Sock knitters everywhere know the frustration of Second Sock Syndrome. It goes something like this: A cute new sock pattern and soft, foot-warming yarn lead to many happy knitting hours, resulting in . . . ONE sock. The first sock is done (and it's adorable!) but pattern distraction sets in. Who wants to knit the same project all over again? There are so many new projects waiting to be discovered.
Melissa Morgan-Oakes ends the drudgery of the second sock by showing knitters how to cast on and knit two socks at one time on one long circular needle! Her method is captured in step-by-step photographs, clearly showing knitters how to turn out two socks at the same time. Goodbye to lonely, abandoned single socks. Hello to unlimited pretty pairs, knit on one needle (often finished on the same day), and worn with pride and that gratifying sense of accomplishment.
Oakes is a dedicated knitter, knitwear designer, and knitting instructor who has known the frustration of Second Sock Syndrome. Her easy-to-learn technique enables sock stitchers to adapt any pattern to her two-at-a-time method. But before experimenting with other patterns, readers will want to try Morgan-Oakes's 15 original designs. Fun and creative, they include simple to complex choices, a variety of yarn weights, and designs for women, men, and children.
Socks are small, relatively inexpensive, and interesting to knit — a favorite portable choice of busy knitters. Keep the fun in sock-stitching with the innovative new technique that produces two socks — yes, that's one sock for each foot — at the very same time!
Consumer testimonial —
"I am a new knitter and purchased 2-at-a-time Socks. Perfect! This is a book is the best investment I've ever made! I have a lovely pair of socks ... for the first time! Very comprehensive instructions, as well as a very easy-to-understand glossary in the back. I recommend this book to anyone interested in knitting socks. So much easier than the double pointed needles! — Deborah, Colorado Springs, CO
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The SECRET Revealed
WHY TWO SOCKS AT ONCE? WELL, WHY NOT? Think about it. Two socks started and finished at the same time. They're still portable, still fun, but no "second-sock syndrome." For those who don't know about this knitting curse, it's what happens when a knitter completes the first sock and thinks "Oh, no. Now I have to make another one ..." Often the finished sock and the yarn for its ne'er-to-be-knit pal get stuffed in a bag, never again to see the light of day. I've been whipping out socks two at a time for a few years now. And trust me, the rewards are great: All my socks are the same length. When I'm done with one sock, I am done with both. This may not be the method for everyone, but I think it's an excellent one for most people. Although never confronted with second-sock syndrome myself, I have seen its cruel effects on many a knitter; those victims deserve this technique.
While the concept is not by any means my own, I did develop my method independently of any outside source. It was not until the time came to write a book that I researched various sock-knitting techniques and found a bit more about how other folks are creating two socks at one time. My technique is different from others. It's not necessarily better, and I certainly don't think worse, but it is different. This book is not just about knitting two socks at once. It's about beautiful, funky, fun, creative, whimsical, and sophisticated socks. A knitter doesn't necessarily need to learn the technique in order to knit these socks; you can adapt these patterns to your personal sock-knitting style and still enjoy them. Are you a die-hard double pointer? That's okay. Addicted to other circular sock techniques? That's fine. With a little conversion, the patterns will work for you, too. But best of all, once you've mastered this technique, you can easily apply it to any of your favorite sock patterns.
Knitting did not come easily to me. One very beloved grandmother had taught me to crochet, but all my other relatives were knitters and wanted to teach me how to knit. Over a weekend visit, one grandmother would get me started, and I'd roll along nicely. The following weekend a different relative, perhaps a great-aunt would be knitting, and I'd ask if I could, too. Out would come needles and yarn, and I'd proudly demonstrate what I'd learned at Grandma's house. "What are you doing?" I'd hear. "I am knitting!" I'd reply, with the proud naivety of youth. "Well, you're not doing it right. Do it this way." Confused, I would comply, but my self-esteem suffered at my apparent lack of ability, and I tossed knitting out the window. Now I get it. Knitting crosses cultures. It changes shape along the way, and we've given names to its many forms: Continental. Combination. English. Eastern. Western. Crossed. Uncrossed. Knitters from very different cultural backgrounds were each trying to teach me how to knit their way.
While I was visiting my mother one day, her friend Stacia spied me knitting. She ripped my work out of my hands and told me I was doing it all wrong. I watched, stunned, as her fingers flew. I was trying to knit "the American way," and I needed to do it "the right way, the Polish way." Suddenly things seemed easier — in a matter of minutes I was knitting madly, purling joyfully, and having a total ball. I was a Knitter.
