socks, socks, socks... HELp (please)
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OK, you wise accomplished knitters in all your fibered glory:
I am desperately in need of advice. I have been longing to start my very first part of hand made socks but all of the books I have consulted seem too confusing and complex for me to understand. Any simple user-friendly books or ADVICE you could give to a beginner?
Any help/advice would be much welcome. I have made many many finished knitting projects with both single pointed kneedles and circular needles but have yet to try the double pointed needles required for socks with any sort of success.
Try a tube sock to get the hang of the dpns.
You can wear these with clogs/birkies or as bed socks.
Use one of your existing sock patterns to determine needle size and number of stitches to cast on.
If you're using three needles, divide the stitches so that the the sum of the stitches of needles 1 and 3 equal the number of stitches on needle 2 (e.g., needle 1, 12 sts; needle 2, 24 sts; needle 3, 12 sts.) This will make the toe decrease easier.
Then start with a k1p1 cuff (about an inch), then knit as long as you want the sock to be less two inches.
Use the following decrease for the toe:
Needle 1: Knit to last three stitches K 2 tog, K 1
Needle 2: K1, Sl 1, K1, PSSO, continue to last three stitches of needle 2, K2 tog, K1
Needle 3: K 1, Sl 1, K1 PSSO
Round 2: Knit
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until about 1/3rd of the stitches remain. Gather those stitches together tightly and weave in.
Once you feel comfortable with the dpns, go for a simple sock.
I highly recommend Nancy Bush's Folk Socks book. She has a basic, simple sock pattern in the front, and patterns for various heel and toe shapes you use to practice with.
Just remember that you are only ever knitting on two needles at a time- the rest are just holding stitches like a circular needle.
If you have trouble with the stitches sliding off the other needles use a point protector to help keep them on while you get the hang of it. (Or switch to stickier needles, I prefer plastic or bamboo to metal for dpn- of course I prefer them anyway- I hate the metalic clicking)
I also find as you switch from one dpn to another that it is important to make sure that your tension stays the same and doesn't get loopy. I find I have to tighten the yarn slightly as I switch needles.
You'll do just fine. It is very much like knitting on circular needles.
I used this tut here to make my first few pairs of socks. Consider using ww yarn and bamboo needles the yarn is less likely to fall off.
You could see if your local library has the Nancie Knits: sock video by Nancie Wiseman.
I really like the book Knit Socks!; its directions are simple, the illustrations are clear, some of the patterns are neat, and it made knitting socks pretty painless for me.
Have you tried the "Magic Loop" circular needle approach yet?
Booklet is on sale at KnitPicks.com at the moment. I'll never go back to two needles or dpns and their laddering again!
Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting without Tears also has a good un-pattern explanation of making a sock.
I also wrote a simple Magic Loop pattern for myself based on all the sock directions I devoured...will send if you have your email listed on your profile...or email me if your's isn't listed.
Caution: socks are addictive!
Ooo ooo! Tell more about the "magic loop"! Is this a super small circular? What a great idea! I'm so excited! Something new!
Magic loop is a great way to avoid dpns if they are frustrating.
There are even tutorial out there how to do two socks at one on one circular needle. I do one sock on each circular needle.
Go here for a tutorial to make a pair of socks using magic loop and here for basic tutorial.
The Magic Loop by Sarah Hauschka is a nice little booklet by fiber trends.
sammimag - is the magic loop method the same as the Cat Bordhi 2-circular-needles method? One of my older ufo's is the beginning of a sock started on 2 circulars, but I haven't got very far with it. The long loopy cables get in the way for me, and I've found them annoying, though I can see that the knitting goes faster than with dpns. It is made with thin sock yarn; maybe I just don't have the patience for using thin yarn and size 1 needles!
The very first thing I knitted, when I was just learning and took a knitting class, was a pair of "Joan's socks" (a popular internet pattern). I have no idea how I did them - it was years ago already. So making a pair of socks is new to me too. I would like to become addicted to sock knitting, though my efforts so far haven't brought me much enjoyment!
Socks on two circs is different. When you do the magic loop you only use one. I'll go edit my post for some reason the links did go through.
I haven' tried with two circs but I'm making a pair of socks on magic loop right now and I find it pretty easy but really don't mind dpns.
Actually there IS a super small circular with super flexible tips! I'm going to say Clover though it may be wrong - it was of Japanese origin. It had an interior rigid diameter of about 2" and the shop owner says that she does all her sleeves and socks on it now. I might treat myself to those next time.
I've been knitting socks for decades and they do take a bit of practice at first. I usually use the 2 small circular method, but sometimes still use doublepoints, or even 2 doublepoints and one circular.
The problem I have with magic loop is that it wears out your needle when you pinch it.
I recommend learning how not to make ladders. It just takes a little practice, but is well worth your time.
If you're knitting socks on 5 double-points (so the knitting is on 4 at any given time, plus the active needle), an easy way to avoid wonkiness at the joints is to fold the whole shebang so that the joint you're about to knit lies flat.
With knitting socks on 4 double-points (knitting is on 3 needles at any given time), I get good results by just making extra sure that my yarn is nice and snug on the first and last few stitches of each needle. But I have snug tension anyway, and that method might mess up the knitting of a looser-tensioned knitter.
