DIY Knitted Socks

CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal)  Next time you see a stylish man, check out his socks, odds are, they’re funky and trendy. Socks are the new fashion phenomenon and Pixie Benoist, a Freelance Knitting Instructor told us how.



  1. What kind of yarn do I need?

Generally, sock yarns are labeled as such, but any fingering weight yarn containing nylon, lycra, acrylic or other man-made fibers is the best choice.  It is best to have a superwash yarn for easy care of your socks.  It is also possible to use sport, DK or worsted weight yarns for a sock that is thicker.  Just be sure there is some man-made fiber in the mix to prevent stretching.


  1. How much yarn do I need?


Fingering                    Sport                  Worsted

Babies                        150 yds                      125 yds             100 yds

Child’s small              250                           200                  175

Child’s medium         300                           250                   200

Women                     400                           350                   300

Men                             500                           400                   300


These amounts are approximate.


  1. What size needles do I need?

Until you have made a couple of pairs of socks, it is difficult to tell what size needle will work best for you.  Fingering weight socks are generally knit on 40 inch size 0, 1, 2, or 3 needles.  A smaller needle will give you a denser fabric. If you are a tight knitter, you may need the size 3.  There’s really no good way to tell until you start knitting.


  1. Do I need to make a gauge swatch?

It has been my experience that making a separate gauge swatch in the round is kind of a waste of time.  I just pick a needle size and start knitting my sock.  If I see that, after an inch and a half, the fabric is too loose or too tight, I rip it out and start again with a different sized needle.  If your needle size is correct, you already have an inch and a half of your sock knitted – if you did the gauge swatch in the round (this is different than a regular gauge swatch), it would have taken you the same amount of time.


However, since you must have the cast-on number the day class starts, you will have to do a circular swatch for this first sock. Directions the swatch in the round are on the last page.  Please follow the directions carefully and measure your stitches with a knit gauge or a ruler, NOT a tape measure.




  1. How do I know how many stitches to cast-on?

You take measurements from the foot that will wear the sock.  I advise that the first sock you make be for yourself.  You will need a measuring tape, a knit gauge, a sheet of computer-sized paper, and a pen or pencil.  Since you must take these measurements while standing, you should have someone help you.


  1. Measure around the widest part (the ball) of the foot while standing.
  2. Measure the length of the foot from heel to toe tip while standing. This may be easiest to do by standing on the paper and marking the points, then measuring between them.
  3. Measure the height of the heel to the floor while standing.
  4. Measure the gauge (stitches per inch) of your fabric using a knit gauge or a ruler. Do not use a tape measure.


Fill in your information below:

  1. _____________________ (widest part of foot)
  2. _____________________ (length of foot)
  3. _____________________ (height of heel)
  4. _____________________ (gauge)

Multiply your gauge x A, and round that number to the nearest multiple of 4, up or down.  This is the number of cast-on stitches for the leg of your sock. For this first sock, I would like you to knit the leg in 2 x 2 ribbing as it is very elastic and hugs the leg well.



Using the long-tail cast-on, cast your stitches onto the needle.  In class we will learn how to join the stitches in the round.  Please bring 2 wooden clothespins to class if you have some at home.  After joining, you will knit your desired number of inches for the leg in 2 x 2 ribbing. End ready to work a RS row. Place a marker through a whole stitch on the last row before the heel flap.



The heel flap is worked back and forth on the heel stitches (1/2 the total number of stitches cast on).  The remaining stitches will remain unworked on the needle.  Work these stitches as follows, beginning with a RS (knit) row.

Row 1: *Slip 1 as if to purl, K 1*, repeat from * to * across row.

Row 2: Slip first stitch as if to purl, purl across.

Repeat these 2 rows until heel flap measures Measurement C.  Generally, there should be as many rows on your flap as there are in one quarter of the cast-on number, i.e. if you cast-on 72 stitches, you should knit 18 rows. End having just worked a knit row, placing a marker on the needle at the center of the heel flap.



