In the context of “life skills”, we’re publishing a series on how to knit socks. There’s many ways to knit a sock, and we’ll walk you through two of these methods. The first in the series is a toe-up sock, with short but clear GIFs to help you on your way to your first handknit socks!
There are many ways to knit your first sock, and when you start looking you’ll an overflow of information. In these series I’d like to present a narrowed down tutorial on how to start your journey as a beginning sock artist.
I knit a pair of socks for this tutorial using two strands of Lang Yarns Jawoll Twin in the rainbow colorway 511. I held two strands together and used 3,5mm needles for nice, sturdy socks. On the top right shown in the picture you can see how much yarn I had left.
This series is focussed on toe-up socks and we’ll be using the “Fleegle” heel. I’ll add a link in the next post when we get to it, so you can read her own post about it as well. I’ll cover a few basics but for in-depth reading it’s best to read Fleegle’s own post.
There’s many different ways to knit a sock toe-up, and depending on the type of heel you’re choosing, there’s a point where you need to increase for the gusset. When you’re using a Fleegle heel, it’s point B where you’re going to increase your stitches for the heel (but we’ll deal with that part in the next post).
Let’s start casting on the stitches, increasing stitches for the toe to reach the right amount of stitches for the foot, then knitting straight until we arrive at point B.
The picture above shows what this step will produce. I knit this pair of socks for DH, who has a shoesize EU41-42. They’re wider than I’d choose for myself and of course also longer, since my shoe size is EU38. I prefer casting on 10 stitches on each needle using magic loop. If you like your socks pointier or less pointy, you can choose to cast on less or more stitches.
In this example we’ll cast on 10 stitches per needle (20 stitches in total) and we’ll increase on either row until we’ve reached a total of 48 stitches (24 stitches per needle).
First things first: before we begin we’ll make a slipknot. Choose your favourite method, or use the method I use (shown in the GIF above). The point is that we’ll need to remove the slipknot because we don’t want an actual knot at the toe of our sock.
Put your loop on one of your needles and pull until it’s nice and tight. Place your other needle underneath the first needle, wrap your yarn around the needle as shown in the GIF above a total of 10 times. We’re not counting the slipknot since we’ll be pulling that out. The best way to do this is at an angle so you don’t make your first row too tight. The first row can be a bit hard to knit since there’s a lot of needle and cable and not much body to hold onto. Don’t worry about the first row becoming too loose, you can always pull on the slip knot end to make the stitches behave.
While holding your yarn in place so the yarn and stitches don’t shift, turn your work and pull out the bottom needle so you can knit. Knit this row like you normally would.
When you’ve reached the end, turn your work around and move your needles back in place so you can knit. Before you begin, drop the slipknot and lay the yarn over the yarn you’ll be using to knit (as shown in the GIF). Now you’ve placed your starting tail on the “inside” of the sock so you can weave it in when you’re ready. Knit stitches until the end.
Now you’ve finished the cast on row. Now start row 1 by knitting all stitches on both needles once. If you find it easier you can attach a stitch marker at the beginning of the round.
After the first row the increase rows will start. For the fit it’s mostly important to try it on to see if it fits. You can use my stitch count if your feet are comparable to 40-42, but you can use less increases for a smaller foot or more increases for a wider foot.
Increase rows are always done over two rows. On row one you’ll increase 4 stitches by making yarn overs (I’ll show this in the next set of GIFs). On the second row you’ll knit these yarn overs twisted so they close up and don’t form a hole. It’s important to note that the increase on the right side will be Left Leaning and the increase on the left side will be Right Leaning, and to achieve this you’ll need to knit them differently (also shown in GIF below).
Increase row: knit 1, make 1 yarn over, work until last stitch, yarn over, knit 1. Repeat this on the other needle as well.
To make the increases and your sock symmetrical and even, you’ll knit the left and right increase in a different manner. If you don’t mind the symmetry, you can also just knit them te same way. I find I like it best when they’re done properly. It also doesn’t really matter for a sock, but when you’re using this technique to increase your raglan stitches, it’s helpful if it’s symmetrical.
The GIF above shows the first increase, which is a left leaning increase. You’ll work this stitch through the back loop so it twists. It’s important to knit this stitch through the back loop because if you knit it through the front loop you’ll get a hole. Nice for lace patterns, not so much for socks.
The make the Right Leaning increase (on the left side of the work) we’ll need to knit it from the other side. But since we made the yarn over the same way, we’ll need to turn the stitch the other way. Pick up the stitch as if to purl and place it back on the left needle. Then knit it through the front loop again.
Let me explain why we use this method. There’s many different ways of making increases, and this is mine because it doesn’t pull on the stitches in the rows below. If you’re using one strand of sockyarn, and you’re using smaller needles, then the amount of pull on the stitches below is lower. So if you take the stitch below or if you use the ladder in between stitches, there’s only a little bit of yarn going through the twisted loop on the row below. When you use thicker yarns or yarns held double, the effect is much more visible. This causes:
1: increase rows that are not as pretty and don’t disappear in your fabric
2: larger and smaller stitches on the sides.
Neither of these issues is a big disaster, but hey, there’s something to be said for aesthetics.
The picture above shows a close-up of what these stitches will look like when you do take the time to make the increases.
For the sock I made I started with 10 stitches per needle and increased until I had 14 stitches. Which is 7 increase rows and 7 straight rows.
When you’re done with the increases you will knit straight until you reach point B of your own foot. If you’re knitting your sock and you notice it’s too loose, but comfy, you can always decide to add ribbing on the top part of the foot (example: k1, p2, *k2, p2*, k1). Ribbing will make sure your knitting pulls in a little so it stays snug, but you won’t loose the fabric you need for it to fit comfortably around the broadest part of your foot.
Start your sock! Next week we’ll move onto the heel! If you have any questions you can always drop me a note! Happy knitting!