How-To: Two-at-once Toe-up Socks

I have become quite addicted to the “stats” page here on WordPress. Can’t get enough of it. Am thrilled when views in a day surpass 10, and wonder what I’m doing wrong when they’re less than 5. Am amused by which links people follow. And am intrigued by the searches people use to find me here.

According to my beloved stats page, many of you out there are looking for more information on how to knit two socks at the same time. And who could blame you?

Nothing is worst than the dreaded “Second Sock Syndrome” which afflicts so many knitters: the horror, the lethargy, the love-turned-to hate for a favoured sock pattern or yarn, all brought on by one mateless sock and a pile of empty dpns lying despondently before oneself!

The remedy for this cruel affliction? Two-at-once socks on the Magic Loop!

As it turns out I have just begun a new pair (oh, the joy of beginning a complete pair!) of Elfine’s Socks (pdf link), in beautiful Fleece Artist “Sea Wool”. Now unfortunately I am still camera-less* so I can’t show you what I’m doing. But I can point you in the right direction.

1) Find your sock pattern. I’d reccommend Elfine’s Socks (link above); WiseNeedle has a Simple Toe-up Pattern, as does this website; Elann’s “Sock it to me” Toe-up Chevron Socks was the first toe-up pattern I tried; and Widdershins looks very promising with a re-enforced gusset heel. Almost any pattern will do, though**: you just pass over the numbered-needle directions, and work the stitches divided over two needles, as even as possible.

2) Stitches over only two needles, you say? That’s right, with the Magic Loop method you’re only ever knitting with two points, and only ever on the “front” or the “back” (sole or instep, when it comes to socks). Check out here or here for instructions on how the Magic Loop works its magic.

3) Prepare your yarn! If you’ve got two balls of the same, great; if not, divide your large skien of sock yarn into two balls, one for each sock. Then stick your two balls of yarn into a ziplock bag (this keeps them clean, and cozy together!). I suppose you could just knit from both ends of a large ball, but I suspect that woud have you travelling swiftly down the road to tangles and frustration.

4) Cast-on for one sock with ball of yarn #1, and then cast on for the second sock using ball #2. Knitty has a “Figure 8″ cast-on method tutorial which includes two-at-once socks (though it never seems that complicated when I’m doing it, so don’t get discouraged). Now I know some people hate the “figure 8″: that’s ok! Just remember the principals of Magic Loop when you’re casting on, and make sure that each sock has it’s frontside stitches on one half of your loop and the backside stitches on the other.

5) Knit your socks! As you make each round, you will be:
– knitting the first half of sock #1
– knitting the first half of sock #2
– turning you Magic Loop (adjusting the needles)
– knitting the second half of sock #2
– knitting the second half of sock #1

6) Yes, the heel is a bit of a sticky wicket. Follow the directions of your pattern carefully, and if you think it would be easier on your brain, you can always sub in a dpn. For short-row heels, you work the entire heel of sock #1, then the entire heel of sock #2.

7) Another advantage of toe-up socks is thatyou can try them on as you knit! This is especially nice for knitting the leg: you can go as high as you need to, or if you love taller socks you can pretty-much just knit until you’re out of yarn.

Enjoy! Knitting socks in this manner may seem like you’re making slower progress than more traditional methods, but remember: when you’re done, you’re done! No more Second Sock Syndrome.

If none of this made any sense to you whatsoever, try downloading this pdf: Two Socks on the Magic Loop.

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*But we’re working on it. A usb cord has been aquired, and savings for non-crappy camera are underway.
**You can even use a cuff-down pattern! But then you don’t get to use a cool cast-on, like the “figure 8″.

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6 Comments

Filed under how-to, knitting

6 responses to “How-To: Two-at-once Toe-up Socks

  1. Ahh..so you really DO heart fleece artist! The new socks will be lovely, I’m sure. I’ve tried socks all different ways–dpns, circs, toe up, top down, one at a time, two at at time. Oddly, I find I like top-down dpns best. I would probably love the toe-ups best (’cause who can resist that wonderful cast-on?) but I have yet to find an elastic cast off for the top that doesn’t look sloppy. Know you of such a cast off?

  2. Em

    I’ve only recently switched sides of the fence (yes, I admit I was once a sock-knitting hater!), so I don’t have a tonne of experience in the multiple cast-ons/cast-offs for socks area. This caveat in place, then, I can say that the last pair I knit I used the “Russian Cast-Off” which I found here. It seems to be a very easy, stretchy cast-off, and I liked its look just fine. However, I did those socks with 1×1 ribbing at the top, which seems to have less “staying power” than a 2×2 — is this true, or is it just me?

  3. I really enjoy knitting with the magic loop method, making a pair of socks at one time… it’s awesome! I can’t say I’ll never use the dbl pts again, but for now I’m enjoying the multiple pairs of socks that I’m knitting currently on one long circular. :) Happy Knitting!

  4. I’m spectacularly lazy, so my bind off for toe-up socks is as follows: get sock to desired length. Knit (continuing ribbing pattern) a round from your regular needle to a larger needle (I go from 0s to 2s). Then bind off loosely in pattern. Voila!

  5. Oh my, Em, I pop over to hunt for the hints on two-at-once-on-Magic-Loop and find cryptic references to Russian cast-offs and who knows what else! This is an exciting site! Since I now swear by circulars anyway, and forswear socks made any other way than by Magic Loop, the sooner I tackle the two-at-once trick the better, I think, don’t you? It sounds like fun actually, although swear words may possibly enter into it. Yo up there, Ms Knitingale! Nice to meet up with you in someone else’s knitting room!

  6. Em

    I’m so glad that my toss-it-together method of resource sharing seems to be helping people!

    Ann, I agree with you: my dpn’s certainly have their place, but for me, the ML is the way to go for socks, for the completion of a PAIR if nothing else! I’ll stick to dpns for things like armwarmers & hats.

    Chris, thanks for the lazy cast-off — I know that I’ll be using that method sometime! (If, of course, I’m not too lazy to go find larger-guage needles…)

    Jo, I’m so glad you find my site intriguing! I know I love to visit your own “knitting room” (along with Ms.K; as you’re both daily stop-overs, my parlour is honoured!) I highly encourage you to jump right in to the two-at-once pool: this site here shows a magic looper just knitting a tube, so I assume that you’d use this cast-on for top-down socks. I just happen to be a pro-fig.8 girl, and find toe-ups cool, but I’m sure that I’ll try some top-downs someday as well. Best of luck in you sockish pursuits!

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