The Beginner’s Guide to Sock Knitting

The Beginner’s Guide to Sock Knitting

Whether you want to add a new knitting skill to the ones you already have, or just want to have small projects that you can easily carry around with you, sock knitting is the way to go! 

The Beginner’s Guide to Sock Knitting

Much easier and simpler than they seem, you can knit socks in a variety of ways and with a seemingly endless array of patterns. In this article we will cover everything you need to know about starting to knit socks, including:

  • Which knitting needles and tools you need to knit socks
  • Which yarn to use for knitting socks
  • Where to get sock patterns and how to read them
  • Tutorials for knitting socks.

Which knitting needles and tools do you need to knit socks?

When knitting socks, you can either use double pointed knitting needles (DPNs) or circular knitting needles. The circular knitting needles can also be used to knit two socks at the same time (we have a tutorial for this at the end of the post).

Socks are usually knitted with quite small needles – as small as 2mm – so it is also a good idea to work some swatches first if this is your first time working with such thin needles. It will give you a good feel for tension as well so that, when you begin the socks, you know that you have the tension down to a T.

You’ll need a stitch or row counter as well to better keep track of where you are in the pattern. You can also use a contrasting color yarn to use as lifelines while you’re knitting the socks.  These lifelines are especially handy when you’re knitting a repeat pattern or a lace pattern. Of course, you can put a progress keeper on the socks as well!

Which yarns should you use and works best for knitting socks

Sock yarn is by far the best yarn to use when you’re knitting socks as it has been created to be very hard wearing. Sock weight yarn may look to be very thin, but keep in mind that larger stitches made from yarn that isn’t smooth and soft like sock yarn will be very uncomfortable to walk in! 

Some of the best known and most popular sock yarns include Regia by Schachenmayr, Stylecraft’s Head Over Heels, and Lion Brand’s Sock-Ease.

Did you know that KnitPal also has yarn that’s perfect for socks? This 100% merino wool yarn is perfect for keeping your feet warm and celebrating your team!

How to choose sock patterns and how to read them

Choosing a sock pattern to start with can be overwhelming because of the great amount of sock patterns that are available on the internet and in books. When you’re just starting out, look for a “vanilla” sock pattern or “vanilla sock recipe”.

A “vanilla” pattern simply means that it is a basic sock without much or any patterns other than some ribbing. Because the pattern is so plain, it is much easier to get the hang of and practice with. Whatever other socks you make afterwards will build on the knowledge that you received from making the “vanilla” socks.

To read a sock knitting pattern, you simply need to be able to read a knitting pattern. The terminology and abbreviations that are used in sock knitting patterns are much the same as for any other knitting pattern.

Here are explanations of some terminology that may be puzzling, though:

  • welt – ribbed section at the top of the sock
  • rev st—st – reversed stocking stitch
  • RH – right hand
  • LH – left hand
  • RS – right side
  • WS – wrong side
  • round change – this refers to all four needles’ stitches being worked when using DPNs to knit the socks
  • rem – remaining (stitches)
  • Open rows – working backwards and forwards, one row K RS, one row P WS

However, you will need to calculate how many stitches you need to cast on a rows to knit based on the size of sock you need. For complete US size charts, click here to visit the Craft Yarn Council’s website. Here is also a great PDF guide to knitting socks using Regia yarn. This Regia PDF guide also has a table showing how to cast on and increase based on the size sock you’re knitting.

You can also find thousands of patterns for socks over at this Love Crafts webpage.

Here are some great tutorials to get you started!

Knitting along to some tutorials is always a great way to learn. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the best sock knitting tutorials for you to choose from.

How to Knit Socks, Part 1 by RJ Knits


How to Knit Socks, Part 2 by RJ Knits


Double Pointed Needles for Beginners by Sheep & Stitch


How to Knit Socks on DPNs – by Crazy Sock Lady


How To Knit Socks – Two At A Time Cuff Down – With Mina From The Knitting Expat (on circular knitting needles)


Go on, grab your sock yarn and knitting needles of choice, and relax with some tutorials!



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