What size should the needle be?
What should the needles be made of?
How long should the needles be?
How do I know which needle I am supposed to work onto?
There is no hard and fast rule
to answer most of these questions. It all boils down to your preference,
and what you can find. Below is an explanation of things to consider.
Needle Size: When knitting socks
you are working for a denser fabric then when knitting a sweater. Find
out what gauge the sock pattern calls for, knit a swatch on the needles
you are planning to use and see if you get the gauge you are trying
for. If not go up or down a size or two or three (depending on how tightly
or loosely you knit) until you get the gauge you are trying for. Remember
that your gauge knitting in the round may vary slightly from the gauge
you get knitting flat. The good part of knitting socks is that you can
try them on as you go to make sure they fit (if you are knitting for
yourself) and that knitting is forgiving – there is some degree of stretch
in the finished product. Most people have found that working more stitches
to the inch results in longer life for the socks and also puts the purl
bumps closer together so that they are less noticeable when wearing
them. After making a few pair of socks and wearing them you will find
what works for you.
What type of circular needles should
you get? That depends on several factors: What can you find? Do you
find that your hands ache when working with metal needles? Then use
bamboo or wood. More important than what is the needle made of is that
the join between the needle and the cable is a smooth join. There is
nothing more annoying than to be knitting along and the yarn snags on
the join. Cat Bardi recommended using Addi Turbo needles. I tried them
after trying cheaper needles and finding that the joins kept catching.
I now use these and enjoy working with them. I find that they have a
very smooth join. Again feel free to use the needles that you prefer.
How long should the needles be?
Again this is personal preference. The length of the rigid part of the
needle gets longer as you use a longer needle. For some the shorter
needle just doesn’t fit right in their hands so they use the 24” needle.
I use the 16” needles and have no problems. You need to use what feels
right for you. I do not recommend 12” needles as I find that they are
too tight when wrapped around my hands to work with and that the ends
of the unused needle are often in my way (but I have used them at times
when I the longer needles were in use). Also working two adult socks
at a time on the 12” needles can cause the stitches to come off the
end if they are pushed too far. I do not recommend needles longer than
24” as there is too much reaching to find the other end of the needle
and I find it easier to choose the wrong end to knit onto. So – try
different lengths until you find what works for you. Ask to try the
different length needles at your LYS if they carry them.
How do I know which end I should
knit onto? The stitches will always remain on the same needle they start
on. Call the needles Needle A and Needle B, and the two ends end 1 and
2. This means that you work the stitches off needle A, end 1 onto needle
A, end 2. The same with needle B – knit off B1 onto B2. In the beginning
it is easier to see which is the other end of the same needle if one
of the needles is marked in some way. Some folks have applied nail polish
to the two ends of one of the needles. The wool does not catch on it
and it wears off. If the needles are different lengths it is usually
easy to remember if you are working on the shorter or the longer needle.
I usually grasp the knitting on
the side I am starting to work and push it towards the needle end I
will be working off of. The other end of the needle is the part that
is getting longer as I am pushing the stitches the other way. It takes
some practice and I have to admit that if I get distracted I can still
pick up the end of the wrong needle to knit onto. I can usually feel,
after just a few stitches, that something is not right. I then just
slip my just knit stitches back onto the needle end I knit them off,
grab the correct end and slip them onto the correct end and go from
Next session we will cover doing
the cast on, ribbing, leg and heel flap of the socks. Homework will
be to actually knit the ribbing, legs and heel flaps of the socks –
you will then be ready to turn the heels.
The third class will start with
turning the heels of the socks, through the gussets and working the
foot and toes. So bring your socks, with the heel flaps worked to this
The final class will cover toe
decreases and grafting the toe stitches.
Classes will be held every week
to the best of my ability. I may have to go out of town for a week during
the class time and, if so I will let everyone know via the message board
and if where I am staying has a computer I can use I will check it daily.
I ask your indulgence as this will be work related and while out of
town I may not have access to a computer.
For this class you will need:
1 skein worsted weight wool, 100gm
or 3.5oz – this will make a pair of children’s socks (probably 2 in
the size given in the pattern). We will be working from both ends of
the skein. If you prefer to work from two different balls of wool –
get two skeins and plan to make another pair of socks later, or wind
your yarn into two balls and cut the wool in the middle. If you are
concerned that you will get confused about which strand of yarn you
should be working with – get two different color yarns and make the
first sock of two different pair of socks (although this will result
in your having to knit the second sock of two pairs for your next project).
2 circular needles (same brand)
size 5 (we will go for a gauge of 5 stitches per inch so if size 5 doesn’t
do it – get the size needle that works for you) in the length of your
choice from 16 inches to 24 inches. If you have two different length
needles, the same size and brand use them. This will give you a chance
to try different length needles and see which suit you better. Different
brands can have the same US sizing listed yet have different metric
sizes. Therefore I recommend using two of the same type needles. Also
do not mix one bamboo (or wood) needle and one metal needle. The yarn
slides differently on different types of needles and this can affect
your gauge. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.
A ruler or tape measure – 6 inches
will be enough for a child’s sock, if making an adult sock you will
need a 12-inch ruler.
One stitch marker
Stitch Placement and other things
to consider before starting:
When working with four DP needles
the stitches are divided on 3 of the needles – half of the stitches
for the instep on one needle, ¼ of the stitches on each of the
other two needles for the sole. With five DP needles you have ¼
of the stitches on each needle – two for the sole and two for the instep.
When working with two circular
needles all of the instep stitches are on one needle and all of the
sole stitches are on the other needle.
When working a pattern on the
leg of the cuff that repeats it is often suggested that you place an
entire pattern on each needle even if this is not how the stitches are
“usually” divided up. With circular needles this is not done (especially
when working two socks at a time), as you would need to reposition the
stitches when going to work the heel area. Instead place a stitch marker
to indicate the start of each pattern repeat.
If you are going to be working
a short row heel and wish to work your heel over more that ½
of the stitches you will need to place all the stitches you are planning
to use for the heel on the needle that will become your sole stitches.
This may leave you with 2/3 of the stitches on one needle and 1/3 on
the other if you are working your heel on 2/3 of your stitches.
Any other modifications can also
be compensated for with a little extra planning when starting so think
about what you will be doing now and see you at the next lesson. Feel
free to post questions and I will answer as soon as I can. See you next
week for lesson 2.