Sock Love

When I learned to knit as a kid – I think it was as a Pioneer Girl (like Girl Scouts) to earn a badge – my mother passed her knitting equipment to me. I used the heck out of everything she gave me except for a set of five thin metal double-pointed needles; they looked more like  arcane surgical tools than tools to knit a comfy something. For many years, every time I opened my box or bag of knitting stuff, I would see those double-pointed needles clinking about and just shake my head.

Why would anybody go to the bother knitting socks? Socks wear through, socks are hard, and socks are cheap and easy to buy.

But now I know why, because I’ve just finished my first pair. It’s because they FEEL AMAZING ON YOUR FEET. My feet groaned in pleasure when I slipped these socks on. They are a Christmas present for my mother, and they are one of my favorite gifts I’ve made. I love that when she wears them, that my handwork will be keeping her feet warm and cozy. (She’s seen them via skype already!)

My first pair of knit socks.But truth be told, I only knit 3/4s of this pair of socks. When I first hit upon the crazy notion of knitting socks as Christmas gifts, I mentioned it to my friend Sierra.

She was all, “Stop! Don’t buy anything! You can have the pair I started four years ago!”

And there you go, I was suddenly in possession of wool, a pattern, needles, and a half-knit sock, and past the hurtle of starting, which can sometimes be the hardest part. I ripped out and reknit more stitches than I have ever ripped out and reknit in a single project before, but now that I’ve started my second pair, I feel that I’ve got the knack. (Meaning, I could teach YOU how to knit socks!)

Thanks Sierra.

Knitting socks is much easier than I expected, despite my initial struggles understanding the directions. Especially if you are already an experienced knitting. You don’t need more than knit and purl and the ability to read directions. But it would be best if somebody showed you in person.

I used a generic pattern for Worsted Sock-Slippers, and I used about 200 yards of Cascade 220. The directions call for size 5 or 6 needles, but I knit fast and loose and found that size 3 gave me the correct gauge.

I have several other patterns now that I am anxious to try.

The first is CLASSIC SOCKS for the family – which has enough information to make socks in all sizes in fingering, sport and worsted wools. It’s the pattern sold by Yankee Knitter Designs recommended by soulemama. Check her adorable post and pictures of baby socks (on baby feet!) here – if that doesn’t make you want to start knitting socks I can’t be of any further help.

The second is out of the book that the lady who teaches sock knitting at The Yarn Lady uses, which is called Knitting Socks by Ann Budd. I’ve looked through most of it, and yup, it’s good: very thorough and clear explanations for every aspect of sock knitting. It would have helped a lot had I got it before I bumbled my way through that first pair. It’s available through the Orange County public library system.

So, general directions for how to knit worsted slipper socks:

Cast on 52 stitches, and distribute evenly between 3-4 double pointed needles. Join stitches in round, being careful not to twist.

Work 4.5 inches of ribbing in K3 (knit 3) P1 (purl 1) or whatever ribbing and length you prefer.

Heel Flap: the heel flap is just that, a short square where you go back and forth with half of your stitches. The other half hangs out on the other needles, just waiting for you to get back to them.

Divide stitches for the heel as follows:

Row 1 – sl 1 (slip 1 stitch without turning it), K exactly half the stitches (minus the one you slipped) onto one needle

Row 2 – sl 1, P across

Row 3 – *sl 1, K 1, repeat from * across (This is create a reinforced raised ribbing for the heel)

Row 4 – sl 1, P across

Repeat rows 3 and 4 ten more times. (Now you have a knit square attached to your sock ribbing.)

Turning the heel (this is will make the heel turn in an L-shape with strategically placed stitches knit together):

Row 1 – sl 1, K to middle of flap, K2, ssk (slip one stitch as if to knit, slip a second one as if to knit, and then slide the left needle through the front of both and knit them), K 1, turn

Row 2 – sl 1, P 5, P2tog (purl two stitches together), P 1, turn

Row 3 – sl 1, K 6, ssk, K1, turn

Row 4 – sl 1, P7, P2tog, P1, turn

Continue forth in this manner until all heel stitches are worked.

Slip all 26 instep stitches onto same needle (that is, slip all the non-heel stitches onto one needle).

Next row – K across half the heel stitches with one needle. With another needle, K remaining heel stitches, and with that same needle pick up stitches in slipped stitches along side the heel flap. There should be about 10 or so. Be sure to pick an extra stitch at the top of the heel flap to avoid a hole in the gusset.

Using another needle, K across the instep stitches (top of the sock).

Using another needle, pick up the  same number of stitches along the other side of the heel flap, and with that same needle, K the first half of the heel stitches.

The beginning of the round is now the middle of the heel stitches. There should be an equal number of sts on needles 1 and 3, and half of what you originally cast on needle 2.

Shape Gusset:

Round 1 – K

Round 2 – One first needle, K to the last 3 sts at the end of needle, k2tog, k1. On second needle, K across. On third needle, K1 , ssk, K to end.

Round 3 – K

Work gusset rounds 2 and 3 until sts on needles 2 and 3 equal the instep sts (so now you have the same number you cast on)

Foot: Knit every round until the sock is 1 1/2 inches less than the desired length (about where your toes start)

Shape Toe:

Round 1 – on first needle, K to last 3 sts at end of needle, k2tog, k1. On second needle, K1, ssk, K to last 3 sts at end of needle, K2tog, K1. On third needle, K1, ssk, K to end of needle.

Round 2 – K

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until there are 16 sts left (4, 8, 4)

Kitchener stitch the end closed or use a 2 needle bind off. Both are easy and easily googled.

Tuck in your ends and you’re DONE!

Whew. There, now I can knit socks where ever I am in the world…

P.S. Gauge: 24 sts and 32 rows per 4″

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