Two Toe-Up Socks on one Circular Needle
A sock knitting tutorial
by Kristin - www.cometosilver.com/socks
Read this first!
This tutorial is for the knitter who has sucessfully knit at least one pair of socks before, and has a fair bit of prior knitting experience. If you've never knit a sock before, I HIGHLY recommend you go back and choose an easier tutorial. Knitting two socks at one time can quickly become messy if you're not calm and patient and have a bit of understanding with the yarn. You will be working with two balls of yarn at one time, and they WILL tangle around each other if you do not stay on top of it. If you are prone to giving up in a fit of frustration, or due to anxiety attacks, perhaps you should consider knitting socks one at a time. If you're still here.... proceed at your own risk, and good luck!
Because this tutorial is somewhat challenging, I will be working with only one type of yarn, worsted weight. After you successfully knit a pair of socks in worsted weight, you will be able to apply this 2-socks-at-once technique to almost any toe-up sock pattern.
Worsted weight yarn - approx 225 - 350 yards in 2 separate balls
Amount of yarn needed depends on how long you want the leg portion.
For this tutorial, I knit pair of over-the-calf socks for my husband's size 10.5 feet with 330 yards (3 balls of Knit Picks' Swish Superwash in Navy)
A Size 5 or 6 circular needle, at least 40 inches long
The longer the needle, the better. Also, a thin, supple cable is very, very important. I recommend Knit Picks Options or Addi Turbos. Using a different brand of needle may result in more challenges!! I used Knit Picks Options size 5 needles on the 47" cable.
You will also need
one split ring stitch marker, saftey pin or scrap of yarn
a tapestry or yarn needle
a ruler or measuring tape
and lots and lots of PATIENCE
Step One - Cast On
Tie a slip knot in the end of each ball of yarn. This slip knot is only to anchor the yarn while you cast on and will NOT count as a stitch.
Slide one slip knot on to one tip of your needle. Fold the needle in half and hold your needle so that both tips are parallel, then slide the bottom needle tip (the one without the slip knot) so that you are holding one tip and one cable as shown. (Be extremely careful that you are holding the yarn and needle exactly as pictured.)
Begin a figure 8 cast on:
Bring the working yarn (not the tail of the slip knot) under then over the cable as shown:
Next, bring the yarn under and over the top of the needle:
Pull the yarn snug. Repeat these wraps until you have 8 wraps on the needle and 8 on the cable. Do not count the slip knot! There will be a total of 16 stitches, plus the slip knot.
When wrapping, remember to go down between the needle and cable, and then up and over the needle and/or cable. Remember this is a "figure 8" cast on, because the yarn is wrapped in a figure 8 pattern. Also, when pulling the yarn snug, pull it so that it is snug around the needle and cable, and pulls the two close together.
Note: You may be tempted to slide the other needle tip and wrap around it instead of the cable. Please do not do this. Wrapping the cable will result in a much more even cast on that will become evident a little later in the tutorial. Just trust me, ok?
Count your wraps to double check you have wrapped enough times, then double check again. Leave the working yarn going down and between the needle and the cable.
While holding the stitches, slide the top needle out so that your wraps are all on both sides of the cable. Slide the needle out just enough to put the stitches on the cable. Do not pull the needle all the way out!
Now using the SECOND ball of yarn, slide the slip knot onto the top needle, and repeat these steps to wrap 16 more stitches (8 on the needle, 8 on the cable). Both groups of stitches will come from a separate ball of yarn.
Step Two - Cast On Part 2
Slide the bottom needle tip so that you have enough slack to hold the needles comfortably, but not so much that you pull out the loop of cable at the other end.
(If you didn't go see Amy's video at KnittingHelp.com, uh... go now, would you? You'll understand how to adjust your needles so much more.)
Slip your split ring marker around one side of the very first stitch on the needle. You can also use a safety pin, or tie a little scrap of yarn. Use something in a contrasting color so it can be found at a glance.
Now begin knitting the 8 stitches on the needle. Please note that the working yarn will come from under and then over the cable. That last loop on the bottom IS a stitch, so don't lose it!
It may seem a little odd knitting these "stitches" because the other side of them is on the cable. Just keep knitting them, and forget about the cable side for now.
Knit until you come to the slip knot. Slide the slip knot off, and pull the knot out. You're done with it.
Now, you've knit the 8 stitches on the needle for one group (this will become Sock A). Slide that group down off the right needle just a bit, and slide the next group (will become Sock B) onto the left needle.
