WOOLGATHERERS Knit Socks - 5-NEEDLE METHOD

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Sock samples - larger photos at bottom of page.

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There are many “methods” out there to knit socks. This one is pretty straightforward and produces socks with feet that can be easily modified to fit the wearer. The heel and toe shown here sit well inside shoes or boots and won’t cause chafing or blisters.

Double point needles sometimes come in sets of 4 or sometimes in sets of 5. European knitting books ---- and yarn stores - sell dp needles in sets of 5. The 5 needle method will give you nice control over the shaping, because, unlike dividing the work into only 3 parts, 4 parts allows you to knit in 2 halves - or top and bottom and be able to check the shaping at any point in the process. DO give it a try.

 

Mathematical sock pattern. Rather than using words only and playing around with oddball methods, I've always knit socks using a Swiss formula I got from several knitting books back in the 80's. The advantage here is that the directions remain proportional for any weight of yarn - just knit a sample swatch, determine gauge, then cast on for the top of the shaft.

 

Sock shaft design is variable - choose stockinette topped with ribbing, plain ribbing all the way down on the top of the foot with stockinette sole, fancy cabling on the shaft - it is all the same until you reach the foot.

 

Basically, to make socks, one first determines the circumference of the shaft by measuring the leg at the point where the sock will rise to. Cast on enough stitches to generate this measurement in ribbing - 1/1 or 2/2. If the sock is to be quite high, you can always decrease a few stitches just before the ankle. For knee socks, check knitting books - there are proportional charts for the calf shaping.

 

Knit the shaft to the desired length.

 

1. Heel Flap: Work with 2-4 Stitches less than half the stitches worked. So that the edges can be picked up later, work the edges with “edge stitches” as follows: Knit first stitch through back loop and slip the last stitch as if to purl, keeping the yarn at front of work. Knit 1-3 edge stitches less than half the heel stitches.

 

2. Straight heel turn: On front side of work, knit to middle of heel, for example by 32 stitches Knit 16, then knit 7 more* slip 1 as if to knit, K1, pass slipped stitch over, turn work, slip 1, purl 14, P2 together, turn, slip 1, K14, repeat from * until no stitches are left at the sides and 16 remain on the needles.

 

3. Shaped Heel turn: Begin on the right side in the middle of the heel. If the number of stitches in the heel is even, knit 2 stitches over the halfway point, if the number is uneven, knit only 1. Slip 1 as if to knit, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over, knit 1, turn work. On the wrong side, slip 1 (be sure yarn is in front of work) purl 5 (if uneven number purl 4), Purl 2 together, purl 1, turn work; slip first stitch as if to knit, Knit 6 (Knit 5 if uneven), slip 1, Knit 1, pass slipped stitch over, Knit 1, turn work. Proceed in this manner until the heel cap is as wide as half the heel stitches. If there are 32 stitches in the heel, the cap will have 16.

 

4. Picking up Heel Edge Stitches: Divide the Heel cap onto 2 needles. Knit on the right side across both needles, picking up the edge stitches. Be sure that no unsightly holes appear where the heel rejoins the rest of the sock.

 

5. Ankle Decreases: The ankle decreases are worked where the heel meets the top of the sock. Knit the last stitch of the heel together with the first stitch of the sock top and at the end of the top, slip the last stitch of the top,  Knit first stitch of heel, pass slipped stitch over. Decrease in every 3rd round (2 rounds between each decrease). Do this until the number of stitches equals the stitches in the shaft.

 

FOOT: Knit in rounds until the foot is the desired length. This may be done entirely in stockinette or in stockinette for the sole and ribbing for the top of the foot.

 

6. Normal Toe Cap: This is calculated based on the number of stitches in a round.

 

By 60 stitches = 60:10=6-1=5 (this means a 5er decrease)

 

By 72 stitches = 72:10=7-1=6 (this means a 6er decrease)

 

For a 6er decrease, begin with K6, decrease 1, Knit 6 rounds. Then Knit 5, decrease 1, Knit 5 rounds - and so forth until it is K1, decrease 1 - Then by 0er round K2 together for the round with the remaining stitches being drawn together by threading the yarn through.

 

7. Band decrease: From the rear middle, knit the 1st needle up to the last 3 stitches. Knit 2 together, K1. On the 2nd needle, K1, slip 1, K1, pass slipped stitch over. Repeat at end of 3rd and beginning of 4th needle. Repeat this decrease with one round in between until the stitches are reduced to half the original quantity. Then repeat in every round until only 8 stitches remain. Draw together by running yarn through last round.

 

For those who like a stockinette shaft or are making knee socks, try the following:

 

Seam with “teeth”: For a turned hem at the top (for kneesocks), Knit the width of the border, Knit one row of hollow stitches K1(yarn over, Knit 2 together*). Knit the next half of the border and join with the top row by picking up the cast-on stitches and joining them into the stitches of the next round.

 

(This is a neat way to make casing for elastic).

 

I personally use 2/2 ribbing for adult socks, 1/1 for children.

 

The Shaped Heel turn and Normal Toe Cap are my favorites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some photos of the socks described on the "Socks with Math" Page.
NOTE: These socks are knit using the 5-needle set. Work is divided evenly on 4 needles - this is nice to measure progress, because the work may be folded in half, flat, to check measurements.
The white socks are both knit of handspun yarn - the knee socks of a fine worsted, the short socks of some sportweight Shetland.  The knee socks have the self edged band for elastic support.
This type of sock can be made wither with the top of the foot ribbed to the toe, or knit in stockinette after a sufficient band of ribbing has been knit to keep them from slipping down.
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Closeup of heel and toe:
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Socks made with commercial ("Meilenweit") Sock yarn - same method. Child's sock made with same proportions. Long foot corresponds to granddaughters long foot.
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Closeup of child's sock:
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Socks on the feet:
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