The final part of the How to Knit Your Sock series looks at knitting the foot, shaping the toe, grafting the toe, finishing and blocking your new socks.
This series on knitting a sock in four step by step articles is aimed at someone who is knitting their first sock.
- Part 1: you covered the anatomy of a sock, knitting the cuff and the leg section.
- Part 2: you learn how to knit a strengthened heel flap which gives comfort and helps lengthen the lifespan of your hand knit sock and finally, turn your sock heel.
- Part 3: shows how to set up for the gusset and gusset shaping.
You are now ready to continue your sock by knitting the foot.
- k knit
- p purl
- ssk slip 2 stitches knitwise, one at a time, to right needle, then insert left needle from left to right into front loops and knit 2 stitches together – 1 stitch decreased
- k2tog knit 2 stitches together – 1 stitch decreased
- st stitch
- st st stocking stitch/stockinette stitch
When you finish knitting the gusset there are 15 stitches on each needle.
Many patterned socks continue the pattern on the top of the foot. However, for comfort, the sole is normally knit in stocking stitch. For this plain sock all rounds are knit apart from the slip stitch heel and ribbed cuff.
- For UK size 5/6 or European size 38/39
- Work 42 rounds.
- You want to finish knitting the foot approximately 3.75 cm/1 1/2″ from the tip of your toe.
- If the sock is being knit using pure wool, I err on having the sock a little longer rather too neat, to allow for an element of shrinkage during washing. A slightly felted wool sock, is a very warm sock on a cold day, so long as it is still the right size for you.
This can be adjusted to suit your own foot size. I normally try on my sock at this stage. Sometimes, if the sock yarn I am using is finer like Zauberball, I may add an extra couple of rounds. The Zappos Shoe Size Conversion Chart for US, UK and European sizes may be useful.
100% wool socks tend to wear into holes much quicker than socks that have been knit using sock yarn which normally has nylon added for strength often in a ratio of 75% wool to 25% nylon. I often use a smaller sized set of double pointed needles to help give the toe area a little more strength. As this step by step series has been written with the beginner knitting their first sock in mind, I have assumed you only have one set of double pointed needles for knitting your sock, so the whole sock is knit using the same size set of double pointed needles.
I am going to give two choices for knitting the toe. Both are based on the paired decrease, but one toe is more ’rounded’ and the other a bit more ‘pointy’. The socks that I have photographed while writing this series of posts have the ’rounded’ version of the toe. However, for both toe options, the decrease round is the same.
The Decrease Round
The round always starts and ends at the centre point of the sock’s sole.
- The decrease round – Round 1: For Needle 2 and Needle 4: k1, ssk, knit to the end of the needle.
The decrease round is used to create the shaping in the toe for a comfortable neat fit.
Toe Option One – ‘Round’ Paired Decrease Toe
- Round 1: work decrease round
- Rounds 2, 3 & 4: knit
- Repeat rounds 1-4 two more times.
Toe Option Two – Paired Decrease Toe
- Round 1: work decrease round
- Rounds 2, 3 & 4: knit
- Round 5: work decrease round
- Round 6 & 7: knit
- Repeat rounds 5-7 once more
- Round 11: work decrease round
- Round 12: knit
- Repeat rounds 11 & 12 two more times.
The decreasing for this toe is worked over a more gradual 16 rounds to this stage.
- Work the decrease round for all remaining rounds for both toe option 1 or 2.
- Until there are two stitches remaining on each needle.
- Slip the stitches from needle 2 onto needle 1
- Slip the stitches from needle 4 onto needle 3
- You are ready to Start Grafting the Toe
Now please take a moment and try on your sock. It is easier to unknit a few rounds at this stage if your sock feels a bit too tight around your toes than it is once you have grafted the toe and sewn in the ends. You will find as you knit more socks that you will know how many rounds to knit for the foot and which toe shaping you find most comfortable.
Grafting the Toe
Grafting or Kitchener Stitch is an excellent way of finishing the toe in a smooth neat way. But if you prefer, you can miss out the grafting stage and gather the remaining 8 stitches, pull them tight, and sew in the end firmly.
Set Up for Grafting
To graft you need to do a set up stage first.
- Insert the threaded tapestry needle into the first knit stitch on the front double pointed needle (the dpn nearest to you) as if to purl, then pull it through and leave the stitch on the dpn.
- Then, insert the tapestry needle into the first knitted stitch on the back dpn as if to knit, and pull the tapestry needle through leaving the stitch on the needle.