I knit my first socks using the pattern in Knitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. It's done on dpns, but I used 5 needles instead of four, so I wouldn't have a problem with ladders. It's a very clear, easy pattern; I use it all the time now!
Thanks, leighisme, for the tip on Knitting Rules!. I had a look at the book and it does look like a good, easy to follow pattern. I think I'll start over with knitting socks, using those instructions.
Yay! Off to my stash to look for yarn!
Ok, I'm back from my stash hunt. Wouldn't you know it? I have hardly ANY sock yarn! I guess I'll have to buy some. Such a hardship. Let's see - KnitPicks has 40% off knitting books at the moment. And they must have some nice sock yarn, right?
I did find some close-enough-to-sock-yarn to start a new sock (I'm not optimistic enough right now to say I've started a pair of socks) using the Knitting Rules directions. That'll hold me till I can get some more yarn, I guess. Thanks, PandorasRequiem for starting off this thread - I'm inspired now!
Can't go wrong with Stephanie. Congrats to all the new sock knitters! I remember those days--it's a wonderful accomplishment!
Soon you'll be doing the math and designing your own socks. I never thought Iwould be able to, but I almost never use a pattern anymore. Just a stitch dictionary, a swatch (you must) and a calculator.
You're welcome MaggieO! I hope the pattern works out for you. Shopping for sock yarn can be so much fun... :)
littlegeek, I don't know if I'll ever reach that point! I once tried to make socks without a pattern and it came out monstrously huge...
leighisme: oh I think you'll get there. It starts by improving someone elses pattern -you start thinking this would fit me better if it was about four rows longer and how could I add a little shaping- maybe some decreases.
I agree with Littlegeek, Soon you are making your own charting paper and sitting at a knitting group with you swatches doing math (that's how you keep things from being too big or too small) and people begin to wonder if you are actually a knitter or if you just like to drink tea and do math until you show up with something new.
Then you flip through books of stitch patterns like a kid in a candy store or a gardener with a seed book.
But even if you never design a thing you'll still have a great time.
OK, so sometimes I do use a pattern. I am knitting sox for everyone in my wedding party (wedding was March 2006, so you know it's taking me a while). One of my officiants loves red & white, and I found a nice pattern with 3 colors, which I am doing in white and 2 shades of red. It's in this book: Socks, Socks, Socks
Edited to fix link
I can't recommend Charlene Schurch'sSensational Knitted Socks highly enough for a beginner. It's very cleverly organized for maximum clarity and has enough variety that you could knit happily out of it (choosing a different project every time) for a year or more. It taught myself both the dpn and two-circs methods out of it, with no assistance, and even my first pair fit perfectly.
She also has a "class sock" at the beginning that allows you to run through all the steps and techniques of a full-size sock before committing to a complete pair.
#23 btw, warning to anyone attempting the "Best of Show" socks on pg 39 of Socks, Socks, Socks: there's a mistake in the pattern. (I hate when that happens.) The first time you start chart C, start on row 7.
This pattern is not to be attempted unless you're confident you can carry 3 colors in fair isle. It's pretty fun, tho, if you are.
>20 littlegeek: little geek: "swatch (a must)" are you refering to a guage? Such a novice question! How do you establish a guage? I knit loosely and always need to drop down a needle size. Any tips?
#26 Yes, I meant a gauge swatch.
There's no shame in dropping a needle size! That's why you do the swatch. It's much better to let your natural way of knitting flow, and adjust needle size accordingly. And it really does pay to do it every time, no matter how well you know yourself, each yarn/needle combo is unique.
When you're designing, you have to knit the swatch so you can figure out how many stitches you'll need to cast on.
I just wanted to thank everyone so much for their help and advice/suggestions. I would love to be able to say that I ran home after reading this, picked up some yarn and needles and started knitting socks with poise and confidence...
But then, that wouldn't be true.
The truth of the matter is, after reading this I -did- run home and grab needles, yarn and book but... the book I bought "Favorite Socks, 25 timeless Designs from Interweave" ended up being tossed across the room out of desperation. I tried the first sock, supposedly the easiest, but it was too complex and irritating for me. I suppose it just takes practice, like all knitting does. I'm giving basic socks patterns recommended by you all a go before I try out anymore books about socks.
The only positive thing that came out of this experience was me having all the more admiration for you accomplished knitters who could actually handle those sock patterns. wow! :)
PR, take heart! When I was a novice knitter I attempted a sock pattern and gave up in frustration. Double points are really hard at first! I did lots of sweaters and other stuff and then tried socks again after several years' practice. Now it's my favourite thing to knit.
Just do what feels good. There's always more to learn, and sometimes you're just not ready for a certain technique. Don't stop knitting, just knit something else!
PandorasRequiem, do take heart, it may be that you just need to see socks being knit to get the hang of it. . .do you have a knitting buddy or group in town.
I agree with littlegeek too. I don't know how many pairs of half finished legwarmers and easy projects for kids I did but the first project I ever finished was a sweater. The 12 year old me needed a goal to want to finish a project.
It was a wonderful wallaby if anyone knows that patterned and fortunately I liked everything oversized in those days so it still fits now.
Anyway that was a long winded way of saying knit what you enjoy.
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