Socks Knit Up, Down and In the Round

By Emily Vanek

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sock knitting yarn

Nothing feels more luxurious than putting on a pair of hand knit socks. Well, unless you knit them yourself! Then you know the effort that went into creating them. As knitters, we take great pride in our work and in learning a new skill. If you haven't tried your hand at socks yet, we are here to help show you new ways to turn a heel, literally! Let's dive in and discuss how to knit socks.

There are many ways to start and finish a sock, including from the toe up or from the cuff down, among others. Beyond that there are even different types of toes, heels and an endless array of patterns that can add an extra design element. The endless options can seem a bit daunting. But for an easy place to start, check out Donna Druchunas classes Knit Original Toe Up Socks and Knit Original Cuff Down Socks which cover how to knit socks in depth.

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Interestingly, socks can be knit a few different ways on needles as well including knit flat and seam, knit in the round on double pointed needles, knit on circular needles, and even knitting two at a time on circular needles. Knitting socks on double pointed needles may be the preferred choice for a beginner, but if you test out a new way, you might be surprised at how much you like to knit on circular needles. It's all about personal preference and what is the most comfortable for you.

Let's talk about toes for a minute. There are three main types of toes to begin a toe up sock. The Moccasin Toe, the Wedge Toe and the Short Row Toe. Each version shows off your handiwork a bit differently.

In the Moccasin Toe, you knit a rectangle and then pick up the stitches along the sides to start to knit in the round. Increasing every other round helps gradually get the toe shaped beautifully. This sock is relatively easy to knit up and is comfortable to wear as there aren't any seams hitting your toes.

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The Wedge Toe is a bit trickier to begin. Using three needles and winding the yarn in a figure eight between them, you pick up and knit each loop on both needles and then start your increases to knit in the round. This toe is aptly named as it creates a wedge shape for your sock.

Lastly, for the Short Row Toe you cast on half the stitches you need for the entire toe and knit back and forth, creating fewer and fewer stitches, until you finish about a third of the stitches. You then start to increase the stitches, picking up some that you left behind on the shorter row. After a while you will have a wedge shape and be ready to join in the round to create the toe and finish working the sock.

There are also a variety of ways to knit heels. In Donna's classes, she teaches you how to knit an Afterthought Heel, a Gusset Heel and a Short Row Heel. Again, your personal preference will dictate which is the best for your project.

With either toe up socks or cuff down socks, patterns play a large part in creating their beauty. There are plain ribbed, lattice worked, cabled, lace, and textured sock patterns to choose from here on Craftsy to make stylish socks.

For example, here is the start of a sock featuring a simple lattice pattern. It has been created by knitting the pattern on only the instep, leaving the sole in a plain stockinette. It looks a bit more daunting than it is, truly! This is a great way to show off variegated yarn and to use patterns without distracting too much focus.

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For this particular sock pattern you have multiples of six stitches, plus one. You knit the first stitch, then put your yarn in front (as if to purl), you slip the next 5 stitches, then put the yarn in back and knit the next stitch. Continue this to the end. The next round, and all even rounds, are all knit. In round 3 you knit 3, then insert the needle under the loose strand and knit the next stitch, bringing the stitch out under the strand. Then knit 5 and then repeat knitting under the loose strand; knit 5 until you get to the end and knit 3. Round 5 is similar to the first, hold the yarn in front and slip the first 3 stitches onto your right needle; put the yarn in back and knit the next stitch. Bring the yarn back in front and slip 5, then put the yarn in back and knit 1 and continue to the last 3 stitches where you put the yarn in front and slip only those three. Then put the yarn in back and continue around on your sole. For round 7, knit the first stitch under the loose strand, then knit 5; repeat to the end and then knit the last stitch under the loose strand. This creates a simple, but elegant lattice that is sure to impress.

For more great tips and tricks for socks, Donna Druchunas also has another great knitting class, the Knit Sock Workshop. Here she shows again, different ways to cast on, knit the toes and heels, and how to fit as you knit. It's a great class for those who can't decide what type of sock to knit!

With all of these choices, it's hard to decide which sock to knit next. Do you have a favorite pattern for socks? Have you recently finished a pair? Share your sock projects in the comments!

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