Skip to content

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.

MDK receives a commission for books purchased through the link in this article.


  • Tolstoy wrote about knitting two socks at a time in “War and Peace” but I think the technique was different. (I’m pleased to know that the semester of Russian literature I took in college was good for something, apart from leaving me depressed for months.)

    • The technique was indeed very different, as, the socks were knit one inside the other by working alternate stitches. The method was described in full in a Vogue Knitting Magazine in the 80’s.

    • In her book “At Knits End”, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee describe the scene from Tolstoy’s novel of the nanny pulling one completed sock out of the other one in a bit of drama to amuse the children. Ms. Pearl-McPhee then went on to make a humorous comment, something to the effect of wouldn’t it have been something if during the knitting one stitch from each sock had been mistakenly knit together!

    • Kate Atherley teaches the “War and Peace method”, and she published her take on it as a pattern (–peace-method). Totally different vibe from Safiyyah’s one-long-tube concept (which I love), but highly recommended if you like knitting magic tricks!

      • This definitely makes it sound easy to knit socks! And a long tube surely would be good for TV knitting! I enjoyed reading the War and Peace references, though Safiyyah’s method would be much easier.

    • Yes, the old nurse would entertain the children by finishing what looked like one sock then pulling a second sock out of the first. I assume double knitting with a ball for each sock. I’ve read War and Peace at least 6-7 times, it’s one of the greatest books ever!
      This technique looks more up my alley, I can get into knitting long tubes….

    • Wow, yes. I remember now reading about it somewhere, the double-knitting to make one inside of the other. I can picture it, and I can picture it being faster for an experienced knitter than making two objects separately – same number of stitches, but probably doing it as a front and back stitches faster than doing it as one then repeating, but wow. It also brings to mind the articles about how the sock machine helped win WW1, by making enough socks to help against trench foot. The woman I learned to knit from in Germany in the 90s grew up in the east, in the mountains – commercial socks were a luxury item in her youth, she didn’t own socks that weren’t homemade until she was in her 30s. From here, it’s just wild to think about knitting as a true necessity.

    • You are right, they used to use double knitting to make two at a time. Some of the old books I inherited from my grandma and great aunties describe it. That’s actually what I thought this book would be about when I saw the photo, it looked like she was pulling the second sock up out of the first until I saw the contrast yarn. But this way actually sounds simpler, which definitely appeals to me.

  • I thought this was going to be the technique of knitting two socks at the same time, one inside the other. I’m not sure that I could knit just one long tube as I like the monotony broken up with the heels.

  • I’m totally intrigued and can’t wait to see what this entails!!! I am after years of believing I could never master sock knitting an avid sock knitter but still bungle my way through counting rows and getting heels at exactly the same place so looking forward to learning this technique.

  • Anna! The socks look wonderful and the arrow design is especially adorable.

    • Thank you! I just knitted a pair last month after not using the pattern for a few years, funny coincidence!

  • That’s brilliant!! Congratulations to Safiyyah!

  • Thanks!

    • 🙂

  • Just purchased the book! I am like a gleeful little kid. Thank you Safiyyah!!

  • I received my copy yesterday and can’t wait to try a 2 in 1 knit. Already have two sock WIPs on the needles now, not to mention a Marlogram and maybe 6 other projects (or 16). But this, shiny and new, will probably have to get a cast-on this weekend! Thank you, Safiyyah!

  • thank you for the free pattern, so clever.

  • Exciting new technique. I just asked our library, where I work, to buy it. We have an avid group in our knitting program – any many of us knit socks at varying levels of experience – so we can all have a look at this method.

  • Ok. I am intrigued. I too am a War and Peace fan. I still have the copy I read in college in the seventies.It had maps which I found fascinating.

  • You can knit a heel and a toe and bind off a sock with a CSM, and I have been looking at them for some time. After you learn the techniques, it is a very quick way to make a pair of socks. Maybe this technique will be quick as well, so it deserves a look! Sometimes you want to just enjoy the process, sometimes you want a quick result.

    • OK, I am intrigued. What’s CSM?

      • Circular sock machine. The vintage metal ones are very expensive, but the newer plastic ones that are being made now are more reasonably prices. There is a group on ravelry for CSMs and there are lots of videos on youtube on methods. It is very intriguing, indeed.

      • Circular (or Cylinder) Sock Machine?

  • Thank you for always bring us the latest and greatest knitting information. I just ordered the book and can’t Waite to get it. You’re the best.

  • I ordered a copy this weekend – I was excited to try it. It comes today! Now I am really excited!

  • OMG!!!

  • I am going to have to try this. From looking at the pic, it seems like one sock begins with the cuff so you would need to knit its toe, and the other sock is ending with a toe, so you need to remove the waste yarn and knit some ribbing for the cuff (which would disrupt self striping, but not too much).

    Seems like a logical extension of how I knit plain socks lately, two toe up tubes, and peasant heels afterwards. Note that a peasant heel is a planned heel with waste yarn (like in Saffiyah’s socks) and not a true afterthought heel. That involves (gasp!) actually delicately cutting the heel stitches, much like a steek, and picking up the stitches on either side. Genuinely an afterthought, not for the faint of heart.

    I bought some Uneek sock from MDK last year… now where is it?

  • A Canadian designer, Holli Yeoh, knits her socks this way. She includes information on the strategy in her Tip Toe Up socks pattern- knitting in the dark is what she calls it as she takes her tube of knitting along for movies, concerts etc. It’s interesting- but I like doing the cuff, heels and toes as I go. Good that there’s so many different ways of knitting socks- there’s something to suit everyone.

  • Howe about adapting this to make the bulk of two sleeves?.

    • Now that is really a great idea!

  • Just ordered this book. I have yarn for pairs and was thinking about which way to knit them (up or down). This book may end my quandry. Great idea and great website.

  • This sounds brilliant and fun!! This book is definitely on my must have lists as a need lol. I have knitted with one of those sock machines and have to say I honestly didn’t respect it as much as I do now!! Teenagers …
    Thanks for sharing and can’t wait to dive into this book!!!

  • Real tube socks!❤️

  • This is genius! Can’t wait to give it a try.

  • I have enjoyed learning things about knitting which I hope to use before long.

  • I ordered my copy! I am a sufferer of second sock syndrome. And yet, I keep buying sock yarn. Hope to get cracking on some sweet sets of sox!

    • I bought a copy back in March and left it when we moved back north for the summer. Now I NEED to make a pair of socks for a gift and all I can find is my old, original “Two at a Time Socks” book. Still a very good method, but I really wanted to do the tube method! Ordered another copy!

  • I suppose it is sort of like the Afterthought Heel and Toe (as described by Elizabeth Zimmermann), only instead of making two separate socks one just continues with the first one after a row or so of waste yarn. Is that right?

  • A long tube=genius!

  • Wow, this might even get me to knit socks again!

  • Where would we buy a book or books?

  • I was able too review this book about a month ago, before it came out. She totally revolutionizes sock knitting. Her directions and pictures make it very clear to follow. A must have if you want to knit socks. No more hard to understand directions. Knit one long tube with lifelines placed at heels, etc. She gives patterns for every type of sock you would want. Will be a game changer for knitters.

Come Shop With Us

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping