There is nothing more luxurious than a pair of hand knitted socks! We love all things socks in YAK, so we thought we’d dedicate a whole blog post to them. If you want to find out a bit more about what to look for in a sock yarn, how to go about knitting them, or are looking for some pattern inspiration, then read on!
When choosing yarn for hand-knitted socks there are a few things to look out for. For socks you want something durable and hard-wearing. Due to where they are worn they receive a lot of friction from rubbing between your feet and shoes, so are more likely to wear out quicker than a jumper for instance. Most sock yarns will have 20-30% nylon or polyamide in them. Nylon / polyamide adds a plastic filament to the yarn that will remain even if the wool wears out.
There is such thing as all natural sock yarns if you prefer not to have nylon or polyamide, such as Onion Nettle Sock which has 30% nettle fibre in place of the nylon, and 70% wool. There’s also Mondim by Retrosaria which is a sock yarn made from only wool. The sturdy Portuguese wool it is made from is perfect for socks, but to ensure socks made from Mondim are as durable as those made with synthetic fibres, Rosa Pomar advises reinforcing the heel and toe by holding Mondim together with a darning yarn.
Footprints by Wooladdicts has 45% cotton in it. The high cotton content makes it suitable for summer socks as cotton is a breathable fibre that doesn’t retain heat in the same way that wool does. The cotton also makes it very sturdy and durable.
For a lot of people, having a sock yarn which is machine washable is important. Unlike woollen jumpers or cardigans which can be worn quite a few times before needing to be washed, hand-knitted socks need to be washed more often. A lot of sock yarns have been super-wash treated which means they are able to be machine washed.
Sock yarns come in different weights, however 4ply / fingering weight sock yarn is perhaps the most commonly used. Socks knitted in this weight of wool can be worn in shoes and boots, whereas anything thicker can create more of a slipper sock and can be too thick to wear inside shoes.
Lastly, sock yarns can come in block colours or ‘self-patterning’ colourways such as the Crazy Zauberball or WoolAddicts Footprints. There is even sock yarn that creates fairisle patterns as you knit! If you want to give your hand-knitted socks an interesting look without having to actually change colours at any point, try a self striping / self patterning or mottled sock yarn. Sit back, knit a simple pattern and let the yarn do the hard work for you.
Socks can be daunting to new knitters as there’s quite a few techniques to contend with. Also, if you’re used to using chunkier yarn, fingering weight yarn can seem very thin and put people off. If this is you – why not try a DK weight sock yarn? DK sock yarn will create a thicker sock, but it’ll be quicker to knit.
We also think that if you are a newer knitter or are wanting to learn new techniques, socks are a great way to do so. Smaller projects such as socks or baby clothes are a good way to learn new techniques as you’ll learn more techniques in a shorter amount of time (we actually have a whole blog post about this, you can read it here).
Common techniques used in sock knitting are: knitting in the round, short rows, picking up stitches and kitchener stitch. Once you’ve mastered these they are all then transferrable to larger projects such as jumpers and cardigans.
When it comes to knitting needles there are a few different types you can use for making socks in the round.
Circular needles come with different length wires per needle size. When knitting in the round on a circular needle, you need to have enough stitches to fit the whole way around the wire without being stretched. When knitting very small circumferences such as socks or sleeves, this isn’t always possible.
In this case you can use the magic loop method. The magic loop method requires a long wire – 80 or 100 cms -, and rather than your stitches sitting the whole way round the wire, you pull the wire out between half of your stitches, and only use a small amount of the needle. There are plenty of tutorials on how to do the magic loop method on YouTube if you are a visual learner.
If the magic loop method isn’t for you, there are in fact tiny 9 inch / 23 cm circular needles designed for sock knitting. The needles themselves are very small so lots of people opt for magic loop method as these small needles can be fiddly.
Double Pointed Needles
If neither of these options sound like your thing, the traditional double pointed needles (DPNs) can also be used for socks.
If you want to take your hand-knitted socks to the next level, we recommend blocking them on a sock blocker. Sock blockers come in different foot sizes. When wet, put your socks on the blocker and they will dry in to the perfect sock shape!
Below we’ve compiled a list of beautiful sock patterns, ranging from simple to more advanced. Hopefully this will get your hand-knitted socks juices flowing! We hope there’s something here for everyone’s taste and skill level.
Vanilla Socks by Crazy Sock Lady Designs
What’s great about the Vanilla Socks design is that there’s a pattern each for 9 inch / 23 cm circular needles, magic loop method and double pointed needles. So if you’re wanting to try your hand at sock knitting, not only are these a simple pattern but you have the option of choosing what circular knitting method you’d like to try, all with the same end result.
Color Palette Socks by Laura Moorats
A little step up from the Vanilla Socks is the Color Palette Socks. Still a simple construction, this pattern is a great way to use up any scraps you have leftover from previous hand-knitted socks. Though simple, they’re a really eye-catching and beautiful design. Plus it’s a free pattern!
Fairy Maiden by This Handmade Life
The Fairy Maiden socks are a great option for those who want a bit more of a challenge. They feature a beautiful lace and cable panel on the front. The simple lace and cable panel will be easy to memorise after a few repeats and creates a lovely texture. Let the texture pop by using a plain sock yarn such as our Onion Nettle Sock.
Berry Special socks by Stone Knits
Stone Knits has too many amazing sock patterns to choose from – we highly recommend having a look through her Ravelry store at all of her patterns! These oh-so-cute Berry Special socks feature an all over berry pattern that would be a good way to use up leftovers from previous projects. If you’ve been stuck in the loop of knitting plain socks, we think colourwork is a fun new technique to add to your repertoire.
We hope you found this blog post helpful, and if you’d like to know anything more about the world of sock knitting do leave a comment on here or come and chat to us in store!
In The Meantime… Happy Knitting!