This is the fun part!!  Follow the steps carefully without trying to make sense of them!  Remember, start with a purl row facing you.

Row 1: Purl to 2 stitches past the center marker, purl 2 tog, purl 1, turn.

Row 2: Sl 1, K 5, K2 tog tbl, K 1, turn.

Row 3: Sl 1, P6, P2 tog, P 1, turn.

Row 4: Sl 1, K 7, K2 tbl, K1, turn.

Row 5: Sl 1, P 8, P2 tog, P1, turn.  Etc.

Continue by working an additional stitch after each Slip 1 on every row, until all stitches across are used and all gaps are closed.  Be sure there are the same number of stitches on each side of the marker.  End having worked a knit row. Write down the number of stitches you have.  Leave the marker in place.



Now you will use the tip of the needle at the end of the heel turn to pick up the same number of stitches as there are rows on the side of the heel flap (with the RS of the work facing you). Place a marker at each end of the instep stitches on the needle. Next, knit across the instep stitches which have remained on the needle.  Finally, pick up the same number of stitches on the other side of the gusset as you picked up on the first side of the gusset.  All stitches should now be on the one circular needle.  Knit one row even all around.

As you approach the first instep marker, make sure to stop when 3 stitches remain before the marker.

  1. SSK, K 1, slip marker, knit across the instep stitches. Slip marker, K 1, K2 tog.
  2. Knit one whole round even.


Continue in this way until you have decreased to the total number of cast-on stitches.



Work even in stockinette until foot measures about 1 ½ inches less than measurement B.  At this point, I keep trying the sock on until it reaches 1 ½ inches from the tip of my big toe.



I find it easier at this point to put the top half and the bottom half of the stitches on 2 double pointed needles, but you can certainly continue with the circular needle if you wish.  Just make sure to divide the stitches evenly on whatever needle you choose to use.  With the stitches from the instep facing, K 1, SSK, knit to within 3 stiches of the end of these front stitches, K2tog, K1.  On the back needle, K1, SSK, knit across until 3 stiches remain, K2tog, K1.  Next round, knit even.  Repeat these two rounds until ½ the cast-on stitches remain.  Then, decrease every round as above until ¼ of the stitches remain.  (I like to have 12 stitches remaining on each side as this prevents the toes from being too crowded.)  Divide the remaining stitches evenly on the needles and sew them together using the Kitchener stitch.



  1. Preparation Stitches (Do once only.)

Front as if to purl.

Back as if to knit.


  1. Kitchener Stitch (Repeat to last 2 stitches.)

Front: Knit and off, purl.

Back: Purl and off, knit.


  1. Ending off: (For the last 2 stitches.)

Front: Knit and off,

Back: Purl and off,


Gauge is not the same when knitting flat compared to knitting in the round. That’s because a knitter’s tension is often quite different when purling than when knitting.

Since knitting in the round most often involves Stockinette Stitch, which is made entirely with knit stitches in the round, that changes the way your yarn measures up.

Sure, you could just cast on a whole bunch of stitches and make a gauge swatch in the round that would be big enough to fold flat and measure, but that takes a lot of time and a lot of yarn.

Instead, you can fake a circular gauge swatch with two double-pointed needles (or a circular needle). Here’s how it’s done.

  1. Cast on enough stitches to give you a piece of knitting that is about five inches wide.
  2. Knit the first row.
  3. Slide the stitches to the opposite end of the needle, without turning the work.
  4. Knit the next row.
  5. Continue in this manner until the swatch is about five inches long.
  6. Bind off, or slide the stitches onto a stitch holder to make measuring easier. Then you can still rip out the swatch later if you need the yarn.

When working a swatch in this fashion , make sure you leave the strands very loose in the back so that the edges don’t curl in too much and distort your measurement.

This is basically the procedure you would use to make an I-cord, except you don’t pull the stitches tight when working this way.


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