How to knit socks for beginners the easy way

A step by step tutorial on knitting socks for beginners the traditional way on double-pointed needles and an easy striped pattern that fits everyone

So you are looking for a tutorial on how to knit socks? You want a simple top town pattern suitable for beginners you can finish fast and without years of experience? Well, then you came to the right place!

I’ve been knitting socks for as long as I can remember. If you look around my blog you will find quite a lot of (free) sock patterns (like my Bavarian Socks, my basic ribbed socks or socks with a lovely cable detail) you might want to save for later. Even as a child I always only wanted to wear hand-knitted socks – much to the joy (and sometimes dismay) of my grandmother.

the knitted socks modeled on feet to show how the pattern knits up
These are the socks we are going to knit together

Now, there are many ways to knit socks. Toe-up, two at a time, even flat using two needles, and then of course using magic loop. This tutorial shows you how to knit a pair of socks the traditional way. Why? Because this is a time-proven method that will fit anyone – no matter their shoe size or gender.

handknit socks following an easy knitting pattern for beginners on a wooden board with flowers in the background

Later on, and once you are familiar with the process, I certainly urge you to experiment a bit and find techniques that suit your style of knitting and your body even better. But for now, I think it’s best to start with a super simple sock pattern suitable for advanced beginners. And really don’t be scared of the double-pointed knitting needles. All it takes is a bit of practice and some tips and you’ll never look back!

My design is with stripes but you can also knit it in just one color. I recently knit some plastic-free naturally dyed socks following the exact same pattern.

So, let’s dive right into it! And don’t forget to download these instructions in case you want them as a pdf.

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1. Materials you need to knit a sock

the materials you need to knit socks all on a wooden board

Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.

Most sock patterns use very thin yarn and equally thin needles. If you want to wear your sock every day (and not just in winter), then you really have no other choice to produce a light and breathable fabric that doesn’t turn your shoes into a sauna. Still, this sock recipe will work out with DK weight yarn as well (and 3.00 mm needles) just as fine.

You’ll need:

Kindly note that I will be knitting these socks using three different colors. I am doing this so I can show you how to knit the popular stripes. If you like the way that looks then you need one 100 grams skein and two 50 grams skeins of the same yarn base (don’t mix brands!!!). But you can also knit with just one color and it will actually be easier.

Tip: I used the scraps from this project to knit my cable knit socks.

2. How many stitches to cast on for socks

The first thing you need to do is figuring out how many stitches you need to cast on. And THE ONLY WAY to find your answer is knitting a swatch, and then do some easy calculations. While there are sock charts (or patterns), you will have to knit a swatch to verify your gauge (and knit again if you were off). So, I think it’s much easier & reliable to do it yourself.

I have a very detailed tutorial showing you how to figure out the cast on requirements for socks but here’s the brief version:

Step 1: Cast on 30 stitches and knit 30 rows in plain stockinette stitch using the same yarn and needles you want to knit your socks with. Then bind off.

knitting the swatch to figure out your gauge and thereby the size for the socks

Step 2: Wash and block your finished swatch (important!)

blocking the finished swatch for your socks after it has been washed

Step 3: Count how many stitches you need to cover 5 cm / 2 in.

measuring the gauge of the swatch for your socks with a measuring tape

Step 4: Measure your feet at their widest point (typically around the ankle/heel).

Step 5: Do some easy math:

  • Divide the number of stitches you counted by the width you measured.
  • Multiply the resulting factor times the circumference of your foot.
  • Subtract ~15% to account for the negative ease of the st st.
  • Round to the nearest number divisible by 4.

And that’s how many stitches you need to cast on.

Note: This is a simplified version. Normally, you would have to knit a proper swatch in the round, figure out the ease of your swatch, etc. As this is quite difficult to get right, I feel it’s much easier to verify your results by trying on your socks in the making after round 30. As a beginner, that’s still faster than trying to knit the perfect swatch.

3. Knitting the cuff

the cast on stitch for the socks distributed to 4 knitting needles

Once you figured out how many stitches you need to cast on, pick up your double-pointed knitting needles and you can start knitting the cuff. Check out this tutorial, If you don’t know how to knit in the round on double-pointed knitting needles yet. And here’s a post with 10 tips for neater results with dpns.

  1. Cast on as many stitches as you need plus one using two needles to create a really stretchy edge using a standard long tail cast on. Then distribute these stitches to four needles.
    For reference: I am casting on 68 stitches for a men’s size 8.5 (U.S.)
  2. Join in the round by slipping the first stitch on the first needle to the last needle. Then pass the (now) second stitch on the last needle over the first (a bit like a bind-off). Slip the remaining stitch back to your first needle (and tug on the tails). (check out this tutorial on how I join knitting in the round for more details)
  3. Knit across in a 2×2 rib for around 5 cm/2 in. The repeat is: *k2, p2* across all rows and stitches.
    For reference: I am knitting 24 rows of ribbing.

Depending on your shoe size, you may want to knit a shorter or longer cuff.

Note: The first 1-4 rounds on double-pointed needles will always feel extremely precarious. That’s normal (even for me), and I urge you to persevere. Once you covered a centimeter or so, things will stabilize tremendously!

4. Knit the leg

starting to knit the leg of the sock with stripes

Once you are satisfied with your cuff, you can move onwards to the leg. While you can pick any other knitting stitch pattern as well, stockinette stitch is a very simple and effective stitch for the leg.

You may want to switch colors here but either way, the instructions for the leg remain the same:

  • Knit across all rows and stitches

IMPORTANT: After 30 rows or so, you should try on your sock in the making. You can either slip all stitches to a spare circular needle or thread a bit of scrap yarn on a tapestry needle and pull it through all stitches (to create a makeshift stitch holder).

That way, you can check if your cuff fits the way it should, and whether you can get it past your heel or not. If things don’t fit (it feels tight or slips down by itself), try to figure out how much more (or less) fabric you would need, unravel and adjust your cast-on accordingly.

Don’t try on your socks after only 10 rows. Ribbing behaves quite differently before you covered a significant stretch. From here, I urge you to frequently try on your socks after each major step to verify the fit.

