I often get comments on my sock posts from people who would love to knit socks themselves but haven't yet given it a go, or from people who are too nervous to just give it a go, don't know where to start or from people who are having little problems when trying to knit socks. Although I'm not an expert when it comes to knitting socks, I thought I'd do a post with some hints and tips that I've picked up myself over my sock knitting journey which may help some of my readers out too.
The first thing I'd say is that if you want some help, then take a look at Winwick Mum's Sockalong posts. Christine from Winwick Mum gives lots and lots of tips as well as providing a tutorial and a simple sock pattern which is free to use. These are the socks I knit when I followed along with this Sockalong.
I find double pointed needles the easiest for me, however, when you first use them it can be very tricky. Don't let this put you off, you can use a small circular needle instead or even a longer circular needle with a technique called Magic Loop. Use whichever needles are comfortable for you.
Different makes of needles can be quite different too so if you find a particular brand too pointy then choose another brand which make their needles a little blunter, or vice versa.
I wouldn't necessarily spend a lot of money on the yarn for your first pair of socks as you may make a few mistakes. Drops Fabel is very reasonable, I'm knitting a pair of socks in it at the moment and it works up in to a lovely pattern. I would definitely choose a patterned yarn though, it does keep things interesting if you're knitting a plain sock. Regia is another affordable yarn and I've enjoyed using this brand in the past. There's some gorgeous sock yarn out there and once you know how easy it is to knit a pair of socks, there'll be no stopping you.
It's important to use a loose cast on otherwise the cuff will be too tight to get your feet through. I use the long-tailed cast on which is quite stretchy but I also use a larger needle than I'm going to use for the rest of the project. I usually knit my socks on 2.5mm needles but use 4mm for the cast on and transfer the stitches on to the 2.5mm ones as I knit the first row before joining in the round.
Make sure your stitches aren't twisted as you join in the round, it's easily done.
I always use stitch markers, usually three, one for the start of the round and the other two marking the instep. It keeps things clear for me.
When using double pointed needles, stitches at the end of each needle can sometimes pull loose creating a ladder effect in your knitting which can look a bit like a dropped stitch. Ladders are caused when the yarn isn't pulled tightly enough when moving from one needle to the next. You can prevent this happening by making sure that you pull the stitch tight as you change needles or do as I do and move the stitches around so that you're not ending in the same place on each row. Each time I get to the end of each needle, I just knit a couple of stitches from the following needle and that seems to work for me.
Learn how to kitchener stitch to graft the toe stitches together, it's easy when you know how to do it and makes a seamless toe.
Sock blockers aren't a necessity but they do give your socks a lovely shape once you've finished knitting them and have soaked them.
Once you've mastered a basic pattern there's lots of different cuffs, heels and toes to try out so that you can cobble together the exact sock you find most comfortable, and then it's time to try out some patterned socks, the world is your oyster.
Ravelry is a great source for free and paid for patterns and there's new ones being added all the time. I could spend hours on there and I've already earmarked more patterns than I can ever hope to knit.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Do feel free to leave any tips you have yourself in the comments as it's always good to help each other out.