Thursday, February 09, 2012

How I Make My Socks


(photo ~ my handspun fingering weight yarn from Dyeabolical superwash wool roving, sock blockers from The Loopy Ewe)

Hi Knitters,
Oh my goodness, you all make me smile and laugh. Last I looked there were well over 30 comments on the Super Sock Update post. Well, if you double that number that's about how many emails I have received asking specific questions about my socks. I have to smile again because while I am writing this I am getting more emails popping up with questions about socks.

Anyway, instead of trying to respond individually to dozens of emails I am writing this post packed full with information about the stockinette stitch socks I always have on my needles. I always use double-pointed needles (dpns), too, I don't magic loop or two at a time, I do plain and simple dpns only!

If you want information about other techniques like magic loop or other circular needle techniques you will have to go elsewhere to find it, like youtube or do a google search or look for some good books.

Here it goes! Also, because I know I will get asked, I am not making a pdf for How I Make My Socks. Feel free to copy and paste the text from this blog post in your word program and make a pdf or simply print it out from there if you'd like. This is just a simple write up of my version of stockinette socks.

I put this up in Ravelry if you want to favorite it there. Click here for the Ravelry project page for How I Make My Socks.

How I Make My Socks
Written by, Susan B. Anderson

Materials:
Sock/fingering weight yarn
US size 1 double-pointed needles (set of 4)
Yarn needle
Scissors
Tape measure or ruler

Gauge:
I don't worry much about this although I don't recommend not worrying about it. I simply use fingering or sock weight yarn and US size 1 dpns. My gauge varies between 7-8 stitches per inch in stockinette depending on the yarn I use.

Cuff:
Cast on 64 stitches. I use a long-tail cast on (click here for my video tutorial on this cast on). Join to work in the round.
Rnds 1-12: (k2, p2) repeat to the end of the round.
(Sometimes I forget to stop ribbing and then I have more like 15 or 16 rounds of rib, I just match it on the second sock.)
Continue in stockinette stitch (knit all stitches on every round) for 6 inches. This is my cuff length preference. You can make your cuff shorter or longer as you see fit.


Heel Flap:
Divide the stitches as follows:
Needle 1: 32 sts (Needle 1 becomes the heel flap)
Needles 2 and 3: 16 sts each
Work back and forth only on Needle 1 for the heel flap.
Row 1: (slip 1 stitch as if to purl, k1) repeat to the end of Needle 1
Row 2: slip 1 stitch as if to purl, purl to the end of Needle 1
Repeat rows 1 and 2, fifteen more times (16 times total). If you count you will have 16 columns of slipped stitches on your heel flap.
Repeat Row 1 one more time.

Turn the Heel:
abbreviations:
p2tog - purl 2 stitches together
k2tog - knit 2 stitches together


Now, continue to work back and forth on Needle 1 only. You’ve just completed a right side row. Turn and work back on a wrong side row as follows:
Row 1: slip 1 stitch as if to purl, purl 17 stitches, p2tog, purl 1 stitch, turn to go work back in the other direction.
Row 2: slip 1 stitch as if to purl, knit 5 stitches, k2tog, knit 1 stitch, turn to work back in the other direction.
Row 3:  slip 1 stitch as if to purl, purl to 1 stitch before the gap (look and you’ll see the gap where you turned on the row before), p2tog, p1, turn to work back in the other direction.
Row 4: slip 1 stitch as if to purl, knit to 1 stitch before the gap, k2tog, k1, turn to work back in the other direction.
Repeat rows 3 and 4 until all of the stitches have been worked. Your last row should be a row 4 so you are at the end of a knit row. On the last 2 rows you work, you will end the rows with a p2tog and a k2tog.
You will have 18 stitches remaining on Needle 1.

Gusset:
First:
Continue on with the working yarn to pick up stitches going down the side of the heel flap using the free dpn to pick up the stitches.
Pick up 16 stitches, (pick up one stitch in each of the slipped stitches).

Second:
Now place all of the stitches on Needle 3 onto Needle 2. Needle 2 now has 32 stitches. Knit across Needle 2, which is now the top of the foot on your sock.

Third:
Continue on with the working yarn to pick up 16 stitches going up the other side of the heel flap, picking up 1 stitch in each of the slipped stitches. This is Needle 3.

