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Socknitter FAQ - How?

Q: How do I learn to knit?


A: Check out the instructions at . Alternatively, try one of the excellent books on learning to knit. Some good knitting references are ‘The Big Book of Knitting’ by Katherina Buss, ‘The Handbook of Knitting’ by Montse Stanley, and ‘Knitting in Plain English’ by Maggie Righetti.


Q: How do I learn to knit socks?


A: Some good tutorials are at:


Other references are ‘Learn to knit a dozen socks’ by Edie Eckman, ‘Folk Socks’ by Nancy Bush, ‘Socks Soar on Two Circulars’ by Cat Bordi, ‘Simple Socks’ by Priscilla Gibson Roberts. Last but not least by any means are the cybersocks classes at Tips for knitting socks are at .



Q: How many stitches should I cast on? (See what is Gauge?)


A: This is a question that needs some more information before it can be answered. The number of sts to cast on depends on a couple of factors: the desired circumference of the finished sock and your gauge. Follow the steps below to determine the number of sts:

1.     Measure the recipient’s foot at the widest part of the foot. This will be a number in inches or centimeters.

2.    Knit a tube that is approximately 6-8” (15.24-20 cm) around with the yarn and the needles you would like to use for a comfortable, dense fabric and measure the number of sts it takes to create 3” (7.6 cm). Remember to do this using the st pattern you are likely to use for your sock. Divide this number by 3 or 7.6 and you have your gauge. This will be sts to the inch or sts to the cm. 
3.      Multiply the measured width by the gauge. You will end up with a number of sts.

4.      If you wish to have a snugly fitting sock, subtract 10-20% of the sts and round to a number that will yield the right multiple for your st pattern. If you wish to have a looser sock, subtract 0-10% of the sts and round as before. On the other hand, if you have a very inelastic st pattern, you might even need to add 5-10% to the number for the sock to go over your heel.


That is the correct way to determine the number of sts. However, many of us start knitting with a number that we think is correct and rip out and re do if it doesn’t work. After all, a sock is a tube about 6-8” around and so one can use it as the swatch!  Mary offers a free spreadsheet for calculating a standard sock pattern using your gauge:



Q: How do I knit with dpns?


A: shows the techniques for knitting with dpns.


Q: How do I knit using the magic loop?


A: Check out The technique is also explained in a Fiber Trends booklet: Judy Gibson demonstrates a variation at



Q: How do I knit with two circs?


A: See Both ‘Latvian Dreams’ by Joyce Williams and ‘Socks Soar on Two Circulars’ by Cat Bordi contain descriptions of the technique.



Q: How do I knit two socks on circs?


A: Also, see pictures at and - with a chart to help you calculate stitches based on measurements.



Q: How do I do two socks on dpns at the same time?


A: It’s called the “Magic Sock” technique. has pictures.  See also:



Q. How do I make two needle socks:


See for a 2-needle sock pattern.



Q: How do I do two socks on dpns at the same time?


A: The only way to do this circularly is to use two sets of dpns and knit a section of one sock and then the same section on the other sock. Work your way like this to the end. If you are knitting flat and will seam up the socks later, you can knit them at the same time on a pair of straight needles. No need for dpns there. See for a 2-needle sock pattern.



Q: How do I make a sock to fit? (See what is gauge?)


A: See ‘How many sts do I cast on?’  The number of sts at each point of the sock determines how it fits. If it is loose, you need fewer sts at that point. If it is tight, you need more sts. Most sock patterns use the same number of sts in the foot and the leg. This may not be the right proportion for you. Feel free to change the number if you have wider feet as compared to your leg or vice versa. Or have fewer/more sts at the ankle for skinny/fat ankles and have less/more sts at the cuff to make it fit (See How do I adjust a sock for a skinny/fat ankle?)


Q: How stretchy will the sock be?


A: This depends on the type of st pattern used. Cables and ribs tend to be stretchy, in general. Slip st, mosaic and fair-isle patterns tend to be less elastic. So one needs to add more sts to the sock to make these types of socks fit and go over the heel.


Q: How do I avoid ladders?


A: Ladders occur because there is a difference in the tension you use on the yarn at the point where you switch needles. For most people, the yarn is being held too loosely here but for others, it is being pulled too tight. The good news is that most ladders disappear after washing and drying. To prevent them, there are a couple of techniques you can use:


1.      Keep an even tension on the yarn until you knit the second st on the new needle

2.      Start the new needle either in front of instead of behind the old needle or vice versa (in back if you were starting it in front)

3.     Use st markers to delineate your end of rnd and knit a st or two more on each needle as you go around, e.g. if you have 16 sts on each needle, knit 17 or 18 on the first needle of the rnd, and then knit 16 before you move to the next needle. This distributes the unevenness and makes it less noticeable.


Practice ultimately makes it all go away!


Q: How do I do toe up socks?


A: Again, cybersocks classes to the rescue: Or try Or, The latter two are formula patterns that you can customize to any size.


Q: How do I do top down socks?


A: See ‘How to knit socks?’ above.


Q: How do I do a stretchy bind off?