4.1 How long should you knit the leg?

knitting the leg of the sock and measuring tape showing you where to measure for the length

Remember the measurements of your feet at their widest point? You need that number again. So, pick up your measuring tape, put it around your calf, and go up to the point where you have the exact same circumference. And then, measure the distance towards the ankle knuckle.

Now, obviously, you already covered 5 cm for the cuff (or however many rows you knit). So, you have to subtract that number.

In my case, I measured 20 cm which means I have to knit 15 cm in stockinette stitch.

Note: If you have very strong calves (or a very narrow ankle) your socks might end up rather short. To combat that, you would have to cast on more stitches and then decrease to the original calculation as you go down.

4.2 How to add stripes

Stripes can be a very fun way to make your sock appear less plain without adding a lot of knitting complexity. Basically, you only have to join in a new yarn every couple of rows. There are, however, some rules you need to observe:

  • If your stripes are only 4 rows or less, then you can carry the yarn on the backside.
  • If your stripes are above 5 but below 10, then you can carry the yarn on the backside but you need to create floats on the backside every 2 or 3 rows by crossing the yarn (like in Fair Isle; or watch the video in this post).
  • If your stripes are more than 10 rows, I recommend cutting off the yarn after you finished each stripe. You will end up with a lot of tails to weave in but it’s the neatest and most secure option.

Knitting stripes can be quite visible if you do it wrong. So, definitely read my guide on knitting jogless stripes in the round.

One important note: Don’t place the “jog”/where you change yarn at the beginning or end of a needle. That runs the risk of creating a ladder. Instead, always do it somewhere in the middle of your needle. Use a stitch marker to mark the new beginning of your round.

5. How to knit a sock heel

Once you are satisfied with your leg, it’s time to move forward and knit the heel. A classic sock heel consists of three parts: The heel flap, the heel itself, and the gusset.

While there are other methods to knit a heel (like the really simple German short-row heel, etc), the classic heel-flap & gusset technique allows you to adjust the fit according to your size & preferences. Some people have very high (or flat) insteps, and this is by far the easiest way to make socks fit – even if it requires you to pick up stitches.

Let’s show you how to knit a sock heel the traditional way, eh?

5.1 Heel Flap

knitting socks with double-pointed needles and various tools in the background

I always recommend knitting a reinforced heel with slipped stitches. Typically the heel is a region that sees the most wear & tear, and this helps to prevent holes. You can also knit the heel holding a second yarn (like a thin nylon thread) together for even more durability.

Either way, no matter how many stitches you cast on, you always knit the heel flap across half the number of stitches rounded down to the next number divisible by 4 (in my case, 32 stitches). You’ll knit it flat. Typically across the first, and second needle, and then you turn around. Here’s the repeat:

  • RS: *SL1p wyif, k1*
  • WS: *SL1p wyif, p1*

Note: If you are knitting stripes, simply join in the new color at the start of the heel flap (but keep the other yarns attached). For a neater transition, you may consider knitting the first row. Also, consider knitting the heel for the second sock across the 3rd and 4th needle. That way, you can hide the “jog” on the inside of your calves where it’s less visible.

How high should the heel flap be?

a picture showing you how to figure out the length you need to knit the heel flap with a measuring tape

The ideal heel flap is as long as the distance from your ankle knuckle to your sole. In my case, that’s around 5.5 centimeters. So, take up your measuring tape again, and check how long you need to knit.

5.2 Turning the heel

turning the heel of the sock with short rows

After you finished the heel-flap, you need to turn the heel. This is done using a very simple short-row technique. Here are the instructions:

  • Preparation: Knit to the exact center of your heel (in my case 16 stitches) continuing the slipped stitch pattern (*Sl1, k1*)
  • Row 1: K1, SSK, k1 <turn around; don’t finish the row>
  • Row 2: SL1p wyif, p3, p2tog, p1 <turn around>

From here, continue like this until you’ve used up all stitches:

  • RS: SL1p wyib, knit up until 1 stitch before the gap, SSK, k1 <turn around>
  • WS: SL1p wyif, purl up until 1 stitch before the gap, p2tog, p1 <turn around>

5.3 PIcking up stitches for the gusset

The gusset is probably the only truly difficult part of knitting a sock. That’s because you have to pick up stitches, and a lot of beginners shy away from that (it sounds so complicated, right?). The process is pretty straightforward, though. Let’s show you how to knit a gusset:

Note: The instructions are slightly different if you are knitting with only one color (see below); basically you have to follow the steps in a different order.

Step 1: Cut the yarn for the heel, pick up the color you knit your last stripe with, place a stitch marker, and pick up one stitch from the gap between the heel flap & your (old) 4th needle with a crochet hook. This will prevent a hole from forming here at the top of your gusset.

The stitch marker marks your new begining of your round.

picking up one stitch from the gap to prevent holes around the gusset of your sock

Step 2: And then, pick up one stitch from every edge stitch. Try to tighten up the stitches ever so often.

picking up a stitch with a crochet hook from the heel flap

Step 3: Knit across the heel (I always join in a new needle in the middle).

Step 4: Pick up stitches from the other side of the heel flap. One stitch through every (slipped) stitch of the edge.

Step 5: Pick up one more stitch from the gap, and place a stitch marker. Check if you picked up an equal number of stitches on both side, and that you didn’t accidentally skip a stitch.

Step 6: Knit across the remaining stitches on your (old) 3rd and 4th needle, and join in the round again.

all stitches were picked up from the gusset and distributed evenly

If you are only knitting in one color, then simply follow these steps in a different order. Start at step 3 (so, simply knit across the heel one more time), and after step 6, finish with step 1, and 3.

5.4 Knitting the gusset

the finished gusset of the sock

Once you picked up all stitches, you can start knitting the gusset. Basically, it boils down to decreasing back to your original number of stitches.

  • Round 1: SSK, knit across until 2 stitches before the second stitch marker, k2tog, slip the marker, and finish knitting the round.
  • Round 2: knit

Repeat these two rounds until you are back to your original number of stitches.

If you are knitting in one color, your round starts at the top of the heel. In this case, you have to knit up to 2 stitches before your first marker, k2tog, knit to the next marker, slip it, ssk, and finish the round.

Note: Avoid knitting an SSK or K2tog as the last or first stitch on a new needle. This will create holes/ladders. Shuffle stitches around instead.