Fourth:
Continue working onto the same needle (Needle 3) and knit 9 stitches from the heel turn. Place the remaining 9 stitches onto what is now Needle 1.

New stitch count:
Needle 1: 25 stitches
Needle 2: 32 stitches
Needle 3: 25 stitches

Decrease rounds for the gusset:
Rnd 1:
knit all stitches
Rnd 2:
Needle 1: knit to the last 3 stitches, k2tog, knit 1 stitch
Needle 2: knit
Needle 3: knit 1 stitch, ssk, knit to the end of the needle
abbreviation:
ssk – slip 2 stitches separately as if to knit, knit the slipped stitches together through the back loops

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until there are 16 stitches on each of Needles 1 and 3, and 32 stitches still remain on Needle 2.

Foot:
Knit every round until the foot measures (from the back of the heel to the stitches on the needles) 2-inches shorter than your desired total foot length. 
For example, my foot measures 9 1/2 inches from the back of my heel to the end of my toes. I work my foot to 7 1/2 inches before I start the toe decreases. My shoe size is a US women's 7.5, I wear a 38 in Birkenstocks. I have a 9-inch foot circumference at the ball of my foot.

Toe:
Rnd 1: knit all stitches
Rnd 2:
Needle 1: knit to the last 3 stitches, k2tog, knit 1 stitch
Needle 2: knit 1 stitch, ssk, knit to the last 3 stitches, k2tog, knit 1 stitch
Needle 3: k1, ssk, knit to the end of the needle
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until you have 6 stitches remaining on Needles 1 and 3, and 12 stitches on Needle 2.
Now place the 6 stitches from Needle 3 onto Needle 1. You now have 2 needles with 12 stitches each.
Cut the yarn leaving a 10 inch end. Place the end on a yarn needle. Use the Kitchener stitch to close the toe. 

I have an instructional video tutorial on the Kitchener stitch to close the end of a toe. Click here for the video.

There you have it! I am not going to individually respond to email questions and instead I am offering this post of sock-filled information.

I have had a few people ask about the cuff falling down while wearing the socks. I don't have this problem but my suggestions would be to either decrease the number of stitches for the ribbed section of the cuff (make it a multiple of 4 if using a k2, p2 rib) or decrease the size needle you are using to work the ribbed section of the cuff (or do both a smaller number of stitches and a smaller needle size) in order to achieve a more customized fit.

Added later: By chance I happened upon this today to help with cuffs staying up! Click here.


Here are the books I constantly recommend to people for basic sock instruction and know-how:
Knitting Rules  - Stephanie Pearl McPhee (pg. 131) - a sketchy recipe for socks that I really enjoy and a generally great book on knitting!
Getting Started Knitting Socks - Ann Budd - The best ever and most informative sock knitting basics book, extremely thorough, lots of options, etc. Highly recommend!!!
The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns - Ann Budd - This book contains a basic stockinette stitch sock with heel flap and gusset in 5 different gauges. You'll have everything at your fingertips for this same type of sock starting on page 48. Plus, this book is a must have for basic patterns of all sorts!

Also, there is a great little tutorial by Mary Jane Mucklestone (click here) on how to sew up holes like the ones you might get when picking up stitches on the sides of the gussets. She is using mittens as her example but it could be used for socks as well. There are lots of tips and tricks available about different techniques to close up these holes so you might want to do a search for those.

Enjoy! I hope I have answered all of your questions.
best, susie

70 comments:

Michele O'Donnell said...

Thank you for this post. I have been reading and studying up on making socks. And the double pointed needles were worrying me. I am sure that this will help tremendously!

Sally said...

Thank you for the "holes horrors!" link. It makes me smile just thinking about "snugging [things] up." :)

Renee Anne said...

Funnily enough, your vanilla sock recipe is almost exactly the same as mine...the only big difference is that I knit until the cuff/leg is 5" instead of 6".

Either way, I made a document with this recipe and saved it to my folder with other knitting recipes...

Susan said...

I commented on Facebook but wanted to come over here too and say thx for the pattern! I just cast on for a sock (only have two other pairs going!) and am excited to give your pattern a whirl. :)

Suzanne said...

I love this post, both for the information and for the spirit with which it is written. It's humorous and firm (that kind of parenting firm where we say things with a smile but we deliver the message with such a tone which indicates we mean what we say). I'm going to take your suggestion and make a pdf to have on my phone just in case. Thanks!

