Tube socks are a traditional starter project for knitters, as they do not require the intricate shaping used when knitting socks with an inset heel. Unlike heeled socks, tube socks are one long column with a sewn toe seam and can be completed on either double pointed needles or a circular needle, though a circular needle is much easier for beginners to use. With the use of elasticized sock yarn, hand-knit tube socks can fit smoothly even without an inset heel or careful sizing, which makes for a satisfying beginner project.
Stockinette Tube Socks
Stockinette stitch is used often in sock patterns and creates a traditional, smooth knitted surface. Stockinette stitch requires that rows are alternately done completely in knit or completely in purl stitches, with the knit side forming the right side of the fabric when knitting on straight needles. Knitting in the round simplifies this process, as a spiral is created where every row is knit, and the outside naturally becomes the right side of the garment. To translate this into a tube sock, you should complete a gauge swatch first with your chosen yarn to determine the number of stitches to cast on to create the circumference of sock you desire. Knit a tube to the length desired and turn the sock inside out to sew the toe seam. Stockinette tube socks are adjustable to any size, from toddler to adult male.
Ribbed Tube Socks
For a slightly more elegant look, a ribbed tube sock can be knit all in one piece. Ribbing creates a piece of fabric with more stretch than stockinette stitch, allowing for a greater variance in measurements while still keeping a snug fit. A gauge swatch should be knit to determine the number of stitches to be cast on, though the cast on should be in multiples of three. For each row, knit three stitches and purl three stitches across, repeating by knitting into the knit stitches and purling into the purl stitches in each round. Turn inside out to sew the toe seam to finish the item.
Rib Cuff Socks
By combining stockinette stitch and ribbing, a tube sock which combines the smooth feel of stockinette and the elegant look of ribbing can be created. Begin the sock as you would a standard stockinette sock, and switch to a ribbing pattern once the sock is long enough to reach the ankle. Experiment with different types of ribbing, such as wide ribs with narrow spaces between them, created with a knit five purl two pattern sequence or a reversed rib with a knit two, purl four sequence, to create a rib that is primarily indented.
Pattern Repeat Socks
Once you are comfortable with the general construction of tube socks, any pattern stitch for knitting can be used to make your socks more interesting. Beginners should wait to begin pattern stitches until the sock area has reached the ankle, to achieve maximum impact for the minimum amount of difficulty. When translating pattern instructions for flat needles into circular needle patterns, remember that on alternating rows, purl and knit stitches will need to be reversed to maintain the proper pattern sequence. Use a contrasting piece of yarn as a stitch marker at the beginning of each row to keep track of whether you are working the pattern in its standard or reverse form. These markers can be slid out when the row is completed without harming the garment and are especially helpful for beginners to keep track of the number of rows completed, which is important for many pattern repeats.
- "The Knitting Answer Book"; Margaret Radcliffe; 2005
- "Reader's Digest Knitter's Handbook"; Montse Stanley; 1999
- "Teach Yourself Visually Knitting Design"; Sharon Turner; 2007
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