I began to knit constantly. Piles of baby sweaters appeared, even though no one was pregnant or planning to be. On weekends, my husband and I hiked, and that often meant long car rides to find new mountains. I created my first lace on a car trip. My first Fair Isle started the same way. It makes sense, then, that I turned my first heel in the car. Instantly hooked on the concept of socks, I took them everywhere. Portable. Fun. Adaptable. You can try anything with a sock; it's like a giant swatch.
A few weeks after I finished that first sock, I found WEBS. Although it feels like miles of fiber-filled space, WEBS is much more than a store: It's a community of knitters. Most important for me, it's become a place to teach and learn to grow as a knitting designer, and to help knitters of all backgrounds. WEBS is where I first taught knitting and the place that gave me a shot as a pattern designer and believed in me when I said, "I think I want to write a book about socks."
So here it is, a little book about socks and the method of knitting them that knitting friends have come to call "Melissa's Way." Within these pages, you'll find a technique that's probably new to you and a mix of sock patterns that I hope will inspire you. I've tried to include a lot of sizes and styles and a wide range of yarns, most of which are machine washable and dryable. I have nothing against hand-washing socks and fully support the knitter's right to substitute any yarn you desire (as long as you get gauge), but I've learned from experience that socks sometimes get into places they don't belong (lost in a pant leg, for example) and disaster can result. So I rely heavily on machine-washable yarns for my own socks, and that bias is reflected in the book.
What I hope you'll most take away from this book is a spirit of adventure and play. Knitting should not be about deadlines, obsessive detail, or any form of stress. Few of us are making socks to keep our families from freezing their toes, so we can just have fun with our knitting. Knitting should be about liberation, freedom, expression, and joy. This is not to say that it's always easy or that new skills come without some effort. But the gain should outweigh the pain. The best cooks play with their food, the best fine artists play with their paints, and the best knitters play with their yarn — the only limits are the ones you place on yourself. Now grab a 40-inch long circular needle, and let's make socks!
SOCKS are not difficult to knit, though they can seem that way to the uninitiated. Actually, their construction requires only basic knitting skills.
The first thing any potential sock knitter should understand is the structure and anatomy of socks. Socks can be knit from the toe up, from the top down, or even sideways. There are at least five ways to create a turned heel in a top-down sock, and more than 10 toe treatments. In spite of these variations, the anatomy of a sock changes very little from one method of construction to another.
I will focus on a top-down sock method with a round heel and a reinforced heel flap. You begin top-down socks with a top cuff, usually worked in a narrow rib, though possibly in a fancy stitch that may create a ruffle or other attractive edging. Knit the leg next, then, on half the stitches, the heel flap, after which you work the heel turn. The stitches you don't use in creating the heel will become the instep, which, in the finished sock, will cover the top of the foot. After the heel turn come the gusset stitches, which you pick up from the heel flap, then decrease away, leaving a triangle of fabric. Next, you knit the foot and finally the toe. (For photo of sock anatomy, see below.)
Knitting a Sample Sock
For the sake of practice, I'll demonstrate the 2-at-a-time method with these sample toddler socks. When completed, they should fit a two-to-three-year-old child, and they can make great gifts: Little kids don't mind if their socks are not perfect! You'll need one US 4 (3.5 mm), 40" (100 cm) circular needle. I used Skacel's Addi Turbo, but any circular needle of this length will work. Stainless steel needles are especially good for circular techniques; the slippery metal allows stitches to move freely along the needle shaft, even when they are very tight — and you'll want to keep stitches tight at the end of each needle to prevent laddering (see The Low-down on Laddering).
To make the transitions between socks easy to see, I suggest using two different colors of yarn for the sample socks. For these small socks, you should not need more than 60 yards each of two different colors of any worsted-weight yarn; I used Valley Yarns Superwash for the sample socks. The gauge is six stitches per inch, although at this point gauge is not a critical issue. (That may be the only time Iever say those words — gauge is actually always critical in garment construction. For more on gauge, see here.) Choose yarn colors similar to those shown in the photos — it will be easier for you to follow along.
You'll also need a stitch marker. I like to use Clover's locking stitch markers because I can attach them to my work to mark the beginning of rounds without damaging the yarn.
Step 1 ... With color A, use the long-tail method to cast 32 stitches onto your long circular needle. With color B, cast on 32 stitches.
Step 2 ... Push both sets of newly cast-on stitches all the way down the cable to the other end of the needle (in your left hand). The yarn tails and working yarns should be away from the nearest working tip of the needle.