Adjusting the fit: Once you finished knitting the gusset of your socks, I recommend trying them on one more time. Some people have very flat feet. If you notice the fabric is still a bit too loose across your instep, you may consider decreasing for 1 or even 3 more rounds until it fits (if it’s too tight, simply unravel a round or two).

6. Knitting the leg

working on the foot of a sock

Right after the gusset, you can simply continue knitting in stockinette stitch. If you added stripes, then continue your pattern. You don’t need to do any decrease, etc.

How long should you knit the foot of your sock?

trying on the work in progress to check if the foot of the socks reaches up to the pinky toe

This depends on your size. The shoe size will tell you exactly how long your total foot should be. However, you need to subtract the length of the gusset & heel (should be easy), and the toebox. And the latter is the problem as you haven’t knitted it yet.

Now, I could tell you that my leg (starting from the gusset) is 11 cm long, and the toebox 5 cm. But depending on your size & yarn these measurements WILL be different. One method, that almost always works is to stop knitting the leg once you reach the middle of your pinky toe.

Note: If you have rather long toes, then start once you reach the tip of your pinky toe. Here’s my full tutorial on when to start decreasing the toes.

7. Knitting the toes

knitting the toes of a sock - halfway through with only 16 stitches remaining

The start of the toe box marks the last stretch before you cross the finishing line. So, take a deep breath, from here, each round is going to get shorter and shorter. Here’s how to knit the toes of a sock:

  • Preparation: Make sure you have an equal number of stitches on the top two and the bottom two needles. The gaps should align with the decrease lines from your gusset.

    Place your sock in front of yourself the way you would wear them, and so the toes are pointing away from you. There are two needles on top, and two at the bottom. And you have to decrease always one stitch before and one stitch after the gap between the bottom and the top. There are NO decreases in the middle.
    I always start the toebox on the left bottom needle. You may consider placing a stitch marker here.
  • Round 1-3: Change color (optional) knit
  • Round 4: K1, SSK, knit across until 3 stitches before the end of your second needle, k2tog, k2, SSK, knit across until 3 stitches before the end of your fourth needle, k2tog, k1.
  • Round 5: knit
  • Continue repeating rounds 4+5 until you halved your number of stitches.
  • And then decrease in every round until you halved your number of stitches one more time.

8. Kitchener stitch & weaving in the tails

finishing the socks with the kitchener stitch grafting method

Once you only have 16 or 20 stitches left, it’s time to finish your socks with a kitchener stitch. So, cut the working yarn leaving a tail of 10 inches or so, and follow the instructions (click on the link).

Theoretically speaking, you could also decrease until you have only 8 stitches left, and pull the yarn through these last stitches. This will, however, create a very pointy toe that doesn’t have the ideal fit. So, I don’t really recommend it.

And then you have to weave in the tails. Before you do that, I have to mention two things. First of all, I want to congratulate on finishing your first sock! You can be super proud on yourself!

And then, you should instantly try them on. I mean, you were probably going to do that anyway, but I think it’s important. If you notice that your toebox is too big or needs to be a bit roomier, you would have to unravel and adjust accordingly (by starting the toes earlier or later).

weaving in the tails of the kitchener stitch graft at the toes with a tapestry needle

Once you are satisfied, you only have to weave in your tails. I always do it with a sharp tapestry needle. Read my full tutorial on how to weave in ends here.

8. Blocking (optional)

the socks before and after blocking to see the difference and how much more even (the top) sock gets
The sock before (below) and after (above) blocking

Okay, I lied, there is one more thing we need to talk about: To block or not to block? Blocking refers to the process of gently washing your finished project in lukewarm water, pinning it to a soft surface (without overstretching), and letting it dry. This will block the shape and neaten up your stitches (here’s a full tutorial on how to block knitting).

So, do you need to block socks? If you look around Etsy, you will find tons of sock blocking boards. And they are really great for shooting pictures of your finished socks. But other than that, I really have to say it’s not mandatory (like when you are knitting lace).

You will wash your socks frequently anyway, and your feet are warm and always a bit damp anyway. So, the appearance of your socks will change over time no matter what. But, if it’s a gift or you want to shoot a nice picture, blocking can be an option.

Also, some yarns contain spinning oils, etc, so I personally think that washing your socks once before them the first time it can be a smart thing anyway.

Last thoughts on knitting socks

a easy stripped sock knitting pattern for beginners

So, let’s wrap things up. I hope you figured out yourself that you need to follow the exact same instructions for your second sock. Other than maybe moving around the heel to hide the jog, there is no difference. Start right away, else you will develop second sock syndrome.

Nevertheless, you might notice how your first sock doesn’t have the perfect fit. Most beginner socks end up a bit too big or somewhat wonky. And that’s normal and nothing that should diminish your achievement. Still, you can adjust these tiny little things for your second sock already.

Maybe you can cast on 4 more stitches, or knit the heel a centimeter higher, etc. And for your next pair of socks, use the exact same pattern and the exact same yarn. Because if you mix things up, you need to start all over again!

How to knit socks

knitting socks with double-pointed needles and various tools in the background

These are the exact step-by-step instructions for a men's size 8.5 as an example using a fingering weight yarn and needles size 2.5 mm. If you need it in a different size, here's how many stitches to cast on for socks.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Active Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 30 minutes

Instructions

Step 1: Start with the cuff & leg

  1. Cast on 68 stitches (or however many stitches you need) in color A and knit around 5 cm in a 2x2 rib
  2. Round 1-24: *k2, p2*
  3. Round 25-33: Join in color B and knit across
  4. Round 34-36: Join in color C and knit across

Repeat rounds 25-36 five more times; carry yarn across on the backside and create floats every three rows where appropriate. The leg should be as long as the distance from mid-calf (the point where the circumference is the same as around the heel/ankle) to your ankle knuckle.

Round 97-100: knit in color b

Step 2: Knit the heel

Start with the heel-flap like this:

  1. Round 101: Join in color A and knit across half of your stitches (rounded down to the next number dividable by 4; 32 in my case), turn the work around without finishing that round to start the heel flap, and put the remaining stitches on hold.
  2. Row 1: *SL1, k1*
  3. Row 2: *Sl1, p1*
  4. Repeat rows 1+2 19 more times or however many you need to cover the distance from your ankle knuckle to your sole (5.5 cm in my case).


