Pretty Good Socks

By Kay Gardiner
June 27, 2019

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61 Comments
  • Congratulations! They look great. (And may second sock syndrome never darken your door…….)

    • Hurray for you and your lovely socks!

  • Isn’t knitting socks fun?? I love everything about it – from the cast-on to the bind-off – specially turning the heel!
    But you need one more thing – a Sock Ruler. I do not make these or sell them – just love mine so much I own two, for the times I oh-so-cleverly lose track of one, just when I need to measure the leg or the foot of my sock… SO much easier than counting rows.

    • Thanks for Sock Ruler tip!

    • Recently ran across the Sock Ruler. My whole knitting group bought one! Those that have used it, love it.

    • where to find a sock ruler?

      • AMAZON or many local yarn shops…..$11.95 and worth every penny.

    • Never hear of a sock ruler. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Your socks are great, Kay! I, too, like the naturally occurring diagonal. I have a question. In knitting socks for other people how will you be able to determine which size to knit? What if you wanted to surprise someone with a pair of hand-knit so that measuring their foot was out of the question? A second question, in working on the gauge should it be a flat knitting piece or knit in the round?

    I began my socks, then frogged because I decided to do a front panel. Once I began the front panel (which was a lot of fun), I realized that the yarn needed needed to be a more solid colorway. So I frogged and began just straight knitting.

    So far, I am very happy with the process. For several weeks I have been working on a pair of two at a time toe up socks. There have been some fiddly parts to it, which I have ignored because I loved the idea of having both socks completed at the same time. However, in starting this single from the Field Guide, remember how much I enjoyed making socks in the past. My future sock knitting will be cuff down, single sock, two circs. I’m no longer afraid of second sock syndrome. I like paying attention to one sock at a time. I will follow Ann’s example of immediately casting on for the second sock.

    P.S. — I like the “Socks On The Go” chart, page 38 of the Field Guide, for quick reference while knitting. Genius that it can be used for either cuff down or toe up socks depending on if you begin to read it from the top down or from the bottom up!

    • I have just put sock ruler on my list to buy. I have knit about six pair of sox (how we Red Sox fans spell) but never toe up so decided to knit a pair. I am having a frustrating time with the short rows, have found the instructions confusing despite my years of knitting. Went to You Tube for help finally and still messing up. I have frogged those $#&*@ rows too many times. At 10 last night I found one wrap too many on purl side and gave up for the night. Does anyone have any tips for short rows?

      • I do all my socks toe up with short rows. Here’s my tips: First, don’t bother trying to pick up the wraps! When you are on the expanding side of the toe and doing the second wrap, just snug it up tight when you start back, then knit that stitch normally on the next row. It leaves a small ridge which I have never noticed on my foot, and has never been a point of wear. This saves huge amounts of fiddling! Second: If you are having trouble telling if a stitch has been wrapped, check the purl side, the wrap is much easier to see. After a while you will be able to stop having to count anything and can just read the knitting to see where you are. The only counting I do is to be sure I have the right number of center stitches before starting expanding back out. Third: if you are off one stitch, fugettaboudit! Just fudge it and carry on. That part will be stuffed in your shoe, after a wearing or two the sock will shape to your foot and no one will ever know. That’s a problem that goes away after a sock or two.
        Hope that helps!

        • Thanks. You saved me from another frogging. I’m going to fuggettabout that stitch and move on. Also, I’ll check my “purls.” I loved doing the toe first.

      • Try Fleegle’s heel toe up so pattern. Very easy. The only pattern that gave me the confidence to try and succeed at making Sox!! If I can do it anyone can!! I hAve such phobia issues about understanding patterns. It was a breeze! A perfect sock my first time!!

        • I’ve always used the Fleegle heel but last pair tried the Fish Lips Kiss heel and loved it, too. Very, very easy to do. And when I do use short rows, I like the German short row – never could master the wrap and turn – but German short rows are easy peasy. No thinking involved.

