Let’s Knit Socks
There is something strangely intimidating about turning a heel. It seems a bit like magic, some decreases, some short rows, and boom: your heel fits perfectly in an item that is otherwise a tube. We assure you it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3! Heel Flap, Heel Turn, and Gusset!
Download a copy of the Rye sock pattern (it’s free!) and let’s get down to business. If you have been knitting along with The Simple Collection as each design was released, there are very few things that are completely new in socks so this will be a breeze!
::: Ribbing :::
Following the directions for your size cast onto double pointed needles (DPN’s) OR cast on to a 40″+ circular needle (for magic loop) 28 (32, 36, 40, 44, 48) sts. This tutorial is illustrated using DPNs.
Tip: For DPNs, I recommend placing 1/2 of your stitches on needle 1, 1/4 of your stitches on needle 1, and 1/4 of your stitches on needle 3. This way you know your round starts at the beginning of the ‘full’ needle.
Work in 1×1 rib (k1, p1) for 0.5 (1, 1, 1.5, 1.5, 1.5) inches.
This means you will (k1, p1) around until your piece measures the specified length.
Change to larger needles. [an illustration of this technique shown here]
Round 1: k2 (3, 3, 4, 5, 5), p10 (10, 12, 12, 12, 14), knit to end
Round 2: knit
This establishes the garter stitch panel that runs down the middle front of the sock. When you are working back and forth garter stitch is created by knitting every row, BUT when you are working in the round it is created by knitting 1 on one round and purling on the next. So your sock will look like mine, pictured below: a panel of garter stitch surrounded by stockinette stitch [learn more about basic stitch patterns here].
Tip: If you are having trouble remembering where the garter panel goes (or you just want things to be a little more fool proof) you may want to place a marker on either side of the panel.
::: Cuff :::
Repeat rounds 1-2 until piece measures 2.5 (4.5, 5.5, 6.5, 7.5, 8) inches from cast on, ending with a round 1.
You will maintain the garter panel down the centre and the stockinette everywhere else until your sock measures 2.5 (4.5, 5.5, 6.5, 7.5, 8) inches from cast on.
Tip: If you like a short ankle sock or a longer cuff this is where you would adjust the pattern, making it shorter or longer.
Next round: k14 (16, 18, 20, 22, 24), then place these sts on hold. You will work the heel flap on the next k14 (16, 18, 20, 22, 24) sts.
Row 1 (RS): sl1, knit to end <link to slipped stitch tutorial>
Row 2 (WS): sl1, purl to end
Repeat rows 1-2 a total of 6 (7, 8, 9, 10, 11) times, or 12 (14, 16, 18, 20, 22) rows.
The heel flap is the part of the sock that goes over the back of your heel and is worked back and forth in rows. This means that you will want all of the heel flap stitches on one needle if you are working on DPN’s and that you will be turning your work after each row (instead of continuing in the round).
::: Heel Turn :::
This is the part of the socks that scares people but stay calm, take a deep breath, turn off the movie or send the kids out of the room!
The heel is shaped using short rows: this means that you will turn your work in the middle of a row without knitting all of the stitches. Fear not, we know you haven’t worked all the stitches and it’s okay.
Now we are all set up. You should see 2 gaps in your work. They will occur where we turned our work. They look like this:
Row 3: sl1, knit to 1 st before the gap, ssk, k1, turn work
Row 4: sl1, purl to 1 st before the gap, p2tog, p1, turn work
Repeat rows 3-4 until all stitches have been worked – 8 (10, 12, 14, 14, 16) sts remain.
Knit across the heel stitches.
Heel accomplished! It will look like this:
::: Gusset :::
Now you have kind of a funny looking thing. It a tube with a flap and a little triangle, not really like a sock at all yet. Time to join it all back together into a tube. To do this we will pick up stitches along the sides of the heel flap (remember all those slipped stitches?).
::: how to pick up stitches :::
To pick up stitches you need the right side of your work facing you (the knit side).
Step 1: Insert your needle into the stitch (from RS to WS)
Step 2: Loop the yarn around your needle (at the back of work)
Step3: Pull the loop through to the RS (using the needle tip, as though you were knitting a stitch)
Now you will have a stitch on your right hand needle. You have picked up a stitch!
Once you have picked up stitches along the heel flap you work across the top of the foot, maintaining the garter panel as established and knitting all the other stitches.
If you are working with a circular needle you will need to place a marker after the picked up stitches. If you are working on double points pick up another needle and work the top of the foot on 1 needle.
Once you have worked across the top of the foot you will need to place a marker if you are on circulars and if you are using double points you will pick up down the other side of the heel flap using another needle.
Next you will k4 (5, 6, 7, 7, 8) sts (1/2 of your heel sts). If you are working with circulars you will place a marker here to indicate the beginning of the round. If you are working with double pointed needles you will want to knit these stitches with the same needle you picked up the second half of the heel with.
Round 1: knit
Round 2: knit to 3 sts before marker, k2tog, k1, work in pattern across top of foot to marker, k1, ssk, knit to end
Work rounds 1-2 a total of 5 (6, 7, 8, 8, 9) times. [28 (32, 36, 40, 44, 48) sts]
Note: if you are working on double pointed needles there won’t be any markers (except maybe ones you have marking the garter panel), so when it says ‘knit to 3 sts before marker’ you will be knitting to 3 sts before the end of the needle. When it says ‘work in pattern across top of foot to marker’ you will be working to the end of needle 2. The end of needle 3 marks the end of the round.
::: Foot :::
Continue working in the round, keeping the top of foot in pattern until your piece measures 3 (5, 6, 7, 8, 9) inches from back of heel or 1 (1, 1.5, 2, 2, 2.25) inches short of desired foot length.
The foot is simple as can be! You simply knit around and around, maintaining the garter panel at the top of the foot as set. You can try on the socks at this point to see how long they should be.
::: Toe :::
To shift beginning of round (BOR) remove marker, k7 (8, 9, 10, 11, 12), replace marker – this is the new BOR.
Note: if you are working on DPN’s the new beginning of round is at the end of needle 1.
Round 1: k1, ssk, knit to 3 sts before marker, k2tog, k2, ssk, knit to 3 sts before end of round, k2tog, k1 (4 sts decreased)
Round 2: knit
Repeat rounds 1-2 two (3, 3, 3, 3, 3) more times [16 (16, 20, 24, 28, 32) sts]
Then repeat round 1 until 12 (12, 16 16, 20, 20) sts remain. Cut yarn leaving a 12 inch tail and, then graft toe using kitchener stitch [tutorial here].
Once you have grafted the toe, the socks are finished! Simply weave in your ends inside the sock, and then wear with pleasure! Blocking isn’t really necessary for socks, as they are snug and conform to the contours of your feet. Congratulations – you have just finished your first sock!
This tutorial is part of The Simple Collection – our 100% free learn-to-knit series. Check out the 8 fabulous free patterns sized from baby to big, and get started making modern seamless knits for the entire family! Like our work? Get our email updates and we will let you know about new patterns, tutorials, and events.