Confessions of a Sock-making Fool

By Ann Shayne
June 18, 2019

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  • I love the image of the chain knitter “lighting up” off the current FO! You may have inspired me to fire up my sock knitting which suffers from second sock syndrome

    • Have you tried knitting two at a time on two circulars? I do this to avoid SSS.

      • I’ve always found this method fiddly, but there are very many who enjoy it. For me, SSS avoidance is casting on the second sock as soon as I’ve kitchenered the toe of the first one.

        • I’m with Elaine here. I kept getting the yarns tangled when I tried to do TAAT. I consider the first sock complete when it is time to Kitchener. I save that part until I know I have time to cast on the twin. For a while, I did tandem socks…two sets of needles, then two cast ons, two cuffs, etc. but got lazy and stopped winding my hanks into two separate balls…

    • I cast on one sock each on two sets of DPNs or two identical circs, then knit the cuff of one, switch to the other and knit that cuff, etc. So I’m knitting two socks at the same time but not getting my yarns and needles crossed trying to do it on one set of circs. That way the parts are (usually) the same number of rounds so the socks sort of match. Actually I’ve been known to wear mismatched socks so I sometimes only knit one sock of “pair.”

      • This is how I do it. I knit each sock on 2 circs so I am actually doing 2 o 4. Times 4 pairs because I stash pairs in places I am likely to get bored. Yes, I have a LOT of 16 inch circulars.

  • I’ve knit lots of socks, and I NEVER block them. Finish, stick in sock drawer. I figure they get blocked when you put them on your feet. Nothing better than homemade socks!

    • Absolutely!

      • Oh, how I love this writing and confession ❤️ … makes me SO excited to receive my Field Guide #11 copy! Think I’ll knit socks for the rest of the summer

    • My thought exactly! Feet are the best sock blockers there are. The only reason I can think of for sock blockers is if you’re going to photograph the socks. Even then, as Ann demonstrates above, the human foot is the perfect distance from the human-hand-with-camera!

  • Thank you for ALWAYS cracking me up on a daily basis. (i’m Lisa Fox’s friend who met you at VKL)
    You girls are sublime!!!

  • There is nothing more luxurious than a hand knit sock! You’re really just creating the equivalent of gold bars…I think of my sock drawer as my own little Fort Knox. I’m currently working on my most ambitious sock project to date: lace thigh high socks. As soon as I finish them, I’m jumping straight into Field Guide #11!

  • Your stack of socks is so inspiring! Ijust ordered my sock yarn in “Swoon”, a gorgeous color way that just kept speaking to me and calling my name. Over. And over. And over.

    I spoke to a veteran knitter recently who told me they always have a pair of socks on the needles. She always makes the same pattern, two by two rib from the cuff all the way down through the instep. I saw the pair she had just finished. Striped socks and so soft to the touch. Really gorgeous!

    Ann, could you address in your future post about tips and tricks for making socks, how to store and care for socks after knitting? I am thinking that in giving socks as a gift (or if keeping them for onedself, for that matter) would be nice to pass along information of how to store them so that they don’t get moth-eaten, how to wash them, etc. Also maybe a word about blocking them after knitting would also be appreciated. Thanks.

    Knit on!

    • Hi Diane,
      I gift socks to my family every year for birthdays (they love them and ask for them). No one has issues with washing. My sister puts her families in the washing machine on the wool cycle and then air dries. My mum and I throw them in a sink with some wool wash in it, then hang to dry. No one has had any problems with moths. 🙂


  • Socks don’t need no steenkin blocking! Well, maybe if they are a gift. Which people love, which is why I always have socks for my emergency knitting. (Always keep a pair in process in my desk drawer at work.) Downloaded the Field Guide, looking for my Studio Sock and ready to roll!

  • Haven’t tried socks yet….still thinking about it. Deb

    • Try ’em; they’re SO MUCH FUN!

  • Block socks? Ain’t that what feets are for?

  • Hello!
    Good news! I’m still knitting! The Knit Stars complete set of Field Guides is amazing! I’m working on Transparency, guide no. 6, Cockleshell Cardigan! Love it!

    Here’s my question, is it best to follow the pattern twice and join one as the right and left side of this wee cardigan? Or… my brain says, hey knit it backwards and finish with the sleeve cuff. Who has tried this? What were the results, conclusions, epiphany from switching it up?
    Thank you!

    • Jane, I haven’t seen anybody knit it in that direction but you could be the first, and we’d love a report on how it goes. So happy to hear you’re knitting your way happily through the Field Guides.

    • Jane, I did this last year for the Cockleshell and for her similarly constructed adult cardigan (the one that was in Knitty, Saltwater Bay or something). It was…inconsequential? Saved one step off the finishing, but there was a LOT of finishing so didn’t make that much of a difference (except psychologically because I felt like I was cheating and getting away with something, mwahahahaha).

  • New sock knitter here…how much of this beautiful yarn is needed for each pair of socks? I want to order field guide and yarn together.

    • Hi! I’ve knit ~20 pairs of socks, and so far I’ve never gone wrong with a 100g / 400m ball of fingering weight yarn. Although I do believe that people occasionally need more id they are knitting for unusually large feet.

    • The Spud & Chloe Fine Sock yarn is shorter yardage than most sock yarns, so you do need 2 skeins for a pair of socks. (This will be my next pair, and I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to make contrasting heels and toes.) All our other sock yarns have enough yardage for a pair of socks in the S, M, L or XL sizes in the Field Guide.

