Kay Gardiner, Sock Knitter

By Kay Gardiner
January 10, 2017

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49 Comments
  • My super-secret way of picking us sts for the gusset leaves no ridge on the inside of the sock. I slide a dpn along the slipped st selvedge, so that the outer leg of each selvedge st sits on the needle. Then I knit across the entire set of sts so that they twist as they come off the needle. Because you are picking up along the heel flap from the bottom up on one side, and the top down on the other, those sts will be oriented/angled differently on the needle on each side of the flap. So when you knit them, you will knit through the front/left leg for one set of selvedge sts, and the back/left leg for the other set. By picking up only one leg (the edge leg), you eliminate having a line of full sts running up each side of the inside of the flap. The inside is perfectly flat. Beauty!

    • I pick up the same way Rox does and it’s perfection! Beautiful tight stitches without lumps! (And her description was so clear!). I, too, wondered what all the fuss was about with knotted socks years ago but finally relented to learn the techniques. But upon putting those socks on – eureka! No more cold feet in winter. I was consumed by making socks that could keep my feet from becoming popsicles! So glad you’re having fun with them!

    • thank you!!! I can’t wait to try this.

    • Thank you-Would there be a video for this anywhere? I seem to be more visual ( and enabled:) with all the you tube how tos out there.

      • There’s no video (at least I haven’t made one, but I could: I’m heading toward the heel flap of a sock right now). I did write an Ask a Knitter column years ago that appeared in This Week in Ravelry, were I described the process, and included a ton of photos. Would that help? http://www.ravelry.com/twir/68/ask-a-knitter-11

    • And you don’t pick up an extra stitch in the corner, so there won’t be a hole?

  • I walked into a now defunct yarn shop many years ago to see the proprietor knitting with a new fangled contraption. I quickly found out that he was knitting socks on two circular needles a la Cat Bordhi ( her book Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles had just come out). I bought the needles, yarn, and Cat’s book and never looked back. I learned to really enjoy knitting with the smaller needles. I have made a few pair of socks on curcular and double pointed needles and have always enjoyed the process. Glad to know you’re having fun knitting socks!

    • Thanks for this recommendation. Ann (Shayne) had mentioned how two needle sock knitting was a game changer for her, but I have yet to try it. I think I’ll try to get this book.

      • Oh man, TOTAL game changer! I’ve never looked back. I use two circular needles for everything knitted in the round. Wildly easier than managing all those dpn’s and their TEN points!

      • Cat Bordhi’s book was my sock gateway. Knitting Goddess Wendy Johnson has also published two excellent sock books: Socks from the Toe Up and Toe Up Socks for Every Body. She includes very good, well-illustrated instructions for various cast ons (including my favorite, the Turkish cast on) and for using DPNs, two circs, or one long circ. Highly recommended.

  • Loved that store.. Love Ann Budd…..

  • Your sock is beautiful. My favorite knitting is socks. I’ve evolved from one sock at a time to two socks at a time on one circular needle. Knit on! Sue

  • Welcome to the wonderful world (and rabbit hole) of sock knitting! Yours looks beautiful. And cast on the second one immediately!!

  • I love knitting socks. The gusset is tricky, Kay, but you can do it. Before you know it, you’ll have your second sock done, and you’ll be casting on with some fine self-striping Regia on 2.5 dpns. I have an orange/pink/red sock on the needles as we speak.

  • My son asked me just this morning when I was going to make them all new socks, because I took a long break from sock knitting to work on larger projects. Once I learned how to do socks, I felt like a Real Knitter. It’s sort of magical watching it take shape! Good luck with yours!

  • Just got very excited to find out pattern is in the new guide! These could be next year’s Christmas gifts for everyone! You get a pair, you get a pair, everyone on the family gets a pair!

  • Try the Magic Loop way of knitting socks. Circular needle. Much easier I find. Also if you start toe up you never have to pick up stitches. I find the Turkish cast on works the best. Happy sock knitting. So much fun!

    • I’m a Magic Loop knitter, too. Made my first pair of socks last year, and went with Magic Loop. No regrets!

  • Your sock looks great. Maybe I’ll enjoy knitting them more on size 8s. I LOVED the yarn connection when I lived in NY. They really were a friendly resource when I picked up the sticks after many years away.

  • Oh the sadness of departed yarn stores! That one was right down the street from my dentist. Teeth cleaning has been much less fun since it closed.

    • Hah! My dentist is right up the street from my favorite LYS, too! Going in there to squeeze the yarns is my reward for trips to the dentist.

  • When I learned to knit socks on DPNS, I thought I had entered a new level in the knitting world!! I still knit socks and mitts on them and still have that same sense of wonderment!! Your socks are lovely!!

    • Me, too! I love my DPNs!

