Knitting Socks with Magic Loop and 2 Circular Needles

Magic Loop is by far my favorite way to knit a sock. I’ve knit countless pairs of socks on magic loop and for me it is definitely the easiest, least fussy way to knit a sock. I don’t have to worry about dropping stitches off the end of the needle and there is no extra needle to lose track of.

I decided to combine the magic loop post with the 2 circs post because functionally I feel they are pretty much the same. With magic loop cast on your sock stitches then split them in half by folding the cable between the center stitches. When you have two circulars instead of folding the cable in half between the center stitches you cast half of your sock stitches on one needle and half on the second needle.

Before I get into the pros and cons of this method I have to mention that I don’t really see the utility of two circular needles outside of two at a time socks. When you’re only knitting one sock there is plenty of room on the needle for magic loop. For me adding the second needle when I am only knitting one sock just turns my project into a knotted mess. However, I can see the need for the extra space that two circs provide when knitting socks two at a time.

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Magic Loop can also be used for sweater sleeves.

Pros

1) One Needle to Rule them All

I swear there are probably a hundred different size dpns lost in my couch right now, which is part of the reason why I love knitting socks with magic loop. Because magic loop only uses one long circular needle there is no extra needle to keep track of since your one and only needle is always attached to your project.

2) Work is Easy to Manipulate

When I knit socks using 9″ circs I find it really hard  to move the stitches around. It seems like there just is’t enough cable to get the job done. With magic loop there is plenty of cable for maneuvering your knitting. I use a 40″ circ most of the time and I never feel pressed for space, even with two socks on one circ.

3) Easy on the Joints

I find that magic loop knitting is easier on my fingers and wrists that 9″ circs or dpns. But everyone is different you may find that the exact opposite is true for you.

4) Your Stitches are safe

One of my biggest complaints with 9″ circulars and dpns is that my stitches slide of the ends of the needles. I’m not an overly lose knitter either I just seem to have bad luck when it comes to keeping stitches on my needles.

5) There are Limited Pattern Breaks

With magic or two circs you sock stitches are split in half so there are only two pattern breaks. Since the patterns on sock are often organized so that the sole stitches are independent from the instep stitches this pattern break is pretty low fuss. However when you knit socks with dpns you can wind up with some really strange pattern breaks.

Cons

*I really tried to come up with a good list of cons for this sock knitting method but it is my favorite and I am a little biased.

1) Tangles

When I put my magic loop socks in my bag the needle’s cable usually gets tangled with my yarn. Normally it’s not a big deal and it takes a couple seconds to fix but if you really hate tangles this might not be the method for you.

2) Laddering

Because your stitches are split in half you do end up with some laddering. I don’t really mind this because they block out. If you don’t block you socks and you feel like laddering is public enemy number one you should probably knit your socks on 9″ circs.

 

Knitting Socks on dpns

From what I gather knitting socks on dpns seems to be the tried and true, old fashion method of knitting socks. That’s not to say that there is something inherently bad or outdated with knitting socks on dpns. For many knitters dpns are their sock knitting go to needle choice.

If I were knitting a sock and I had to pick between a 9 in circ and dpns I would go for the dpns every time. I just find knitting on dpns to be more enjoyable than knitting with a 9 in circ, particularly because dpns are a lot easier on my joints.

I feel the most effective way to evaluate the different needle types is to compare and contrast them. So here is my list of pros and cons of dpns compared to the other sock knitting needle options.

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Pros

1) Less Tangles

When knitting socks with dpns there are no cables to tangle with your yarn, like there is with magic loop.If you’re someone who is on the go and throwing their knitting in their bag a lot this is probably very appealing.

2) Easy on the Joints

I find knitting on 9 in circs to be hard on my fingers and wrists but dpn knitting is a breeze in this regard.

Cons

1) Dpns are Heavier than Magic Loop

I find that dpns are noticeably heavier than magic loop. If  you are someone with sensitive hands your might find dpns a little more taxing than magic loop because of the added weight.

2) Odd Pattern Breaks

Because the stitches are split onto three and sometimes four needles this can lead to some odd pattern breaks. If you’re knitting a sock loaded with cables than you might want to opt for a different needle choice.

3) Laddering

I mentioned in my post about magic loop that I don’t think laddering is that big of a deal since it blocks out.

Washing Socks

One of the challenges of knitting garments is washing them. Sure you need to wash a hand knit scarf or a shawl but a lot less often than a hand knit sock or sweater. So much time goes in to hand knit garments that washing them can be a little nerve wracking. So today’s post is all about how I wash my hand knit socks.

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Today I used a little castile soap on my socks because my wool wash is MIA. All of these socks are knit out of super wash fibers, which means technically I could have thrown them in the washing machine and the fiber isn’t as sensitive as a non super wash fiber. If your socks or other knit garments are not made from a super wash fiber I would advise against using castile soap.

Once I have all my dirty socks together I grab a bowl and normally some no rise wool wash. I fill the bowl with tepid water.With non super wash fibers the temperature of the water is important. You don’t want to shock your fiber with really hot water because this can lead to felting.

I usually let my socks soak for about 20 minutes. I always set a timer because otherwise my socks would be sitting in that bowl for hours.

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If you are using a wool wash you won’t have to rinse you socks but since I was using castile soap I made sure to rinse them in the sink when I was done soaking them.