Kepanie said...

I have the Ann Budd book also. I concur that it's a really great one and one of the best out there. I also have Laura Chau's Teach Yourself Visually Sock Knitting. It's a good book and the basic sock pattern is cool, but I like Ann's more.

idiosyncratic eye said...

Thank you! :)

Jennie said...

Susan, thank you for the sock instructions! What shoe size are you making these for? I know I can lengthen here and there, but it's nice to start out with a reference.

Thanks!
Jennie

sauceyjill said...

cute post Susan! I laughed out loud a few times (got some odd looks too). I'm not as sock crazy as some but I do enjoy a basic recipie and this one works great. Thanks for taking the time to write it down! Cheers :)

Knitting Srah said...

Thanks for this! I didn't post, but I loved the first sock post, too!

I just wanted to throw out the that I've had good luck with using a twisted rib on the cuff ribbing. It can help avoid the dreaded droopy cuff syndrome!

Susan B. Anderson said...

jennie - i added all of my foot information in the post under foot:)

Sara said...

I always have plain socks on a set of needles for traveling to appointments, etc., too. I use 0's and cast on 72, though. Everything else is the same!
Sara

Cutzi said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I feel like I have been wondering for years (ok, maybe only months) about your sock pattern but never wanted to pester you. So thank you for taking the time to post it.

Tanknit said...

This is great! Thank you! You are like a big sister in that I gotta do every thing you do. I say that in much respect. :)

grandmastatus said...

Har har! This is exactly how I do my socks! But, I have been trying to spice things up a little and have been trying out new heels and toes, although I think it's nice to have a plain ol' sock in the purse at all times.

Vicki Maynes said...

I am a sock knitter, but like you, I only use 4 dps, knit top down, one at a time, and I always have a heel flap. I just can knit this type in my sleep and enjoy doing them. When I get depressed, I open up my sock drawer and they make me smile--all those pretty colors lying there smiling up at me! So, I decided to count the pairs and I have 22 just for me! I have knit twice that many for my family, and at least that many for charity or presents. I keep a little notebook and write down the "recipe" for each pair as I knit them. That way I can refer back to it when I go to knit another pair for the same person. I CO 68 for me and 72 for men, use a size 1.5 or 2.5mm set of needles, my ribbing is K1,P1 and I like mine longer in the leg, usually 6" to 7". I always have one pair in the works and most of the time two or three along with whatever else I may be knitting. There is nothing like wearing a well-made pair of hand knit socks!

kstrassel said...

Thank you so much for the sock pattern - I'm copying and pasting it right now! I have tons of sock yarn in my stash, but have never made a pair of socks. I will be casting on this weekend!

kstrassel said...

Thank you so much for the sock pattern - I'm copying and pasting it right now! I have tons of sock yarn in my stash, but have never made a pair of socks. I will be casting on this weekend!

ElishaC said...

Thanks for sharing your pattern! You rock!

ElishaC said...

Thanks for sharing your pattern! You rock!

Patricia said...

Haha Susan, you DO rock! Of course if you post about socks, at least 1,000 people are going to knit some socks soon! Me included, and I was just thinking of some questions so this post just made my day! Thanks for all of the inspiration!

browneyegurl35 said...

Thanks for sharing.

Nickycarp said...

Well, thank you. Now this is how I make socks! LOL

Sam I Am...... said...

Thank you, Susan. I will copy your recipe for when I make socks (next, I think)...still working on the oven mitt! LOL! Thanks for the book recommendations. As a novice that comes in real handy as there are so many to chose from. Thank you for the tutorial/video about "holes"...I need that for the oven mitt! You're a whiz and no I did not email you with any questions only because I know so little I don't even know what to ask! Ha! Ha!

sumo said...

Thanks for the pattern. Makes me want to pick up some needles.
My favorite "recipe" for knitting socks is the basic sock pattern in the book "Knit Socks" by Betsy McCarthy. Works great every time. Besides, how can you resist a book that is in the shape of a sock?! :)

Pat. H. said...

Thanks so much for sharing the sock notes. It makes me chuckle to think of all of your readers asking the question that immediately popped into my mind. We are so predictable. DPNs, top down, one at a time, that's my style as well. The only thing is that I hate knitting with size 1 needles. I knit slowly and have little time,so it takes me more than forever.