Drop the first yarn, and pick up the next working yarn. Knit the 8 stitches on the needle, and drop and pull out the slip knot just as you did before.
You'll have knit one side on both sets of stitches (or to-be socks)! Now, to knit the other side, hold the needles and flip the entire thing over so that the cable is on top and the needle is on the bottom. (Good thing you watched Amy's video, right?)
Carefully slide the bottom needle out to the right so that those stitches you just worked are resting on the cable.
Carefully slide the cable on the top to the left so the unworked stitches are on the needle and ready to to be knit. Note: When you are sliding the cable/needles here and there, go SLOWLY! You do not want to pull it out so fast or so far that your stitches fall off a needle!
Count the top stitches to make sure there are still 8. The working yarn should be coming from between the needle and cable, then around and under the cable. This last loop IS a stitch on the bottom, don't lose that one!
Now slide the bottom needle to a comfortable postion and prepare to knit the stitches on the top needle.
NOTE: These stitches are twisted. If you'll look carefully, you'll see that each loop is backwards from a regular stitch. (Normal stitches go from the front, over the needle to the back in a right to left motion. These are going from left to right.) This is due to wrapping the cast on stitches. These stitches need to be knit through the back loop which will straighten them out.
Insert your needle from right to left into the back side of the loop (as if to purl), and knit the stitch like normal.
Continue knitting all 8 stitches on this needle in this fashion, through the back loop. Drop the working yarn for this section.
Slide these finished 8 stitches to the right just a bit. Slide the unworked stitches onto the left needle and knit these 8 stitches through the back loop with the second ball of yarn.
All stitches have been worked, and you've officially finished this figure 8 cast on. Upon closer inspection, you'll see that there are 3 rows of knitting for each toe. One cast on row and a row that you've knit on either side of it, but they look like one continuous little tiny strip of knitting.
If any of the center row stitches are loose or wonky, PUT IT OUT OF YOUR MIND, and don't worry about them right now. You can fix it later by tightening each stich along that row until you reach the tail. But really... don't worry about that now. If you've cast on and knit these stitches carefully, you might not have ANY loose stitches anyway! This is why I insisted that you wrap around a needle and a cable.
When you wrapped the stitches to cast on, those two wraps (one on the needle and one on the cable) create ONE stitch. If you had wrapped around both needle tips, these stitches would be twice the size of the surrounding stitches because it would be as if you knit them onto 2 needles instead of one. Wrapping on one needle and one cable minimizes the extra slack you allow for each stitch (one of the reasons a thin cable is important), and pulling them snug as you wrap minimizes it even more. The end result is a near perfect cast on row that is the same size as all other rows.
Step Three - The Toes
Flip your work over so you're ready to knit the next side.
Now you've knit back around to your stitch marker. This marks the end of the round, where you have knit completely around both socks (er toes... uh, ok they're just stitches right now). You can leave this marker just where it is until you're totally finished with your socks. If you don't like that idea, you can move it up from time to time, but just make sure you leave it on the same side of the sock, ok?
You have two sets of stitches, which are the very tips of the toes. The set with the stitch marker is "Sock A", the other set is "Sock B".
Now begin knitting, starting with sock A. Note, all stitches are positioned correctly and you do not have to knit into the back loop anymore.
Knit one complete round. This means knitting 8 stitches on sock A, drop the working yarn, slide the needles to prepare to knit the next set, 8 stitches for sock B.
Knit 8 stitches on the sock B with the appropriate working yarn. ALWAYS remember to switch which ball of yarn you work from as you move from one sock to the next or else you'll end up with some weird doubled super size sock thingy.
Flip the work over and adjust your needles to begin knitting side 2 of Sock B. Knit both sets of stitches using the appropriate working yarn.
You should now be back to the stitch marker, and it's time to begin the toe increases. You may be wondering how these little strips of knitting are going to come together to make the toes. Shouldn't it start looking like a little pocket? Trust me, it will happen before your eyes with hardly any effort (because you took my advice and are using needles with a thin cable.) Just continue with the directions... you'll see.
Knit the first stitch through the front and back loop to make a new stitch. Knit to the last 2 stitches (on sock A). Knit through the front and back loop of the next stitch. Knit one more stitch.
(Knitting through the front of the stitch, like a normal knit stitch)
(Knitting through the back of the same stitch)
(Makes 1 new stitch)
(Make a new stitch on the 2nd to last stitch too!)
(And don't forget to knit that last stitch.)
Repeat this step for Sock B, then flip your work. Repeat this increase set for the second side of Sock B then Sock A.