  • Wow you got a lot done fast. If you really get into that right twist, there is a sock class on Creativebug for a sock on tiny needles with ribs of right twist.

  • It almost seems that sock knitting is a sub-set of regular knitting. I am thoroughly addicted—I knit my socks on DPNs, two circs, toe-up, cuff-down. . .short row heels, heel flaps with gussets. . .it’s all good. I love commercially printed self-striping yarns, handpaints, semi-solids, and all the pretties the indie dyers crank out.

  • Hi Kay,
    Are these socks too thick for regular shoe size? If so perhaps I’ll sew a suede patch on bottom for wearing around hard wood floors:)

  • Ann Budd is a gad-dern National TreasureTM.

  • This post made me so incredibly happy! I love knitting socks, and now I love them even more with your descriptions. I am ordering the next Field Guide pronto!!! And casting on those socks as soon as I can!!!!

  • Socks are the ultimate portable knitting, complete with all kinds of kits, accessories, clubs and fans. For me they are a palette cleanser.

  • I’ve knitted a few socks but can’t say they are my favorite things to knit, if only because you have to do the same thing twice, and I’m a one-and-done sort of person. The bigger issue for me, though, is that they hurt my feet. I’ve never worn a pair of handmade socks, with shoes on, that don’t hurt by the end of the day. i don’t understand how people can wear them, especially the ones with intricate patterns on the foot area. By the end of the day you can read the pattern off my foot.

    • Haha! After all, they are SOCKS! When I was first knitting socks, I labored over a pair of intricately patterned stock for my dear uncle. His first comment after wearing them for a day was “the pattern is on my feet”! I think he put them away to admire from a distance. I love knitting socks, but now I keep any fancy work above the ankle.

    • I have the same problem with the handknit socks hurting my feet. I have seen a recommendation to knit so that the smooth side of the stockinette stitch is on the inside of the sock. I plan to try it on the next socks I knit.

    • I very often purl on the right side of the bottom of the foot so that the smoother knit side is touching the sole of my foot. Cannot wear purl stitches on the sole of my foot all day. Give it a try

      • I will try that, but I will have to keep the purls on the outside of the whole foot since they press into the top of my foot too. It’s worth a try

  • Whatever happened to the Colbert socks?

  • “Kay Gardiner, Sock Knitter.” Add that to “words I never thought I’d see in print!” I have a love-hate relationship with socks, myself. I am a loose knitter, and to get a gauge of 8 stitches (or more!) per inch with fingering yarn I’d have to go down to something like a double zero needle, which is unlikely to happen, as my hands cramp holding very small needles. However, I have done a number of pairs of worsted weight socks on size 3 needles, and even have a preferred method for those. Toe up (easy toe), afterthought heel, using dpns for heel and toe and magic loop for everything else. Sometimes two at a time, sometimes not. And now I’m thinking about the Apres socks…probably on a size 6, for me.

  • I’m a sock knitting fanatic! I don’t fiddle with dpn’s, though. I use the 9 inch circulars. Life changing, they are 🙂

  • I love these! Only one question: with alpaca + merino, are these machine washable? I know, I know, I’m not supposed to be above caring, but the socks that are hand wash only sit on the edge of the hamper from Epiphany ’till Memorial Day, having been worn once…..

  • I kind of doubt there is a super-secret sock-knitter’s way of doing anything. Because sock-knitters are generally so happy to see other people becoming sock-knitters, we would never dream of keeping anything about sock-knitting a secret.

  • Welcome to the sock sisterhood.

    RIP Yarn Connection, we had some times….

  • I learnt to to knit socks about 5 years ago, and now I only wear hand-knitted socks (except for sports-related activities). They are so much better than anything I could ever buy. Still use DPNs for them as I have never really warmed to Magic Loop.

    My husband was initially a hand-knit sock sceptic, but once I made him his first pair, he was a complete convert! I now knit him a new pair every summer as he goes through a pair every winter (worn through by winter’s end).

  • Yay, Kay! Your sock looks perfect.

  • Socks will become your new subway knitting – so portable! I knit mine toe-up, so no gusset but you have to be comfortable with short rows for toes and heels. You will be knitting on US1 DPNs in no time at all!

  • I fell off the sock knitting wagon a while ago. I might have only been one cheek onto it anyway… But–worsted weight socks……..mighty tempting! You go girl!

  • Something I never thought I’d see, a Kay knitted sock! Are you converted?

  • Kay

    I find the secret is to knit them through the back look on the first knit round after the pick up. I read it in Stephanie Purl Mcphees’ book last year.

    • I Meant to type back loop…

  • Two sets of dpn. Both socks knit simultaneously. One cuff, then the other. One leg, then the other . . . etc. They are finished relatively at the same time with matching tension and any tweaking is easily repeated without having to remember!