In the winter time, grandma's hand-knitted socks used to be taken out of the closet. Today I take care of supplies in the sock drawer myself, because in my opinion nothing beats socks that I have knitted myself.
Knitting a sock from the cuff over the heel to the toe is something completely different than making a nice scarf or even a sweater. The mere thought of having to handle more than two needles puts many people off.
With a little practice, you too can knit socks - easily and quickly. If you're still unsure whether you want to try your first pair of socks, you've come to the right place. Here we cover everything you need to know about sock knitting.
What is the advantage of self-knitted socks?
Many generations before us already appreciated knitted socks very much. However, bought socks were still scarce and expensive. There was no other option than to get to work yourself. Nowadays, bought socks are available for little money. Why should we still do the work and knit our own socks?
1. The material: new wool
New wool from sheep is a great natural product. It regulates the heat on the foot and is temperature-compensating. In addition, it can absorb up to 35% of its own weight in moisture without feeling uncomfortably wet. If you walk around in closed shoes all day, you might sweat. The sweat is absorbed by the wool and you don't have the uncomfortable feeling of wearing damp socks. New wool can even bind sweat chemically, which means that bacteria and fungi have no basis for life. Unpleasant odors are neutralized in this way.
Another advantage of sheep's wool is the lanolin, also known as wool fat. Because of this wool grease, the socks don't pick up dirt as easily. For this reason too, new wool is particularly suitable for knitting children's socks.
2. Do it yourself: no mass-produced goods
Purchased stockings are mass-produced. However, if you want something special, you can knit your own socks, also with gradient yarn. The range of sock yarn is limitless. Whether plain, colorful or with harmonious color gradient yarns, there are always individual single pairs that cannot be found in any store.
But not only the color can be varied. Knitting with patterns is very trendy right now. You can find a small selection here. So if you want to knit imaginative sock patterns, there are no limits.
3. Made to fit: made to measure
Another advantage is that special features of the foot can be taken into account when knitting yourself. Every foot is different, some are narrower or wider than the norm. You probably already know the problem from buying shoes, not every shoe of your shoe size fits equally well. It makes a difference whether you want to knit baby socks, whether you want men's or teenage socks, or whether you prefer to knit sneaker socks.
As a basic guide, you can of course follow size charts when knitting socks. These are often sorted by size and thread thickness. You can customize your socks by adjusting the number of stitches. So the sock fits perfectly. With an additional rib pattern (e.g. 1 stitch on the right, 1 stitch on the left) you ensure good stretchability.
You need this for knitting socks:
Here you can find out which needles you can use, which wool you should choose for it, and of course how much material you need. All of these are important details that you can already familiarize yourself with the actual project.
You can knit your socks in many different ways. I would like to introduce you to the two most common needle variants, which are also perfect for beginners:
The needle game
The classic pin game consists of five game pins. These are usually 20 cm long and have a needle size of 2-3. They also need to be sharpened on both sides, so you can't use the classic needles with a stopper at the end.
The five needles used seem a bit intimidating at first, but the system behind it is quite simple. Four of the needles hold the stitches of the knitted tube. The free needle in the double pointed needles is used to knit the stitches. As a result, the needles keep changing their place. Game needles in different colors are beginner-friendly.
The set of double pointed needles is best suited for smaller socks, then depending on the wool, the needles become too short from about 30 stitches. This means you run the risk of individual stitches simply slipping off the end. With the usual sock sizes, however, you only have between 10 and 20 stitches on each needle. This is relatively easy to handle.
Circular knitting needles
Even if double-pointed needles are the best-known variant of sock knitting, more and more knitters swear by circular knitting needles. The big advantage over double pointed needles is that the stitches cannot slip off the needles because of the string, no matter how many you cast on.
If you want to knit small baby socks, for example, the long double pointed needles are a bit bulky. The circular knitting needle is a practical alternative here in particular. The best thing about circular knitting needles is that most of us already have at least one in our drawer.
A sock yarn has to withstand a lot. It is usually subjected to significantly more stress than other knitting yarns. The friction, the pressure and the warm and humid environment in the shoe quickly causes unsuitable wool to become matted.
The advantages of special sock yarn are as follows:
- Multiple threads are twisted together. You can recognize this on the banderole by imprints such as 4-fold, 6-fold or 8-fold (or -threaded). The twisting ensures high stability and tear resistance of the yarn.
- Polyamide is processed together with the new wool. This synthetic fiber gives the yarn additional strength. This is a guarantee of longevity, especially when scouring.
