How to: Knit Socks Part 1

First finished sock.

First finished sock.

To start with, knitting socks can be tricky….but well worth the effort! AND, once you’ve grasped it, you’ll never stop! Socks make great presents for anyone and everyone, for almost every occasion. Plus, the great thing is, what you need packs away really small, so if you have a nice small bag, you can keep the contents of your sock knitting inside and take them anywhere – so hours previously wasted sitting on the bus, long car journeys, by the side of swimming pools or gym lessons etc can be put to good use!

Over the next few blog posts, I will try and talk you through, step by step, ‘how to’ knit socks, using some of the funny little tips I’ve picked up from other sock knitters to help you on your way.

For a traditional pair of socks, you will need 4 double pointed needles size 2  3/4 [12], a ball of 4 ply sock wool and a tape measure. I have used sock wool which is variegated and gives the impression of fair isle.

Part 1: cast on and rib ankle cuff.

For an adult sock, cast on 64 stitches using ‘Cable Cast-on’. (See also photos below)

Cable cast-on: take needle between the two stiches to 'cast-on' the new stitch.

Cable cast-on: take needle between the two stiches to ‘cast-on’ the new stitch.

Row of 'cast-on' stitches, ready for next step.

Row of ‘cast-on’ stitches, ready for next step.

Next, separate the 64 stitches onto 3 needles – I separate them 20, 24, and 20.

Cast-on stitches separated onto 3 needles.

Cast-on stitches separated onto 3 needles.

Before you start to knit on these stiches, one tip I was given, was to take the first stitch and place it on the last needle AND then take the last stitch and place it on the first needle (these stitches over lap each other and pull the circle together).

ALSO, ensure that you cast-on edge is not twisted and runs evenly around the base of your stitches.

Knitting in the round on 4 needles.

Knitting in the round on 4 needles, with first and last stitch ‘crossed over’.

Now you begin to work the 64 stitches on 3 needles ‘in the round’. Using the fourth needle, you knit across the first needle with 20 stitches on it. As you come to the end, this needle you have just worked is now free of stitches and will be used to knit across the next row of 24 stitches. As you come to the end, this needle you have just worked is now free of stitches and will be used to knit across the next row of 20 stitches. You have now finished knitting your first ’round/row’ of stitches.

Continue working in rounds using ‘Rib Stitch’ (knit 1, purl 1) until the cuff of your sock measures 6cm.

TIP: When knitting the last stitches on one needles and the first stitches on the next needle, keep your tension tight, to ensure you don’t get what looks like a ‘ladder’ appearing between these stitches. Elsewhere, knit with a slightly loose tension as one danger I have found is that if the cuff is too tight, some people may find it harder to pull the sock over their feet.

Completed sock rib.

Completed sock rib.

Once you have completed the ribbed cuff of your sock. Change to knitting rounds in ‘Stocking Stitch’ and complete the first section of the sock using the length guides below.

NEXT TIME: Turning the heel.

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About obsesivcreativ

I am a freelance textile artist working with and teaching traditional textile techniques including hooky and proggy matting, patchwork and quilting, batik, embroidery, spinning, knitting and crochet. I work with schools, community groups, museums and galleries creating mad and wonderful things such as Egyptian mummies, story-telling tents, rainforest maps and even coffins...
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