To turn the heel, knit to the exact center of your heel-flap continuing the slipped stitch pattern. And then

  1. Row 1: K1, SSK, K1
  2. Row 2: SL1p wyif, p3, p2tog, p1
  3. Every right side: SL1p wyib, knit up until 1 stitch before the gap, SSK, k1
  4. Every wrong side: SL1p wyif, purl up until 1 stitch before the gap, p2tog, p1


From here, pick up color B again (and cut color A), place a stitch marker, pick up one stitch from the gap between the last needle and the heel-flap, and then pick up one stitch through every edge stitch of the heel flap (20 in my case) using a crochet hook. Knit across the heel, then pick up stitches from the other side of the heel-flap edge as well. Pick up one additional stitch from the gap, place a stitch marker, and then knit across the remaining stitches you put on hold before you started the heel flap.

To knit the gusset of your sock:

  1. Row 1: Slip the stitch marker, SSK, knit across up until 2 stitches before the next stitch marker, k2tog, knit the remaining stitches
  2. Row 2: knit
  3. Repeat rows 1+2 until you are back to the original number of stitches (68 in my case)


Step 3: Knit the Leg

For the leg, continue knitting in plain stockinette stitch changing colors every 9/3 rows respectively. You can stop knitting the leg once it reaches the middle of your pinky toe. You may consider carrying the stitch markers along, as they mark the places where you need to decrease the toes (but maybe attach them one row below so you don't have to slip them all the time).

Step 4: Knit the toes

Join in color A again (and cut color b&c). Make sure you have an equal number of stitches on the top and bottom two needles (34 in my case; I need to shuffle around 2 stitches).

  1. Row 1-3: Knit
  2. Row 4: K1, SSK, knit across the first and second needle until there are only 3 stitches left, k2tog, k2, SSK, knit up until 3 stitches before the end of the fourth needle, k2tog, k1
  3. Row 5: knit
  4. Repeat rows 4+5 until you halved the number of stitches (17 in my case), then decrease in every row until you halved the number of stitches again (8 in my case).
  5. Finish the socks with a Kitchener stitch.


Step 5: Weave in all tails on the inside

Notes

If you decide to knit these socks in only one color, the instructions are exactly the same (except you don't switch colors). Only the heel is different. Here you have to pick up stitches in a different order and start by knitting across the heel flap one more time. And remember that you need to move the start of your round a couple of stitches for the toes.

Anyway, I hope I was able to show you how to knit socks for beginners and you were able to knit along. Comment below in case you have any questions.

how to knit socks for beginners - step by step tutorial

94 thoughts on “How to knit socks for beginners the easy way”

  1. I just bought short circular Chiagoo needles to do socks in the round. I have made a couple pairs of socks with dpns. I really want to try these circs with your pattern. Do I need to transfer to dpns at the heel? Use stitch markers? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey Francine,
      sorry for answering a bit later. was on vacation. Yes and no…typically people do join in dpns for the heelflap but keep the unused stitches on the circulars.

      Reply
  2. Just a perfect and detailed written words of knitting socks. Can I please translate this post in Korean on my blog? Of course with the original link and thanks. I searched so hard for a free pattern for socks in Korean and there was none found by my skill of searching. This is just so detailed and everything of knitting socks. Please let me share it with Korean free pattern lovers. I’ll wait for your answer.

    Reply
    • An alternative idea would be for you to translate it and send the translation to Norman so he can offer a Korean version of his pattern on HIS website. That would make it available to Korean knitters. Other than that you could use an online translation app or extension there are really good quality translators these days that you can add to your browser that accurately translate into any language.

      Reply
  3. I like this pattern because it’s less of a pattern, with an exact st count, and more of a technique that can really be modified to anyone’s sizing or design needs. It also really makes you learn what you’re doing instead of simply following instructions.
    I am an experienced knitter and this pattern was very easy, with the exception of the wording around the short rows section – which took me a minute to visualize + a little youtube tutorial.
    I feel like this basic sock pattern could easily be modified to anyones liking. Thanks for a great how-to!

    Reply
    • Happy to hear that Lauren.
      you did see that there is a video attached to this page (and on my youtube channel) where you can see me knitting it, right?

      Reply
    • Hi norman,✋

      I have made my first sock ever using your pattern , and it turned out great!! I am a crocheter en have only been knitting for a few weeks. I totally love it already! Thanks to your fantastic videos and tips it has been a pleasure learning new skills.
      Thanks so much ✌️

      Reply
  4. Hello again Norman,

    I’m curious if you know of a toe-finishing technique that would give you a seam on top of the toe, similar to a store bought athletic sock. If you know what this technique is called, if appreciate it very much! I haven’t been able to find anything like this in my own research.
    Thanks

    Reply
        • Hey Lauren,
          well i can understand the sentiment but a Kitchener Stitch literally leaves no seam on the inside or the outside, so I couldn’t imagine how having a seam on the outside would be more comfortable or a better fit. Quite the opposite, in fact.
          If you look into the creation of the Kitchener stitch, you will find that it was recommended as the previous seaming methods created a worse fit. – which led to blisters, more moisture etc – all these things the soldiers in the World Wars didn’T need.

          Reply
    • Hi! Sorry for intruding, but I’m pretty sure most commercial socks use short-row toes. When making them in a top down sock you get to the end of the foot and start basically the same as a shortrow heel (with the stitches divided in thirds). When you get to the last “decrease” you are at the top of the big toe, start “increasing” again and when you’re finished you need tp graft the toe stitches to the foot stitches. Here comes the choice of seam: using a kitchener stitch you won’t be able to see the seam but you could use another method to get a different look (I know there is a purl equivalent to the kitchener stitch but I can’t remember the name)

      Reply
      • There’s a tutorial here on my blog for the kitchener stitch on the purl side. And I don’t think it has a name, and neither does it require one. It’s just a simple purl graft where the steps are exactly mirrored.

        Reply
  5. Hi Norman,

    Having trouble finding a good sock yarn at Michaels or Joann Fabrics.

    I’m looking for something heavy for winter

    Any suggestions?

