Simple Sock Knitting

(Please note that this article contains links to other websites and You Tube videos which I hope you’ll find helpful. All links are correct at time of publishing. We’re not responsible for the content of external links. If you spot a problem just let us know).

Which yarn?

I use a 4ply, sock weight yarn. Socks take a lot of wear and tear so you’ll usually find that sock yarns have the addition of some polyamide or nylon in the mix. This helps give the yarn some extra strength and will ensure your socks will last for ages.

The socks I’m knitting in the pictures on this page are ‘vanilla’ socks – the most basic pattern, nothing fancy. What makes them look great is the yarn choice. Self patterning yarns make even the simplest sock look really interesting. There’s a huge choice of self patterning yarns out there. Some create stripes, some more tricky looking Fair Isle style.

Which needles?

You’ll need to swatch to see exactly which needle size gives you the correct gauge for your knitting. Everyone knits a bit differently and of course to a certain extent it depends on how dense or open you want your knitting to be. I knit socks on 2.5mm needles. I use a circular needle and the ‘magic loop’ method. These socks are knitted in the round from the top down, there’s no seaming to do apart from a tiny bit at the toe. Having tried using straight pins, I much prefer magic loop. If you’ve not tried it before I would recommend giving it a go. There are lots of video tutorials out there on the internet to help you. I use a 100cm circular which means it’s long enough to do two socks at a time, more on that in a moment.

Once cast on, you can then join the stitches in the round ready to knit. If you find this tricky to do without twisting, then go ahead and work back and forth without joining in the round until you have three or four rows done. It’s then much easier to join in the round without the knitting twisting. You just seam up that tiny join at the end as you weave in your ends.

Which pattern?

There are so many different patterns out there including lots of basic sock patterns which are free to download. There might even be a free one on a leaflet with your sock yarn purchase. I have used a variety of patterns including these:

Winwick Mum Sockalong

Vanilla Socks

Casting off the toe

I would highly recommend mastering Kitchener Stitch as your method for joining and casting off the toe. As you can see in these photos, it makes for a seamless toe so there’s no ridged seam that can be uncomfortable for your toes. As with all knitting there are loads of tutorials on You Tube, but this is the one that I found most useful.

Kitchener Stitch just looks so neat! As you’ll see, it makes the knitting appear to travel seamlessly over the toe.

The Second Sock

Some knitters find doing the second sock a bit tedious. Other times you might just find it helpful to knit two socks at the same time because it helps keep your socks identical in size without the hassle of measuring and counting rows. It’s relatively straightforward to knit two socks at the same time using the Magic Loop technique.

To work two socks at the same time you do have to separate your yarn into two equal balls. For me, having two balls of yarn on the go is the only real pain with this method – they can get a bit tangled if your yarn management skills are a bit lax! Other than that, I really like this option and it’s hugely satisfying to finish both socks at once. It really does avoid that ‘second sock syndrome’. The best tutorial I found for this method is here.

I love to have a quick knitting project on the go, something that’s fast to complete and satisfying to do. Socks are the perfect project. There are lots of tricky things you can do with sock knitting – fancy cuffs, cable patterns, lace designs, colour work, you name it, not to mention the different ways to turn a heel. I keep everything super simple and I think the results are still lovely.

If you’re new to sock knitting, or like me, just want something easy to knit that doesn’t need too much concentration, this is it! Here’s what works for me…

How much yarn?

I find that a 100g ball is more than ample for knitting a pair of socks in my size. I always have leftovers which is wonderful – I save these leftovers and mix and match them into other socks. You can see how all the odd bits of yarn in the photo above could work together in  some socks.

Making a Pair

I don’t worry if my two socks don’t actually match exactly. In this photo you can see that this pair of socks are knitted from the same ball of yarn, but they aren’t identical. This is because I’ve not started each sock at the same point in the self patterning yarn. Obviously, if you want your socks to be identical then you can do that, just choose a point in the yarn to be the start, and then when you come to do the second sock, make sure you hold the yarn at the start so that you are beginning at the same point in the colour shifts. Honestly though, I never do that. I actually like that they are similar but different!