Grafting Stage 1 – Front Needle
- Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the front dpn as if to knit and slip the stitch off the dpn
- I normally pull the yarn through this stitch fully.
- Then, insert the tapestry needle into the next stitch on the front dpn as if to purl, and pull it through and leave this stitch on the double pointed needle.
Grafting Stage 2 – Back Needle
- Insert the tapestry needle into the first knit stitch on the back double pointed needle as if to purl, and slip this stitch off the dpn.
- Then, insert the tapestry needle into the next stitch on the back double pointed needle as if to knit, and pull the needle through leaving the stitch on the dpn.
- Continue repeating grafting stage 1 and then stage 2 until you have grafted all the stitches together. It is easy to use your tapestry needle to adjust the tension of the grafted stitches if they are slightly loose or tight.
Finishing At the Toe
In most patterns, they end with sentences such as ‘sew in any loose ends’. As this is a step by step series on knitting your first sock, I am covering every stage in detail and I’m not making any assumptions as to how advanced the knitter is who is knitting their first sock. When I was first knitting socks, I used to google surprisingly simple questions, and I now take the answers that I found out for granted.
- Take the needle through to the inside of the sock. Take care not to prick your finger or to take the needle through both sides of the sock.
- Turn the sock inside out.
- It is important to be careful you don’t sew both sides of the sock together when you are sewing in the loose end. I have done this more than once! Check for this before you cut off your yarn at the end.
- Start by slipping the needle through several of the ‘reverse stocking stitch bumps’ at the shaped edge.
- and ‘down’ with the flow of the bumps.
- Take care not to pull the yarn too tight which causes the stitches on the right side to look distorted.
- Finally, slip the needle through several of the bumps along the other shaped edge, pull the needle through.
- Cut the end leaving about 2 cm which prevents the end from migrating through to the right side.
Finishing at the Cuff
- Create a little slip knot at the cast on edge of the cuff where the first round started and ended.
- This prevents the edge from stretching out of shape at this point.
- Then carefully ‘follow’ the nearest rib (on the wrong side), taking the needle behind the v-shape from one side to the other
- After about an 2 cm, cut the yarn, leaving an end of about 2 cm in length.
Blocking Your Socks
- To block your socks you need to have sock blockers. There are many different types available.
- Use shampoo, woolite or some other detergent for washing hand knit items to wash your socks. Put them into a bowl of sudsy luke warm water and gently swirl them around in the water with your hand. Then leave them for a few minutes to soak.
- Rinse with luke warm water taking care not to overly agitate the socks especially if they are knit using wool.
- Take the socks out of the water and lay flat inside a folded towel. Press the water out of the sock. The folded towel absorbs the excess water.
- Place each of the socks on to a sock blocker and allow to dry naturally.
To be honest, I only block hand knit socks if they are a gift for someone. I wear hand knit socks every day and don’t have the time to block every sock I wear after every wash.
I normally, look forward to wearing my new pair of socks the next day and don’t want to wait for them to wash and dry slowly.
The main reason I prefer to knit my socks using sock yarn is that they can be machine washed very successfully. If you use pure wool you will need to hand wash the socks gently or they will shrink. I knit most of my socks using sock yarn because I have lost some pairs of wool socks to shrinkage mainly because once they are in general usage, I forget which socks are made from pure wool.
Congratulations, you have finished knitting your first sock. Enjoy knitting the second. Don’t forget to knit a second sock so that you have a pair to wear. It is very easy to fall into the grip of Sock-one-itis… The joy of seeing how the sock yarn or pattern looks and then moving onto a different sock project before you knit the second sock.
Leave a comment if you have any questions about part 4 of this series. I have used Opal sock yarn in the lovely Fairies and Elves colour 5523 to knit this pair of socks. Other great choices of yarn for knitting your next pair of socks would be Lang Jawoll Magic Stripes, KS Merino Silk 4ply and Crazy Zauberball. It is so much fun knitting your own socks and they are so comfortable to wear.
How to Knit Your Sock Links
- How to Knit Your Sock – Part 1
- How to Knit Your Sock – Part 2
- How to Knit Your Sock – Part 3
- Zappos Shoe Size Conversion Chart for US, UK and European sizes
- Shoe Size Charts for Knitting Socks – US sizes – My Jewel Thief Knits
- Grafting – Kitchener Stitch
- Knit 2 Socks at the Same Time
- Why Use Sock Yarn?