In my travels around the known knitting universe I see so many people who say the same things: Socks are too hard, DPNs are too hard, I don’t have the patience to knit socks, I wish I could knit socks but I’m not <insert word here> enough. These same people are knitting sweaters and lace shawls. Let’s tell some truths here.
Sock knitting isn’t hard. Actually it is super easy. The hard part is looking at a sock and trying to figure out how one does that. I’ll tell you how: read the pattern a few words at a time. Really it’s that simple. Another secret, when using DPNs you’re only knitting with 2 needles at a time. The other needles are just holding your stitches until you get to them. I know it looks like juggling knives but it isn’t. Sure you’ll feel like your juggling knives the first few rows but then things fall into place and you’re on your way.
Now think back to when you first started knitting. The whole thing looked crazy! Taking a long string and two needles to make fabric. It’s like a magic act. And if you remember your piece of fabric, that first bit of knitting you did looked like swiss cheese. You dropped stitches, made stitches, split stitches and then all of a sudden, after some practice you had something that looked pretty good. You knit a few rows that ended up with the same number of stitches. You were so proud. Well knitting socks on DPNs is like that. You’ll feel all clumsy at first with the needles poking out in every direction and you’ll have ladders, wide spaces between the stitches, where you switch from needle to needle. But suddenly you’ll see that the knitting gets easier and the ladders get smaller (hint I learned from an Elizabeth Zimmermann video-pull not just your first stitch on the needle a bit tightly but also the second stitch. Over time you’ll get a feel for what is the right tightness.) and you’ve got something that looks like a darn fine sock.
I am a self-taught cuff down sock knitter. I have done toe up socks and I see nothing wrong with knitting socks either way. You just have to knit a few to get a feeling for which way you prefer. I don’t think either is better or worse. But I do think that people have different shaped feet and it will take time for you to decide which heel and toe are best for your foot. Once you understand the parts of a sock, did you know that a sock is made up of different parts? Once you know the parts you can put together whatever fits your foot the best and custom knit socks are fantastic.
So how do I recommend learning to knit socks? I think you just have to jump right in. First pick out some sock yarn. It really is easier to knit with fingering weight yarn than you’d think. It goes perfectly with size 2.25 or 2.5mm needles. I like 5 needle sets best. The balance of the stitches on 4 needles while you knit with the fifth seems easiest. A great pattern to start with is Infant Socks by Judy Ellis. The pattern has all the same parts as any cuff down sock pattern but they are small so you get through each part of the pattern quickly. Also you’ll move from sock number one to sock number two while the knitting of the first sock is still fresh in your mind. These socks make a great gift for a new baby so it doesn’t hurt to have a few pairs sitting around for when you need them.
If you decide to give sock knitting a try, and I really hope you do, feel free to ask me questions. If I can’t answer them I’m sure I can point you to the answer.
All socks in this post are my early attempts at socks. There are no mates though I do have the yarn to knit them if I wanted to. I like keeping these as an example of what I can do if I put my mind to it.