    Reply
  6. Hello, Norman, Thank you for this sock pattern and all the things you’ve done to show how to work it. In particular, I am so glad you mentioned to use only yarn that is stated to be sock yarn. That one bit of advice will keep me out of so much trouble! I will be starting on my first-ever pair of socks soon using this pattern.

    Reply
  7. Hi, Norman,

    Just discovered this site and I want to try your instructions for the toes, but I have my stitches on just three needles, not four, plus I’ve never used markers. Although I have made socks before, I’m not the most confident knitter yet and I’m not sure about rounds 5 and 8 and when to decrease.

    My needles 1 and 3 have 17 stitches and needle 2 has 32. Do I decrease at the end of #1, beginning and end of #2, and then beginning of #3? My usual pattern just has the decreasing happening on #1 and #3.

    Finally, when I’m decreasing every round, do I follow this same pattern as for round 5/8?
    Thanks for your help.

    Katie

    Reply
    • First of all, you might want to consider switching to 4 needles. It makes literally everything easier in my opinion.
      As for how you distribute the stitches..it really doesn’t matter. Just cut your stitches into half, place two stitch markers to mark these positions, and decrease before and after the marker.
      And yes, later on, you follow the exact same repeat just in every round.

      Reply
  8. Norman:
    I just realized I was looking at the instructions for your ribbed-sock pattern, so the row numbers I referenced are not the same as the rows in the pattern above. But I think the questions still apply.
    Katie

    Reply
  9. Hi Norman,
    I’ve only started knitting a few months ago, and I found your YouTube channel. Ever since, I’ve been binging pretty much all of the videos 🙂 They are really great – your attention to detail and way of explaning things make it easy to follow. And, I like the design and high quality of the videos and your blog! I’ve just downloaded this pattern to make my first pair of socks, so maybe I can start the new year in brand new socks 🙂 Happy holidays to you and your familiy, and thank you SO much for all your work and advice!

    Reply
  10. I think that I should have chosen a wool rather than cotton for my first go at the sock recipe 😀. I hope to use this pattern to become a proficient sock knitter with any wool and then start to include various stitches that take my fancy 🤓

    Reply
  11. Hi Norman,

    I’ve started knitting these socks (after watching your tutorial video dozens of times), and I feel as though I’ve run into a problem. I noticed that I have been knitting from the inside of the sock, moving counterclockwise (I’m still knitting the cuff). I see that you knit on the outside of the sock.

    Do I need to change from knitting on the inside to knitting on the outside? If so how do I do this? My worry is that if I continue knitting following your pattern, I’ll mess up the instructions for the heel, gusset, and toes.

    Reply
    • you can invert your knitting at any time…so simply stuff your cuff through your needles and you will be fine 🙂
      It somewhat doesn’t matter…but if the knit side is not facing towards you, this can increase the chance for ladders as the yarn has to travel further as you bridge gaps between needles.

      Reply
      • Thanks so much for replying! I actually did make the realization that I could invert it just after I wrote this comment lol, but either way, it was helpful to read your response as confirmation.

        I noticed a slight bit of laddering, however now that I’ve knitted from the outside it’s disappeared, hopefully it doesn’t turn out to be an issue. Thanks again! Hoping these first pair turn out decently 😬

        Reply
  12. Hello,

    Thank you for this pattern and all the great videos on your site. I’m knitting my first pair of socks and following this pattern. My question is about my knitting. The V’s are not even. Mine looks more like a row of slants going from bottom left to too right beside a row that appears almost straight, as in no distinguishable diagonals. I’d like to include a picture but I’m not sure how. Any suggestions as to what I’m doing wrong?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • You are doing nothing wrong. It’s the twist stored in your yarn. There’s nothing you can do about it other than picking a different yarn. But, personally speaking, I’d say, as long as it is regular it’s still pretty!

      Reply
  13. Hi Norman,

    Thanks for all your work. I’m currently working on sock number 2 and I think that I found a small mistake in the instructions below the article. In section 5.2 Turning the heel you say the first row is k1, ssk, k1 (same is mentioned in the video). In the instructions below (step 2 knit the heel, turn the heel) you say that it is k1, sl1, ssk, k1. I guess the sl1 in the instructions is not supposed to be there.

    Reply
    • Hey Nikolas,
      I am quite sorry but I cannot find where I wrote this? On my screen it says “Row 1: k1, ssk, k1” I am not sure where you see the sl1? you only sleep stitches at the beginning of every row there.

      Reply
      • It is in the instructions part below the main article:

        “ To turn the heel, knit to the exact center of your heel-flap continuing the slipped stitch pattern. And then

        Row 1: K1, SL1, SSK, K1
        Row 2: SL1, p3, p2tog, p1…”

        Reply
        • oh i see…down in the pattern card. Yes, that is a mistake. It’s correct int he article. thx for pointing that out!

          Reply
        • oh i see…down in the pattern card. Yes, that is a mistake. It’s correct int he article. thx for pointing that out!

          Reply
  14. Hi Norman! Question on the gusset. SL1 (purlwise, correct?)… is this always with yarn in the back? Or yarn in the front? Does it even matter? Thanks!

    Reply
    • when there is no indication how to slip 1, then always slip it purlwise with the yarn according to the knitting direction. But I’ll correct the pattern so it’s more clear. thank you.

      Reply
  15. Love your content and especially the videos you do. I am a newer knitter very determined to do socks this year. My right arm/hand is basically a placeholder and doesn’t oft do what I tell it. What type of needles would you suggest for my particular brand of challenge? I am having all kinds of fun trying to do an icord border with DPNs, so I am nervous about that. I’m also thinking about doing a DK for my first pair to make that part easier. I highly value your opinion and would like that before I started this journey. -M

    Reply
    • One thing you could look into is lever knitting where you hold the right needle below your armpit or in a special knitting sheath/belt. I cannot teach you how to do it but it sounds like a very good option for you.

      Reply
  16. Norman, I have a question about negative ease. In your beginner sock instructions you say to “Subtract ~15% to account for the negative ease of the st st.”. When I knit a 1×1 rib hat, would I also subtract 15% when figuring out total stitches to cast on?

