Have you ever seen one of those steel sock knitting machines in use?
These heavyweight contraptions, with their vaguely steampunk air, are fascinating. Operated with a hand crank, the machine circularly knits a long tube of stitches, which the operator of the machine marks here and there with stitches in contrasting yarn. The tube is then released from the machine, and the knitter adds heels and toes to the tube by hand. Presto: it’s a pair of socks, made in the most intuitive and entertaining way.
As an occasional handknitter of socks, I eye those machine-knit tubes wistfully. It seems like such a fun adventure, to crank the tube and then insert the fiddly bits of sock knitting—heels and toes, mainly—at the end, in one go. No second sock syndrome, no need to remember how many rounds to work before the turn or the cuff or the toe—those spots are all marked out on the tube.
It never occurred to me that you could knit socks this way without a machine. That you could just knit a nice, restful tube of stitches, in your desired gauge and yarn and stitch pattern, and then turn that tube into a pair of socks, with a few astute finishing touches.
In a stroke of good fortune for knitters, it did occur to Safiyyah Talley, and the method is the subject of her brilliant new book, Knit 2 Socks in 1: Discover the Easy Magic of Turning One Long Sock into a Pair!
When a digital review copy of Knit 2 Socks in 1 showed up in my inbox, like a lovely Easter egg, I opened it with a breath of trepidation: I’m a latecomer to the joys of sock knitting, and I wasn’t sure I was strong to learn a new technique. I was worried I might see words like “fish lips kiss heel,” or “math.”
I needn’t have worried at all: Safiyyah’s method instantly captured my imagination. WHOA, this is fun!
The book is excellent. Taking us through the mind-blowing concept, which is explained with utter clarity and economy, Safiyyah explores how we might knit all kinds of different socks in this way, from baby booties to shortie sneaker socks to heavyweight socks for boots and bed.
The tube of stitches can be any gauge, and can incorporate the simplest or the fanciest stitchwork. The book gives excellent expert guidance on size and gauge questions (yes there’s a little math), including a handy worksheet to help the knitter plot and plan.
And there are also seven detailed, step-by-step patterns, each of which has three variations. That adds up to many wonderful pairs of socks. Each pattern teaches a different stitch pattern and sock style. Are you hankering for frilled cuffs? A lace panel? Yoga feet? There’s a pattern for that, and much more.
The Blurbs Don’t Lie
The book has a beautiful foreword by Jeanette Sloan, and back-cover praise from Clara Parkes. And two hard-knitting gals from Modern Daily Knitting have this to say: “Sheer delight for sock knitters at any level . . . it’s a blast of excitement to envision knitting 2 socks in 1 in Talley’s inventive, elegant way.”
We mean every word of it, and I can’t wait to knit my next pair of socks the 2-in-1 way.