Knit all stitches on all 4 sides.
After the next round, you'll start to see the toes begin to develop their shape. At this point, your needles are no longer on top and bottom. They become front and back. ALWAYS knit on the FRONT needle. The back row will be on a cable, the front row will be on a needle. Always knit with the stockingette side (the side with the little Vs, not bumps) facing you on the front needle.
With each new side, the working yarn will come from the right side of the stitches on the cable in back. (Make sense?)
NOTE: Now is a good time to check your balls of yarn and untwist them, as knitting with 2 balls at a time WILL twist up your yarn. (You can eliminate this twisting by turning your work one way, work a row, then turn your work the other way when you flip it to knit the next side... back and forth. BUT, please don't let me confuse you.. ignore this if it's too much info right now!)
Put the needles down, and by holding the balls of yarn, untwist the yarn. Take your time. This is pretty much the only negative point to knitting 2 socks at one time but some will argue that it's hardly a negative. (I'll keep my own comments to myself here.)
You should untwist your yarn periodically and frequently throughout knitting your socks. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Repeat Rounds 1 & 2. Increasing on round 1, knitting all stitches on round 2, until there are 22 stitches per side, or 44 stitches per sock (88 stitches total).
As you finish the toe increases, you can tuck the cast on tail into the toes just to keep it out of your way. You'll come back and weave in the tail when you're all finished. If you are comfortable with doing that now, by all means.
After all of the toe increases, knit all stitches around and around until the length from toe to needles is 2 inches less than the length of the intended foot. Again, be sure to remember to switch the ball of yarn you're working with before knitting the next sock. And take time to untwist your yarn!!
One of the BIG positives to knitting socks on a magic loop (or 2 circulars) is the chance of laddering is greatly reduced. When you start knitting a new side, one stitch is on the needle and the previous stitch is on a thin cable (I said you needed a thin cable, remember?) As you knit the next stitch, the previous stitch is tightened around the cable. This elimiates the slack that can happen between two double pointed needles (or a thick cable *ahem*) which results in laddering.
See? NO ladders!
Note: As you are turning your needles around or sliding your needle/cable here and there, keep in mind that you do not have to keep the two socks far apart. I like to keep them very close together, with about an inch (more or less) between them, because I can hold them both with one hand while I arrange the needles and/or balls of yarn with the other hand.
Also, if you find that you've let the loop of cable go and one sock is all the way at the end of your needle, you can pull the cable loop back out by dividing the number of stitches in half, in this case, 22 stitches.
Step Four - The Short Row Heel
A short row heel is worked EXACTLY the same for cuff-down or toe-up socks. It is worked on half the stitches required for the whole sock. In this case, we'll be working on one side of Sock A. Because of the nature of magic loop knitting, we will have to knit the entire heel for Sock A before moving along to Sock B. Therefore we will be knitting back and forth on this one side, which is 22 stitches on Sock A.
If you haven't untwisted your balls of yarn, do so now.
(Be careful to read all directions between photos.)
This is a short row heel with wrapped stitches. To begin, knit across to the last stitch.
Slip the last stitch purlwise
Bring the working yarn from the back around to the front right under this stitch.
Slip this stich back to the left needle without twisting it.
Turn your work and move the working yarn between the needles.
Beginning with the next stitch on the left needle, purl across to the last stitch.
Slip the next stitch purlwise and wrap the yarn around this slipped stitch to the other side (the knit side, or front side of the sock)
Slip this stitch back to the left needle.
Turn your work and move the yarn between the needles.
Knit across to the 2nd to last stitch. (Remember you are only working on one heel right now on Sock A. Sock B is in waiting!)
Just as before, slip the stitch purlwise, wrap the yarn around it, and slip it back to the left needle.
Turn your work, and move the yarn between the needles.
Purl across to the 2nd to the last stich, wrap and turn just as you've wrapped and turned the previous stitches.
Continue working back and forth to the next unwrapped stitch, wrapping them and turning until you have 7 wrapped stitches on both sides (8 unwrapped stitches in the middle), ending with a PURL row.
Step Five - The Short Row Heel Part 2
So now you've wrapped 7 stitches on each side of the heel and have finished with a purl row.
Next row, knit to the first wrap.
Pick up the first wrap by slipping your right needle under the wrap,
At the same time, insert your needle into the next stitch, slide it off onto your right needle, and...
Knit them both together as one.
Turn your work and slip the first stitch purlwise (this is the stitch you just made when you knit the wrap and its stitch together).
