Conquering The Sock

When I first started knitting, socks were the project that always held me hostage. I could easily manage the leg or the foot, but as soon as any mention of turning the heel or picking up the gusset was mentioned I was utterly and completely lost. Eventually I figured out each step and before I knew it, I was knitting two socks at the same time. If your sock phobia is keeping you from wearing hand knit socks from your own needles, I’m here to help.

First, the leg. With 100 grams of the sock yarn of your choice cast on 60 stitches on size two or three needles. Divide and join to knit in the round. Knit, knit two, purl two ribbing around for ten to fifteen rows depending on how long you like the cuff on your sock. Now, knit for 70 rows.

Now you are at the heel. Don’t be afraid. This first part is called the heel flap and it is unbelievably simple.

The heel flap is knit back and forth on just one needle using only 30 of your 60 stitches. It really does not matter which needle you pick to knit the heel flap on, as long as you have 30 stitches and you stick with that same needle back and forth. Here is the pattern:

  • (Slip one stitch, knit one stitch) repeat to the end of the row
  • Slip one stitch, purl to the end of the row

Repeat those two rows 26 times working only on those 30 stitches. Here is what the front of the heel flap looks like:

Here is what the back of the heel flap looks like with the second needle hanging out below:

After you have knit the 26 rows back and forth for the heel flap it’s time to knit the actual heel. This is called turning the heel. This process is accomplished by knitting short rows back and forth knitting only on those same 30 stitches. Just like the heel flap, turning the heel is a snap. Here is the pattern:

Row 1: Slip one stitch, purl 16, purl 2 together, purl 1. Turn your work.

I realize you still have stitches left, but pretend you don’t and you just reached the end of your row. This is what your work will look like after you turn it:

Excellent! Now, continue knitting.

Row Two: Slip one stitch, knit five, knit two together, knit one. Turn your work.

Row Three: Slip one stitch, purl six, purl two together, purl one. Turn your work.

Row Four: Slip one stitch, knit seven, knit two together, knit one. Turn your work.

You will start to notice that your knitting is giving you a helping hand.

The pattern creates an abnormal space and you can use this as your guide to know where you need to knit your decrease. If you feel more comfortable, you can also just count the stitches as you go along too.

Row Five: Slip one stitch, purl eight, purl two together, purl one. Turn your work.

Row Six: Slip one stitch, knit nine, knit two together, knit one. Turn your work.

Row Seven: Slip one stitch, purl ten, purl two together, purl one. Turn your work.

Continue to knit the same decrease sequence until all the stitches have been worked. Your heel will look like this:

Now that the heel is finished it’s time to incorporate the other needle back into your knitting and start knitting the foot. To do this you need to pick up the gusset. You can do this.

Without turning your sock you want to pick up and knit 15 stitches down the side of the heel flap. There should be exactly 15 stitches running the length of the heel flap and I simply use the needle I have been working with and pick up and knit the stitches. This is what your needle will look like after you pick up the 15 stitches:

You will find your working yarn finally at the point where you can knit the neglected 30 stitches you stopped using at the start of the heel. Knit across those stitches.

When you get to the end of that needle your yarn will be in the correct spot to once again pick up 15 more stitches on the other side of the heel flap.

I like to use a spare needle to pick up these stitches. It really is up to you.

Once your 15 stitches are picked up you will want to organize them so that each of the 15 heel flap stitches and the 18 heel stitches are on the same needle and those same 30 stitches remain on the opposite needle. Once you do this you will end up in the middle of a row. Place a stitch marker right there because that is the beginning of your row.

I appreciate this is the most awkward spot for the start of a row, but this is just how socks work. Finish knitting one row.

This is what the front of your sock should look like.

This is what the back of your sock should look like. Your sock is actually nearly finished. All you need to do are a few decreases, knit the foot, decrease again and then bind off. I told you socks were simple!

These next decreases are accomplished in a set of two rounds:

  1. Knit to the last three stitches of the first needle, knit two together, knit one. Knit across the second needle. On the first needle again, knit one, knit two together, knit to the stitch marker. You decreased two stitches total.
  2. Knit one round.

Repeat the decrease rows until the original 60 stitches remain. I believe it’s 14 times. Then it’s time to knit the foot, which is just knitting around and around and around until the sock fits. You can try the sock on as many times as you need during this process to make sure your sock is long enough.

When your sock is 1-1/2 inches shorter than your foot it’s time to start the toe decreases.

  1. Knit to the last three stitches on the first needle, knit two together, knit one. On the second needle knit one, knit two together, knit to the last three stitches, knit two together, knit one. Back to the first needle, knit one, knit two together, knit to the stitch marker. You decreased four stitches total.
  2. Knit one round.

Repeat these two rounds until 20 stitches remain or until the sock is as long as you want and the toe is as wide as you would like. Remember this is your sock, so you can make the foot as long and the toe as wide as you want. Turn the sock inside out and bind off the stitches using a three needle bind off.

Repeat the entire process for the second sock then wear and marvel at your new skill.

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