New Year, New Socks

What are you casting on for New Year’s Day?

New Year’s Day is a great time to cast on a new project, and this year I’ve chosen a pair of socks. Not just any socks, these are worsted weight socks specially designed for my husband, Dano, to wear with his work boots.  And by design, I mean I’ve taken bits of this and bits of that to create my own sock recipe. They feature ribbing across the top of the foot and the leg/cuff for a snug fit. They are extra durable and reinforced because I hold darning thread with my yarn while I work the toe and heel, and then I hold elastic thread for the top inch or so of the cuff. I also enjoy working two-at-a-time toe-up socks on magic loop because I have a pair when I finish knitting (I suffer from single sock syndrome ha!). I split the yarn into 2 balls using a scale for accuracy, or if I’m feeling extra adventurous, I’ll use both ends of a center-pull ball at the same time.

If you’d also like to make a customized pair of worsted weight socks for yourself or a loved one, follow my recipe below.

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Favorite sock knitting supplies

Dano’s Favorite Worsted Weight Socks

You will need:

  • 200 yards worsted weight yarn (I prefer superwash wool, and my favorite is Malabrigo Rios, pictured above in color “Ivy”)
  • US size 6 40” circular needles (for two-at-a-time socks on magic loop)
  • Darning and reinforcement thread (I prefer Regia brand) in a coordinating color
  • Elastic thread
  • Other sock hardware: stitch markers, sock blockers, sock ruler, darning egg or mushroom, yarn needle, scissors.
  • Size and gauge note: Check your gauge, measure foot, and then use the Super Sock Calculator to determine your sock size and number of stitches/rows for your sock. My sock recipe is for a 9″ foot circumference, 10.5″ foot length, using 16 sts/4 inch gauge.

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Dano’s Work Boot Socks collection: (l to r) Malabrigo Rios “Marta”, Malabrigo Rios “Winter Lake”, and Anzula For Better or Worsted “Sexy”

Instructions for US Men’s 8.5-10 (inch) sock, using toe-up magic loop method:

  • For the toe: using your yarn and some darning thread held together, cast on 16 sts (8 sts on each needle for magic loop). I recommend Knit Purl Hunter’s tutorial on Judy’s Magic CO and two-at-a-time toe-up socks. Add a stitch marker if you’d like to mark the beginning of the round. Increase to 40 sts (20 on each needle). I prefer to work my increases as follows: *K1, M1R, knit to last stitch on needle, M1L, K1, repeat from * for second needle. Knit one round even. Repeat these two rounds for desired number of sts increased.
  • For the foot: now that you’ve finished the toe, cut and drop the darning thread, leaving a tail for weaving in later, and continue onto the foot without cutting the yarn. Begin foot ribbing pattern with this next round: K1, (P2, K2) x4, P2, K21. Repeat this round 53 times total (8.5″ from the toe) for 10.5″ total sock length (remember the heel adds an average of 2″ to your sock). I recommend using a Sock Ruler to double check your sock’s foot length before starting the heel.
  • For the heel: grab your darning thread again and hold some with your yarn for the heel. I prefer to use a short row heel, and the tutorial from Laura Chau is especially helpful. Begin heel as follows: work across top of foot K1, (P2, K2) x4, P2, K1, then begin short row heel. Work the short row heel until 8 unwrapped sts remain in the middle after the last short row turn. Pick up the wraps according to the tutorial linked above, and then work one round even to pick up the last wraps, doing your best to close the inevitable gaps. Before beginning the leg and cuff of your sock, cut and drop the darning thread. Extra tip: Leave yourself a generous tail when joining and dropping your darning thread, as this extra yardage will come in handy for closing up any remaining gaps between your heel. No matter which heel you choose, or how carefully you work it, there are always holes at the corner where you’ve joined the heel to the rest of your sock. Having some extra yarn to cinch those gaps/holes up at the end creates a seemingly flawless and extra strong heel.
  • For the leg and cuff, follow this ribbing pattern: K1, (P2, K2) to last three sts, P2, K1. Repeat this round 30 times total. At this point, join your elastic thread and repeat ribbing pattern for 10 more rounds, which gives your cuff extra elasticity and staying power. Depending on your gauge, needle size, and total yardage, you may have more or less yarn and can adjust the leg/cuff rounds accordingly. For example, I’ve worked a shorter cuff when using Anzula’s For Better or Worsted, and a bit longer cuff when using Malabrigo’s Rios. Always plan for the top inch of your cuff to be knitted with the elastic thread and you should be good to go!
  • Bind off using Jeny’s Stretchy BO, and use one needle size larger for the bind off if you tend to be a tight knitter. I recommend Cat Bordhi’s tutorial for this particular bind off technique. Cut both the elastic and yarn, leaving yourself a tail for weaving in ends.
  • Finishing: Weave in all of your ends securely. I try to use the invisible method whenever possible, and I find that it is the most secure and is worth the extra time. The Purl Soho tutorials include a number of methods I mention here: For the toe, I weave in my end (holding both the yarn and darning thread) using the duplicate stitch method across the very tip of the toe before securing to the inside of the sock. This is where the darning egg or mushroom comes in if that’s your kind of thing. For the heel, I use the ends of the darning thread to secure any gaps or holes before using the duplicate stitch method to secure the rest of the tail across the top of the heel. For the cuff, I weave in the end (holding both the yarn and elastic thread) as carefully as possible to match the stretchy-ness of the bind off before weaving in the end vertically along the leg of the sock. Wet block and lay flat to dry, preferably using sock blockers, and enjoy!

If you have any questions or extra sock-knitting tips, leave them in the comments below.

Happy Knitting and Happy New Year!

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