Two at a Time Socks
Posted on 22 June 2018
Ever since starting the #lamercerieyearofsocks last year, I have gotten A LOT of questions from you guys about sock knitting. Then, after posting a photo a few weeks ago about knitting socks two at a time, I got a whole bunch more questions...so I wanted to address them all here! Let me know if you have any other questions that I haven't answered in the comments and I'll get back to you as quick as I can.
Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way - any product or pattern that I link to is something that I use in every sock project because I truly love it.
The question I get most of all is what type of needles I use for socks. I am a bamboo-needle-user through and through for any and every project...except socks. When it comes to socks, I use metal needles. Specifically, these 40" Red Lace Circular needles from ChiaoGoo. I'm a somewhat loose knitter, so a US size 1 (2.25 mm) gives me the perfect tension.
A friend of mine just used these same needles to knit a sock and as a tight knitter, the resulting sock was too tight for her leg. Her question was, how do I swatch for socks? My answer - just start knitting them. Just like any project knit in the round, knitting a flat swatch won't do any good, as for most of us, our knits and purls have different tensions. Since socks are so small in circumference, you might as well knit a couple inches and make sure it fits over your foot and up your leg.
I typically wear a size 8 shoe and my go-to formula is to cast-on 64 stitches (32 on each needle) and go from there. Perfect fit every time.
When knitting two at a time, you'll need two equally sized balls of yarn. Like a dummy, I accidentally deleted the images I took of this process, so use your imagination a little bit...
You'll wind your skein just like normal into a yarn cake, as you would for any other project. Using a kitchen scale, measure the weight of your yarn cake. For this project, mine was 102 grams. So ultimately, I'll want to end up with two 56 gram yarn balls.
In order to do that, take a bowl or something that will hold your yarn and put it on your scale and reset the scale so that the weight reads zero. Then, place your full yarn cake in the bowl so that only the weight of the yarn is being counted. From there, you will wind a second ball of yarn from the first until the weights are equal. For example, if my original skein was 102 grams, I will wind my second ball until the scale with the first ball reads 51 grams. Then I will know that I have two equally sized cakes!
So knitting socks two at a time! It's actually pretty straightforward once you cast-on. And even casting on isn't too bad, it's just finicky and takes some focus. Keep in mind that in order to knit socks two at a time, you will need to know how to use the Magic Loop Method.
For this example, we'll call the darker red color Yarn A and the light pink color Yarn B.
When casting on to knit only one sock using Magic Loop, you cast on your complete number of stitches (64 in my example) and then pull the needle through to create a loop at the halfway point.
For two at a time socks, you will start by casting on half of the number of stitches in Yarn A (32 stitches) for the first sock. Then, drop Yarn A and pick up Yarn B. Cast on the total number of stitches for Yarn B (64 stitches) for your second sock and pull a loop out at the halfway point with your needle cable.
Dropping Yarn B and using Yarn A again, cast on the second half of your stitches for the first sock. You should now have 64 stitches total for each yarn color and two balls of yarn attached to your cast on stitches on your needles (one for each sock).
When joining in the round, take your time and fully ensure that your stitches aren't twisted around the needles. Patience is your friend at this stage. Join your work and continue working in the round for your ribbing stitch pattern (a 1x1 rib in the example).
Truly, that's all there is to it. From here, you will keep switching back and forth, knitting your first sock with Yarn A and your second sock with Yarn B. When you're ready to switch to your main color, you will follow the same process to split your yarn into two equally sized yarn balls, attach them to your work, and keep on knitting. Heels can be turned, toes can be decreased, all at the same time.
Some tips and tricks for knitting two at a time socks:
- Be willing to frog your first cast-on attempt. I had to try a few times before I got it right. My hands seemed to forget how to knit as I got my brain to catch up. It messes with you a little bit, but practice makes perfect.
- The first few rows are a pain. It's going to be awkward and feel a little crazy. But once you have a little bit of length to the ribbing, it gets much easier!
- Untangle regularly. I use a Field Bag from Fringe Supply Co. to keep my sock projects safe and organized. I love that there are rivets on the inside pocket to keep my yarn separated in the bag. If you don't use a Field Bag, just make sure that you are untangling everything every few rows so that it doesn't get out of control.
- You can knit most stitch patterns two at a time. Keep in mind that you will be knitting the front of the sock twice, turning your work, and knitting the back of the sock twice (once for each sock). This can be either really helpful or really confusing, depending on how you brain processes it. You'll only know once you give it a try!
Details on these socks:
Main color: Truffle Shuffle from Woolen Boon
Contrast colors: Box of Chocolates and PS I Love You from Woolberry Fiber Co.
Pattern: Hermione's Everyday Socks (I'm currently knitting these while I re-watch the Harry Potter movies, which always feels appropriate). This pattern is free and has great instructions for turning the heel!
Some of my favorite sock patterns:
- The Basic Sock from Churchmouse Yarns - this is a great pattern to start with! It includes patterns for both fingering and DK weight and really explains each step. Perfect for beginners and always the first pattern I recommend for anyone starting their sock knitting journey!
- Confetti and Cables - I've knit this pattern so many times and just can't stop. The perfect little cable detail is easy to memorize, but keeps things interesting as you knit. I personally don't love the instructions for the heel in this pattern, so I do a typical turned heel instead.
- Flying North - More than just a plain old sock, but not so much that the texture is distracting. Simple and straightforward with a delicate texture.
- Vanilla Latte Socks - I don't love the stitch pattern on this one, but I do love that it's free, includes three different types of heel flaps, and three different sock sizes. I keep this pattern saved on my phone and reference it whenever I'm knitting socks on the go or knitting a larger size sock for my husband - I just apply the numbers to whatever sock pattern I'm working on.
Let me know if you still have any questions in the comments below! Socks have become one of my favorite things to knit - I nearly always have a pair in the works.