My First Sock

By Kay Gardiner
June 20, 2019

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87 Comments
  • Try to knit “by overlapping”. Knit to the end of the stitches on the actual needle then knitting a few stitches forward from the “new needle/section”. Like handing over the staff: the exhausted runner runs a little further to be sure nothing drops on the floor and the fresh runner has it properly in its hands.

    There will be no more ladder or gaps! Everything is even and clean.

    • Omg!! What a great tip!!! I’m trying it. Thank you!

    • Can you please describe that more fully? I’ve done my share of socks, and I snug up the second stitch on the next needle, but I can’t quite envision what you’re describing. Are you moving the stitches from the 2nd needle over to the one just completed?

      • So if you have 20 stitches on your needle, you knit those 20 and then with the same needle on the right, you knit two more stitches. Then you switch to the new, empty, needle. I am thinking of this in terms of double pointed needles, but the principle should be the same.
        You don’t need to grab the extra stitches every row, maybe every four or five? And you’ll knit the extra stitches the same all the way around, so you should end up with the same number on your needles. You will definitely need to mark important transition points (beginning of round, instep/sole, etc) but other than that it works really well!

        • i’ve wanted to be a sock knitter for years. i’m the person who asks for thick, squishy socks every year for Christmas and used to get odd looks or “are you certain”s each time. i don’t want clothes; i want socks.

          several years ago i made my first and only pair for my husband. i went wrong in two places.

          1. i let the LYS talk me into a yarn i hated; never do that; never, ever do that. it felt awful on my hands and i detested every moment of knitting with that splitty yarn. it made the second worse.

          and

          2. the videos i used are by an excellent teacher with wonderful resources. the video i used had a split second where the socks were flipped but it wasn’t mentioned. so i knit mine purl-side out, over and over again. it took me watching the video frame by frame as well as i could to see what happened. once i did, i was off to the races.

          if i hadn’t had those issues i’d have have knit my son the socks he’s still wants. my husband’s ended up with dropped stitches i found after i finished (no wonder!) and i just darned every loose piece down. they’re worsted weight, though, so that beloved, blessed man still wears them in winter.

          this fieldguide is in my buggy, on ravelry. i *even* went on etsy and checked out hand-dyed sock blanks yesterday, after all the the shakerag talk from last week. now that got my heart pounding!

        • darn, margie; sorry; i just meant to comment, not reply to your very intriguing tip. 🙂

        • Thanks a bunch, I think I got it! You are basically moving the beginning of the round a few stitches every few rounds, right? Thanks for your reply!

  • Beautifully toe! The vertical ladder was the reason I gave up on two circs but maybe I didn’t give it enough of a chance.

    I was wondering if you were going to knit a sock. I thought I remembered some strong statement in the past. Definitely go down a size if you plan to wear them in shoes, rather than as house socks. Really, take measurements. You’ve got your gauge. Get those custom socks that fit!

  • Congratulations on your first sock! They’re like potato chips, you can’t knit just one.

  • I love knitting in the round on two circulars. I too learned from Cat – but via YouTube.

  • Kay, Congratulations on your first sock!

    But you missed my favorite part–the moment when you put a handknit sock on your foot and you feel the delicious coziness of it hugging your foot.

    Like nothing else! ❤

  • Well done. It looks great, and I am sure, feels even better. Be prepared to always have a sock in progress in your purse.

  • Congratulations on your first sock!! I have to admit, I was so surprised that you hadn’t made socks before. I LOVE making them and can’t wait for my field guide to arrive so I can get busy with the ones there. Thank you for the great idea of publishing a Sock Field Guide :-)))))HAVE FUN!!! (& the yarn is beautiful!!)

  • What a lovely sock – congratulations!

    Sock yarn is, in fact, most of the point of knitting socks. The rest of the point: the socks are pretty damn comfy. 🙂

    • I agree!

    • Totally!

      And @Marcia above, re: your ‘mistake’ knitting the purl side out. I’ve found that the purl bumps really bother the bottoms of my feet, so now I’m knitting my soles purl side out!

