Recently, I asked Colleen Powley, our resident Sock Master (as I call her), to teach me how to knit socks. I really, REALLY wanted to make socks, but, alas! I found sock knitting intimidating. When I found out that Colleen had done several sock patterns for Spud & Chloë, I asked her to teach me. I knew I could do it with her tutelage! (And I did!)
To start, I made a lone baby sock for practice using Colleen’s Lots O’ Socks pattern and Fine in Lizard #7812 (which I discovered is a totally adorbs color for baby socks, as is Bumble Bee #7811!). After bravely and adeptly conquering the baby sock, I was ready to try a pair of grown-up socks! Using Popsicle Socks as a guide and trusty Fine as my yarn again, I made some sporty-looking socks for me in Sidewalk #7822 and Glow Worm #7801. However, though they started out as Popsicle Socks… they didn’t exactly end up as Popsicle Socks, as you can see.
Things changed when I accidentally made the cuff too long (I got into a groove with the rib pattern and forgot to stop!), so I had to make some decisions about where to end the cuff and how to work in the colors. First, I decided to make the cuff three times as long, striping Sidewalk and Glow Worm as I went, trying to make it look like it had been my plan all along to make the cuff that prominent. Given the totally different look the sock had after these changes, I then decided to use only little accents of Glow Worm with a Sidewalk base instead of striping them both repeatedly throughout the remainder of the sock. The result is that I used the Popsicle Socks pattern as a guideline for how to make each part of the sock, but chose totally different methods for coloring and the cuff—a “mistake” turned design element!
These socks were a lesson in improvisation and in trusting myself and my instincts, which is something every yarn crafter, much like any chef, musician, artist, or other creative person, must do at times. Instead of getting discouraged with my early mistakes on only my second attempt at socks, I decided to make this into an opportunity to work outside the box and make a pair of spiffy socks by winging it! Now I am a bit obsessed with socks, stashing masses of sock yarn that I probably will never use in a lifetime, with plans to fill both my and my husband’s sock drawers with only homemade socks. (I am sure that will totally happen, but it’s good to have goals…)
Anyway, the point of all this is to encourage you, dear readers, to just go for it if you want to make a pair of socks but find them intimidating. (Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it!) To help, I thought I might break things down a bit as a little introduction. As with anything, once we understand it, it is far less scary. What I’ve learned is that, though there are lots of parts to a sock, they all serve a purpose. Once I understood how all these parts fit together and that the shaping of top-down socks is just a bunch of decreasing, socks started to “make sense.” They are like Frankenstein’s monster, except you can put them together without lightning or reanimation of any kind. (Whew!)
Ready? Let’s go!
This is what happens when you make a sock from the top-down (I have not made toe-up socks yet!), and most sock instructions will be laid out in this order with these general concepts applied:
1. The cuff, generally done in a rib pattern for half an inch to an inch or so (but not always, as exemplified by my Glow Gray socks), helps to keep the wearer’s sock from slumping like a deflated balloon while it’s being worn.
2. The leg bit spans the space between the cuff and the top of the foot, the length of which depends on the style of sock and how long the wearer’s calf is.
3. The heel flap is just that—a flap that spans the heel from top to bottom. It is done across only half the round, leaving the other half to languish in wait until Step 5.
4. The heel turn is a decrease (commonly done using short rows) that creates a “cup” so that your heel has somewhere to sit.
5. The gusset kind of has two parts: a) pick up the stitches from the sides of the heel flap, then connect them to the languishing half from Step 3, rejoining in the round as you go and then b) perform a series of decreases to get back to the original number of cast-on stitches.
6. Then it’s time to create the foot (also sometimes called the instep), which spans the area to the top of the toe.
7. Finally, perform another set of decreases to create the bit for your toes to sit in.
Sing along with the Spud & Chloë Gang!
(to the tune of Dem Dry Bones)
Can’t see the video, click here
The Cuff holds up the Leg bit.
The Leg bit spans to the Heel Flap.
The Heel Flap ends with the Heel Turn.
The Heel Turn decreases to make a little cup.
The Gusset joins the Leg to the Heel Turn.
The Foot is worked to the Toe bit.
The Toe bit decreases to the bind off.
And that’s the recipe for socks!
Once you understand that recipe, you can feel comfortable following any of the magnificent sock patterns out there, such as these other Spud & Chloë patterns, all by Colleen Powley (a.k.a. the Sock Master): Cable Cable Cable Socks, Sassy Stockings, and Two-for-One Socks. And, don’t forget our free sock patterns from right here on Spud says (the blog!): Ribbed Socks for Kids, Ribbed Socks for Bigger Feet, and Jelly Bean Baby Socks. Or, simply let your imagination guide you!
For more information on learning to knit socks, “Getting Started Knitting Socks” by Ann Budd is a great book that Colleen recommended to me!