A Few Sock Tips

Well hello there!  The weekend is getting away from me in a hurry.  I hope you’re having a good one.  My weekend has been pretty lazy.  I went over to MeMum’s this afternoon and watched a movie.  We’ve been watching Netflix movies for the last several Saturdays.  Last weekend we watched Keeping Mum and we loved it (thanks for the great recommendation Melly and Cami) — highly recommended!

In the last month or so, I’ve had a few invisible friends ask me some sock knitting questions, so I thought I’d write down a few things I’ve learned about sock knitting for those of you who are beginners.  And for those of you who harbor a secret desire to start knitting socks (yoohoo Penny…we know that means you LOL!)  I’m by no means an expert and I’m sure all sock knitters have their own way of doing things — this is what works best for me.

Mountain Socks

Socks really aren’t as complicated as you might think.  When I took a sock class, the instructor kept talking about a ratio of stitches, but I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about.  After I had a few pairs of socks under my belt, it made more sense. Try to think of a sock in halves.  The front half and the back half.  The front half is the front half of the leg and it runs down on top of the foot.  The back half is the back half of the leg and it runs down the heel and along the bottom of the foot.  Your sock stitches are evenly divided between front and back.  So, for me, I make a sock with 64 stitches — 32 stitches for the front half of the sock and 32 stitches for the back half.

Mountain Socks

I always use the Ann Norling basic sock pattern for all of my socks.  I learned with this pattern and I know that it will always fit me.  I think finding a basic pattern that works for you is key to sock success.  Here’s a picture of the pattern I use:

Ann Norling

Then, from this basic sock pattern, I vary the pattern (note how the word pattern is an overloaded term here) on the leg and the top of the foot.  So, for example, if I say I made a pair of socks from the mockery pattern, I really mean that I used my basic Ann Norling sock pattern, but for the cuff and top of the foot, I used the decorative stitches from the mockery pattern (that means that if you click on the mockery pattern, you’ll see that the only instructions I actually used were rounds 1 – 10 of the leg section.)  I always knit approximately a 1-inch ribbing at the top of the cuff, plain stockinette on the bottom of the foot and either plain stockinette or the eye of partridge stitch on the heel flap.

Mountain Socks

When I get to the instructions for the heel flap on my Ann Norling pattern, I substitute eye of partridge instructions.  There are lots of eye of partridge variations out there — here is my favorite:

Row 1: sl1, (k1, sl1) to last stitch, k1
Row 2 & 4: sl1, purl across all stitches.
Row 3: sl1, (sl1, k1) to last stitch, k1.
Repeat Rows 1 – 4 for the length required for your heel flap.

And, back to that ratio thing mentioned above, the number of rows in the heel flap should equal 1/2 the total number of stitches.  So, in my 64-stitch example, my heel flap will be 32 rows of stitches.

Mountain Socks

The first time I made socks, I had a hole in the valley of the “V” of the sock’s gusset.  I ripped it out and signed up for a sock class.  The teacher recommended that if we got a little hole, we should wait until the sock was finished, then turn the sock inside out and run a piece of yarn around the edge of the hole and pull it tight until the hole closed.  I really didn’t like that suggestion, so I started picking up an extra stitch in that little valley.  It’s incredibly difficult to explain, but luckily for us, Jean has a great little video to show you what we do to prevent that little hole from forming.  It’s a great tip and it works every time.

Mountain Socks

To determine how long to make the foot of your sock, measure the length of your foot, from heel to toe.  Then subtract 1 3/4 inches from that measurement and when you reach that length, as you’re knitting the foot, you can begin your toe shaping.  So, for example, if your foot measures 9 inches, knit the foot until it measures 7 1/4 inches and then begin your toe shaping.

Mountain Socks

Finally, at the end of the toe shaping, the sock is finished off with the kitchener stitch.  For some reason, many people have trouble with the kitchener stitch.  As long as I have the following instructions in front of me, I can always keep it straight (note: kitchener stitch is done with your yarn threaded through a darning needle and you work the darning needle among the stitches as if you were knitting or purling):

Set-up: (do 1 time):  FN (front needle) – Purl, leave on needle, BN (back needle) – Knit, leave on needle.

