TABLE OF CONTENTS
Authors Other Books
Chapter 1: Sock Basics
Gauge and Swatch
Standard Sock Sizes
Chapter 2: Choosing Your Materials
Weigh Your Yarn Options
Self-patterning Sock Yarn
How Much Yarn Do You Need?
Chapter 3: Casting On
How to Avoid the Ladder Effect
Chapter 4: Knitting From the Top
Turn the Heel
Shape the Gusset
How to Avoid the Gusset Hole
Shape the Toe
Chapter 5: Knitting From the Toe Up
Knit the Foot
Shape the Heel
Chapter 6: How To Knit Two Socks At Once
Start Your Knitting
Chapter 7: Basic Sock Pattern
Chapter 8: Ribby Sock Pattern
Knitting Terms Glossary
I do not think there are any knitting projects as enjoyable as socks. It does not take a lot of skill to knit up something that just feels so good, both for your hands and your feet. With every row, you can see progress as your socks take shape. When you are done, there’s no assembly required. You can slip them right on. How awesome is that?!?
I have probably knitted close to a hundred pairs of socks in my lifetime, and I have taught almost that many people to knit them as well. That is a lotta footwear!
In that time, I have probably encountered every kind of sock knitting dilemma; from the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome to the nasty little hole that appears when knitting the gusset. I have also worked with some students who were paralyzed at the sight of double-pointed needles; I believe they called them “sticks”, “chopsticks”, and “what the heck are those?”
In this book, I will guide you through the basics of sock knitting: from choosing the materials (yarn, needles) to figuring out the size, and then, best of all, knitting a pair of socks. Just like so many things in life, there are several routes to getting where you want to go. You can knit one sock at a time or do them both at once. You can start your sock at the top or at the toe. You can cast on your stitches and bind them off in various ways.
In this book I have chosen not to confuse you with every option in the sock knitting universe. I have found that when a person is given too many choices, they choose to make no choice at all. So, I’m giving you the benefit of many years of sock knitting, teaching and doing, so that you can get right down to it and join the community of sock knitting addicts.
CHAPTER 1: SOCK BASICS
Before you pick up your needles, let’s talk about the sock itself, by starting with its anatomy (do not worry, there will not be a quiz at the end). Think of a sock like any other knitted garment. For example, a sweater has different parts of it like the sleeves, cuffs, and neckline. Likewise a sock has different parts of it as well, unless you are knitting a tube sock, which never fits comfortably, right?
To get the wonderful shaping in your sock, you need to do a little maneuvering to allow for the curve in the heel, which is made up of the heel flap, heel turn, and gusset in the picture below.
GAUGE AND SWATCH
Knitting any garment without first making a swatch and checking your gauge is like baking without measuring cups. You might get it right, but if you do not, you have wasted your time and the “ingredients”.
What do I mean by “gauge”? In knitting, the term refers to how many stitches per inch you get from a particular yarn and needle size. The larger the needle, the fewer stitches per inch. Every pattern will include a gauge to indicate what they based the measurements on. So, if you are using a pattern that calls for 8 stitches per inch and the gauge for your choice of yarn and needle size is 6 stitches per inch, you are going to end up with a knitted garment that is way too big; if you follow the directions as written without making adjustments for the yarn weight.
I once had a customer come into my shop with a knitting crisis. She was knitting a bag to be felted, but her gauge was so far off from the instructions that her bag looked more like a small sleeping bag.
Please, please, please take the time to knit a swatch. Just cast on 20 stitches on the needle size you plan to use. Knit in stockinette stitch to four inches deep. Then place a ruler on top and count how many little “v’s” there are in a row (each “v’ is one stitch). Also measure the depth. Most gauges in patterns will tell you the gauge in both depth and width; I do not always worry about the depth, because I can adjust that by reducing or increasing the number of rows, but width is critical!
If your gauge does not match the pattern, change the size of your needles. However, if you have chosen a pattern that calls for fingering or sport weight yarn and you have got a bulky weight, this suggestion will not work. Always aim for matching the weight of your yarn to the one in the pattern. Or find a math whiz that can recalculate the pattern for you!