        • Thanks. Will check it out. Sounds like my kind of pattern . Also, German short row was in a lot of you tube videos.

      • Would it be possible to use markers when doing those short rows?

        • Yes, but they would slow you down. The whole process is over very quickly. As soon as you learn to recognize the double-wraps, it’s easy. (Or if you can’t recognize them, you can count.) My second heel turn was a breeze.

      • For toe up socks, (and I was already a cuff down expert) I took a knitting lesson from someone else. Do you know any other knitters? I believe there is also a book on doing toe up socks on circular needles (two at a time). I finally got the hang of it.

    • There is a neat little guide called “Sock It To Me”…shoe size to sock length conversion guide… charts for men, women and children’s sizes. You just need to sneakily find out someone’s shoe size and “Surprise!”

      • Thanks Rebecca!

    • Well, my suggestion is SSS (sneaky sock sizing), which could go something like this. Make a couple of single socks, slightly different sizes but your best guesses as to what might work. (Stretchy fabric is a good choice, like ribbing). Then ask your intended recipient for assistance: “I’m trying to make a pair of socks for (my sister or some other third party) and I think you wear a similar size shoe…could you try these and see how they fit? I’d be ever so greatful for your opinion.” Intended knitwear recipients are usually so helpful! Then you can apprise the fit in person and bestow accordingly. (There are never enough handmade socks, and making them is addictive in a good way, so nothing is wasted because every pair will fit someone—-and then I do make a pair for my sister etc just to stay an honest knitter.) Works for me!

      • Thanks Christa! Maybe I could even get them to take the shoe off and let me measure their foot with that SSS line that you gave me! 😉

    • I’m with you! Single sock ….. cuff down on two circulars. Picot edge I new for me!

  • I have not knit socks for many, many years. When I first started knitting, I would knit socks often. But then my knitting style loosened quite a bit and double points began to feel fidly. I finally picked up my Field Guide at my LYS yesterday (fortunately on hold – they had sold out!) and am inspired to try again. Your socks look great, Kay!

  • I love knitting socks! I have two on the needles right now! I usually knit toe up, but for my first in this KAL, I’m doing cuff down. And I will certainly depend on Lorilee Beltman’s guidance for the Kitchener stitch. Her tips are magical.

  • Your socks are great! I began my own sock journey and have made a variety of techniques in the basic sock recipe. I am striving for that good fit and feel also. Your pink ones are gorgeous and will be appreciated in the future. I love your new field guide.

  • As a fellow loose knitter, I generally cast on 60 st (US 0 needle) for rib and then go down to 56 st for the rest of the sock. Produces a great, snug sock! And it seems to fit everyone – I just make the sock foot bigger for the ones with larger feet,

  • I’ve not wanted to knit socks till I read your adorable story-now…..May have the sock bug!

  • Aren’t you the ambitious one….heading out to columbus,oh…going under protest…..hard to get out of my comfort zone

  • Congratulations on your first pair of socks! The magic and thrill of turning a heel still gets me every time–sock knitting makes me feel very clever!

  • Hi Kay – here is a Kitchener ditty for you: knit off purl on; purl off knit on.

    Kitchener is so much easier and even fun when you have that dirty going through your head

    • That’s what I say to myself!

  • I guess it’s time for me to make more socks. The last 3 pairs I made for myself finally have too many holes to mend again. For years I made top down, then I discovered toe up and love the ease. With toe up, I can try on to check the fit. For about 40 years, I have only worn my hadknit socks. Just never gave any away, I loved them too much.

  • So because as I mentioned in a reply already that I was pattern phobic about sox I’ve only done toe up sox ~ I now think my first pair from the field guide must be cuff down. Here’s to going outside my comfort zone!!

  • Congratulations! They are beautiful. I have the 2nd sock of my first pair ever on the needles. I have decided I will finish it and savor these socks….mistakes and all!