I really enjoy Knitting Rules. Those directions are easy to follow and I got good results.
P.S. The socks are gorgeous!

Vicki Maynes said...

One thing I really like to do is to use different patterns on the heel flap. There are a number of ways to vary this part of the sock without jeopardizing the integrity of the flap. You can slip with the yarn in the back, or in the front, or vary it every other row, or stagger it i.e., Eye of the Peacock. I also always have a garter stitch border on both sides of the flap. I find it makes it easier to pick up the stitches for the gusset. Does anyone have any other patterns to share for the heel flap?

flora said...

Thanks so much for this! This is great!

Lisa said...

Thank you for this post, Susan! This is exactly what I was looking for a few months ago when I started knitting socks for the very first time. I'd abandoned that project for others, but your post has inspired me to pick it back up.

Malika said...

Hi Susan,
Thank you for these explanations so easy, I was looking for an easy way to make socks and I found your blog, I just finished the first, I was surprised by the easy with which I made, thank you From France.

Anonymous said...

Your sock blockers are ADORABLE.

Helen Brinkert said...

Thank you , Thank You, That was so great of you to post this! I really appreciate you and your wonderful blog!

Amber said...

Ok, this post made me start a pair of socks with some cool self-striping yarn that I bought 6 years ago, but never completed because I was new to knitting and had a hard time with them. I have about 2" of a sock done and it is so cute. LOVE this basic "recipe" and I know I'll use it again and again!
Thanks again for posting!

bitten78 said...

I really wanted to add another big thank you! my very first sock was for the little keychain blocker you can get in a kit, (later at my LYS the ladies thought I was crazy! I thought smaller would be better to get the hang of things) I found your ribbed pattern for kids feet and cast on, watched your Kitchener video a few times and have never looked back. love this vanilla recipie too, it will certainly be my next pair. you are so awesome :) and I think I've got the hubby convinced to get me a wheel, since he thinks sock yarn only comes in crazy bright colors - so I can make him some nice neutral socks-hehe!

idiosyncratic eye said...

I've just finished my first pair of socks! Thank you. :DDD

Madame said...

I just finished my first sock ever. Thank you for this recipe and the videos too. This was super helpful!

bretay said...

If there are 8 slipped stitches on each side..how do I pick up 16 stitches...completely stumped..my first pair of socks...everything else has been so easy..thank you for the pattern
Bretay48@gmail.com

bretay said...

If there are 8 slipped stitches on each side..how do I pick up 16 stitches...completely stumped..my first pair of socks...everything else has been so easy..thank you for the pattern
Bretay48@gmail.com

Susan B. Anderson said...

Bretay - you should work the heel flap until you have 16 slipped stitches along the sides of the heel flap.

bretay said...

thanks susan for responding back.ilike a dummy was counting 16 times total for both sides..sorry for misreading.

Donna said...

I have made several pair of socks using this pattern. It is now my go to pattern. Right now I knitting with Opal Vincent van Gogh yarn. One sock done, starting the second sock. Thanks so much for this great pattern.

Katie said...

When using dpn's with wool worsted weight I can knit fine but using finger weight yarn, I have a much harder time. Is it all in the practice that I will get better using sock yarn?

Thanks

Susan B. Anderson said...

Hi, Katie,
Yes, I think with practice that will be easier for you:)
susan

Katie said...

Thanks Susan, I was determined to use sock yarn, so I practiced and after the first 2 rows it went quite well.

I love handmade socks!

Jen said...

Love the videos. You made kitchener stitch easy! Other videos make it look impossible. Would you consider adding a few videos for the other sections of the sock like turning the heel and picking up the stitches, etc.? I am new to this so I am sure it is easy once you do know how to do it but it is terrifying at this stage. :)

My goal in 2013 is to make ME some socks.Your sock drawer is an inspirations!

Victory Knitter said...

Love your blog. And I am now following you on Pinterest. I have always wanted to make socks. I would like to see if you have a step by step video of making socks.

Jennifer Lowe said...

Susan,
Do you have an estimate for how many yards of yarn this uses? I am just past the heel on my first sock using this recipe and I love it. Thank you!

Susan B. Anderson said...

I don't have an estimate for the yards per sock. I ball of sock yarn around 400 yards is always more than enough.

Jennifer Edwards said...