  • There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like the complete satisfaction knitting a sock brings, from beginning to end. Nothing short of a knitting miracle throughout; can’t stop, won’t stop…

  • You are catching up with Jo!

  • I need to finish the sock project I have OTN before I dive into Field Guide #11. I’m using the Afterthought Everything Sock pattern ( to knit two socks from cuff to cuff with waste yarn for the heels and toes and have to finish it before starting another sock project but those stitch patterns are sooooo tempting. Knit faster, Barbara.

  • I knit socks in 3’s. One to make mistakes, the next to improve, and the third to make the pair. Or if #1 and #2 aren’t far off, that’s the pair. Or I do a third anyway,to have a pair and a spare. If they are all different, no problem, mismatched socks are fun!.Impressed with Kay’s power-sock-knitting. ♥

    • *Ann’s* power-sock-knitting.

  • Ann, inquiring minds want to know…..toe up or cuff down?

    • Has to be cuff down since she’s kitchener-ing the toes – doesn’t it?

      • Yes. Thank you. Duh!❤️

  • OKAY – I feel like you at MDK are some kind of dealers – in all the best ways. I’ve been knitting washrags as traveling projects lately. When I went to find the patter in “Mason Dixon Kntting” book I ran into the pattern for the Bubbles curtain and am half way to finishing one for an odd window in my house – not to count the sweater I’m in the middle of and a shawl I found that was almost finished (I’m not sure why it was put aside) – so how do I add socks to the list??? I love making socks but just don’t have enough time to get everything I want to knit done!!!!

    But please – keep on enabling. I love your posts!

  • I have always found the best way to avoid SSS is to knit the second sock first.

    • Genuine LOL 🙂

    • Bahaha! 😀

  • Welcome to the SockSide! It’s really fun over here. Just think how warm your feet will be this winter!

  • I can’t improve on the sock comments, but I highly endorse your crush on Scott Foley. Isn’t he the cutest? First saw him in Felicity, then a story arc on Grey’s Anatomy, then on Scandal, which I only watched when my mother was in town. Saw the first episode of his short-lived Whiskey Cavalier, and there he was, cute as ever. Might go back and actually watch Scandal, if only to watch my “boyfriend” as a villain.

  • Question. I am trying to figure out what type of heel is used – they either aren’t visible or appear to be an afterthought heel. Those don’t fit me well – I prefer a slip stitch gusset. Wondering if patterns can be adjusted to accommodate different styles for different feet?

    • Both patterns use a short row heel. It is not my favorite heel style, so I will substitute my usual heel flap and gusset.

  • Oh boy, do I relate to this one! I have three pairs in various stages (because you have to start one while waiting for yarn to arrive, then you have to start the new yarn, and then you have to have a pair at the brainless knitting stage so you can be sociable). There are about 10 finished pairs in the drawer. The absolute kicker to all of this is that I live in South Florida and I never wear socks, let alone wool socks.

  • I’m going to try my 1st pair of toe-up socks and I’m confused by the directions for the toes. Directions say to provisionally cast on 10 sts for smallest size, work 6 rows , unravel cast on and place the 10 sts on 2 needles for instep. Clear so far. Directions then say to divide the other sts onto 2 needles for the sole…20 sts. I don’t understand how you get to a total of 20 sts at this pont.

    • I have not done a toe-up sock this way, but I believe the 20 sts refers to all stitches, both the active ones after the 6 rows (10 sts) and the ones freed from the provisional cast-on (10 sts). Basically you are folding the 6 row strip in half and the 10 from the beginning and the 10 from the end make up the 20 total.

      • Thank you! I’ll bite the bullet and give it a try.

  • Re Wanderlust: That table on p. 38 is pure genius.

  • I love making socks. The yarn you have selected go with the field guide are lovely. Sadly, my daughter and I cannot wear any wool so I always look elsewhere for my yarn. A couple years ago I made a pair of knee-highs that were self-striping. I break them out every winter. I get lured in by all the pretty colors but I don’t tend to wear a lot of color. I need to discipline myself to only buy sock yarn in solid colors.

  • Followed the advice of julie aka jrs and she was spot on. I have a toe…with no seam! Onward!

  • Can’t wait for my new field guide to get here. I love the hand knitted socks! But, I have a very practical reason for knitting socks. Here in south central Indiana we don’t get as cold of winters as you northern girls, but ALOT of .drizzly wet cold ( to us it’s cold!) Weather. This year especially so. I have a circulation problem in my feet ( reynaud’s) so warm socks are a must. Looking forward to making some!

  • A year ago I would have thought this was madness, but then I fell into the sock knitting vortex and emerged 16 pairs later. Then I had a little rest, and now I’ve got pair no 17 on the needles! Completely addictive.

  • Still looking for work pattern for flip-flops. Sorry. Sock pattern.

    • I am knitting the flip flop socks for daughter. I knit cuff down and used my usual pattern, stopped a little behind the toe and added a 7row Ribbing cuff. It stops just at the back of the toe. Works wonderful!! She wears them all the time and has asked for more. Bev

    • Check Ravelry for tabi socks. There are only a few, but you could modify any pattern to use that toe, I’d imagine. Knitty has at least one.

  • Question: Is one skein enough for a pair of socks??