A: There are many techniques to make the bind off stretchy. Some people bind off with a needle 2-3 sizes larger than the needle they used for the sock. Others use different types of bind offs that are more stretchy:



2.      Look at the bottom of for a bind off called the twice knitted/purled bind off

3.     Myrna Stahman’s ‘Stahman’s Shawls and Scarves’ book contains an Icelandic bind off that is as follows: *K second st through first st’s loop. Sl both off the left needle tog. Put new st on right needle back on left needle and repeat from * till 1 st left.

4.      The tubular or Kitchener bind off described in a number of books also produces a stretchy bound off edge.


Q: How do I do a stretchy cast on?


A: There are a number of different methods preferred by different people:


1.      Again, using a larger sized needle helps.

2.      Also, you can cast on twice the number of sts and then do a rnd of k2togs to get back to the correct number of sts.

3.      The Kitchener or tubular cast on described in a number of books creates a stretchy edge.

4.      The Twisted German cast on (see or or is also a stretchy, durable cast on.

5.      Another one that is preferred by some is the channel island cast on described at

6.      June Hemmons Hiatt in ‘Principles of Knitting’ recommends the ‘Two needle Cast on’. 

7.      For something different, try knitting a garter st strip that will go all the way around your leg sideways. You need as many garter st ridges as you will have sts in your sock circumference. Then graft/kitchener/sew the two ends together. Pick up sts along the side of the circle, one st per two rows of the garter st. Now knit your sock. The garter st cuff will provide a stretchy edge.



Q: How do I adjust a sock for a skinny/fat ankle?


A: The Ample knitters list has a page of hints on adjusting for wider legs:   There is also a “not for skinny legs” sock pattern here:   Also see ‘How many sts do I cast on?’ and ‘How do I knit socks that fit?’

Q: How do I adjust a sock for a high instep?


A: Some people rib the instep region of the sole to make the sock pull in there. You can also decrease/increase the gusset sts more gradually (depending on whether you knit top down or toe up). uses this technique. Meg Swansen also describes a shaped arch (that Elizabeth Zimmerman came up with) in Woolgathering # 55 and in ‘Meg Swansen’s Knitting’.


Q: How do I pick up gusset stitches?




Q: How do I eliminate holes in the corners of the gusset?


A: The most common way to do this is to pick up an extra st or two in the gap between the heel and the gusset. Don’t do this on a loose running thread as it will only make the hole bigger. Pick up the extra st on a tighter thread and twist it before you put it on the needle to prevent further holes. These extra sts can be immediately eliminated by knitting them together with an adjacent st or can be decreased as part of the gusset itself.  Also, some people get fewer holes if they transfer the instep sts to a piece of scrap yarn instead of holding them on the needles.


Q: How long should I make the heel flap?


A: The heel flap should extend from the center of the anklebone to the floor for most people. Some people like them longer or shorter but start with the standard measurement and then experiment to find what you like.


Q: How do I make an online photo album?


A: There are many sites, both free and commercial, that provide tools to display pictures. and are two very popular sites. There are others. Some ISP’s also provide web sites and tools to create your own web page.


Q: How do I figure out how many yards of yarn I need for my socks?

A: Sock pattern software (like The Sole Solution and Sock Wizard) includes yardage estimates. Also, there are commercial products like cards, books and patterns that include yardage estimates for socks. On the Internet, here is a site that includes some information:


Q: How do I avoid the little jump or jog when knitting striped socks?


A: The reason you get this is because when knitting circularly, you are knitting in a spiral. First of all, in a single row stripe pattern, you won’t see the jog so don’t bother trying to eliminate it. In wider stripes, you may need to use one of the techniques to avoid it. One way is to put a vertical stripe of one of the colors at the join (i.e. always knit a few sts at the join in the same color). Another way is frequently referred to as the ‘jogless jog’, which was first, described by Meg Swansen.




Q: How do I add beads to my socks?


A: Check out


Q: How do I get a snug ribbing on the cuff?


A: Use a more elastic ribbing like 2x2 (k2, p 2). Do more rounds of ribbing e.g. if you normally do 2” of ribbing, do 2.5”. 



Q: How do I put a little motif on my socks?


A: There are many different ways of putting motifs on socks. The motif can be duplicate stitched on after the sock is knitted. If it is on the leg, the leg can be knitted flat and then seamed up before the heel is knitted. One can also utilize one of the many ‘Intarsia in the Round’ techniques. Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book describes it as festive knitting. Instructions can also be found at The Fall 2003 issue of Interweave Knits demonstrates a number of techniques to achieve this effect and a pattern that uses all of them. Other technique books may also contain instructions. Check out the ones you own.    


Q: How do I reinforce the heels and toes?


A: You don’t always have to reinforce heels and toes (see Why do I need to reinforce heels and toes?). If you want to, you can use the thread that comes with the yarn (some brands) or woolly nylon. Woolly nylon can be bought at fabric stores and is usually used in sergers. It comes in a few colors. Pick one that matches your sock yarn. Alternatively, you can reinforce with a stronger yarn like mohair. See What do I do with the little spool of thread that came with my yarn? for instructions on when to start reinforcing the heels and toes. 


Q: How do you spell guaaugge? 


A: It is typically spelled gauge but you will often see ‘gage’ and ‘guage’ used online.


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