Dividing and Joining Sock A
Step 3 ... You are now ready to divide the first set of cast-on stitches of sock A so that half of the stitches are on a working needle and half are on the cable, with a loop of cable between them. Slide the stitches back a bit until they are all on the cable. Starting at the first cast-on stitch, count back 16 stitches. Carefully separate the stitches and tug the cable through the opening, dividing the stitches exactly in half. (I use the point of my free needle to help pull the cable through.) Pull the cable through until it forms a loop about 3" (7.5 cm) long between the two sets of 16 stitches of sock A. You have divided sock A stitches in half.
Step 4 ... You now join the first and last stitches of sock A so you can knit in the round, creating the cuff of your sock. Slide the half of the stitches that begins with the first cast-on stitch toward the nearest needle point.
Step 5 ... Being careful not to twist your stitches, bring the working yarn of sock A up between the needles, letting the cast-on tail hang down. Using the empty needle in your right hand, join the front stitches (the ones on the left-hand needle) to the back stitches (the ones on the cable) with your working yarn by knitting into the first cast-on stitch.
Step 6 ... Attach a locking stitch marker or scrap of contrasting-color yarn to your work one stitch over from your join. Work these 16 stitches in a K1, P1 rib. This marks the beginning of the first round of sock A.
Step 7 ... Rotate your work counterclockwise so that you can work the next 16 stitches of sock A (instep stitches). Push the unknit (cast-on) stitches of sock A onto the needle in your left hand, and pull the right-hand needle through so that a few inches of cable are visible. Now, work the remaining 16 stitches of sock A in K1, P1 rib.
Dividing and Joining Sock B
You've made it through the first round of sock A and are ready to join sock B so that it too can be worked in the round. Be careful not to lose the loop that separates the two groups of stitches of sock A. Allow sock A to rest close to the working stitches of sock B, but not close enough that you might confuse your socks.
Step 8 ... Allow sock A to remain under your right hand, with a loop of cable clearly visible. Slide the stitches of sock B down toward the needle in your left hand. The first cast-on stitch of sock B should be nearest the needle point.
Step 9 ... Divide the stitches into two sets of 16, placing half on the front needle and half on the cable. Be certain that the cast-on stitches of sock B are not twisted, and bring the working yarn of sock B up between the needles, allowing the cast-on tail to hang down. Using the working yarn of sock B, knit into the first cast-on stitch and work across these 16 stitches in K1, P1 rib (instep stitches).
Step 10 ... Working in the round, move on to the other side of sock B. Work in K1, P1 rib across the remainder of sock B stitches. You've finished one round on each sock, and are back at the center between the two socks.
Working the Cuffs and Legs
Step 11 ... Continue working first sock A and then sock B in K1, P1 rib until the piece measures 16 ½" (3.75 cm) from the cast-on edge.
Step 12 ... Knit every round (stockinette stitch) until the socks measure 46 ½" (11.25 cm) from cast-on edge. End your leg-building at the end of a round.
Working the Heel Flaps
My favorite heel flap is a simple one that creates a reinforced heel by using slipped stitches and knit stitches alternately on the right side of the work. Note: Work heel flaps on half of the total number of cast-on stitches.
Step 13 ... With the right side facing, begin working the heel flap of sock A. Slip the first stitch as if to purl, knit the next stitch. Continue across these 16 stitches in a slip 1, K1 pattern, ending with K1.
Step 14 ... Turn your work, slip the first stitch, and purl to the end of the row. You are now back in the center, between socks A and B.
Step 15 ... Work the first heel-flap row of sock B. Note that this is a wrong-side row: Slip the first stitch, then purl to the end of the row. Turn your work.
Step 16 ... Slip the first stitch of the right side of heel flap B, knit the next stitch. Continue across these 16 stitches as above, alternating a slip stitch and a knit stitch, ending with K1.
Step 17 ... Continue on heel flap A, working in the established slip 1, K1 pattern across the row, turn your work, slip the first stitch, and purl back across all stitches on heel flap A. Next, slip the first stitch of heel flap B, and purl across heel flap B. Work both heel flaps in turn in this way, alternating a slip 1, K1 row (right side) with a purl row (wrong side) on each sock until the heel flaps measure 1" (2.5 cm). End having just worked a right-side row of heel flap B. Sock B will be a row shorter than sock A, but that's okay.
Turning the Heels
You will turn the heels using a short-row technique: Knit partway across the row, then turn your work and work partway back again. Continue in this way, working progressively more stitches across each row until you've worked all the stitches — and you've turned the heel. For the 2-at-a-time method, you work each heel turn separately, beginning with heel flap A. (See Glossary for explanations of the ssk [slip, slip, knit] and the P2 tog [purl two together] decreases.)
