specific playlist to guide you.
The Knitting for Dummies book covers everything knitting, and includes many techniques for socks. Look for it at our library!
If Corinne is your favorite course instructor, her Agatha Sock Video Course walks you through knitting her first sock pattern. Not exactly for first-time beginners, but once you have the basics down you just might fall in love with the Agatha pattern and Rambler yarn combo! We have kits to make it easy!
I haven’t found a good way to knit small circumferences.
There are lots of techniques for knitting small circumferences in the round. Each technique has its benefits and you’ll want to give them a try to find what’s best for you!
Very Pink Knits and Tin Can Knits both offer tutorials for the common techniques like Magic loop, shortie needles, or double-pointed needles. Search their content for the tutorial you'd like to try! You might find a needle/technique combo that's just right. Mary Claire likes the Addi Flexiflips needles for socks and Corinne is a confirmed Chiaogoo magic looper.
I don’t know what pattern to use.
If you’ve found a tutorial or video course that you like, chances are the instructor has a pattern to suggest! Here are a few more of the team’s favorites:
Rye and Rye Light Socks by Tin Can Knits - everyone’s first suggestion!
One More Step socks by Denise DeSantis
One Sock by Kate Atherley
I’m afraid of Second Sock Syndrome.
One way to cure Second Sock Syndrome is to try knitting two-at-a-time socks! Very Pink Knits offers a tutorial on how to do this. But each of our Sock Knitters had a few other suggestions for you!
Kelsey recommends casting on the second IMMEDIATELY when you finish the first. It gets through the biggest mental hurdle to the second sock. You could also knit something other than a Vanilla sock that you'll enjoy seeing grow and the progress is easier to see, like lace patterns, colorwork, or even just stripes (or self-striping yarn).
Erika, our newest knitter on the team, has yet to fall prey to Second Sock Syndrome, and her tip is to enjoy the second sock as a way to improve on what you learned from the first. She finds it fun to use the first sock as sort of the pattern (especially for length), because then she doesn't have to have the actual printed pattern next to her as much. The second sock usually goes faster because you already somewhat know the pattern... unless it gets interrupted by a sweater!o
Also, she likes using a self-striping yarn where matching it is part of the challenge and makes it interesting. Or consider starting with a shortie sock or child sock (less commitment!).
Corinne will often knit the cuff of one sock and then cast on the second sock and knit that cuff too so keeping both socks going together one section at a time.
One more idea is to start with a Christmas stocking! All the same techniques but in bigger yarn. Plus, no second sock syndrome.
I’m not a fan of knitting with fingering or sock weight yarn.
Though most sock yarns tend to be in the fingering weight category, you can make socks with any weight of yarn you’d like!
Lucia Slippers by Kristin Drysdale
Kelsey recommends knitting slippers - they don't necessarily need to be as durable as socks you walk around with a lot. Kristin Drysdale has a lot of slipper patterns (many of which also involve colorwork which may add to the fun of footwear for you - you could always knit the slipper without the colorwork to keep it simple). Kelsey also recommends the Woodland Loafers by Claire Slade or Cabin Slippers by Ysolda Teague.
Erika has knitted socks in Rauma Vandre, a worsted weight sock yarn. They sure go fast in comparison! You can also hold fingering double for a DK weight (two different shades perhaps, for a neat marl!). Erika did that with Mondim, and they are very cozy boot/heavy winter socks.
You could also test out your feelings about fingering weight socks with a shortie sock. They do take less time! Maybe it's not as bad as you think, but with a shortie sock you'll find out one way or another without too much angst.
Won’t they just wear out?
A lot about socks’ durability (handmade or storebought!) depends on the materials. Use sock yarn with nylon like Signature 4ply, Exmoor, Le Sock Yarn, or Drover if you tend to be hard on your socks. Knitting at a tight gauge will also help. You might be surprised just how hard-wearing they can be!
My feet might get too hot.
100% wool, especially non-superwash, is temperature regulating. Kelsey wears wool socks all year! Superwash can feel hotter and stickier because it doesn't wick, but woolly wool is a wonderful fiber for avoiding overheating.
I don’t want to have to hand wash my socks.
Non-superwash socks hold up best when they’re hand washed. It's very easy to do and it's not as easy to felt them as you think (handwashing). AND you don't have to wash them every wear because wool is anti-microbial! Keep a bucket near your laundry area to swish around a few pairs when you do the rest of the wash. We love Eucalan as a nice wool washing soap!
Some yarns even do allow for machine washing, as Mary Claire found out with her Vandre socks. Check out her blog post about that experience here!
A few more tips for success:
1. Hang out in one of The Woolly Thistle community groups long enough, and you’ll hear lots of chatter about the great things about handknit socks! If you have a question, our Facebook and Ravelry groups are a great place to turn for quick answers and lots of enthusiasm!
2. Maybe you’ve tried sock knitting and just haven’t fallen in love with the right pattern and yarn combination? You can browse all of The Woolly Thistle’s sock yarns here.
3. Mary Claire has a few more patterns to suggest!
- Weekend Shorty Socks by Summer Lee - great for if you have small skeins like John Arbon or leftover bits of Rambler
- Colorwork Lovers - Sisters United Socks by Caitlin Hunter, plus they donate to the Sisters United Fund which supports indigenous women in Montana
- Cable Lovers - Shag Carpet Shorties by Woolfield are a blast to knit in DK!
- Try a Funky Construction - Stitch Surfer by Louise Robert - These would be awesome when paired with self striping yarn!
Pop in a comment here if we missed any crucial sock knitting advice! Happy Sock Knitting Thistlers!