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  • Thanks for these! I have heard a similar trick for the cast-on edge: cast on one more than you need, pass first stitch cast on to the working needle and knit first and last stitch together when you join for working in the round. It does nice things for my socks.

  • Fudged these out myself the third time I knit a pair of socks so I am pleased to be on the same wavelength as my knitter heroines! I am now a true sock obsessive.

  • I always pick up an extra stitch on both sides of the gusset. On the first round, I ssk/k2tog the last two stitches towards the leg. The next round starts the regular pattern of decreases. This seems to tighten up the sock where the potential for a hole may appear.

  • Genius! I love making socks and knew the ‘toe tip’, but the other two are new to me. I will add them to my arsenal of sock skills. Thanks!

  • Can I throw in a personal tip? I’ve become partial to making a rounder toe on socks, so I start the toe decreases with every-other-row for maybe 8 rows total, then switch to every-row decreases for the rest of the toe – maybe another 8 rows total. The number of rows varies with the size needle; I just eyeball the shaping, and it seems to work out well.
    My dyed yarn dried again yesterday – here’s another tip: don’t hang yarn outdoors to dry when you haven’t checked the weather report. Then I spent more than 5 hours (a record, I think and hope) untangling the hank and winding it into 2 balls so I can knit on two socks at once if I want to. And finally – last night – an hour before I passed out – I cast on a sock! Doubt that I’ll finish a pair by the end of your KAL, but I’ll give it a shot 🙂

    • Way to persevere!

    • I like a rounded toe too – for socks for other people I decrease every other row until I have 50% of the stitches left, then every row into 25% are left, and then I kitchener. For my own stumpy feet, I switch to every row when 2/3 of the stitches remain, and then Kitchener when I’m down to 1/3.

  • Great tips, thanks so much.

  • I’m with you on cuff down, 2 circs sock making. Thanks for all the great tips-especially the one about knitting through the back of the stitch on the stitches picked up from the heel flap for the gussset! Will definitely do this on the sock I’m knitting right now.

  • please explain the toe thing again? I am just not getting it, having some kind of block here! is there a youtube?

    • When the stitches are on two needles, ready to be graphed, you would have to transfer the end 2 stitches onto another needle then cast off towards the center of the sock. 4 stitches in total are decreased, 1 at each end of each needle. Hope this helps.

      • thanks Pearl, I will try and see what I get!

  • Thank you! What a great way to start a Saturday, with delusions of future sock perfection. … Although that means when all my neglected first socks get mates, they will be imperfect and feel inferior in comparison. Which means I will have to rip them. Take that thank you back. Do you realize how much time you’ve just cost me? Damn your eyes, Mason-Dixon knitters.

  • i just bought my first pair of crocs (for camping in iceland) now i need to knit some socks! going to join the group! great tips!

  • MDK must be the only place on the internet where comments are not only civilized but as invaluable as the posts themselves. Some of these tips I knew, some are ready to be tested on my next pair of socks. My own tip for top down socks, for a (crucial) stretchy cast-on: long-tail cast-on, pause and stretch the stitches on the needle every 4 sts or so. Slowly does it. I learned this from Ann Budd’s Sock Workshop book and DVD.

  • Here’s one of my favorite tips to make your beautiful hand-knit socks last about twice as long:
    In the areas that you know will be first to wear through (heel, ball of foot, top of a toe, etc, wherever your socks typically wear out), add a strand of Kid Silk Haze or Kid Seta (essentially the same thing) to the sock yarn. It is the ideal reinforcing thread for several reasons: it is made of silk and kid mohair, which are, as my friend Lucy Neatby says, “nature’s nylon.” Only better—the super-strong silk won’t cut into the sock yarn because it is embedded with a halo of kid mohair, which reaches out its filaments and felts itself into your sock yarn, as if to say, “Nobody’s going anywhere!” (Don’t machine wash these socks; they will shrink where the KSH is.) The other great thing is that you can cut short ends of the KSH rather than use it around the whole foot (for instance in the ball of the foot) because the ends are sticky enough that they will not slide out (this means you don’t need much KSH either). And finally, if you do include Kid Silk haze throughout the foot, you can work at a looser gauge (about 2 needle sizes larger) than with sock yarn alone, because the KSH fills all the little gaps with itself, forming a cushy carpet, and then meshes everything into a soft felted-to-fit fabric. So now your sock yarn will go farther because you need less of it. Amen!

