My first knit socks: went better than the Hindenburg

This post is part deux in a two-part series that I like to think of, “That time I learned that I both can and can’t knit socks.”  As in, I can knit them, apparently, but I can’t follow a series of directions to save my life. Part one* is here.

Well, okay. Knitting socks. I started feeling like this was a mountain to climb, a thing to cross knit off my bucket list, and I do feel as though I’ve done it. Despite their objective lack of finesse, for my first real socks, and having done them in my crazy ADHD distracted-by-everything-why-can’t-you-just-stick-to-knitting-blankets way, I think I have something to be proud of here. I’m happy with the result, and I will knit more socks, I’m sure. I don’t have any cast on at the moment – instead I’m knitting my daughter a hat – but when it’s finished, I plan on raiding the sock yarn box again. I still have at least a dozen skeins to torture.

So, where did we leave off last time? Oh right. The heel of the first sock. I was knitting the heel flap. It went well. I was knitting on 5 dpns (Signature Needles).  I got through the heel, and followed the directions from my Craftsy class with Lucy Neatby, all the way to the toe. At the toe, I decreased a little wrong at first, but soon got the hang of it, and it looked fine (my missteps aren’t visible).

Then came Kitchener stitch. I posted to Facebook:


I watched a couple of YouTube videos, and threaded my needle. Then, right after I got “set up” and began stitching (there’s a little bit of moving things about, to get your yarn in the right position), I suddenly lost track of where I was both in my sewing and in the video. I don’t know how it happened, I just remember looking down and realizing with a sudden wave of fear that I had no idea where I was. SOCK NIGHTMARE REALIZED! I panicked and grabbed a sock book, where I found something called the three needle bind off. I hastily turned my first sock inside out, and bound the toe off that way. Then I had a stiff drink.

Despite the momentary crisis at the end of the first sock, I had to admit that, all in all, things had gone well. Here in my hands I was holding my first sock. A “real” sock, in the sense that it actually matched the pattern that I’d been given, it had been created in the correct gauge, and it fit my foot. I’d done it!

Now all I had to do, was to do it again. Ha! This is where things got really interesting.

I discovered a few things with the first sock. I hate double pointed needles. They poke you all the time, ALL THE TIME, and they fall out of their knitting even when you knit as tight as I do (my socks could hold water), and it’s way too easy to drop a stitch off the end. I hate them, and their little pointy heads. I couldn’t suffer knitting another entire sock with those damn things. My head would explode.

For years I’ve had a copy of Cat Bordhi’s Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles. Well, this was my moment. I cast on the second sock on two size 3 circular needles (24″). I began knitting the cuff. So easy! Much easier than on those double-pointed torture devices! Then I knit the heel flap. Still so easy! What will that Cat think of next?!

I turned the heel. I lost track of the pattern – okay, let’s be honest, I’d stopped following the pattern entirely – so my heel was a little off. I need to find a basic heel formula, with percentages. I wish all knitting patterns were nothing but percentages (God bless you, Elizabeth Zimmerman). All I could find were patterns with row-by-row numbers, which didn’t mean anything now that I’d totally lost track of what I’d started with or where I was. And yet, it got done! At some point, there a heel was. Because magic, that’s how.

At this point I had to figure out how to pick up stitches with two circular needles, and then join them for knitting back in the round. I spent about an hour staring at this. Okay, honestly, I spent about ten minutes looking at it, and when the solution didn’t immediately come to me, I watched an episode of Penny Dreadful. Somehow that set my head to right, and when I looked down again, the solution seemed obvious. Sort of – I did accidentally make a purl row over the top of my ankle, but after I noticed it, I kind of thought it was charming in that this-is-what-happens-when-you-don’t-pay-attention way, and I left it there. These socks are only for my enjoyment anyway.

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I decreased in a totally haphazard fashion, and then there I was again, at the toe. This time I put on my fez thinking cap  (the hat I wear when I’m deep in thought and want to signal, “Please don’t distract me” – it’s a great idea when you have kids, who will never remember that you told them ten minutes ago to avoid interrupting you for a while) and got to work.

This helped a great deal:

And……..[drum roll]………….I did it! I finished the second sock! I have a pair!

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A few things to notice:

  • They fit! I know from reading a lot of knitting blogs, that this continues to delight sock knitters the world over. Of course you hope it will fit, of course you assume it will, but when it does, it’s just pure glee.
  • The second sock (left), has that row of purling.
  • The dog likes to bring in pine cones, and he’s slowly pulling his dog bed apart (hence the stuffing all over the floor).
  • The ribbing is different on each sock – this was intentional, I wanted to see which one I liked best. The first knit sock, on the right, is 1×1. The second knit sock, on the left, is 2×2. I prefer the 2×2.

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The only thing I don’t like about the socks are the toes. It isn’t the knitting, it’s the shape. They’re too boxy, there’s a little pointy bit that comes off the edge of each sock. I think I just don’t like flat toes with Kitchener. I prefer rounded toes. So now I have to figure how to make a percentage sock, cuff down, with rounded toe, on two circulars. That’s my next challenge. I think this article might help. Oh and I also have to add in Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Sock Heels.  What could go wrong?


*Sorry. Un.


  1. Elaine says:

    Great picture of Finn staring at your toes. Next time I’m home I’ll dig through the holiday ornaments and find the stockings I crocheted completely without a pattern and using only one stitch (I only know one stitch). My grandma, ace needlewoman that she was, used to chuckle every time she saw them. Talk about tight stitches, these are practically bullet proof. I don’t knit, I didn’t think it was possible with my inability to count past three before I get distracted.

    • Hollie says:

      It’s funny you should say that, I have a real problem with that! Let’s say I’m working along on something, and I realize I ought to count my stitches to make sure things are going correctly. I will count on one needle, and then count again to confirm, and get a different number (off by one, two at the most). So I have to recount a third or fourth time.

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