Step 18 ... On heel flap A, K10, ssk, K1, turn. (This completes a right- side row.)
Step 19 ... Slip the first stitch, P5, P2tog, P1, turn. (This is a wrong-side row.) Take a moment to look at your work with the right side facing you. To your left, you have a series of eight just-worked stitches. If you look across these stitches, you'll see a small gap between stitches 8 and 9; you will close this gap as you create the short rows.
Step 20 ... Slip 1, K6 (you are now at one stitch before the gap, shown above), ssk (this closes the gap), K1, turn.
Step 21 ... Slip 1, P7 (you are now one stitch before the gap), P2tog (this closes the gap), P1, turn.
Step 22 ... Continue working short rows until all stitches have been worked and you have 10 stitches for the heel flap of sock A. You'll end with a wrong-side row.
Step 23 ... Move to sock B, slip the first stitch of the heel flap, and purl to the end of the row. Turn, and follow short-row heel-turn directions for sock A. You'll end having just worked a wrong-side row.
Step 24 ... With the right side of your work facing you, use the needle that is in your right hand to knit across the heel stitches of sock B, placing a marker between the fifth and sixth stitches of the heel. This marker (at the middle of the heel of sock B) denotes the new beginning of your rounds. You do not need to place a marker on sock A; the one on sock B will serve as the starting point for both of them.
Picking Up Gusset Stitches
Simply put, gussets are extra material that make space and improve fit. A hand-knitted tube sock will cover the foot, but it won't ever be as comfortable as a sock with a gusset, which accommodates the angle of the human foot. So now that you've created a turned heel, you need to make a gusset that will comfortably fit your heel. To accomplish this, you'll pick up stitches along both sides of the heel flaps and then decrease some of them away to create a triangular section of fabric (the gusset).
Step 25 ... Pick up and knit eight stitches along the left side of the heel flap of sock B. Note the clean line of ready-to-pick-up stitches you created by slipping a stitch at the beginning of every row while you worked the heel flap.
Step 26 ... To avoid a gap at the join between the gusset and instep, pick up and knit a ninth stitch between the heel and instep.
Step 27 ... Move to sock A, work across the heel stitches. (Don't worry about the stitches on the right side of sock A heel flap yet; you will pick up these in Step 30.) Pick up and knit eight stitches along the left side of the heel flap of sock A, then pick up a stitch between the heel and instep.
Step 28 ... Working in the round once again, move to the instep stitches. Adjust your cables as shown, and work across the insteps of both socks.
Excerpted from "2-At-A-Time Socks"
Copyright © 2007 Melissa Morgan-Oakes.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsThe Secret Revealed
Socks for Aidan
The Classic Sock
Pattern Stitch Key
Standard Sock Sizes
The Sock Knitters/Acknowledgments
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For many years, I had to sit on the sidelines and watch as the sock craze passed me by. Knitting friends showed off their latest creations, and I eyed the myriad sock yarns, envious of those who could turn the hanks and skeins into wonderfully handknitted socks. The reason for my dilemma? Double-pointed needles--DPNs. Oh I Googled and Yahooed to find 2-needle patterns, but it wasn't the same thing. Then along came Magic Loop, and I was off and running. But there was a new problem. Though everyone said that ordinary patterns could be easily adapted to the ML technique, for those of us new to sock knitting, it was a daunting task. And there were very few ML patterns available. Thank goodness for 2-at-a-Time Socks! Now we MLers have a technique book chockablock with patterns. And unlike some sock pattern books I've seen lately, these are socks we'll actually wear. Techniques are easily explained, and those who choose to still knit one sock at a time can also use the book. Photos clearly show the steps to be taken and are actually large enough to be seen. Like most pattern books, there are errata. But in this day of the internet, the knitting community Ravelry comes to the rescue. There is a forum for the book, and Melissa is available to post corrections and answer questions. The only drawback to this book is its lack of toe-up patterns. Let's hope that Melissa writes another book for those of us who choose to start with our toes.