  • Many years ago, I bought a handy chart at my LYS that tells you how long your foot should be by shoe sizes, before doing the toe. It’s called Sock It To Me. They do have a website. The sizes are in US, EUR and MEX for women, men and children.

  • Congratulations on your first pair! My friends and in-laws think I only knit socks, because that is all I am knitting when I see them! I love the portability of socks. You are correct, Kay, turning the heel is magic. I am thrilled every time.

    I like the idea of a sock ruler. Once out of desperation (no ruler handy), I used my hand to measure my foot to see if I had the foot of my sock long enough to begin the toe decreases. I took off my shoe, put my hand on the sole of my foot and realized the the tip of my middle finger rested right where my toes began! Now when knitting socks for myself, I measure the length of the my sock with my hand!

  • Hooray for Kay! I can’t be bothered to count rows for socks. The tape measure + eyeballing method works for me. I knit round toes to avoid having a line of decreases bother my princess and the pea feet.

    • Make a fist. The length of your foot is the same as the circumference of your fist. That’s how i measure my sock length while I’m working on them. And I always do two at a time on a magic loop, if I didn’t the pair would never be finished or not be same size!

  • Congrats on your socks! Sock knitting is addictive and so much fun. I have a drawer full of socks but none fit me quite right. But my last pair are perfect! I always knit them toe up using the Magic cast on for toe-up socks (I like toe up because I can keep knitting until I run out of yarn if I want and I like a rounded toe) on two circulars. This time I made the foot cardboard template as instructed for the Fish Lips Kiss Heel and discovered I start the heel too early. Although I love the Fleegle heel, this time I used the FLKH pattern and loved it as well. No wraps and turns (I find wraps and turns too fiddly) and extremely easy. I increased two stitches either side of the heel stitches and then decreased them when finished with the heel. Perfect! (I’m going to order a Sock Ruler!)

  • Congratulations! You did it! Now, before you get bogged down with rulers and row counts on your second pair, remember to feed Olive and the Big Floral Damask Thing…;-)!

  • Wowza! Your socks are splendid! Don’t they feel good on your feet? (Will be even better when you’re happy with the fit of the next pair.) That yarn color, yummy. I want to know about that name. Is there a real Alice Gadzinsky? I have my Field Guide 11 and stash…need to get started. I tell myself, “use your stash.” MDK sock yarns keep calling!

    I read a lot of sock-maker advice before I made my first pair (WendyKnits and YarnHarlot blogs and books, and Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road Socks are still favs). My first socks were a bit loose, but I kept them and loved them anyway! My fav kitchener tutorial is still Susan B Anderson’s (Kitchener Stitch Demo on YouTube). Later she added her Smooth Operator Socks that are kitchener-free. Love those too.

  • Congratulations! I really like knitting socks. I’ve knit lots of pairs, and I’m still working on making a sock that I can wear with shoes. But hand-knit socks are so comfortable around the house.

    One tip: stand on a piece of cardboard, draw around your foot, and cut it out. Mark the top of your little toe. That’s normally where you start your toe decreases. You just slip that template in your sock whenever you need to check the length. Like a sock ruler, but diy.

  • Thought I got the heel solved with the short rows and wraps, joined, and knit three rounds when I looked and discovered a very large hole at the first join. I’ve knit sox before and had a tiny hole on one side, but this is the Grand Canyon of holes. I really dislike this heel pattern. There — I’ve said it. I’m so discouraged. I’m not a novice knitter nor is this my first sock rodio. Any suggestions to fix it or what I did wrong? I could have knit a pair of sox in the time it has taken me to get this far with my heel problems.

  • Socks: the knitwear equivalent of dishrags. Of course you were destined to love knitting them!

    I learned late too, after years of being a sock-skeptic; I started with baby and child-size socks for afghans For Afghans, which was a fantastic opportunity to play and learn and be helpful all at once. Then I discovered the thrill of wearing the bright colors I love under my Parisienne-type black pants, black coats, black boots, black everything. Every big city sophisticate needs a few bright pairs of handknit socks.