    Reply
    • that will depend on your swatching and measuring method. But generally…no…ish.
      The thing why I did 15% is. I am letting you measure at the widest point. And subtracting 15% is saying, okay you end up with a fabric/hem that is barely wide enough to fit around your ankle when you put things on.
      For a hat, you typically want things to be a bit more comfortable

      Reply
  17. Hey Norman, first thank you for posting this- I’m really enjoying my new hobby thanks to you.

    I’m having trouble after the heel turn. Specifically where I slip one then either knit or purl up to the gap, then either SSK or p2tog..I’m supposed to do this until I “use up all stitches.” I can continue this until I’m down to one stitch, but i don’t think that’s what you want me to do. It looks like the heel flap is supposed to have several stitches left when I start the gusset. How do I know when to stop the heel flap?

    Reply
    • there’s a video attached to this post and on my youtube channel, probably easiest for you to just watch that.
      But essentially you stop when there are no more stitches on the other side of the gap you could decrease.

      Reply
  18. Is there a gauge you recommend aiming for? I see a lot of sock patterns call for 8 stitches per inch with either 2.25mm or 2.5mm needles with fingering weight yarn.

    I’m working on a pair of socks at 9.5 stitches per inch and starting to think maybe this is tighter than it needs to be.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your question. Call me nostalgic, but please understand that I do not answer questions from anonymous people.

      Reply
  19. I have started my first sick twice. Partly because I found some amazing merlino/silk wool at a fair and also because I was unhappy with my stitch tension. Holding multiple needles of size 2mm and such fine wool is very tricky. However, as I have always wanted to try socks, I am excited to make my first pair.

    Reply
  20. Here to leave a big thank you. I just finished my first sock and the fit is amazing!! Your instructions were clear and I am grateful you shared your knowledge with me. I had to take out a couple rounds of when I had a couple glasses of wine and tried to knit all at once but that was totally my fault. The sock is super comfy and fits perfectly. I even managed to avoid having gaps. I took notes so I can replicate easily. I’m going to enjoy having warm feetsies this winter season. I am running around the house wearing one sock and singing so I better start the second!!! <3 Love from me, Rae

    Reply
  21. This is the first project I’m attempting after just finding your website. So informative, clearly laid out, and all of the videos and tips/tricks are so helpful (SO great for my ADD brain!). Thanks for sharing your passion with us. 🙂

    Reply
  22. Well as a really beginner knitter knitting socks was a very daunting proposal and your instruction and confidence helped me enormously. ı started off using 2.5 needles with fingering yarn which after many attempts started to go bald. I then got some extra chunky wool and 6.5 needles and am now at the toe box which after turning the heel is a doddle. My sock is not perfect the next one will be better and OK my bedsocks will not be a matching pair but they are my pair.

    I decided to knit socks because the only ones that I can get here in Turkey are the very short nylon ones which are not all warm and the only alternative is the handmade ones which are more like boots than socks. I now feel that ı can go ahead with confidence and knit my own custom made socks that really fit. Thank you so much for your tutorial Norman.

    Reply
  23. I am knitting my first sock based on this. It has been very helpful. Thanks a lot!

    I have a question about the heel. You mentioned that German short rows was a great technique for beginners in that video. Which one should I use for my first sock?

    Reply
    • well, I would actually stick to this heel as it’s a lot more versatile. Maybe a bit more difficult but with a better fit and it’s easier to adjust it on top of that.

      Reply
      • Got through the heel this way. Wasn’t as bad as I had dreaded. Your instructions and video was good enough for a newbie knitter. Thank you!!

        Reply
  24. Hi Norman! Could you please explain what you mean by: multiplying by the circumference of the foot? Is it the circumference at the front of the foot or the back? Thanks!

    Reply
  25. Loved this blog post! I’m currently working on my first top down sock, and the information here has been really useful, especially regarding the gusset and heel flap. I’ve only ever made socks toe up before with German short row heels to avoid grafting, picking up stitches and “guessing” when to make the toe. But seeing your tubular cast on tutorial inspired me to give a traditional top down sock a go because I just loved the appearance of the cuff.

    Reply
  26. Thanks a lot for this tutorial, it has been very helpful!

    I have a question, since I mostly knit “home” socks (not to be worn in shoes) I was wondering about reinforcing the heel turn and the sole in addition to the heel flap.

    I love the pattern you recommend for the heel flap – it’s very durable and also rather pretty (as opposed to the striped “heel stitch”). I was wondering if there is a straightforward way to extend it to the sole?

    I have to admit that I haven’t “just tried” it yet – but I am afraid just working half of the stitches in a *sl1 k1* (and *k1 sl1*) won’t quite work out – since the row height in this pattern is quite different than what would be used for the other half of the stitches…

    Any way to make it work? Or recommended alternative stitch patterns?

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • There is not and it would basically require a modified intarsia technique to do that. So, I would rather use an overall sturdy yarn or knit with two strands held together (one being a thin nylon thread).

      Reply
  27. Hi Norman, thank you so much for this tutorial and pattern, socks looked like a very intimidating project but your explanation was so thorough I just finished my first sock with very little frogging along the way!

    This first sock I made I used some scrap yarn just to get the hang of all the techniques, but now I want to make a real pair and I have a question about the ribbing for the cuff; a lot of ribbing explanations advise to use a needle a size smaller than the one you’ll be using for the rest of the pattern to get a tighter/neater elastic ribbing, since you give the 15% subtraction for negative ease is it still a good idea to use that smaller needle or does that risk making the cuff too tight?

    Reply
    • well, typically your legs gets wider the further up you go. So, that’s why i personally never go down a needle size for the ribbing of sock cuffs. But you can give it a try.

      Reply
  28. Dear Norman,

    I have just finished my first pair of socks in dk yarn with rough bamboo 4mm dpns. Safe to say my gear was not really suited for this project, but is still managed to make a well fitting pair of socks. This was my first real dpn project and I absolutely loved making it! I found the gusset etc a little too intimidating so I did the german short row heel and it worked perfectly fine. I love this modern and online pattern, it really makes knitting accessible, even for this 19 year old:) Thank you very much and I will defenitely be using your website again.

