There’s nothing more frustrating for a crafter than owning a pair of knitting needles and having no clue how to use them. The last time I touched my needles, I was a teenager who thought it would be fun to learn how to knit so I could make my grandfather a scarf for Christmas. After an hour of struggling to cast on, I asked my mother to show me how, but its pretty tough for a left-hander to duplicate the handiwork of a right-hander. Trying to reverse the entire process gave me a massive headache, so I had her cast on for me before showing me how to make the stitches. I managed to learn a basic knit stitch, but the finished “scarf” looked more like a poncho. To this day, I’m pretty sure whatever I was doing was not knitting. My knitting needles trickled to the bottom of a drawer and haven’t moved in years.
Even though my first attempt at knitting was a failure, I never lost the desire to learn how to turn a skein of yarn into something cool. All I needed was a miracle to solve the southpaw conundrum and address my issues with hand-eye coordination (the calling card of a true klutz). Who knew that miracle would show up during a Fourth of July shopping trip? In the knitting aisle of a Hobby Lobby, I stumbled upon the Authentic Knitting Board Sock Loom. Technically it only makes socks, but what a great way to start my knitting journey!
The KB Sock Loom comes with a fantastic DVD that offers easy-to-follow instructions for every step of the process from casting on, making a cuff, and creating the heel and toe. Every step is broken down and repeated multiple times, which makes it easy to follow along in real time. Before I knew it I had completed my first pair of socks! My left-handed self will never again worry about trying to reverse the process or struggle with getting two needles to work together.
I’d heard knitting was addictive, but I never believed it until I made that first pair of socks. Now, I can’t stop! I’ve already made five more pairs and there’s another on the way. Thin, thick, bright, neutral, striped, smooth, and ribbed – my new handmade socks are quickly replacing my boring white crew socks.
The first four pairs of socks I made were a basic rolled cuff design. This simple flat stitch sock was a great way to learn and get comfortable with the overall process of top-to-toe knitting.
Surprisingly, no pattern is necessary beyond deciding how long to make the leg and foot. There is a mathematical formula to calculate foot length, but I just used one of my old socks as a model. After I figured out my size, I recorded the number of the rows I stitched for both the leg and foot so I could replicate the results on future socks.
Once I got the hang of making a basic sock, I decided to be brave and attempt a ribbed cuff. It turned out to be so easy, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been doing it all along!
For this pair of socks, I experimented further by using a thicker gauge yarn. The socks looked a lot bigger than the others, but they ended being a perfect fit. All I had to do was make a few adjustments by reducing the number of rows to knit for the leg and foot. I can’t wait for winter to show up so I can wear these really bright and fun socks!
The success of making a ribbed cuff gave me enough confidence to attempt a ribbed pattern that runs the entire length of the sock. I got this layout from a great pattern book by Leisure Arts, (see links below) and I’m still shocked at how easy it was to complete!
My knitting addiction is only getting worse as I just ordered a new pattern book full of beautiful sock patterns. Not to mention a new knitting board that does everything from scarves and tote bags to hats. Within a month, I went from being a knitting outcast to a woman with a yarn basket that looks like this:
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My sock knitting adventure started with these tools of the trade:
Authentic Knitting Board Sock Loom
I’ve seen this brand of knitting board at all major craft store chains for around $25.00. However, I’ve noticed they’re a little more expensive online. Well worth the price, in my opinion, as they are very well-made with a hardwood frame and metal pegs.
Row counters in the knitting aisle are typically made of cheap plastic. My grandmother taught me a long time ago that a metal sports rep or tally counter is easier to use and very sturdy. I found mine at a Sports Authority, but they are readily available on amazon.com. A counter is essential for keeping track of row and stitch counts.
Sock Loom Basics (by Leisure Arts)
Loom Knitting Socks by Isela Phelps
Knitting Board Basics by Pat Novak
All three of the above books offer amazing patterns and additional how-to instructions. They are worth every penny!
A few things I’ve learned:
- Keep a knitting journal to record your personal sock pattern, (i.e. row and peg counts), or things you figure out along the way.
- Dropped stitches are easy to fix as long as you don’t panic!
- Yarn tension will make or break a sock. Pulling the work yarn too tight will make it impossible to pull loops over the pegs. However, allowing the yarn to hang too loose will create holes and a general mess. Loops should be snug around the peg, but not tight!
- To keep track of knit and purl stitch patterns, (as for a ribbed cuff) put masking tape around the edge of the knitting board as a means to mark the pegs.
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