Repeat across toe:
FN-Knit, slip off needle, Purl, leave on needle.
BN-Purl, slip off needle, Knit, leave on needle.

When there are 2 stitches left (one on each needle) just pull them off the needles and weave the end of the yarn through the stitches on the inside of the sock.

Some of my little tips might not make sense if you’ve never made a sock before, but hopefully if you try a sock, they’ll become clear. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!   I love to knit socks — they’re the perfect portable project. If you have any interest in knitting at all, I hope you’ll try them!


P.S. These socks are the Fascine Braid Sock pattern from Mountain Colors. The yarn is Mountain Colors in Wild Raspberry.  And special thanks to my SweetiePie model!

36 Thoughts on “A Few Sock Tips

  1. Hmmmm…I’ll just take your word for it on the socks. LOL! Knitting is so much more complicated than tatting believe it or KNOT! LOL! There’s only one stitch that you do OVER and OVER in tatting, can you believe it?

    Nevertheless, your socks are cool!

  2. Beautiful socks and I love the yarn. Such pretty colours! They look rather complicated, though. I think I’ll stick to my little scarf.
    I hope you’re having a nice weekend in Thimbleannaland. It’s pretty dull around here.

  3. Gorgeous socks Anna! I’m just on my fourth sock now after making a mess of the toe of my third but too lazy to rip it out and do it properly! I’ll keep your instructions in mind as I work on this new one!

    Lucy x

  4. That’s a great set of socky tips Anna – I’m going to try the one that stops that hole appearing at the side!

    Keeping Mum iso ne of our favourite films. I love the characters and the setting is so quintessentially English :-)


  5. Those sock tips are great :) Thanks Anna.

    Potatoes Savoyarde…oh my. I think I’ll be making them next weekend when Mum and Barry come to stay!

  6. Great Post! I attempted knitting once. I have crocheted since I was a little one. I gave up on knitting. But after seeing all your sock helps, I may try again. ooxx`jod

  7. Love the color…I have only made one pair and I wear them all the time when I need to keep my feet warm. I have a stash of sock yarn that I’m itching to start making socks with. Thanks for the tips, especially about the foot length and the “no hole”. I knew there was a reason why I love coming to visit you. I learn something.
    Have a great Sunday.

  8. You are a super star! Thanks for all of these tips – that really helps. I just bought some sock yarn, so I’d really like to get a great pair of socks done. With your wonderful tips, I believe that I can!

  9. You don’t know how happy this post makes me! I am new to knitting socks and every bit of info helps me. I have some books but have been looking for a good all around stand by sock pattern. I also have three socks on my needles at this very moment. Now you’re motivating me to finish! And to get the pattern you use. :) Thank you Anna. x

  10. Great post, I have knitted socks but need to understand them better. Clarice

  11. Why thank you for that lesson. Now I’ll be going back to my crocheted afghan. But………..I do love your socks!! Remember I tried to make that bag? When you said stockinette I got chills. ROFLOL!!!

  12. Hey thanks Anna. I want to want to knit socks. That’s about as close as I am to that secret desire at the moment! I’ll um, bookmark this post for a rainy year, how’s that? No really.

  13. they are beautiful though!

  14. Thank you for the “hole-tip”! I will try it out on the next pair of socks I will make!

  15. rohanknitter on February 22, 2009 at 10:59 pm said:

    Great sock post!! They’re really not as hard as they seem, I hope some of your readers will give it a go!

  16. Both my daughter and I have this thang for socks, and it makes me crazy everytime you show yet another easy and colorful pair. I’ve GOTTA LEARN to knit! Keep showing them Anna.

  17. Suffering serious sock envy! dont suppose I will ever get to knit any, but I will keep hoping I might!

  18. Great tips Anna – especially the one for avoiding that little hole.

  19. Hello Anna! I could pretend that I understood a word of this and thank you for this post but somewhere in the second sentence you had me lost! I really want to knit but there are just too many words I don’t understand!!!!! Still those socks look lovely. I guess I’m going to have to continue buying mine …
    Good to see you posting a decent potato recipe as well, there is a world beyond mashed potato you know! As for Valentines Day you can imagine my horror when I walked in to see heart shaped potato on the table – after nearly twenty years you’d think he’d remember! But oh the relief when he said “Don’t worry I made it for the girls” – phew!

