Friday, December 6, 2013

Get Cozy for the Holidays ~ Knitting Socks 101



This time of year, you’ll likely find me padding around my house in a cozy pair of hand knit socks. I enjoy making them almost as much as I enjoy wearing them.

However, I had been knitting for many years before I attempted to make my first pair of socks. I was always intimidated by the patterns because you knit some sections in rounds, some in rows and it seemed like there were a lot of different parts for such a small item of clothing.

Here is the basic anatomy of a knit sock :




Ankle - In western countries, socks are usually knit from the leg or ankle down to the toe. This section is worked in the round, typically with 4-5 double pointed needles (dpn). Usually it’s worked in a ribbing pattern to provide some elasticity.

Heel (or Heel Flap) - After the leg or ankle section of the sock is completed, half of your stitches are placed on a holder or spare needle to be worked later and half become the heel of the sock. This section is worked back and forth in rows in a combination of knit and slipped stitches to create a denser fabric.

Turn Heel - This section can be a little tricky the first time you knit a sock. You are still working in rows, but not all the way to the end of the needle as you may be used to. There is also a significant amount of decreasing (ssk and p2tog) as this small section is shaped.

Gusset - The gusset is where you begin working in the round again. You will work across the turn heel, pick up stitches along one side of the heel flap, work the stitches you had placed on a holder and finally pick up stitches along the other side of the heel flap. This is done by placing the stitches onto three dpn. As you work this section, you decrease (k2tog and ssk) some of the stitches that were picked up along the sides of the heel to create a diagonal line on each side of the sock. The section is complete when you have the same number of stitches you originally cast on left on your needles.

Foot - This section is the easiest part of the sock because you just work in rounds without any decreasing.

Toe - Stitches are evenly decreased along each side of the sock. The final stitches are not bound off like in most knit projects. Instead, the final stitches are grafted together using the Kitchner stitch.


Before I knit my first sock, I was also concerned about grafting the toe. I had been taught to bind off all my knit edges, so I thought using the Kitchner stitch to graft unfinished edges together would be difficult.

The Kitchner stitch is actually fairly simple. When you get to the last round of your sock you should have the same number of stitches divided evenly across two needles. Hold the needles parallel so that your last knit stitch is on the back needle. You will be using the tail of your last stitch, threaded through a plastic yarn needle, to graft from right to left.

Step 1: Bring the needle through the first front stitch as if to purl and pull the yarn through.

Step 2: Bring the needle through the first back stitch as if to knit and pull the yarn through.

Step 3: Bring the needle through the first front stitch as if to knit. Pull the yarn through and drop the stitch off the knitting needle.

Step 4: Bring the needle through the next front stitch as if to purl and pull the yarn through.


Grafting - Step 1
Grafting - Step 2
Grafting - Step 3
Grafting - Step 4












Step 5: Bring the needle through the first back stitch as if to purl. Pull the yarn through and drop the stitch off the knitting needle.

Step 6: Bring the needle through the next back stitch as if to knit and pull the yarn through.

Repeat Step 3-6 until one stitch remains on each needle.

Grafting - Step 5
Grafting - Step 6













Step 7: Bring the needle through the last front stitch as if to knit. Pull the yarn through and drop the stitch off the knitting needle.

Step 8: Bring the needle through the last back stitch as if to purl. Pull the yarn through and drop the stitch off the knitting needle.

Grafting - Step 7
Grafting - Step 8












Now that you know the basics of sock knitting, don’t be afraid to give them a try. They make great holiday gifts.



Need a pattern? I have two free, printable PDFs for my favorite slipper socks available on my blog at, http://thechillydog.blogspot.com/2013/11/his-and-hers-slipper-sock-patterns.html.

Happy knitting!



Meet Our Guest Blogger Ellen from  The Chilly Dog:
My name is Ellen and I have been making things for as long as I can remember. There isn't a craft I've tried that I haven't loved. I sew, quilt, scrapbook, knit, crochet, paint, bead... You get the point. I've designed and made blankets, curtains, formal wear, furniture, holiday decorations, mosaics, sweaters, hats and even an awesome coyote mascot. The list is never ending. I find it deeply satisfying to start with an idea and some yarn, fabric, or paint and finish with an interesting, useful and beautiful product that someone will enjoy for years to come.

If you’re curious about my business name and logo, they were inspired by our dog. She was a wildly fabulous Mexican Hairless Dog. Yep, she was hairless and therefore chilly from time to time. I loved her fun and unique spirit and feel it embodies my approach to crafting. 

Many thanks to Ellen from The Chilly Dog for having shared this fantastic Knitting Tutorial with us :

http://www.etsy.com/shop/thechillydog

Spread some SPST love and support our fellow Teammies :-)


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