  • Very nicely done!

    • I’m with you, Kay. The heel is my favorite parrt.

      When I was starting out knitting socks, a friend told me it took her 25 pair to get sizing perfect.

      Since it’s the fit of the foot that is tricky, I often advise beginners to start with short,, footie, socks.

      Lots of advice about how NOT to count rounds, but I am a counting fanatic. When working with yarn that’s not self- striping or forming a regular pattern. I put a lightbulb marker e very 10 rounds. So much easier to count 10 rounds than whole leg or foot of sock.

  • Is there a good youtube video on wrap and turn? I’m not there yet but I’m already worrying about it. Not sure I understand.

    • Ann, if you look a few comments above, you will see I had a difficult time with the heel and seem to be the only one. I ripped it out and will try again today. My advice is to count carefully. I think I miscounted and got confused thereby knitting some extra rows which may have caused the large hole. Perhaps the forum is the best place to ask for help. Good luck. I don’t think the instructions for short rows are very clear for people who have not done them with wraps and turns before.

  • Good for you! I see myself in your journey. Thanks for sharing it.

  • That Kitchener video is so helpful!! Thank you for sharing!

  • Am I the only person in the world who messes with the stitch count as I knit in the round with double-point sticks? I never have an issue with laddering because I never have the same stitches at the end of my needles — I start out nicely divided, and then add 2,3,4 stitches at the end of the needle every time, so it’s never the same stitch at the beginning or end of any one needle. I keep track of where I am with stitch markers. I never see this mentioned in patterns or posts, but it seems really obvious to me. As long as I’ve got marked how many from here to there, who cares which stick they’re on??

  • Wonderful socks! I rebelled for years against making them for myself and now wear nothing else in winter (so much warmer)! Mine seem to wear out in the toe and heel so I’ve learned to go down a needle size for the heel, turn, and gusset – and then back to regular needles to toe – then back to one size lower for entire toe. Also, a good way to not have laddering is to use 2 16 inch circular needles – you never lose a needle – never break a needle – good all around! Congrats on joining the sock club!

  • one more question….what size and what kind of needles did you use?

  • Wearing wool sold everything day in Cleveland in the summer – I’m surprised you didn’t melt out have heat stroke.

  • Dear Kay, if you have narrow feet, 68 is the right number of stitches, as sock yarn has some good stretch to it. Also, I have found that Yarn Harlot’s “A Good Plain Sock” steered me right through all the agony of the first sock with explanations for the tiniest of steps…to be found in her book “Knitting Rules” starting on page 127. Instructions for everyone, no matter the level of skill. I have been making them for three years now and they have never failed me, and my peeps love me as they all wear them. Happy Knitting!

  • I use a double point as a measure: cuff the length of the dpn and ditto for the foot before starting the decreases.

  • I have a love hate with sock knitting. Sometimes I am not in the mood for fiddly gusset-turn-heel cha cha. Other times I cannot get over how clever sock knitting is (making me clever too of course). I usually try to have socks with me when I travel since they are so small and portable. But I have to do the heel turn in 1 sitting always with written directions in front of me.

  • How many skeins? For a pair of Sox.

    • I’ve never needed more than one skein – with a 7-1/2 inch leg, and a 9 inch foot [6-1/2 before starting toe decrease).
      And I usually have enough left over to make a pair of baby socks [which my LYS collects for charity].

  • I love knitting socks! I recently bought Wanderlust and began my first pair of stockinette socks. I usually knit a heel flap and gusset. I wasn’t too sure about the wrap and turn (w & t) heel, but I gave it a go. I love it! It looks neat and gets rid of potential holes that can occur with a heel flap. Fun to learn something new 🙂 Thanks for highlighting socks this summer. It makes my heart happy!