As a knitter, at some point you might decide that you want to try your hand at knitting a pair of socks. Because hand knit socks are like no others in their comfort and warmth, it is no wonder that today’s knitters are attempting to make socks in record numbers. However, you will find knitters who love making socks, and you will find knitters that simply hate making them. Basically, it all boils down to personal preference and your own knitting skills.
Let’s take a look at each part of the sock knitting process, and things you can do to make your socks easier and more enjoyable to knit.
The Sock Cuff
The top of the sock is referred to as the cuff. The job of your sock’s cuff is to keep your sock up on your leg and keep it from sliding down into your shoe. The best way to cast- on to make your cuff is to use a plain backward loop cast-on. This cast-on method works the best because it will automatically adjust itself to the stretch of the stitch you choose to use.
Your sock cuff will need to be stretchy to hold up your sock. The best choice here is to do a knit 1, purl 1, rib knit, which requires you to cast-on an even number of stitches. You can also do a knit 2, purl 2, rib knit, which requires you to cast-on in multiples of four.
The Sock Cuff to Leg Transition
As you move from your sock cuff down to the leg, you will need to increase or decrease your number of stitches to match your sock pattern. The best way to do this is at the last row of the cuff, or the first row of the leg portion.
If you want to make highly decorative socks, the leg is the portion you want to spice-up because it is easily the most seen portion of the socks. The leg is the perfect place to be creative and use those specialty yarns.
The Heel Flap
To knit the heel flap, you will work on only half of the stitches you have on your needles. And, you will work back and forth rather than in the round. You can leave the stiches you are not working with on their needles or you may want to move them to a stitch holder.
The best stitch choice for the heel flap is to do a slip 1, knit 1 on the right side and to purl all of the stitches on the wrong side. The result will be a tight and sturdy rib-like stitch.
Turning the Heel
Turing the heel is the bane of most knitters. It is easily the biggest challenge in making socks, but it is also the most appreciated when done correctly. In reality, turning the heel is all about creating short rows of stitches on either side of a center row of stitches. This causes your knitting to come together at a right angle and for your heel to be successfully turned.
The Instep Gusset
Once you have turned the heel you will want to start working on all of the stitches again. To accomplish this start picking up stitches from the side of the heel flap and adding one new stitch per row. Work on all of those stitches and then pick up the stitches on the other side of the heel flap. From this point start decreasing stitches where the side stitches meet up with the held stitches from earlier.
The Foot and Toe
When you knit the foot itself you should use a straight knitting technique. Stockinette stitch works wonderfully here. Stop knitting the foot about two inches below the toe. Knit the toe according to your pattern and you are finished with your sock!
While the idea of knitting your own socks can seem daunting, it really is not that hard with a bit of patience and practice. And, nothing matches your sense of accomplishment when you can wear socks that you made yourself!
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