I suffer from second sock syndrome and had looked at this book a few times at the store. When my son kept stealing my favorite hand knit socks I decided it was time to pick up this book so I could get him an entire pair of socks knitted so I could receive mine back! The instructions are good. There were times I did have reread them out loud a few more times to make sure I was understanding the concept. The pictures are great. I would recommend doing the practice pair of socks in two different color yarns as recommended. I did this and now have 2 pair of toddler size socks for a gift and learned the concept as well. I actually used the 2-at-a-time on another project to knit a couple of animal legs and arms and got a head start of that knitting project. It is definitely useful for more than just socks. There are a lot of great sock patterns in the book for once you have mastered 2-at-a-time. I have several tabbed for my next couple projects. Another great feature is that the book is spiral bound so it lays flat next to you while you are reading and knitting. No need to take you hands off of your knitting to hold a page down! I did find a couple comments on the internet about errata in the book but I checked out the author's internet page and found that my book must have been a newer print since almost all of the errors were corrected. Overall ... A great book to have in a knitters library if you are a regular sock knitter or not. I am glad I bought it and I have a feeling a few of my friends will be borrowing it ... but they will go get their own copy afterwards, I am sure! :)
Once you can knit a sock on dp needles you need to add this method. It goes hand in hand with learning to knit "the magic loop" method. Magic Loop pretty much eliminates double point knitting needles from what I know. I just learned how to use the magic loop. I see you tube videos that show long tail cast on for magic loop and I do not agree. Two yarn tails and all that extra wire or tube is very confusing. If you can see the method than you can save yourself work and the knitting is more secure for travel or setting down frequently. Second sock syndrome never was an issue for me but making two socks identical a little daunting if you don't start the second sock immediately. I would knit two socks at a time on two sets of double points... I have not started a pair of socks on One Cingular yet.. that's what this book is all about since I already know the magic loop method. Having this book on the Nook and my Nook for PC allows me anytime access to my book. When on vacation, visiting the grandkids or at home... I need my knitting patterns etc. Carry your Nook and needles, buy yarn anywhere you are.. and you are knitting.
Although the technique is neat (albeit difficult at first) I was very disappointed that the patterns for everything pictured are not provided. I even contacted the publisher for the pattern for the socks on the cover and received incorrect information. I cannot recommend this book. It is not worth the frustration.
Those who have been knitting longer than I would probably be able to 'dig their needles' into this book right away with great relish. However, I needed the Magic Loop book written by Bev Galeskas for more foundation training in circular knitting. But after that, I was off and running with Melissa's book. Now, the '2-at-a Time Socks' book has become one of my most important resources for knitting. The patterns are diverse but not difficult, cute but not confusing. The method in which the patterns have been formatted make it very readable and simple to follow. Plus, there is enough blank space available to write personal notations. A very valuable addition to the book is the resource list on the last pages.
I wanted to try this technique and now I'm a complete convert. It is great to have both socks finished at the same time and it is much more pleasant to work circulars.
The book shows, at the start, how to master the technique. This was very helpful. Photos were clear and there was enough detail. Key to success? Remembering which is Sock A and Sock B when you start a project (this is made easier in the instructions b/c she uses two difference color yarns).
I knit one of her patterns first and now have no trouble converting other patterns to the same technique.
I highly recommend this.
I had purchased the paper version of the toe-up edition, thinking of using it to teach a friend to knit lace. She quickly announced she didn't want to knit toe-up, so I decided to try an ebook for my new tablet. The ebook doesn't display properly, especially when it comes to the charts. Disappointing. My biggest disappointment, though, was the patterns. They are rather boring, and lack any good lace.
I am proud to say I recently completed my first pair of socks - ever! - with this book. However, as a self-taught knitter, I have to say that this was not the easiest book to learn from considering it was my first project more complex than a hat. Beginners may want to make sure they have an alternate reference on hand to look up stitches. (I had no idea what ssk was going in). There is a small glossary in the back, but it used a different knitting style that I was used to. The technique is wonderful though, and very easy to pick up! Once I was up to speed with the abbreviations it was smooth sailing. Directions were very easy to follow. Also, 2-at-a-time is great for knitters who aren't constantly knitting. I started this pair of socks in January, and every time I set it down both socks were secure and in the same place, making it easy for me to pick up where I left off. And they match! It may have taken me until April to finish the project, but the socks look like I made them in one sitting.
I love this book!! It has a complete how to knit a swatch that's totally visual so it makes everything extremely easy and the patterns are absolutuly amazing.
Every pattern in the first edition has corrections. The illustrations are okay but not for a newbie. I think it was poorly written and have gotten better information for free from blogs and Ravelry.
I've only knit one-pair of socks so far. So, I'm a very beginner. This book will help me do more on just one needle. Written well, but a little tough for me to understand without a demonstration right now.
This book is the answer to that dilemma. Why not make both socks at the same time? The technique should work for mittens as well. Whatever you do, don't try to comprehend why it works before trying the technique. Just knit it!