    • Perfect! Never heard about that tip! I’ll try it on my next pair. What a great way…

    • Cat’s advice is sound (of course it is! She’s Cat!), but it makes me twitch….because I’m allergic to mohair. Not “It itches” sensitivity–full on hives allergic. Mohair in my socks? That would be torture. Hmm. I must protect this information from my foes.

      Living without mohair is easy, but my knitter heart hurts for a guild acquaintance who is allergic to alpaca. That would be horrible.

    • Whaaaaaaaaat??? I LOVE this. Thank you. Was just taking a tour through the stash and looking at some old KSH and have also been seeking and buying sock reinforcement yarn to add to toes, but ALSO WORRYING about the reinforcement yarn nylon cutting at the wool. Brilliant and many many thanks.

  • I like my socks to stay up and not droop around my ankles so I rib the entire ankle (and top of foot too, if I’m feeling industrious). I also do the heel flap procedure on the backside of the sock for about an inch or so before separating for heel flap so the sock hugs my heel better.

    Ages ago, I read how socks should have ribbing around the ankles and not at the top of the sock because the ribbing wants to end up at the smallest circumference. The ankle ribbing holds up the top of the sock as it forms a firm base for it to sit on.

  • Totally saving many of these comments! I knit a LOT of socks (also top down, two circs), and I’m always looking for tips and ricks. Two things I do: (1) When making the heel flap, I slip stitches on the purl row rather than on the knit row, which is the way all patterns seem to be written. Because I knit faster than I purl, I figure why not slip stitches on the purl side to move things along faster? The end result looks exactly the same. (2) On either side of the heel flap, I garter stitch the third-to-last and next-to-last stitches, then slip the last stitch purlwise. This makes it easy to pick up the stitches for the gusset, and it makes a pretty edge to the heel. (I learned that one from Grumperina.)

  • Yay!

  • I’m a toe-down two-circ sock-knitter too! And wear hand-knit socks exclusively from about mid September to mid May to keep my feet warm in the Chicago area. But had trouble with “wearing thin” or developing holes on the bottom of the heel and at the toes – now when I separate to knit the heel, I change to one size smaller needles to knit the heel and heel gusset section to where number of stitches on that bottom needle gets back to 32, change back to my original size til the toe is reached, and then go back to the smaller size for both needs to finish the toe (usually use 1’s so go down to 0’s). That has drastically increased the longevity of my socks! Also Knit Picks website has a couple of fantastic sock darning tutorial videos (swiss darning for thin spots and reknitting over holes for when the thin spots turn to open spots) which have also added tons of life to my socks! It’s well worth spending a couple of hours knitting over a hole to gain another lifetime on a pair of socks!

  • Even more so than usual, these comments make me realise how much I have to learn. And I had been feeling triumphant with the two pairs of socks I’ve finished and no orphans.

  • What a great tip for smoother toes! Thanks for sharing.

  • Awesome tips !! Thanks!!

  • Great tips! I love the “Estonian” cast on for socks (demonstrated here by Nancy Bush:
    http://youtu.be/Frc5_9AIVy0
    It’s a simple variant of the long tail cast on, and results in a stretchy, stable and attractive edge for cuff down socks.

    • Oh I love a good cast-on tip, thank you. This method looks similar to what I use, the Greman Twisted Cast-on. YouTube demo from Very Pink Knits

      • German cast-on

  • When knitting a top-down plain sock, I actually start with provisional c.o. above the ankle, and knit in st st for 2 inches. Then I knit the foot, starting of course with the heel flap. When the toe is all kitchenered, I reclaim my provisionally-c.o. stitches, and k2,p2 until I run out of yarn (well, almost run out – I save enough for the tubular b.o.). Thus I’m not stuck at the toes with too little or too much wool.

    I use two sets of DPNs, and work on both socks more or less together, and I prefer 2.0mm for “regular ” sock yarn, for a firm gauge.

    Also, this makes it easy to do the ribbing on both socks at the same time, using a magic loop. I also “magic loop” the foot section, once I’ve finished decreasing the instep section.

  • This is “Clip & Save” for sure – such great tips! As a top-down, two-circs sock knitter also, I will definitely be trying tips 1 and 3 for a tidier cuff and toe.

    Tip 2 is also good advice but frankly I hate gussets. I’m a Fish Lips Kiss Heel sock knitter for LIFE. Gussets and “picking up stitches” took all the fun out of sock knitting until I found that heel pattern.

    But Tips 1 and 3 sound like keepers. Thanks for sharing!