Sock Knitting Tips

Eleven Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Knitting Socks

(because they would have made life easier)

1.    There is no “right” needle to use when knitting socks, and almost any pattern can be adjusted to use double-pointed needles, two circular needles or one long circular needle, depending on your preference and how you’d like your stitches divided. Even if you don’t use them regularly, an extra set of double-pointed needles can come in handy for picking up or holding stitches.

2.    The easiest way to join in a circle for a cuff down sock is to add an extra stitch when you cast on so you can knit two together – some patterns call for passing stitches one over the other, which can be difficult and isn’t really necessary unless you want to do exactly what the pattern says.

3.    Make it easier to see whether the edge of your knitting is twisted or straight by knitting the first row of your cuff before joining – weaving in the yarn tail will hide the tiny one-row gap.

4.    If you’re not careful, you can end up with holes at the corners of your gusset when you’re finished with the heel and ready to knit the foot of your sock.  Here’s how to eliminate holes when picking up stitches for the gusset: http://tinyurl.com/nogussetholes

5.    There are many different heel styles for a flap-and gusset top-down sock; this sheet makes it easy to experiment with finding new shapes that fit your feet: http://tinyurl.com/heelsbynumber

6.    Pure short row heels are often written with “wrap and turn” directions – if you have trouble working the wrap and turn neatly, consider trying the Sherman short row heel – no wraps required: http://tinyurl.com/shermanheel

7.    There’s an easy way to make your heel flap edges look prettier – twist your stitches when you knit them up (note that this requires an extra needle for easiest execution): http://tinyurl.com/prettystitches

8.    Use red and green coiled stitch markers linked together (like a figure-eight) to help you keep track of decrease rounds after a sock heel or while making a sock toe; red means “stop and make your decreases” and green means “go ahead and knit around” – flip the marker each time you reach the end of the round instead of using a counter or ticking off rows on a piece of paper.

9.     A sock with a heel flap and gusset is more accommodating to a foot with a high arch, but you could always try working your pure short row heel over 60 percent of your stitches instead of 50 percent, which would make it deeper and the foot more accommodating top to bottom.

10.  Dental floss makes a great lifeline when knitting a more complicated pattern, with lace or cables.  Use a darning needle to thread floss through the live stitches on the knitting needle, and leave the floss in place until you’ve completed another pattern repeat or section. If you make a mistake you can’t live with, pull your needles out and rip your knitting back to the floss, which will stop the yarn from unraveling any further.  Then put your needles back in and knit on.  Re-thread the floss through your newest row of stitches as you successfully complete parts of your sock.

11.  Having trouble casting on for toe up socks?  You could always start with a “square toe,” which is just what it sounds like: a square with stitches picked up around the sides (some people refer to this as the “cheater’s toe”): http://tinyurl.com/cheaterstoe