Purl to the first wrapped stitch. Pick up the wrap by inserting your needle from the back (or from the knit side) and place it on the left needle.
Purl these two (the wrap and the stitch) together.
Turn your work.
Slip the first stitch on your left needle purlwise (again, this is the stitch you just made when you purled the wrap and stitch together).
Continue knitting/purling across back and forth, picking up the wraps and knitting them together with their wrapped stitch as you have done, until all stitches have been worked, ending with a knit row.
You'll have a turned heel!
Now slide sock A off to the side, and do the same for Sock B, using the appropriate ball of yarn of course!
Step Six - The Cuff
At this point you should have knitted the heels on both socks and have untwisted your yarn. (Do you keep forgetting?) Adjust your needles so you are ready to knit the front side of Sock A.
Before we begin the cuff, I am adding an extra step to avoid a hole where the two sides come together at the ankle.
Insert your needle into the little section between the needle and cable under one stitch... somewhere in the middle, it doesn't have to be exact, so don't stress over it.
Wrap the yarn around the needle and bring it through to pick up a stitch.
Put this stitch on the left needle,
And knit it together with the first stitch. Pull the yarn nice and snug here to bring the two sides together.
Continue and knit across Sock A.
Before beginning Sock B, pick up another stitch and knit it with the first stitch on the needle just as you did for Sock A.
Turn your work and do the same for the back sides of both Sock B and A. Picking up a stitch at each ankle side and knitting it with the first stitch on the next needle.
Knit 2 to 4 rounds even on both socks before beginning your ribbing for the cuff. 2 rounds, 3 rounds, 4... whatever you feel like. Doesn't matter much.
Knit a K1/P1 ribbing (knit one, purl one) for however long you want the socks.
(More advanced knitters can get creative on the cuff portion... if you want to get fancy, knit a pattern stitch, cables, whatever you want.)
NOTE: (For advanced knitters only) If you want to add stitches for a curvier calf, increase 1 stitch at the beginning and end of each side, just like we did to shape the toes. Do this every 4th round, and try on your socks after each increase round to determine when to stop increasing. Remember to stay in pattern!
A great thing about knitting toe-up socks, is you can try on your sock and decide just when to stop the cuff.
Want no-show socks? Knit just an inch in rib.
Want ankle socks? Knit a little more. Or if you want to go for broke and knit as much as you can, sit back and enjoy the monotony of ribbing! (Yes, that's sarcasm.) These socks are for my husband, who wanted them to be over-the-calf socks. That was a lot of ribbing.
Don't forget to untwist your yarn periodically and frequently! When you have knit them as long as you want, make sure you complete the round by checking the location of your stitch marker.
Now, it's time to bind off...
Step Seven - The Sewn Bind Off
Personally, I think this is the best bind off for toe-up socks. It's elastic, stretchy, quick and super, super easy.
So your socks are as long as you want them, right? Cut the yarn leaving a tail that is at least 3 times longer than the diameter of your socks. (About 3 feet should be pl-en-ty.) Thread your needle with the tail coming from Sock A.
(I told you that was a lot of ribbing)
Insert the yarn needle into the first two stitches purlwise and pull the yarn through.
Turn back and insert the needle knitwise through the first stitch only AND slip this one stitch off the knitting needle. Pull the yarn through.
Repeat these two steps until there is one stitch on this side of Sock A.
Insert the yarn needle through the last stitch on the knitting needle and the first stitch on the cable, together, both purlwise.
Go back and insert the yarn needle knitwise through the last stitch on the knitting needle, slip it off the needle and pull the yarn through.
Before finishing binding off Sock A, you'll have to bind off Sock B. To keep Sock A from falling off the needles as you work on Sock B, poke the needle tip through the sock just to hold it there.
Bind off Sock B as you did Sock A. Thread the needle onto the tail from Sock B, and continue. Through 2 Purlwise, through 1 Knitwise (and off).
When you get to the end of this side, before moving to the next side of Sock B, just pull the knitting needle tip through so the cable loop is gone and the stitches are all next to each other.
And carry on binding off in the same method.
When you get around to the last stitch, insert the needle through the last stitch, and the first (bound off) stitch both purlwise, go back through the last stitch knitwise and pull the yarn snug. Go ahead and weave in this end before moving back to Sock A.
Carry on binding off Sock A as before. It's already set to start with the two purlwise stitches.
Complete as for Sock B, and weave in your ends. Don't forget to turn the socks inside out and weave in the tail from the toes if you haven't already!
All finished! And the best part of knitting 2 socks at once? They're ready to wear NOW!