How to knit wool socks for beginners

Written by sasha rousseau
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How to knit wool socks for beginners
The thinner your needle, the tighter and smaller the stitches and the more fitted the sock will be. (Knitting image by Maria Vtyurina from

Homemade wool socks have a chunky, cosy feel that's hard to get from store-bought pairs; as is the feeling of satisfaction you'll get wearing them. Knitting socks does require knowledge of all basic knitting skills--casting on, slipping stitches, knitting, purling, binding off, and working in the round. Though it's a project suited to knitters who haven't advanced pattern-following such as cabling or colour changes, true novices would be better off tackling a project that doesn't require as much shaping and working in the round as knitting socks.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Yarn needle
  • 2 skeins wool yarn
  • Measuring tape
  • 2 pairs straight, size 6 or 7 knitting needles (depending on gauge)

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  1. 1

    Tie a loose slipknot. Slip one needle into the slipknot's big loop. Tighten it so that you can easily move it up and down the needle, but it's not so loose that it'll move by itself.

  2. 2

    Cast 40 loose stitches onto the same needle, using the yarn coming from the skein (not using the stitch's tail). Slip 26 stitches purl-wise (with the new needle in front of the old one) onto another needle. Slip 12 of those stitches onto a third needle. Form the needles into a 14-12-14 stitch triangle.

  3. 3

    Knit two, purl two in a round, using the last needle as your working needle. Knit this ribbing pattern for 8 inches.

  4. 4

    Finish the row on one needle and slip the next needle's stitches onto it (purl-wise again) so that the needle you just finished the row on now has 20 stitches. Divide the remaining 20 stitches--always slipping them on purl-wise--between the other needles, so that the needles are in a 10-20-10 stitch triangle.

  5. 5

    Work slip one, knit one on the right side of the 20-stitch needle. Put a small piece of yarn through the slipped stitches so you can pick them up later. Work slip one, purl across on the wrong side of the 20-stitch needle. Work only on the 20-stitch needle, in this pattern, for 19 rows. Stop on a right side row, when you have 10 elongated slipped stitches.

  6. 6

    Purl 12 stitches from the 20-stitch needle onto your working needle (the empty needle). Combine two purl stitches--purl just as you would one stitch, but you'll purl two at the same time, which will then look like one stitch. Purl one. Turn your work. Slip the first just-purled stitch, knit five, combine the next two in a knit stitch, knit one. Turn your work. Slip one, purl until only three stitches from the last row are still on their needle. Combine two stitches in a purl stitch. Purl one and turn your work. Slip one, knit until only three stitches are left on the old needle, combine two stitches in a knit stitch, knit one, and turn your work. Repeat these last two rows until the last stitches on both sides are purled or knit together. Stop when you have 12 stitches left on what was originally the 20-stitch needle.

  7. 7

    Slip all of the stitches on one of the 10-stitch needles onto the other, so one needle is empty and the other has 20 stitches. Knit one row across that 20-stitch needle. Find the slipped stitch closest to the needle on the right. Slide it over your working needle so both sides of its loop are on top of the working needle. Wrap your yarn around the working needle and thread it through the slipped stitch's loop so it becomes a new stitch on your working needle. Repeat until you've picked up and knitted 10 of the slipped stitches onto your "working" needle. Repeat this process with a third needle until it also has 10 knitted previously slipped stitches on it. Knit six of the 12-stitch needle's stitches onto the needle on the right, and slip the other six onto the needle on the left. Count your stitches; you should have a 16-20-16 stitch triangle, and a free needle that formerly held 12 stitches.

  8. 8

    Knit in a row. Knit all on the first row, and on the second knit until you get to the last three stitches of the row. Combine the first two of those stitches into one knit stitch, then knit one. On the next row, combine two stitches in a knit stitch. Repeat this pattern until your needles are in a 10-20-10 stitch triangle. Knit all stitches in a round until the sock is 2 inches shorter than the final length you want.

  9. 9

    Knit the next row until you get to the last three stitches; combine the first two in a knit stitch, then knit one. On the next needle, knit one, combine the next two in a knit stitch, and knit one. On the third needle, knit one, combine two, and knit the rest. In the next row, knit all around. Continue this pattern for 2 inches.

  10. 10

    Bind off all the stitches so they form a hem. Sew the hems together--so the end of the toe is sewn together--using the yarn needle and yarn.

  11. 11

    Repeat for the second sock.

Tips and warnings

  • Knitting in a round is just the same as knitting using two needles, except that the join stitches might feel a little awkward, and you'll have to remember to keep the at the same tension as the other stitches.

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