Hi Susan! I have now made 5 pairs of socks using your awesome pattern! I am teaching my self how to do short rows, and realized that I used to have a sock pattern that used the wrap and turn method for the heel. But it doesn't seem like you use that method here, and my socks have been turning out fine with the wrap part. Just wanting to check and see if I am correct in interpreting your pattern: NO wrap and turn necessary? Thanks so much! -Jennifer

Susan B. Anderson said...

Hi, Jennifer,
I don't use short row heels or short rows at all in my sock pattern so you are correct.
susan

Diane S said...

Hi, Susan! I just finished my first pair of socks thanks to your great pattern! My only question was at the end when time to place the 6 sts from needle three to needle one before doing Kitchener stitches. I ended up with the working yarn in middle of the needle. Did I do something wrong?

Susan B. Anderson said...

Diane S.

Knit the sts from Needle 1 onto Needle 3. that way the working yarn will be at the end:)
suasn

Anonymous said...

I have successfully knitted several pairs of sock using a 12" circular. Thanks for your pattern.
I know you can use any sock pattern but I wondered if there is a site or book that has written instructions specifically for 12" circular.
I'd like to start off with a easy four stitch ribbing pattern and then go more advanced but I find it hard to modify easily the instructions to the 12" needle. I like easy as I'm fairly new to knitting socks. Thank you. Katie

Susan B. Anderson said...

Katie,
I don't know of any patterns/tutorials that address 12-inch circs. Maybe if you google it something will pop up.
susan

Starla said...

Your socks are lovely! I would really love to learn how to make these socks. I'm somewhat overwhelmed by the instructions. It's Greek to me.

Beth from OR said...

Hallelujah! I just finished frogging a sock from a pattern that was making my age and IQ do flip-flops when, lo and behold, a Ravelry pal messaged that she had found your sock pattern and blog and is taking all on their vacation to AZ. I'm starting "your" socks tonight -- thanks!!

Joanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joanne said...

Just finished my 1st pair....came out pretty good for my first try. they look kind of "box-y" though...did I do something wrong?

Joanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Huff said...

Just what I've been looking for: a basic sock pattern that's easy to follow. I am struggling to get a pair of socks to fit properly, so wanted a pattern with no frills. Also, am helping a friend learn to knit socks - the proverbial "blind leading the blind". Your "recipe" will be a great help.

Also, the Kitchener video is the best I've seen. Makes a confusing and complicated task so easy.

Thanks.

Linda said...

Love the sock pattern--
??-- when you start the heel flap and slip 1 as if to purl-- is the yarn in back or in the front??
Thanks for any help

Susan B. Anderson said...

linda! hold the yarn in back while slipping.

klhp said...

I've been knitting for YEARS and have never made a sock -- until today! I finished the first of a pair, thanks to your awesome recipe. They're a little loose, but it's my own fault, because I couldn't wait to get size 1 needles, so I used 1.5's. Makes a perfect slouchy lounging sock. :)

Can you tell me which size sock blocker you use? Is it a medium?

Susan B. Anderson said...

yay! i use a medium sock blocker but they are by foot size so be sure to check.

klhp said...

Great! Thank you. I think mine fall in the medium zone, too. Of course, Loopy Ewe is out of stock, because everyone has a medium foot! Ha! Thanks for the information. I'm halfway through sock #2, with new yarn coming for a pair for my husband, He's... excited? He doesn't know what he's been missing, perhaps. :)

Abbi B said...

Wow! Great pattern and fantastic instructions. The video on the Kitchener stitch is the frosting on the cake--could not figure this out from either of my reference books but you made it so easy! The best part is that the socks actually fit me, and well. You've given me the confidence to start another pair with a simple pattern in them. Thank you.

Marty said...

Love this pattern, and Kitchener video. When starting the cuff ribbing how many stitches are on each needle?
Thanks!

Susan B. Anderson said...

Marty,
I cast on 20, 20 and 24 stitches respectively on 3 dpns.
susan

Marty said...

thanks for your quick response Susan. Can't wait to get started on these

MommaGott said...

I am working on a pair for my husband size 14!! I cast on 72 stitches and I am now getting ready to tun the heel, but I am not sure how to calculate for row 1 of heel turn how many to purl before i p2 tog, and for row 2 how many to knit before I k2 tog? Love ths pattern... Thanks for any help!