  • Very impressed with the art terms used, oh yes and the sock.

    • Fantoozler, in particular!

      • i goggled this to see what it meant. couldn’t find a definition but this post was the fourth search result 😀

        • You mean, we’re crushing Google search for “fantoozler”? Find a niche, work the niche . . .

        • Sounds very Dr. Seuss to me.

  • wash the sock, wear the sock.
    stitches will find their balance

    really

    • ALWAYS have a pair going on 2 circulars. CO 60 on size 2s and they always fit and wear well.

  • Miracle trick: snug up on the SECOND stitch after the needle switch.

    Ladder-less in Philadelphia.

    • I do that as well. Works like a charm.

      • Me too. I will pull that first stitch a little tight, but the second stitch gets pulled tightly all way!

        Lovely sock, Kay.

        • I am a very loose knitter, so I tighten up on a couple of stitches before and after the needle switch, whether with circs or double points. No ladders.

    • Agree!

    • That’s the secret! Don’t let that pretty sock be lonely. Knit it’s “solemate” soon! Pun intended

    • Yep I am a second stitch tugger from way back when I used to knit socks on my dpns. Love knitting on two circs now! No more “ oops! I lost a stitch!” At the needle change.

    • You have revealed The Secret of the Ages for just about anything knitted on dpns. Truly magical.

    • Right, Elizabeth! Cat taught me that trick and I NEVER have ladders. I don’t even have to think about it anymore. But then, I’ve knit many, many pairs of socks, and loved almost every single one. (The few exceptions being the times I realized I didn’t like the yarn.)

    • The second-stitch snug-up is definitely what changed my laddering to nonladdering. You gotta give it a yank considerably harder than I yank anywhere else in my knitting. If you think about it, the yanking is undoing the slack between stitches that naturally occurs when moving from one needle to the other. By yanking once you’ve inserted the needle into the second stitch, you’ve got good traction so that the yarn doesn’t slip back into a ladder.

  • Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Welcome to the sock side. (She says, as she rubs her hands together.)

  • Perhaps socks can be included as a new category in the next Match Madness?

    • “March” Madness, that is!

  • Love your sock! I’m hoping to knit my first sock soon using the MDK kit I bought several years ago. Any chance someone could post a link to the Cat Bordhi YouTube video about knitting socks with 2 circular needles? I found one showing how to start the toe on Cat’s website but would love a little more help about how to continue.

  • once you use hand knit socks for a bit you won’t ever go back tgo anything else.Trust me I know

  • I, too, aspire to be a sock maker. I have made one pair, but they were in Sport yarn, which kind of doesn’t count, because they are so much easier to make. But I want finer socks. And I want to make them for gifts. So, I have ordered the book and also have a skein of gorgeous sock yarn heading my way. Wish me luck.

    • I was almost going to wish you good luck and then I realized how creative a person you are and how lovely/ wonderful are the things that you make. Have fun with that new sock yarn!

  • Is this the only toe shape in the field guide?

    • Yep!

      • Thanks!

  • Socks are magnificent! Knit anywhere, glorious colors of yarn to pick from, and can be simple or have a pattern. Always have a pair on the needles.

  • When I first learned how to use double points, I hated them. But the perfect needles have been made. Addi flip sticks are close to heaven. One end is a sharper point think lace and the other end is “normal “ they don’t break like bamboo but they aren’t slippery like typical metal needles

  • I just learned a new trick while watching an episode of Fruity Knitting. To eliminate that little jog at the start of the first round, cast on one extra stitch. At the beginning of the first round, move the last cast on stitch to the left hand needle and knit or purl the first two stitches together. Voila, no more jog. I have been knitting socks for years and that little jog always bothered me!

    • Yes! This is such a clever hack–the little jog disappears!