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After rinsing I squeezed out the excess water and hung them to dry. Get as much of the water out of the socks as you can. You do want to be careful and not ring out your socks because this can damage them. I put a towel under my drying rack to protect the floor because it’s hard to all the water out by hand and I find my socks sometimes drip a tiny bit.

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Sock Repairs

Does your beloved pair of socks have a hole in them? Today I am going to show you how I fix holes in sock heels. This is my improvised sock patching method. I know there are other methods out there that may or may not be similar to the way I patch socks.

This is a sock that I knit for a friend and as you can see they have been well loved. I wanted to patch up the hole and reinforce the stitches around it. I also wanted the patch to look neat because I was repairing the sock for a friend.

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So the first thing I did was pick up the stitches above the hole. I wanted to make sure that the patch was going to b strong enough to withstand some wear so I made sure it was a couple stitches wider than the hole.

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Next I added the working yarn by knitting across the stitches I picked up. I carried the tail with the working yarn to make sure everything was secure. I worked two rows, knitting on the right side purling the wrong side.

To attach the patch to the sock I picked up a stitch at the beginning of each row and worked it together with the first patch stitch, knitting the right side and purling the wrong side.

I worked back and forth in this manner until the patch covered the hole plus a few rows for good measure.

To attach the bottom edge of the patch I did a traditional bind-off (knit one, pass previous stitch over the second stitch) but each time I knit a stitch I picked up one of the heel stitches and knit them together. When I was finished I wove in the ends like I normally would.

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The finished product is a visible but discrete patch that should hold up for some years to come.

Create a Sock Recipe: Intro

I love sock knitting. Socks are definitely my favorite garment to knit. There are so many different ways to knit socks: toe up, cuff down, magic loop, 9″ circs, dpns, two long circs. Every sock knitter has their own favorite vanilla sock recipe but figuring out what works for your feet can take a long time.

For the next few weeks I am going to be going over the different methods, tools and techniques used in sock knitting so that you can create your own sock recipe. We will talk about the different needle types and sock architecture.

Once we have our foundation laid we will jump in to knitting socks and using one or a combination of the different methods we discuss!

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Adventures in Intarsia

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Around Thanksgiving I announced to my mom that I was going to make my dad a pair of argyle socks for Christmas. At the time I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never done intarsia before; I didn’t even know what intarsia was. I had knit tons of socks before though and I was confident in my stranded colorwork skills.

A little bit of research told me that knitting argyle was not as simple as I had thought. First of all the colorwork technique used was intarsia not stranded colorwork. Second, I would need to knit the leg of the sock flat then seam it together. Ugh…

My first mistake was thinking I could DIY bobbins. In intarsia yarn is usually pulled from bobbins rather than a skein. Since I had never worked in intarsia before I thought I could simply wind yarn around small bits of cardboard. I was WRONG. The pieces of cardboard did not keep the yarn from unwinding like the bobbins do and so yarn management was impossible. However, after a quick trip to Hobby Lobby and hours spent in Starbucks untangling my socks and winding yarn onto my new bobbins and I was well on my way.

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Once I got my yarn situated the socks zipped along. At least the first sock did; I ended up with a bit of second sock syndrome. Initially I was a little intimidated by intarsia but it turned out to be pretty easy. I watched this excellent tutorial by Very Pink Knits and learned everything I needed to know.

While getting started was a bit of a challenge knitting argyle socks was not that hard, which is a good thing because my husband has already asked for a pair.

Pattern

The pattern I used was from a website called free vintage knits. Although it did the trick, I have one and a half socks, that look amazing, this is definitely not my favorite pattern or one that I would recommend to someone with a limited knowledge of sock constructions. I also knit the recommended gauge and maybe my family has really narrow feet but this pattern produces a wide sock. I don’t think my dad will mind but if I knit this pattern again I will use a smaller needle.

The wording of the written instructions was not super clear. If I was not familiar with knitting a heel flap and gusset I think the written instructions would have left me very confused. In general I felt the written pattern was a little too brief and if I were a less experienced knitter I would have been very lost.

Also, the colorwork chart looked like it was a photocopy of a photocopy. I had to zoom in really far to make sense of it. Plus, the rows and stitches were not numbered in anyway. However, the argyle pattern was pretty intuitive so it wasn’t a huge problem. I have never used patterns from this website before so I don’t know if the poor chart quality is par for the course or a blip on the radar but either way the chart quality was such that I would not recommend this pattern.

Yarn

The yarn I used for this project was a collection of odds and ends I had lying around in my stash. The main color is the light blue and that is a cascade yarn in their heritage collection that I bought at my local yarn shop. I normally order my yarn online because my local yarn shop is typically over priced and their selection is not that great but I was leaving for Florida the following day and I didn’t have time to order yarn. The cascade yarn ended up working out really well and I would definitely work with it again. I liked the colorway it was nice to work with and the yarn was reasonably priced.

I used a little bit of dark blue KnitPicks Stroll that I had lying around. I thought it was their navy colorway but I recently ordered navy stroll and the two yarns are not the same colorway. So, long story short, I have no idea what colorway this yarn is. I tried looking back through my KnitPicks orders to find out but I had no luck.

I also used a cream color yarn and a hunter green color yarn. They are both fingering weight and have been in my stash forever. They were also label-less when I dug them out of my stash. So, I have no idea what they are but I thought they knit up great.