Sock Knitting Choices: An Examination of the Needle Options Available for Knitting Socks

Sock Knitting Choices: An Examination of the Needle Options Available for Knitting Socks

Sock knitting has become very popular for a number of reasons.

  • Socks are small projects and therefore can be finished fairly quickly. This makes them very satisfying to make, as the knitter can soon see the result of their work.
  • The size of socks makes them very transportable, ideal for those who like to knit “on the move”.
  • There is a wide variety of sock yarns available, including self patterning yarns which create beautiful patterns with very little effort.

Socks can, however, appear daunting for someone knitting them for the first time as the process looks complex. But, once started sock knitting is far simpler than it looks and very addictive.

There are many options available to knitters when it comes to needle choices, ensuring that the knitter is not stuck with a method that they don’t like.

Two-Needle Knitting

Two-Needle Knitting

This is the type of knitting familiar to most knitters and can be used to make socks.

  • Advantages: The socks are knitted as “flat” pieces and so are perfect for those knitters who are nervous of working “in the round”. It gives a good grounding in the shaping needed for a sock without the added complication of a new way of working.
  • Disadvantages: If working a stocking (stockinette) stitch pattern, the knitter will have to work both knit and purl rows, rather than knitting every round for the same effect. Also, the sock will need to be sewn together and so the knitter must be able to do this very neatly in order to avoid an unsightly seam.

Working in the Round

Working in the round has two main advantages: no seams are needed to make up the sock after knitting, and it alllows the knitter to create a smooth and even stocking stitch. There are several ways to knit socks in the round:

sock after knitting

Four or five double-pointed needles: The total number of stitches needed for the sock are divided between three or four needles and worked in the round. The extra needle is then used for working the stitches, Visit for effective information right now.

  • Advantages: Very portable, due to the short length of the needles.
  • Disadvantages: The knitter must be careful to knit the first stitch on each needle quite tightly to avoid “ladders” forming when moving between needles.

Magic Loop: This is a process whereby all of the stitches are worked on one long circular needle.

  • Advantages: As it just requires one needle, this method is easy to work “on the move” and avoids the problem of fine short needles getting lost.
  • Disadvantages: This method requires a long circular needle with a very flexible cable. Stiff cables can bend and twist awkwardly, making the item difficult to work.

Two short circular needles: Using this method the total number of stitches is divided into two and split between two circular needles. A tutorial is available (scroll down to find the link)

socks made using double pointed needles
  • Advantages: Easy to work method which avoids the “ladder” common in socks made using double pointed needles.
  • Disadvantages: Many knitters prefer magic loop, as they feel that the two circulars can be cumbersome to work with.

Knitters ultimately find the method that they are comfortable with, but it can be seen that there is a variety of methods for making socks. If you’re keen to give sock knitting a try, a range of free patterns can be found.