  • Your sock is so pretty – congratulations on your new sock baby! I knit my socks toe up, starting on a long pair of circs using JMCO, but once I get the toe to the correct size (usually 28 stitches per needle), I switch to 9 inch circulars. That is magical – you just knit and knit and knit, no side ladders at all. Once I discovered the 9 inch circs my sock knitting exploded, in a good way. 🙂

    • ah, i’m so glad to hear someone loves those. i’ve purchased a few, just getting ready for socks, but also for finishing hats with magic loop or dpns, etc., and have to hadn’t a chance to use them yet. do you own a wide variety of sizes? and/ have a favorite brand?

      • I love Chiaogoo, and I have sizes 1 – 3…and I have two of each size so I can knit both socks of a pair at once (I knit a couple of stripes, say, and then knit a couple on the other sock). I also have 12 inch circulars that work great for baby/toddler hats and sleeves of adult sweaters!

        • ahhhh, thank you! making note of this now.

        • Shelley I agree with you about knitting 2 socks at a time using 2 pairs of circ’s. I tried doing them with 1 needle long cables
          the magic loop way, but, didn’t like the process. Everyone should try different needle methods until they feel comfortable with the process & then convert all sock patterns using their own preferences. Sock knitting is so much fun!

      • I love those tiny 9 inch circulars, too!

  • YES. Beautiful sock yarn is the WHOLE point of knitting socks. That and getting to wear socks that fit your feet perfectly. Once you get the hang of the process you can start modifying your pattern to fit the feet they’re being made for.

  • Congrats on your first sock! Now, we have to get you past the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. Then, you get to try all the various toes, heels, and cuffs. From there, you’ll go wild: Toe-up and top-down. Striped socks. Lace socks. Kilt socks. Toe socks. Argyle socks. Wind socks. Socks for the entire family, including Olive. Anything related to socks (garters, pantyhose, etc.).

    We may not hear from Kay until sometime in 2025.

    • The best way to avoid Second Sock Syndrome is to knit the second sock first, then go back and knit the first sock.

      😉

      • May I love this idea forever, please?

        • Of course!

          (I have to give credit to my friend Karen, who passed on this wisdom to me several years ago. :D)

      • I can’t believe I never thought of this! It is BRILLIANT!

    • Wind socks? You mean those orange things at airports? That would be some pretty large-scale knitting 🙂

  • Congratulations! I’m on the last bit of knitting my 35th? pair of socks, two at a time on a magic loop needle of 100cm . It takes about a week per pair. I always adapt the width of the toe for my stumpy wide foot, so socks fit perfectly. Best type of knitting, socks, in my opinion!

  • Congratulations on your first sock! It’s all downhill from now on, they’re so comfortable that you won’t want to wear shop socks any more.
    Ladders, vertical gaps – these will go with laundering. And with practice, you won’t get them in the first place.
    I used to prefer dpns for a nice even fabric, but since Addi brought out those little flippy trios of needles, I am a complete convert. Definitely worth a try – personally I love them, such a clever idea
    By the way, i would expect you’ll be better with 64 sts on 2.25mm needles, that’s my standard sock combination. If I have 72sts, I use 2mm needles.
    Anyway, enjoy!

  • The ladders will disappear when it’s washed. Also, just because your foot is longer doesn’t mean it’s bigger around. You know me, I’m not small in anyone’s book, when hand knitting socks, I only use 64 stitches. My socks fit fabulously! Try it, trust me!

    Jo, the Sockmonster

  • I have a favorite pair of socks that I bought many years ago. They are brown and furry, so I call them my Hobbit socks. They are so cozy and comforting, and have held up very well, but I know that even they can’t last forever. I recently bought two yarns—sock and novelty—to see if I can knit something of a replacement. (Recently, but before the publication of the Wandlust field guide.) So I will be journeying alongside you in the sock knitalong!

  • Congrats! Be prepared to always have one in your purse! They are portable. They are good in the summer when you don’t want a hot pile of wool on your lap. They are good “conference call” knitting because you are mostly going round and round. I use magic loop and love it because you can stuff it in any little bag and they never fall off the needles. Your “ladder” will go away once you are used to doing it. Just snug up that first stitch and it will be fine. I also recommend using heavier yarn for a sock. All sock yarn seems to be fingering (which is fine!), but a worsted sock is super fast to knit and quite toasty to wear.