- Chiemseegarn offers sock yarns in superwash quality. A special manufacturing process makes the wool felt-free and machine washable at up to 40 degrees. It's soft and doesn't scratch.
In addition to the classic sheep's wool, you can also process other yarns. If you like it soft and fluffy, you can choose between alpaca, yak or cashmere. But be careful, the extra softness often reduces durability.
Not only new wool is suitable for a pair of socks. There is also a wide range for allergy sufferers or people who do not want to process animal products. Cotton blends with viscose or bamboo fibers are stocked in many stocked yarn stores. So if you want to avoid animal hair in your socks, you should choose wool with a high proportion of cotton or viscose.Yarn made of synthetic fibers absorbs significantly less moisture and can quickly lead to sweaty feet
Our Bobbel wool with color gradient from Chiemseegarn consists, for example, of 50% cotton and 50% polyacrylic. However, the proportion of synthetic fibers should not be higher under any circumstances. That's why we prefer to use our special 4-ply superwash sock yarn from Rico instead of our gradient yarns.
If you still want to work with gradient yarn, thanks to the gradient you can get very professional-looking socks even as an inexperienced knitter. The best way to work here is in stockinette stitch or with a rib pattern. Please note that gradient yarns will not produce identical socks unless you choose the color division very cleverly.
The rule here is: the proof of the pudding is in the eating! Anyone who works with gradient yarn is aware that no two socks are exactly alike. The result is still often better than expected.
For example, we sell our sock yarn in 50 gram balls. If you want to knit baby socks, this amount is usually enough for a pair. With shoe size 37-46, 50 grams make a sock, depending on how high you knit the shaft. If you don't find any further explanations on a banderole, the rule of thumb for adult sizes applies: 100 grams = 1 pair of socks.
Your material consumption depends on the following factors:
- The way of knitting: Do you knit loosely or tightly
- The kind of socks: sneaker socks, calf socks, knee socks...
- The sock pattern: Patterns use up significantly more yarn than knitting in stockinette stitch. Braids or hole patterns significantly increase consumption.
- The sock shape: the yarn consumption changes with the same sock size, depending on which heel or toe shape you use.
Like any project, sock knitting isn't something you can just jump into. Think carefully about what result you want to have in the end. In addition to the yarn and color selection, this also includes the technology. At a minimum, you should know the following:
- knit stitches
- purl stitches
- Knit stitches together
- Pl stitches together
If you are still a beginner in knitting, you can find the basic knitting techniques on our YouTube channel.
Division of the sock:
Now let's take a look at what parts a sock consists of. To do this, we work step by step from top to bottom.
You can find out how many stitches you need to cast on for your sock in a sock knitting size table. To keep your stocking in place, we knit the cuff in an elastic pattern that gathers well. A simple rib pattern is ideal for beginners.
You can use the stitches on your needle as a guide. So you should knit as many cuff rounds as there are stitches on one needle. You can also vary the length of the cuff and even knit it up to the sock heel. To do this, simply knit the entire shaft in rib.
The shaftOnce the cuff is done, we knit our shaft. This can be knitted in stockinette stitch. When knitting in the round, this means that you knit all stitches. However, avoid so-called ladders.
These occur when you knit the transition between the needles too loosely.Try to knit the first two stitches of a needle much tighter so you get an even stitch structure
By the way, the height of the shaft is a matter of taste! Knit in rounds until you reach the desired length. With an average shaft, you can knit as many rounds as there are stitches on three needles.
When knitting socks, the heel is a challenge, especially for beginners. It's a good thing that there are many different ways to knit the heel of a sock. A classic heel would be the cap heel, for example, but in fact there are even sock knitting instructions that make it possible to knit socks without heel. With the many possible heel types, you can quickly lose track. In order to avoid this, we will introduce you to the most common variants in the next posts. So you can choose your personal favourites.
The foot is the area between the heel and toe. To do this, you first have to close the stitches of your heel again to form a round.
Once you start knitting the toes of a sock, you're almost there. Just like with the cuff or the heel, there are also many different instructions for knitting the toe of the socks. The tape tip, where stitches are gradually decreased, is particularly suitable for beginners. The size table specifies the distances to be observed when removing.
Now you have an overview of this extensive topic. Have you gotten the taste now? If so, you can look forward to the topic "socks" in the next few weeks! At the end of the month you can knit socks yourself, according to instructions..