Homemade Socks for Dummies
December 13, 2012 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Knitting filter: Looking for your suggested relatively easy patterns to knit soft, warm socks ankle or slightly higher length socks for myself (normally wear US women's 9-11 sock) and my Bear (long narrow male feet, unsure of his sock size). We both are somewhat allergic to wool.

I'm returning to knitting after a long time away and never have made socks before. I know about ravelry.com and other knitting sites but I'm most interested in MeFi knitter suggestions.
posted by bearwife to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I use Knitty's Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula, which is straightforward and easy to modify for gauge/size/adding stitch patterns. You'll need to be able to do short rows and a provisional cast-on, but the rest is straightforward.

(Sock knitters tend to be divided on whether toe-up or top-down socks are better. It's really just a matter of personal preference; I'm a toe-up knitter myself.)

My absolute favorite wool-free sock yarn, and one of my favorite sock yarns period, is Crystal Palace Panda Cotton. It's sturdy and stretchy and makes a substantial but squishy fabric. My Panda Cotton socks have outlasted many pairs of wool socks. My only complaint is that the yardage is skimpy; get three skeins per pair of socks to be on the safe side.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:39 PM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I learned to knit socks top-down using this Knitty Socks 101 tutorial. It was VERY helpful. (I learn best by doing, so I knit a practice sock out of red yarn to learn sock construction, then used it as a Christmas tree ornament.)

Like Metroid Baby says, toe-up vs. top-down is just personal preference. I knit socks top-down, and I like the Just Yer Basic Sock pattern. It's free but you need to have a Ravelry login (also free) to download it. The picture shows long socks, but the pattern is for a crew-length sock that can easily be modified to any length.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:42 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Everyone has different opinions about what it relatively easy for socks. Do you find it easier to work with dpns or circular needles for small round projects? Does your cast off tend to be relatively loose or tight? Are you comfortable with grafting or not? So the simplest way to make it, probably won't be a pattern as such, but more a recipe.

Knitty.com's sock articles are really good for explaining the different parts of a sock. I'll relate my preferences and simplest sock recipe and say why I think it's the simplest. Someone will contradict me. They'll be just as right.

First of all toe-up. Why? Because I find grafting difficult to do well. My tension is always a bit off and the seam looks weird rather than seamless. A Turkish cast-on, also known as a figure eight toe, on the other hand feels much easier to me and I always have a seamless looking toe with uniform tension.

Also, you can start and try on your sock very easy while on the needles, even when you're doing your toe increases. Not sure if you've increased enough for how wide your foot is? Try it on and you'll see. Not sure if you've knitted enough on the foot? Again try it on and you'll see if your sock is long enough to start your heel.

For heels, I prefer the heel-flap method used in cuff-down socks. It's roomier and thus more adjustable for fit. Also, fewer short rows to deal with.

The other nice thing about toe-up socks is that if you want to use up all of your yarn, you can do them two at a time (either using magic loop method, 2 sets of dpns (easiest, IMO) or by knitting two socks at a time on the same set of dpns (not easy, IMO)) and keep knitting until you use up exactly all the yarn. If you do one and then the other, you have to guess a bit to make sure you'll have enough yarn for the second sock. You cannot use up all the yarn for cuff down socks, because if you get to the end of your toe, you're done, but if you work up, you can always make your legs longer or shorter if you choose.

People who have difficulty with loose cast-offs won't like toe-up socks as much, because you need a really stretchy cast off for the cuff. The Techknitter has some really good info on cast-offs and cast-ons to help with that.
posted by Kurichina at 12:50 PM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This is a really simple sock pattern. I made my second pair of socks with this pattern. I did them one at a time on dpns and both socks came out beautifully. And it took very little time --- maybe two or three weeks for the pair.

They come up to about my mid-calf, but you could always knit less of a top.
posted by zizzle at 1:04 PM on December 13, 2012

Best answer: Ooh. Since Kurichina mentions the necessity of stretchy cast-offs for toe-up socks, I might as well add that Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, also from Knitty, is easy and good.

Another cast-on for toe-up socks is Judy's Magic Cast-On, from Knitty yet again. Hooray Knitty!

The number of variations out there might seem a little overwhelming, so my advice is just to try whatever pattern looks like it makes the most sense to you. If you decide you like knitting socks, you can play around with different methods in subsequent projects.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:13 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe you'd like Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Foot Ovens - it's a pretty simple pattern (but even her vague patterns are easy to follow, ime) and is written for chunky weight alpaca, which should make your feet happy. I don't think they would be particularly hard wearing, but if you just want warm squashy socks for home, they might be just the ticket.
posted by thylacinthine at 2:01 PM on December 13, 2012

Best answer: I made my first successful pair of top-down socks using Silver's Sock Class. It's a tutorial that walks you through each step of the sock-making process, with clear pictures for every stage. She also has instructions for using magic loop (one long circular needle) and two-at-a-time on two circular needles, but I haven't tried those yet. Whichever method you use, you can modify the cuff length easily.
posted by ActionPopulated at 2:45 PM on December 13, 2012

Pick a pattern with a heel flap for your first socks. Other kinds of heels can get complicated and hard to follow.

I really like this pattern on Ravelry.
posted by topoisomerase at 8:58 PM on December 13, 2012

Best answer: If you want to get the theory as well as the practical advice on sock-knitting, I recommend Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' "Simple Socks Plain and Fancy." It goes into a lot of the options, and has basic patterns and whatnot.

If you just want to knit a pair of socks, though, I second the suggestion of Knitty's Sock Formula.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:18 AM on December 14, 2012

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