Socks — another long winded post

JudyL who inspired me to learn to knit socks is having a sock knit along beginning on November 1 and is encouraging everyone who wants to learn to join in.

Earlier this year I decided that socks would make the perfect travel project and that I was going to teach myself to knit them. I’m a very inexperienced knitter who taught myself to knit from a book about 4 years ago but hadn’t knit much of anything in the last 2-3 years because quilting and HeartStrings seems to eat up all my time.

One thing I did know from knitting a few hats is that I HATE double pointed needles so while Judy loves knitting with them, I knew I’d have to find another method that would work for me. I also knew I’d do best if I knit two at a time so I wouldn’t end up with a bunch of single socks.

After extensive research, I decided I would knit two at a time on two circular needles from the cuff down. (I initially wanted to do toe up but quickly decided cuff down would be easier to learn).

While I bought several books — the one I used to learn and still refer to most is Knitting Circles Around Socks.

I use yarn from Knit Picks and I love their Harmony circular needles (I have a set with interchangeable¬†tips but I prefer the fixed circular needles that don’t have the connection between the tips and cable)

While the book uses Worsted weight yarn and size 5 needles in 16 and 24 inches for the basic socks where she shows you the process step by step, I used sport weight for my first pair and there are other patterns in the book using other yarn weights.

Most of my socks now are made from fingering yarn and size 2 (2.75mm) needles but the sport weight ones are quick! If you buy the sock yarn in balls (which are really skeins) you don’t need to wind a hank into balls or divide it into two although I did invest in a ball winder after my first couple pair of socks.

The biggest thing people seem to object to with this method is that they tangle their yarn. It’s really pretty easy to keep the yarn in the correct position and untangled but like every new thing you learn, you have to get used to it.

First, people tend to turn their work in the same direction every time. With two skeins you need to alternate the direction you turn otherwise you get this:

I keep my skeins in a plastic bag and there’s no need to pull them out, I just twist my work in the opposite direction a couple times. I can easily glance down at my yarn and see which way I need to turn the work to keep myself untangled.

Another thing mentioned in the book that I had to learn for myself is keeping my yarn to the back of my work. When you first turn, most likely the yarn on your second sock will be falling in front like this photo.

So you simply move it to the back before bringing your needle around to start the next row.

I’m working on my heel flaps right now and I’m starting with a slip stitch with my yarn in front. If I lift it over my hand and pass my needle under it, I won’t get it trapped inside the circle.

Here, it would end up trapped in my circle.

So really all you need to do is alternate the direction you turn your work and keep your working yarn to the outside of the circle!

But really if you forget to move your yarn to the outside while you’re learning — it’s pretty simple to just pass the ball of yarn through your circle to get it in the right position.

I’ll just state again, this is the method that works for me…. it may not work for you and I really have nothing invested in convincing you to do it MY way but if you’d like to give two at a time a shot, don’t be turned off by people who’ve tried it and don’t like it.

Seriously, I’m not that talented so it can’t be but so hard if I can do it.

Don’t forget to join in Judy’s November knit along!

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13 Responses to “Socks — another long winded post”

  • I love to knit socks on circular needles. I found that the decrease on the gusset using dpns would result in eyelet holes because the decreases were at the end of a needle. By using the circs, the decreases are in the middle and voila! no eyelets, just a smooth decrease. This is Cat Bordhi’s method of one sock on 2 circs. Of course, I’ve tried the 2 socks on 2 circs and 2 socks on 1 loooong circ which I will occasionally fall back on when doing a plain sock. The two at a time with a texture pattern just makes my head ache. *grin*

  • This is coming along with almost perfect timing for me! I just took up knitting socks and know almost nothing about the whole ordeal. I’m using DP needles and am using a very simple cuff down free pattern from Ravelry. I’m almost to the heel flap on my first sock and am getting nervous. Although I’ll be done with my sock by November, I will follow along to see what all I’ve done wrong!! Thanks for the heads up.

  • You are one of my recipients of the “Sunshine Award”. You can check out my blog on Wed 9-27 to read more about it! Thanks for being so great!

  • Great post Mary, I posted about socks today too. I got super frustrated with the circular needles and switched over to my dpns. I’m can’t wait for the knit along. I’m going to hurry with this pair so I can start a new pair for the knit along. :-)

  • tami:

    I posted about socks today as well. I think JudyL has everyone thinking about sock knitting. I use the one long needle, 2 at a time, toe up method. I like socks for a portable project too. I usually have a pair in a project bag all ready to grab when I leave the house. Knitting is much easier to carry around than a quilt.

  • Toni Macomb:

    Your posts are so helpful! I too have quilted for years and found ways to make up for my little discrepancies, just like you!

    And, I too taught myself to knit from a book. I’ve done simple projects. Even projects with double pointed needles, but I’ve been wanting to do socks, two at a time, with circular needles. I’ve purchased two books but have not taken the time to try the techniques. But with your helpful suggestions I am going to MAKE myself try it this week. Thank you! Toni

  • Joanne:

    Thanks so much for this post. I have a feeling I will be referring back to it many times when the challenge starts. In the meantime, I think I’ll knit some dishcloths – gotta start somewhere.

  • SueR:

    Your timing is impeccable for this post. I am halfway through sock #2 of a pair, and next I had planned to try 2 socks on a circular. This was a really good post, and I’m sure I’ll be referring to it again. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • I think your post may have solved my problems. When I tried it before, I had my yarn in two separate balls in two separate bags. You keep both balls in the same bag? I think it’s that “twist the other way” that I wasn’t doing. We shall see! Thanks for the pix and tips.

  • I showed this post to my very talented neice and she agreed with what you said and is going to place an order and have it shipped directly to me. I am getting so excited to get started. Besides enjoying your quilting posts I was jealous of your knitted socks. lol Thanks for the inspiration.

  • I just received the following books from KnitPicks: _Toe-Up Socks for Everybody_ and _Toe-Up Two at a Time Socks_. One is loaded with photos, the other has drawings, they’re both loaded with helpful hints, and they both have patterns I’ll love using. I ordered from KnitPicks last Friday and they arrived Monday or Tuesday. (No, I have no financial connection with them–except that they accept my credit card. LOL)

  • Iene:

    I’ve always knitted socks on 4 needles, but I’m willing to give anything new a try. Can you tell me what length of needles you prefer? On Knit Picks website they suggest either 40″ or 47″ needles for knitting 2 at a time but I was curious as to which length you prefer.

    Hope Chesty is feeling better soon – he looks so sad :-(

  • Barbara Fons:

    Thanks for the inspiration. I started knitting socks some time ago but got stuck on the heel. I will get the book you recommended, my library has two copies, and try again. I am determined to knit a pair of socks.

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