  20. There must be something in the air. I finished my first-ever socks yesterday!

    I thought of picking up to avoid the little hole myself, but I only seem to have made it work once on each sock. C’est la vie. I love the socks anyway, and the holes are on opposite sides, so I can put them to the inside of my ankle, I suppose!

  21. That was a brilliant sock tutorial and although I’ve knitted many pairs of socks it answered loads of things (especially the bit about the little hole!) I love “Keeping Mum” too!

  22. Good Morning Anna.
    I LoVe your socks !!! You explained everything so well and now I am feeling inspired enough to make a pair of my own. Many of the ladies in the knitting group that I belong to make socks (pair after pair). Some complain about “turning the heel” and I think that has kept me from trying to knit a pair. Thanks for the inspiration.
    P.S. I copied your recipe for Potatoes Savoyarde. Thanks for sharing. Potatoes are a weakness of mine.

  23. Hmmmmm, pretty sure it would all make sense if I dragged out the needles to give them a whirl. I do think a sock class would be a great addition to the whole process. Thanks sweetie for taking the time to write it down. Love the sock color and pattern – so nice of sweetie pie to model – she’s a peach

    Hugs- Karen

  24. so if i come to visit you in person, will you teach me how? please? i’m dying to knit socks. there is just not enough time to do it all, LOL.

  25. holy fu-reaking cu-rap woman!!!
    i am the utmost fan of hand knit socks, but this makes me want to run for the hills instead of buying a pattern and having at it. i’m guessing i’ll start with a class and print your instructions and bring them with me so they make sense. actually, could you just make a power point presentation for me to take with me to my knitting class? thanks. your adoring fans are brimming over with gratitude for the upcoming power point tutorial. that’s why we pay you the big bucks!!!

  26. Oh excellent, dahling – I will use that V-hole-extra-stitch deal next time I’m working up some socks. Love that! I was just using your teacher’s suggestion of closing it up afterward which is LAME comparatively.

    Cute socks, too. :)

  27. Oh I’m all of a fuddle! Knitting! Socks! Needles! Special codes and language! I need a lie down! One day I’ll try it but right now I have sock and knitty fear!

    Your look so beautiful – like a something from socky catalogue.

  28. Ha ha you said Invisible Friends! And I love your socks!

  29. Yes. Well, once I’ve mastered quilting I might go on to socks. You never know. But right now I need to go and read my book. Less taxing.

    We’ve just booked 4 days in Krakow before Easter. And guess what our next (furry) problem is…? Any of your readers want a holiday in Edinburgh???

  30. Are you the reason I’ve been obsessing over knitting socks lately?? I think it might have been your fault lol! Thank you for this great post, I am printing it out–otherwise I’ll forget where it was lol!

  31. Thanks, Anna!

    I adore hand knit socks, although I’ve not attempted them myself. I’ve wanted to forever, so I was thrilled with this timely post…

    Until I got to paragraph 5.

    That is the exact moment where I am POSITIVE you stopped speaking English.

    Sigh. I think my mad knitting skillz are NOT mad enough for socks.

    One day, I shall be brave and give it a whirl! And when I do, I’ll be sure to reference this post. :)


  32. I am always so very, very impressed with your socks. Not a knitter, but you “knock my socks off” with your intelligence and skill.


  33. I think that – until I can move next door to you and run over every fifteen minutes for help – I’m going to limit my beginning knitting adventures to scarves. But boy, are knitted socks cool.

  34. Being a sock knitter myself, I think these tips are absolutely perfect. The thing is to get a basic pattern you like, practice, and then you can adapt elements of that pattern to most socks. Sometimes I don’t like instructions for doing the heel and I just substitute what works for me. This is a very good post.

  35. Hi Anna,
    Your socks and knitting tips are wonderful. The part about fixing up the little hole is great, I always wondered how to take care of that. Thanks Anna!

  36. Adorable socks – love the color! Is there nothing you can’t do?

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