2-at-a-time socks

earlier this week, i mentioned that i tried out a new-to-me technique and shared this photo…

socks on circulars

it was a pair of socks i was knitting.

grey wool socks knit 2-at-a-time

i’ve knit socks in the round before using four dpns or double-pointed needles (for my primer on knitting needles, please read knitting needles 101). i know that you can also knit in the round using two sets of circular needles. more recently, i heard about knitting two pairs of socks at the same time, using only one circular needle and i wanted to try it out.

some benefits of this technique:

  • you don’t need to buy two sets of the same sized circular needle. you only need one circular needle, at least 100cm (40″) in length.
  • you cast on and finish two socks at the same time (if you’ve ever knit socks on dpns, you might be familiar with that feeling of “what do you mean i have to knit this thing all over again?!” even though we know full well that most of us have two feet.)
  • the tension and resulting size of the two socks are almost identical, having been knit in the round at the same time.
  • heel flaps/short rows/decreases/kitchener stitch to graft the toes are some of the more challenging (but really not that bad once you get it) techniques in knitting socks… but i found that doing them one after another on circulars helped reinforce those techniques. when learning to knit one sock at a time on dpns, i would struggle to replicate something knit on the first sock while i could barely remember what i did three rows back on the current sock.

the technique i used was the one described by melissa morgan-oakes in 2-at-a-time socks. i will not describe the exact technique in any detail here because i really do believe designers, innovators and all creatives should get recognition and compensation for their work (and no, i don’t get paid for this gig and i’m not sponsored in any way to review this book, though i would not be opposed to payment in the form of cash/yarn/alpacas).

melissa does a good job of explaining the steps, including just enough photos. there are also 17 patterns in the book, and once you understand the technique, you can apply it to just about any sock pattern.

the other thing, if publishers are listening… the design of the book itself is great. it is bound in sturdy coil, so when you’re going cross-eyed holding your needles, trying to make sense of instructions while attempting to keep the two balls of yarn from twisting and engulfing your children and small pets… it helps to have a book that doesn’t snap closed while it is on the table. thank you for that little detail!

two socks same time circular needles in progress

as for the socks i made? it’s a funny thing. i wanted to try out the technique without committing to a full-sized pair of socks. i had a small amount of leftover sock yarn and used it and fewer stitches to teach myself the 2-at-a-time technique. the result?

a tiny pair of socks that will fit nobody in this house. but kind of stinkin’ cute to look at, no? they crack me up a little…

finished socks knit 2 at a time on circular needles

(by the way, these socks still need to be blocked. i’ve described blocking and how i do it here and here.)

i think there is a learning curve to this technique, as with anything new. there is a lot of shifting of the stitches back and forth, and there are two balls of yarn to manage. the author gives plenty of tips to make it all easier. i’m not sure that it is entirely easier than using dpns, though i admit it is nice to be finished two socks at the same time. i will attempt it again. on a full-sized pair.

have you tried this technique before? do you go out of your comfort zone in your own creations, or stick with what you know as tried and true? let me know your thoughts…

p.s. melissa morgan-oakes has a blog and is on twitter — so am i! it’s like we’re twins! she has also written a book about 2-at-a-time socks knit from the toe up (vs. cuff-down), and has a new book coming out called teach yourself visually circular knitting. — this is where our twinship ends and she becomes the overachieving, more famous sibling ;-)

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13 Responses to 2-at-a-time socks

  1. Sheri says:

    Those are darn cute and you are darn talented!

  2. You are very talented. The socks look wonderful!

  3. Marti says:

    I’ve tried two at a time. It wasn’t for me. I’m quite content with my dpns. Those wee socks are just too cute :)

  4. ~*~Patty says:

    those are such cutie patootie little socks!!
    I have always thought the circular needles look mysterious and then I see you knitting two socks at the same time…well wowee…you really ARE a knitter and must be very good at following directions :)
    I enjoy peeking in on your knitting life
    ooxo

  5. imadeitso says:

    thanks!

    i used to have a really hard time following these sort of instructions. i think i used to take it personally, like “don’t tell me what to do! i’ll figure this out myself!” (i have similar issues with my GPS telling me where to turn lol)… but i’ve really tried to turn that stubbornness determination into a positive thing and i’ve learned a lot from others along the way :)

  6. googiemomma says:

    haha! tiny socks!
    the rest was way beyond me…but the tiny socks gave me a giggle.

  7. googiemomma says:

    maybe do 2 more? then you’ll have 4…do you have a cat?

  8. 'Joyce' says:

    Hullo Ana, oh they are so cute, I am thinking Christmas stockings for sure. I have never done socks, and a bit scared to try, especially with my beanie from last winter still part finished and on the needles and me too *bkerk* (chicken noise) to get back to it. Have a great weekend at your place.

  9. Corey says:

    Heh heh, Sheri said darn. Twice.

    That technique would really work for me if I knew how to knit. The repetition would be much easier for me and would sooth my brain.

    Is the yarn itchy? It looks itchy? Surely it’s soft because why would you use itchy yarn for anything much less a sock? LOL

    • imadeitso says:

      i noticed those “darns” too!

      the yarn is pure wool, so it’s … woolly. but it’s also very fine (thin) sock yarn. i’m sensitive to harsh itchy stuff but working with this one didn’t bother me.

  10. Pingback: a quick note… | i made it so.

  11. Pingback: melissa morgan-oakes is here today! | i made it so.

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