    Kind regards,
    Noa

    Reply
  29. Hi Norman, when rejoining after the heel turn and picking up selvedge stitches, I noticed that my knitting became reversed as the stockinette pattern was not on the wrong side— I’ve had to purl the entire way to have stockinette face the right side. Do you know how this may have happened? This is my first sock so I know it may not be perfect. i dont want to make this mistake again when doing the second sock 🙁

    Reply
  30. Hi Norman,
    I am so glad to have found your channel and website. I am so happy with sock tutorial, it is the best I’ve seen. I especially appreciate the tips you give along the way. I have not made the socks yet, though I have knit socks in the past. Some patterns advise to knit the swatch in the round.
    Is it advisable to knit in the round or is a flat stockinette swatch ok.
    Thank you for all that you do!

    Reply
    • Well, I would do it the way I describe it here. I wouldn’t ever bothered with an in the round swatch for socks.

      Reply
  31. Please sign me up for your newsletter.

    P.S. I was signed up prior but just got a new email address.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  32. Hi Norman! Thank you so much for your instructions!
    I usually crochet, and I’m new to knitting…I wanted to try those socks, but I only have circular needles at the moment: could you help me understand how to adapt your pattern to the circular needles instead of the 4 double pointed needles?

    Reply
  33. Dear Norman,
    I am following this pattern for my second ever pair of socks (the first I had a teacher) and have done about 16 rows of the leg after the ribbing. However, I am using West Yorkshire Spinners 4-ply yarn and am using 2.5mm needles instead of the recommended 3.25mm needles indicated on the yarn. The socks look OK but are seem like they will be too baggy even though I did the calculation you provided carefully. I have 17.5 stitches per 5cm, so 96 in total and the person I’m making them for doesn’t have particularly big feet (size 8 like yours). I’m confused why, because you have 13 stitches and my yarn should be thicker, so I should have fewer stitches? My socks look like they have more gaps around the stitches even though I’ve been trying to keep the tension tight to avoid this. Do I need to start again with bigger needles? Decrease after the ribbing? Use a pattern more suitable for my yarn? Very confused. Thank you in advance to anyone who has any insight 🙂

    Reply
    • there could be a million different reasons for this. I might be a much tighter knitter, not all yarns behave the same, there might be a mistake in your calculations.
      Suffice to say, if you feel the result is not what you expected…well..you do have a very reliable swatch in front of you. YOu can unravel that but before…take notes and use it to adjust things.

      Reply
  34. Hello!
    I have a small question.
    I knit the first sock last year, after which I developed a severe second sock syndrome so I’m only working on the second one now. I’m now at the heel flap part and I just noticed that on my first sock, I slipped the stitches on the WS with the yarn in the back instead on the front, which created a bit of a different look but I think it doesn’t change the functionality or anything. Now I’m wondering whether to repeat this “mistake” on my second sock or not…
    Also, it might be good to specify where the yarn should be during the slipping because a year ago as a beginner, it didn’t occur to me at all that I should be thinking about where the yarn is.
    Which way do you think I should knit the second one?
    And thank you a lot for this pattern!

    Reply
  35. Thanks for the super detailed pattern Norman! I was able to successfully knit my first sock but my second one is giving me all sorts of trouble, especially on the gusset. I’m trying to follow your advice and start on the third and fourth needles. However, I messed up and put my decreases on the top side of the sock instead of the bottom. I think it would be helpful to have this clarification in case another beginner like me needs to frog their project while working on the gusset.

    Reply
  36. I am excited to learn to knit a sock with reinforced heels and toes. Thank you for this pattern. Unfortunately, I am just a beginner, and all I’m able to do is the tube part of this sock. Instructions for turning the heel are beyond me. I offer these questions as a beginner. Someone more advanced may be able to understand them.

    First, I was confused as there is no mention of putting 16 of the 32 stitches on a yarn or holder. It’s something an advanced knitter wouldn’t need to be told, but a beginner would. Yes, I read that the heel is usually half of the circumference number of stitches, but then the pattern goes into what happens in row 1 and 2 without explaining what happened to the front of the sock.

    How to knit the second heel on the other two double pointed needles needs a picture for us beginners. How to even begin?

    Instructions say for turning the heel:
    1. “Preparation: Knit to the exact center of your heel (in my case 16 stitches) continuing the slipped stitch pattern (*Sl1, k1*)”
    Row 1: K1, SSK, k1

    The question is, if I’ve already knitted halfway across 32 stitches,
    which in the example is 16 in preparation, and now am on “row 1” which says then
    “don’t finish the row.” What does that mean? By how many stitches does one not finish
    that row? Where to stop? Are you perhaps talking about the other 32 stitches on a
    stitch holder? Sorry, I have no idea how to do this.

    Row 2: SL1p wyif, p3, p2tog, p1
    What is the repeat, when do you turn around? Are there not usually asterisks * * telling what is the repeat?

    Suggestion: To make this pattern more beginner friendly, abbreviations such as wyif, and later wyib, should really be in a list of abbreviations of techniques.

    “From here, continue like this until you’ve used up all stitches:
    RS: SL1p wyib, knit up until 1 stitch before the gap, SSK, k1
    WS: SL1p wyif, purl up until 1 stitch before the gap, p2tog, p1
    What gap? If you describe or show what this bit is supposed to look like would be good for beginners.
    All the best,

    Reply
    • Thank you for your ellaborate feedback, Linda.
      I would like to remind you that this tutorial and pattern comes with a very detailed video where I show every single step.
      As for abbreviations. Every first instance of a given technique is linked to a tutorial. The pdf pattern also has a link to my glossary where all abbreviations are explained.

      While I thank you for your contribution, it’s impossible to anticipate the need of every knitter. What you consider to little information others might already think is too much with unnessary clutter and possibly confusing. And I need to find a balance. This free pattern is the result of that. If you need more help beyond that, I’d recommend looking for a dedicated knitting tutor.

      Also, from your comment I get the impression that you are thinking there was information missing you need to fill in somehow. that is not the case. The lack of information in a knitting pattern typically means there is nothing to explain.
      For instance, there are no different instructions for the second sock because it’s the same.
      Or the abovementioned R2 does not have a repeat. That’s literally the full instructions for the row. That’s why there are no asterisks.
      Or you seem to think that the preparation is already a row in and by itself. It’s not. It just tells you to knit to that spot and then begin knitting knitting flat.
      etc.
      So I’d urge you to read the pattern again and kindly watch the video. I’m positive that will fill in all those small gaps.

