In this post I’m going to share all of my go-to sock knitting tips and favorite patterns. After much trial and error, I have one method of hand knitting socks that has become my favorite: two at a time toe up socks starting using the Faux Heel Flap and Turkish Cast On. Below are links to four different patterns for different sizes of socks or slippers using this technique.
If you haven’t yet knit a practice sock using this method, I strongly recommend doing so before tackling any of the others. It only takes about an hour to knit one of those baby socks, and it uses all the same knitting techniques you’ll need. If you need help knitting two at a time socks, check out this lesson.
The Benefits of Two at a Time Toe Up Socks
The benefits of knitting toe up socks (as opposed to cuff down) are that you can try on the socks as you go to make sure they’ll fit like you want and it’s easier to avoid running out of yarn before finishing the toes (which can happen if you’re knitting cuff down.) The main benefits of knitting socks two at a time are you’ll be sure the socks will be the same size and you won’t get second sock syndrome (where you finish the first sock and then aren’t motivated to knit the second, so you don’t end up with a wearable pair.)
There are several different ways to knit heels. The following are some good options, all of which work for toe up or cuff down socks:
- Faux Heel by Gal Liat – This method from KnitFreedom.com is the method used in all the sock patterns I’ve shared below and demonstrated in my sock knitting lessons. The only drawback of this heel is it takes a little bit to work out the math if you’re going to create a sock size that isn’t already included in one of the patterns below.
- Sweet Tomato Heel by Cat Bordhi – After the faux heel flap, this is my most-knitted heel, is easy to do, and always has a beautiful result. You can buy the pattern as part of Cat’s ebook (which includes 17 great sock patterns) and/or watch a free, high quality demonstration from Cat on YouTube.
- Fish Lips Kiss by Sox Therapist – This method was designed based on extensive research to create the best fitting socks. The pattern only costs $1 and is the most frequently-purchased pattern on Ravelry.
- Afterthought Heel – An afterthought heel allows you to knit the whole sock as a tube, adding a partial row of scrap yarn where the heel will go, and then picking up those stitches later to add a heel. There are many versions; this free Back to Basics Sock Pattern by Rhyflower Knits is my favorite. The only drawback to an afterthought heel is it often doesn’t fit quite as well as some of the others.
While you can use pretty much any yarn you like for slippers or baby sock, if you want to knit a nice pair of socks that will be comfortable to wear all day long, some yarn is better than others. The following are some of my best yarn tips based on my research and experience:
- Yarn weight – You can find sock patterns for every possible weight of yarn. However, in my experience, sock weight yarn (fingering) and sport weight are the most comfortable for everyday socks, and fit the best inside most pairs of shoes. Worsted weight is too thick for my taste; I can feel all the stitches on the bottom of my feet. DK is a great choice for a warmer pair of socks.
- Yarn material – While Merino wool is almost always my favorite yarn fiber, I find the best sock yarn also includes 10-25% of nylon or something similarly stretchy. This means that while sock yarn is often fingering weight not, not all fingering weight yarn works well for socks. Many sock-knitters also recommended the wool in the yarn to be super wash to help make it easier to care for your socks (more on that below.)
- Brands I like – The lowest-cost brand I like is Perfect Pair Yarn by Loops & Threads (bamboo and acrylic), which is available for under $10 from Micaels. Several I like in the $10 to $20 range are Regia by Schachenmayr, Cascade Heritage, Berrocco Sox, West Yorkshire Spinners 4ply, and Opal Yarn. Some higher end yarns ($20+ per skein) by smaller dying artists I love are Miss Babs Tarte and Hot Shot, Wooly Wonka Fibers Aerten MCN Sock Yarn, Cottage Sock by Fleece Artist, and Alfalfa MCN Sock Yarn by Six and Seven Fiber. Note: I don’t ever receive compensation for products I recommended on this website, they’re just the ones personally use and enjoy.
- Where to buy yarn – I always recommend buying as often as possible from your local yarn store. In the Oklahoma City area, my favorite store is Yarnatopia. If you can’t find what you need at your local store (or live in an area that doesn’t have one), my favorite online resource with a lot of good sock yarn is SimplySockYarn.com.
- How much to buy – When knitting with fingering or sport weight yarn, you’ll need 100 grams, or 400-450 yards, for an adult pair of mid-calf length socks. Note that some sock yarns come in skeins half that size so you’ll need two, although most skeins advertised for knitting socks will have enough to knit a pair.
- Organizing your yarn for two at a time socks – There are several tricks for winding and organizing your yarn to not get tangled when knitting two at a time socks. Check out this post for more details.
- Self-striping yarn – I love, love, love beautiful self-striping yarn that looks like you knit in fair isle or in stripes with cool colors without having to do any extra work. The one thing to remember is to start each sock at the same place in the pattern if you want your socks to match.
- Caring for your socks – I consider hand knit socks to be hand wash only. For super wash wool you can wash on gentle and lower temperature of water and then lay then flat to dry.
The following are my favorite sock knitting patterns that all use the same knitting techniques described above: