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so you want to knit socks? // the basics

 My Bickerstraat sock along with treasures from my time abroad.

My Bickerstraat sock along with treasures from my time abroad.

I never expected to enjoy knitting socks. I knitted my first pair because I wanted to prove I could do it and then I was hooked. If you're anything like me, you want to start knitting socks in part just to know what all the hoohah is about: why are handmade socks so dang great anyway? The answer is, "they just are - and soon you'll know it too!"

Hopefully these links will get you started!

First steps: Look no further than Susan B. Anderson's "How I Make My Socks" recipe for the perfect basic cuff down sock. While you're on Susan's blog, browse around! Her myriad finished pairs may inspire you! You'll also want some killer double pointed needles so you can enjoy the whole process. Need a refresher on how to cast on in the round on DPNs? The Purl Bee website has plenty of wonderful visual tutorials and free patterns for you to refer to.

Tip: Don't knit with yarn you don't like. Even if you think you'll never finish the pair of socks or you'll never use the yarn for anything else. Knitting with yarn you hate or bought just because it wasn't much of an investment might not help you finish the socks. Even if they turn out wonky, they'll still be your first pair of socks and you can appreciate them later. I still wear my first knitted socks even though the fit is way off.

Take it to the next level: You've done the stockinette thing. Now you're ready for something a little more challenging! Try a cozy pattern like the Blueberry Waffle Socks by Sandy Turner or Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder. These patterns use the same basic knit stitches, but incorporate different heels and easily memorized patterns. They also look great worked in all different colors and even variegated yarns! Both are free on Ravelry.

Toe up socks: After you've given cuff down a try, go for toe up! It's not that hard, I promise. Haul out the circular needles (with at least 32" of cable) and watch Jane Richmond's YouTube video on how to do a Turkish Cast On while you practice. It's a great method AND it prepares you for Magic Loop! Once you've got that figured out, you're ready to make a pair of Flying North socks by Maria Montzka (also free on Ravelry). Wendy Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up is a great resource and pattern collection if you get into this method!

Tip: If you, like me, have trouble making your socks too short in the foot, toe up is the ideal method for you. You can easily try on the sock as you knit it and see how far you are from the heel. Many websites have sock measuring sticks available if you're making the sock for someone else.

Heels: The best part of sock knitting is how easy it is to substitute different heels for your foot shape and size once you get the hang of the basics. The Afterthought Heel is great for self striping yarn because it doesn't interrupt the stripes. The Fish Lips Kiss Heel is lovely alternative for a short row heel and can even be used with striped yarn and a contrasting color yarn. 

What heel is best for me? The best method for figuring out what kind of heel best suits your foot is trying several out. You won't know how you feel about one or the other until you've walked around in them!

Kitchener stitch: There's no good way to learn this other than to practice. I've probably done the kitchener stitch a hundred times by now and I still have to refer to YouTube videos for help. If you type in "kitchener stitch" you'll get about 7,000 results, but this video by the Knit Witch is my go-to. I've had heels spring holes and bottoms of toes, but *fingers crossed* I've never had a kitchener stitch come undone. It's a secure and nearly invisible way of grafting your toe.

So that's it! Sock knitting basics can be easily mastered provided you allow yourself to produce a less than perfect sock the first time around. If you've knitted a few pairs and sock knitting just isn't for you, that's fine too! But there's so much wonderful sock yarn around, it's certainly worth a try just for the excuse to go the yarn shop...

let's get rolling // rose city rollers