      Reply
  37. I am knitting my first pair of socks for myself. My first sock was a good swatching exercise and found the pattern recommended cast on number that would not fit over my ankle-instep area. It was also too small for my leg 5″ inches above my ankle. So back to the drawing board.
    I moved up one pattern size for cast on AND used needles 3 sizes larger. I knew this would produce socks that would be much too large in the foot.
    I knit 10 rounds of ribbing then switched to one size smaller needles for 5 more rounds of ribbing and 5 rounds of stockinette. Switched to one size smaller needles for 10 rounds then switched to 1 size smaller needles which was the recommended size in the pattern.
    I worked the rest of ankle and heel through gusset reduction with recommended needle size and original cast on stitches. I decreased the number of stitches to smaller size pattern number as part of gusset reduction process.
    I continued with this configuration until time to begin toe shaping and then reduced needle size by 1.5 sizes and completed sock. This gave a dense fabric at toes.
    Results: sock fit quite well through out leg, ankle, foot and toe WITHOUT extra decrease stitches for shaping. The graduated reduction in needle sizes is almost invisible with no counting or stitch markers.
    The shaping (tightening) in the leg helps to keep socks from slumping.
    I hope this suggestion offers others an alternative to shaping and sizing.

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing your observations. Just for clarification in case someone else reads this: The pattern does NOT recommend a cast-on. It’s just a sample. YOu absolutely need to knit your own swatch.

      Reply
  38. Bonjour Norman,

    Your videos and instructions are the best that I have ever seen.
    Easy to follow and understand.
    I bought the Knitter’s Pride-Karbonz Double Pointed 6″ Sock Needle Set from Amazon for $59 + 6.02 tax = $65.02 Great buy!
    I watch your video on how to knit in the round with those needles, easy …
    Then I practiced with different needles and yarns.
    So, for my 1st practice sock I chose a Dk yarn, bright yellow ( to clearly see all my stiches and mistakes ), with 3.25mm needles. I did cast the same number of stiches as you did, 68 + 1 = 69 ( I had to watch your video on long tail casting, easy … )
    Just following your pattern now, knitting the foot.
    I know that this sock will be way too big for me, but for my 1st one, I am more interested in learning all the proper steps and techniques.
    So far so good, no problems!
    When I am all done with this one, I will take my time to select the proper Sock yarn and matching needles.
    I bought some Cascade Yarns, Heritage Prints , 75% Superwash Merino Wool / 25% Nylon
    Super Fine Size 1 28 – 32 sts = 4″ (10 cm) C – E (2.75 – 3.50 mm)
    It was supposed to big good to knit socks. That yarn is way too fine for me !!!! As a beginner It takes forever to knit 1″ I will try to find some other yarn, 1 size bigger …
    I will save that Heritage yarn for later, when I am more experienced. For now I just want to enjoy knitting my 1st sock with all the tips and advice you gave is. When done with this yellow sock, I might just make a Christmas Stocking sock out of it !!!
    My name is Danielle, 68 years old , from Washington state, USA. French Canadian, born in Montréal, QC

    Reply
  39. Dear Norman,
    Thank you for your pattern. I have knit the cuff and some of the leg of the sock as recommended, tried it on and found it will be far too large for my leg. I am wondering if you could make a suggestion in where I went wrong with the number of stitches I cast on:

    I’m knitting Schachenmayr merino extrafine 170 on 2.5 mm needles. (The recommended needle size is actually 3-3.5 mm for this wool, would this make a difference?). I knitted and blocked the swatch and came to 15 stitches/5 cm. The widest part of my foot (going across the ankle and behind the heel, so at a diagonal if the foot is on the floor–is this correct) is 29 cm. 15/5 = 3, *29 = 87, – 13 (15% of 87) =74, round to 76 st. So I cast on 76 stitches, which honestly I thought might be off, since you were knitting a larger sock with fewer stitches and thinner yarn in your example pattern. But I wanted to trust the process…

    In any case, maybe you have an idea where I went wrong? Did I measure the wrong part of the foot? Am I knitting with too thick yarn? I would really appreciate any suggestions you might have.

    Reply
    • Hmmm..not really sure. Your numbers are sound but they might or might not match with reality. That being said, now you do have a reliable swatch yo knit a second, better version. That’s what I typically do when I’m off that much.

      Reply
  40. Hello, Thank you so much for this pattern, I have the pdf and the needles and yarn all ready to go, but I do have one question. For the toe decreases they are graphed out with the dpns, but I planned on knitting this pattern with the magic loop technique. How do you count those out, or should I just use the dpns to make life easier following the pattern? Thanks,

    Cadee

    Reply
  41. Hey norm!
    I have a problem: i don’t have any double poited needles and i don’t know if i can knit this pattern with circular needles.
    Could you help me understand if i can knit it with circular needles?
    Btw i’m using yarn for 4.5 mm needles and 3 mm circular needles.

    i hope you can help me
    Luke 🙂

    Reply
      • Thx norm!
        Buuuuut web have a problem:
        See, ALL my interchangeable circular knitting needle cables are broken 🙁
        I asked my mum Is She could buy a set from Amazon of Dreamz*
        And if you’re asking, yes they’re dpn’s.
        Sooo yeah i Need to wait to create my First pair of socks

        Have a very good easter & Happy holiday,
        Luke 🙂

        *oh now i understand why you like the Dreamz: they are very cool designwise and by the reviews i think they’re very good

        Reply
        • i actually do not like the dreamz. I am just using them because I do feel they offer a nice contrast on camera. I never knit with them.

          Reply
  42. Great post! I really like woolen socks, and I always like it when someone makes them by hand because you can see how much effort the person put into making them.

    Reply
  43. I love your tutorials – they explain things so well! I have a challenge with socks, and I’m trying to identify potential issues ahead of time. I’m knitting for a person who is extremely picky about textures. He says when he’s worn hand knitted socks in the past, he could feel the separate stitches/strands of yarn [presumably worst on the bottom of the foot], and it drove him crazy. Do you know if there are any common mistakes that often lead to this type of feedback?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • no. just sensitive people. There’s something called princess soles. You keep the purl side on the ouside for the sole only so the smooth knit side is on the inside.

      Reply

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