The Anatomy of Sock Knitting

In my, Knitting: Making Socks article, I talked about how my journey into sock making began, the dread of having to deal with four to five needles and how to knit the seemingly complicated sock shape.

Now it’s time to understand The Anatomy of Sock Knitting which hopefully will help you understand how the sock is constructed, so when it’s time to knit you won’t be phased by the pattern instructions and you will have a piece of work that resembles a sock. I’ll also be referencing helpful video tutorials so you can see the magic loop method in action.

If you haven’t checked out my article Knitting: Making Socks check that out first as I explain a much easier method to help you get up and running on your sock knitting journey using the magic loop method.

The Anatomy of Sock Knitting

Socks are broken down into different areas and each section is knit differently.
(Fig ii) Socks are broken down into different areas and each section is knit differently.

The sock is an amazingly well put together collection of different areas. The foot is a complicated shape so it goes hand-in-hand that the sock has a lot going on too. As you can see from my sock diagram (Fig ii) the sock is broken down into seven distinct areas:-

Knitting: Making Socks

I’ve been knitting for quite a while but have never adventured anywhere near the art of making socks. Recently I really started to get the bug to try and knit some socks. Even one sock, I’d even be happy with just the top of the sock because mastering the art of all those needles just looked like a disaster waiting to happen.

If you look at how socks are put together the construction looks very complicated so you can be forgiven in thinking the task of knitting a sock would be impossible. However, hundreds of knitters say they get hooked on making socks once they have mastered the art but how do you receive those special super-powers that I just don’t seem to possess?

Knitting with two needles is easy once, like anything, you have learned the basics and I guess you can feel quite daunted by those at first but everyone always say if you can knit, purl, increase and decrease you can knit a sock. Well, yes I can do all of those things but if you’ve ever seen pictures of what knitting a sock looks like you can be holding anything up to five needles which is why sock knitters look like they have some special power to command all of these needles, as well as not poke out an eye and end up with a fully functional sock after all that hard work. It just seems to happen for them.

Double pointed needles for sock making but you can use circular needles.
My first attempt at making socks using four double pointed needles but you can also use circular needles and the magic loop method.

I did venture forth unfazed by all that seemed to be before me. I bought some double pointed needles and sock yarn thinking this was the right direction to go into. This method of knitting socks has been tried and tested by many experienced knitters…so what could go wrong.

The first hurdle to master are the amount of needles involved. I was using four but you can use five. Getting going was tricky. You take one needle and cast on the amount of stitches required for your sock pattern. Then the fun begins. You need to distribute your stitches across the three needles. For example, if you have cast on 54 stitches across three double pointed needles, then you need to put 18 stitches on each needle so you begin to work in the round. You also need to join your stitches in the round too.

Here are a few handy videos to help you master casting on for knitting in the round as well as joining in the round.

I soon had a revelation at this point that I didn’t have to be an Octopus. Each needle is actually independent from one another and you only ever knit with two needles at any one time. Eureka!

Hold on – What’s working in the Round?

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