  • I loved reading all the comments today! Two things to add: wool socks BREATHE while they hug, keeping feet warm but never sweaty. And one of the first pairs I knit were for my dad for Father’s Day years ago…with a size 14 AAA foot, he was over the moon with a custom fit!

    • I wore handknit wool socks with hinking boots in California in an 80 degree summer and my feet were cool as could be. Magic, I guess.

  • Wut? I can’t beileve it’s your first! Congratulations; it’s magic!

    My favorite socks are big squishy bed socks in worsted weight yarn. Happiness abounds. And they’re FAST.

  • Congratulations!

    • I guess I am the only DPN lover left !
      It will always be magic for me!

      • I’m on my very first sock ever and I’m using DPNs. I just cannot wrap my head around magic loop. Plus patterns seem to be written for dpns and I’m such a rule follower… and I like to know I have the right number of stitches on each of the 4 needles. DPN users unite!

      • No, no! I love my DPNs!

      • I think DPNs are so cool–I’m using magic loop for my sock fever, but there’s something so clever about DPNs. You look like a genius when you’re knitting with DPNs!

      • Definitely not the only one! The only pair I ever knit on 2 circs was for a sample for the Sock Summit Sock Museum. Then went right back to my DPNs.

        • As a lefty I have never been able to parse the 2 circs method, but love my DPNs.

  • Wait a minute, please, Kay. Are you seriously saying this if the FIRST SOCK EVER that you’ve knitted? Well, slap my head!

  • I think I have those same tennies in gray canvas. Congrats on the sock!

  • I will knit from stash! I will knit from stash! I will knit from stash! I do not need more sock yarn!!!! (Also – congrats on your first sock!)

  • I am a proud owner of the new MDK field guide, and before I can begin to cast on, I must finish the socks I am in the midst of knitting for my four year old grandson, I am using the Yarn Harlots sock “recipe”. These are my first socks. Sadly this sock looks like it will fit King Kong, or perhaps Theodore post adolescence. (Maybe when he’s 60j I did knint a gauge swatch, i even washed and pinned it to dry, and lo and behold, I’m halfway through the sock that ate nyc. Alas, this does not bode well for my career as.a Sock knitter. I am easily discouraged. Also, i have mastered (Hahahaha) the heel flap. The short row heel as described in the field guide leaves me utterly baffled. No question it’s a way better looking heel then this strange square thing on the monstrous sock currently emerging from my needles—but for a novice easily discouraged knitter, might you guys expand on the instructions? A tutorial? Something!

    • Hi Barbara! We’re definitely going to be writing about socks all summer long–I hope you’ll find tips and help as we go. I too learned to knit socks with a heel flap, and made probably a dozen pairs with that. But when I tried Wendy Bernard’s short-row heel, it was a revelation. For me, it took an evening of just slowing down and being very careful in counting the wrapped stitches as I worked each row. The weird part is definitely when you begin to pick up the wrapped stitches, on the second half of the heel. It’s a leap of faith, basically, to simply do what the pattern says. But at the end of the heel section, you discover that you’ve created a smooth heel that turns 90 degrees, so elegant! And I like the way this heel preserves the flow of the yarn colors.

  • Uh-oh, Kay. I detect a complete lapse in Afghan knitting. But your family will probably be very well sock-stocked.

  • Yay! May you inspire me to knit some, or even one pair, or to finsih soxk WIPs….

    May I be blasphemous and suggest dpns? I find less laddering with them. And for socks they are nuce and small. For sock-size dpns I suggest metal, as I tend to snap the wood in the Os & 1 sizes.

  • I love the gusset!! It just seems like a little miracle every time.

  • In my Cat Bordhi class, she suggested that we cinch up after knitting two stitches on the next needle. My class was in 2010. None of my socks, sleeves or other ‘knittting in the round’ have a ladder between the needles.

  • I had to Google Alice Gadzinsky, since I’m always interested when colorways are named after people. She seemed like quite an interesting artist, lost much too young. (BTW, it appears her last name actually was spelled Gadzinski.)