As we go into the Sockalong 2018 primarily for crocheted socks, I’m still here plugging away and trying to master how to knit socks. After a couple of disasters in the first few months of 2018, I started a pair just under a month ago that are going much better. I have a few tips to share if you are in a similar position – a crocheter struggling with knitting in general and with making socks in particular.
I talked about the sock that I’ve now finished on my last podcast…
I have asked myself why, if I can make a pair of really nice crocheted socks in less than a week, why I want still want to knit them. Part of the answer is that I want to challenge myself and I want to improve with knitting. But its more than that. Its a bit like when I started silversmithing and my dream was to make silver rings for myself. I’m no expert at working with silver and the time I have to do it these days has shrunk to almost nothing. But I have the materials and tools to allow me to make a silver band ring whenever I want in an afternoon and that feels really good.
When I see all the knitted socks on instagram and on knitting podcasts and hear how nice it is to have hand made socks to wear in the colder months, I have that same sort of ‘need to do it too’.
Most of the inspiration for sock knitting and the know-how has come from Christine’s fantastic sockalong, which she still runs via her blog Winwick Mum. I have her first book, which details how to knit a basic pair of vanilla socks using dpns, magic loop and a small circular. At Yarndale in a week’s time, I am hoping to get a copy of her new book, although I’m not sure I’m ready to move on far from the first yet!
My method of choice is to use the small circulars and the needle I prefer at the moment is a Knitpro Symfonie, which is a 2.25mm needle and an overall length of 25cm. Its the perfect length – 30cm needles are a bit too long and I really struggle to hold one that is 20cm. I also like the fact that the needles are wood, not metal so I don’t get the light glare when I’m working with a craft lamp.
I now cast on using the small circular, and I knit one round without purling first, which adds a little ruffle to the top of the sock. Then I knit 20 rows of knit 2 purl 2 rib and move to working round and round.
Once I have the leg long enough, I leave the front of the sock on the small circular and knit the heel flap and heel turn using a 40cm 2.25mm Knitpro Symfonie, working backwards and forwards. I pick up the stitches using a second small circular and off I go again, working in the round to complete the gusset decreases and then the foot. In this sock I was very pleased with myself because I managed to do an offset Eye of Partridge heel flap. I love the little diamonds that it produces. My gusset doesn’t look too bad either – I’m definitely improving.
Then I run aground, as its not possible to do the toe decreases on a small circular. Well, you can do one or two rounds, but eventually the circle becomes too tiny to fit around the needle. So its a matter of moving to a new technique to finish. I’ve tried dpns and magic loop but haven’t got on with either.
Instead, I’m now trying to learn how to knit in the round using two 40cm needles. Many people knit entire socks like this and it makes a lot of sense. You don’t need to use as many markers, you can move from the top to the toe without having to change needles or transfer the knitting and when you get used to it, its a pretty fast method. This is my first attempt and its not perfect, but its certainly doable and the ladder that I feared has mostly sorted itself out.
I find it tricky so I’ve been practicing but when I searched YouTube for a video showing how its done, I came up with a blank. There are a very few older videos that have the title that makes you think they will show you how to knit a sock using two circulars but then they don’t.
When I was making my second sock I decided to try to work from the top of the leg downwards and really practice the technique and I’ve put together a sort of tutorial. I hesitate to call it that because I am a) not an expert knitted and b) not at all an expert in either knitting socks or using the technique. Instead I’d describe it as a demonstration of how I’m tackling it as it may help other sock knitting newbies or crocheters who are trying to get their head round knitting socks.
Its a bit fumbly in places I’ve tried to explain what to do as well as I can, even if the actual showing isn’t that slick.
xxx Kathryn xxx
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