With the socks I’m knitting right now, I’m doing one at a time which is the simplest thing to do. Here you can see I’ve cast on 60 stitches which is what I need for my foot (it’s easy to size up and down for different sized feet). Again have a look on the internet for a simple sock pattern (there are loads for free) and you’ll usually find some guidance on stitch number.

I cast on using a German twisted cast on which looks tricky at first, but quick once you’ve mastered it and results in a nice stretchy cast on edge which you’ll want as this is going to be the cuff edge of your sock. I found this tutorial to be helpful.

Sock Anatomy

So basically, a sock has a Cuff, Leg, Heel, Gusset, Foot and Toe. You can make variations in each element which is why a sock can be quite simple and also quite challenging if you want it to be. My simple socks have a 1.5″ ribbed cuff, 5.5″ leg, 2″ reinforced heel flap, gusset and then 3″ foot before starting the toe.

If you’re keen to try sock knitting for yourself I hope you found this useful. Knitting your own socks is such a quick and portable project and once you get used to the anatomy of the sock and how you like to knit them, you won’t even need a pattern at all. I love that they give me the opportunity to use up all those scraps of yarn into such colourful socks!

Happy knitting!

Love Laura

More project ideas...

Embroidered Kingfisher

Working from a photographic or sketchbook study as your inspiration, join Linda to use free applique to create a bird panel. Build layers with raw edged fabric scraps before using machine and hand stitch to add texture and detail.

Needlefelting: The Spirals Bag

Learn how to use your needlefelting (Embellisher) machine to create a colourful fabric with felt and wool fibres. Then decorate it with appliqué spirals, and enhance with machine and hand stitch before constructing a simple triangular bag.

To access this post, you must purchase Needlefelting: The Spirals Bag.

Upcycled Purses

Work along with Laura to make beautiful zipped purses made from up-cycled quilts and samples. She’ll share her tips for achieving a perfect finish.

To access this post, you must purchase Upcycled Purses.

Tips for Sewing a CC Charlie Caftan

The Charlie Caftan by Closet Core is a great pattern. Here’s my latest version and a step by step look at my method for tackling the trickier part of the make.

Painted Mirror Frame

Add a pop of colour and pattern to your home with this decorative mirror frame. Laura will show you how to paint and construct the frame using simple materials and techniques.

To access this post, you must purchase Painted Mirror Frame.

Inspired by Ceramics: Table Runner

Discover how Linda chooses a fabric colour palette for a summer table runner inspired by a collection of hand painted ceramics. Follow our lead and be inspired by your tableware to make a perfectly coordinating quilted table runner. She uses stitch and flip technique in a quilt as you go method of piecing. This is an ideal project for making use of many coloured scraps.

Embroidered Crazy Bookwrap

Decorate any book with a crazy embroidered bookwrap.

To access this post, you must purchase Embroidered Crazy Bookwrap.

Inspired by Boro

Inspired by the stitch and repair notion of Boro and other textile traditions from around the world, Linda is constructing a textile using scraps and lots of hand stitching. To make the process her own, she’s chosen to needle-felt the fabrics making a strong fabric that’s a pleasure to stitch. In the second video see how she turns that fabric into a stylish and practical tote bag.

Inspired by…Samplers

Join Linda to see how she’s been inspired by her love of antique samplers to create a piece of folk art style needle-felted applique. Explore a playful use of motif and scale and complete with some hand stitch.

To access this post, you must purchase Inspired by Samplers.

Quick Felted Vessels

Make satisfying use of scraps and recycle fabrics to create a beautiful felted vessel. Work with a needle felting machine (embellisher) to create a beautiful fabric before constructing your vessel. You can even embellish with hand stitch and beading if you choose!

To access this post, you must purchase Quick Felted Vessels.

Sewing Patch Pockets

Laura’s latest dressmaking project has patch pockets. See how she sews them for great results every time.

How To Make a Box Bag

Work along with Laura and Frances as they show you how to make a box bag step-by-step. Frances will share her tips for a professional finish inside and out for this fully lined zipped bag. It’s perfect for make-up, art supplies, a small knitting project or as a travel bag.

To access this post, you must purchase How to Make a Box Bag.