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20151019_100714The only reason I wanted to learn how to knit was to make socks, but when it came down to actually trying to make a sock I was immediately turned away by the thought of knitting with teeny tiny double pointed needles. They were so small! Not to mention that they had points at both ends so your yarn could completely slip off the needles if you weren’t paying attention. There was no way I was good enough to do that.

Luckily, when I first started to learn to knit socks Cat Borhdi had already popularized the two circular technique for sock knitting. Then Sarah Hauschka figured out how to knit small circumferences on one long circular needle and called it “The Magic Loop” which was popularized in the book that Bev Galeskas wrote explaining it. Now there are teeny-tiny circular needles made for small circumference knitting. There are even books out there that walk you through the process of knitting socks on straight needles, so you don’t even have to worry about knitting in the round if you really hate it that much. Not to mention sock looms if you prefer knitting with a loom instead of with knitting needles.

So, what sort of needles do you need to learn how to knit socks on? Any kind of needles you feel most comfortable with.

That being said, I’m going to walk you through the pros and cons of each technique so you can know what to expect from them.

Knitting Socks Flat on Straight Needles

Pros:

  • you don’t have to knit in the round for this technique
  • makes intarsia easier (can anyone say argyle socks?)

Cons:

  • leaves a seam down your socks that could be uncomfortable
  • sewing seams

Double Pointed Needles

Pros:

  • easy to work with as many (or as few) needles as you need
  • no cables to fiddle with

Cons:

  • your knitting can slip off of the needles (especially if you are a loose knitter and like knitting with heavier needles)
  • could be more prone to ladders depending on your knitting style
  • can’t do two socks at a time easily on the same set of DPNs
  • easy to drop one needle if you aren’t paying attention

Two Circular Needles

Pros:

  • you only need two circular needles instead of 4 or 5 needles
  • gives you enough room to make two socks at the same time
  • don’t have to worry about losing your needle if you drop one

Cons:

  • you need two different circular needles of the same size
  • could lead to more ladders if you are not careful at intersections

One Long Circular Needle

Pros:

  • you only need one needle
  • don’t have to worry about losing your needle if you drop one
  • if you have a long enough cable, it gives you enough room to knit two socks at the same time

Cons:

  • you need a long cable to do this style comfortably (at least 36 inches or longer)
  • needs a flexible cable to do it with
  • could lead to more ladders if you are not careful at intersections
  • puts a lot of stress on your needles if you pull the cord a lot (instead of pushing your yarn up on your needle tip)

One Small Circular Needle

Pros:

  • feels similar to knitting a hat on a sixteen inch circular needle
  • very small and easy to travel with

Cons:

  • Tiny tips might be uncomfortable for larger hands to knit on
  • Tiny tips in general might be uncomfortable to knit on since you can only grasp them with a couple of fingers at a time
  • Can not knit more than one sock at a time easily
  • You need another method of needle available to be able to have enough space to do heel flap heels and decreasing toes. Depending on how long the cable is, you might be able to get away with short row heels and toes and to knit the entire sock on these needles.

Sock Looms

Before I start this section, I want to put a bit of a disclaimer on it. The only type of loom that I have ever knit on was a french knitting loom designed to knit I-Cord. I have never actually knit socks on a sock loom, but I do know how looms feel to knit on. Since this is now a viable option, I didn’t want to leave it out from the pro and con list.

Pros:

  • you don’t have to work with a lot of needles, you just have a loom and a stylus
  • looms can be easier to grasp and hold for those people who don’t have a very good grip
  • might be good to teach kids how to knit socks if your kids want to do it but have problems with knitting needles

Cons:

  • might be less portable because the loom takes up more space than some other options
  • might be harder to get a good fit with your socks without doing a lot of math
  • might be harder to figure out your gauge to make a pair of good fitting socks
  • not actual knitting needles (which can be a deal breaker for some people)
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