My sock knitting journey began around this time of year in 2015. Four long years ago. I bought my first sock yarn in the only yarn shop in Doncaster on a bleak February Saturday together with four double pointed needles (dpns).
Sock knitting with dpns didn’t last very long. I hadn’t really knitted much since I was a teenager and even then I didn’t get into it properly. Crochet was always my thing. Holding these little sticks and trying to knit in the round was so painful. I kept dropping them, dropping stitches, the stitches were far too tight… I gave up. A few weeks later I had to go to London for work – it was around the middle of May and I remember that day so well.
I had a meeting around lunchtime so got down there early and went to Loop, the iconic yarn shop in Islington to buy my first small circular needle. Now, I know that Loop can have a reputation for occasionally being a bit aloof in the way they treat customers but that day, they absolutely went out of their way to help me and I will love Loop forever.
I bought the needle but one of the women serving that day advised me that learning to knit socks using magic loop would be much better than small circulars. I went back after my work meeting and she spent an hour on the sofa with me in the upstairs showroom and patiently showed me how to cast on and start knitting the rib using magic loop on a Addi circular with an 80cm cable.
I did try, I really did. I wanted to prove worthy of all this attention from Loop! I tried on the train, I tried at home. And I gave up AGAIN. I just couldn’t get going beyond a few rounds of the cuff. Back then, I never thought of looking on YouTube so just got stuck.
Then I saw Christine’s sock along at Winwick Mum was starting and I got the small circulars out and eventually, 20 months later, completed my first pair of socks in that original yarn. I even got to show them to Christine when visiting Coopers in Skipton and meeting up with the lovely Lucy of Attic24.
I was proud of the achievement but looking back, its just ridiculous that I haven’t become a sock knitting machine by now. But no. I am still describing myself as a novice sock knitter FOUR years on.
I’ve just been thinking about why this is and I’ve decided that there are three elements that have held me back.
- The first is the dogged belief that I am not a good knitter, I can’t knit well, I will never be able to knit socks or sweaters or cardigans or anything complicated.
- The second is that I have not really put the time in. I have flirted with sock knitting and tried different needles and techniques and generally faffed about. I have not really been committed to putting the work in. I’ve almost expected the socks to knit themselves.
- The third is that I’ve not sat down and developed a plan. A strategy. A way forward to really get the hang of sock knitting and get to the stage where I can make a pair of plain socks without falling into despair or throwing the half finished socks on the floor and stamping on them.
I’ve had a talk with myself and this is all going to change. I’ve made a start this week by learning how to knit using the magic loop method. I’ve been making another plain sock and have got the hang of doing that OK.
While I was struggling with the needles and avoiding ladders and dropped stitches, I also recognised that I have become more comfortable with knitting. I managed to make a colour work hat last January so I must be getting better!
Although learning magic loop took some concentration and the result is nowhere near perfect, I did find it much easier than that first attempt four years ago.
So, a word I often say on the podcast (and often vow never to say again), I’ve decided to make a proper plan and stop buggering about on the sock knitting front. After all, in the four years since that first sock yarn purchase, I’ve become a dyer and have just started my own sock yarn club. I need to get a grip.
The new sock knitting plan
I am going to make 5 pairs of plain vanilla socks without trying out any new techniques or patterns. After 5 more pairs, I will think about maybe trying a different pattern. But, for now, I’m going to put the work in to really get the hang of sock knitting. I may do all one colour socks, or do some of the five pairs with contrasting heels and toes.
But definitely no more second sock syndrome. Although I’m not going to knit socks using the two-at-a-time method where the socks live on the same long circular I am going to knit a pair of socks in tandem. Do the cuff for both, do the leg, do the heel flap and turn, then work both gussets, then both feet and then both toes. I now have enough knitting needles of all sizes and cable lengths to open my own shop, so it won’t be a problem!
To achieve this I will always wind my sock yarn into two cakes or balls of 50g each before starting the next pair of socks.
I am going to stick to the same sock knitting method and needles and work as follows:
- Using a 2.5mm small circular, I will work the cuff (15 rounds), leg (30 or 40 rounds), heel flap (some variation of eye of partridge with 3 stitch garter edge), heel turn, gusset and foot.
- At the foot, I will change to a 2.5mm circular with a 120cm cable and work the toes using magic loop. For these five pairs I will knit each toe in turn but, and only after 5 more pairs, I may try working the toes on the large circular using the two-at-a-time method.
- I am going to put the work in. Even if its just a few rounds, I will work on my sock knitting every day until those five pairs are complete.
- Every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I’m writing this post to inspire myself as much as anyone else but if you are struggling to get to grips with sock knitting, I am planning to share some insights into my sock knitting journey over the next few vlogs and podcasts
I’ve also chatted about sock knitting and what I’ve been up to outside podcasts with my Patreon community. You can subscribe from $2 per month to access all my YouTube content early and get the audio podcasts and other content too.