Practice Lesson: Learn to Knit a Small Sock

Knitting sock
Anastasia Archipova-Lineva / EyeEm / Getty Images
  • 01 of 10

    The Perfect Practice Sock

    Cast on sock.
    Cast on for sock. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Some knitters enjoy knitting socks more than others. If the thought of knitting socks scares you a bit, begin with this small sock pattern. It's a quick little project and will guide you through each step.

    Often, the hardest part of socks is understanding the shaping and construction. By the end of this lesson, you will have a grasp on all of it and all your sock knitting fears will be gone!

    Your finished sock will be the size for a baby and you can knit another sock if you like. Even if...MORE you're not knitting this for someone, it's a good sample project to see if you'll enjoy knitting socks. You can then decide if you want to move up to larger sizes or not.

    To Start Your Sock Pattern

    This pattern will create a small sock that is about 3.5 inches long from heel to toe and 4 inches tall.

    To get started you'll need:

    • A scrap of worsted weight yarn, about 20 yards
    • A set of four size-7 US double-pointed needles
    • A pair of scissors
    • A yarn needle
    • A ruler or tape measure
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  • 02 of 10

    Cast On and Join in Round

    Sock joined in round.
    Stitches joined in the round. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.
    • Cast on 20 stitches onto one needle.

    Once you have cast on, you need to distribute the stitches onto three of your four needles.

    • Slide your stitches to the end of the needle, beginning with the first cast on stitch.
    • Slip the stitches one at a time onto another needle.
    • Continue slipping until you have two needles with 7 stitches each and one needle with 6 stitches.

    Once you have your stitches evenly distributed, join the work in the round.

    • Slip the first cast on stitch onto the needle with the last...MORE cast on stitch.
    • Slip the last stitch over the first stitch and onto the last needle.

    Alternatively, you can cast on an extra stitch, slip the last cast on stitch onto the needle with the first cast on stitch and knit them together. Or use whatever method you like.

    At this point, you can slip a stitch holder onto the needle to mark the end of the row. Or, you can just note where the tail from your cast on is; this is the end of the row.

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  • 03 of 10

    Knitting the Ribbing

    Sock ribbing.
    The sock's ribbing. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.
    • Knit in knit 1, purl one ribbing for 4 rounds.

    If you're not used to knitting with double-pointed needles, you might need to knit a little more slowly than usual in order to control all those needles. Once you've knit a couple of rounds, the work will feel much more stable.

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  • 04 of 10

    Knitting the Leg

    Sock leg.
    The sock leg. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    To knit the leg of the sock:

    • Knit every round for about one inch.

    When knitting in the round, knitting every row produces Stockinette Stitch.

    The leg is the part of the sock that often has interesting stitch patterns or cables worked into it. However, it's good to practice with simple Stockinette, especially if you're just learning to work with double-pointed needles.

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  • 05 of 10

    Knitting the Heel Flap

    The knit heel flap.
    The knit heel flap. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Heels can be knit in several different ways, but one of the most common is using a heel flap and then "turning the heel" (see step 6).

    To begin working the heel flap:

    • Knit the first 10 stitches of the round onto one needle.
    • To make it easier to work with, slip the other 10 stitches onto one needle and allow them to hang while you work back and forth on the first 10 stitches.

    The heel flap itself is a two-row repeat:

    • Row 1: (wrong side) Slip the first stitch purlwise with the yarn in front,...MORE purl the rest of the stitches.
    • Row 2: *Slip the first stitch purlwise with the yarn in back, knit the next stitch. Repeat from * across.
    • Repeat these two rows 4 more times, until you've worked 10 ​rows total, ending on the knit side.
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  • 06 of 10

    Turning the Heel

    Turned sock heel.
    The turned heel makes a tiny cup at the bottom of the heel flap. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Turning the heel is a common method for making the little cup your heel actually sits in when you wear the sock. It's accomplished using short rows, meaning that you turn the work and knit back over the stitches you just worked without fully knitting across the row.

    In the case of this sock, the turning happens with only one stitch unworked, so there's no time to feel intimidated! As before, slip the stitches purlwise with the yarn in front.

    Here's how you turn the heel:

    • Row 1: Slip 1,...MORE purl 5, purl 2together, purl one. Turn the work, leaving one stitch unworked.
    • Row 2: Slip 1, knit 3, slip, slip, knit, knit 1. Turn the work, leaving one stitch unworked.
    • Row 3: Slip 1, purl 4, purl 2 together. Turn the work. There are no unworked stitches.
    • Row 4: Slip 1, knit 4, slip, slip, knit. There are no unworked stitches. Six stitches remain on the needle.

    See, nothing to it!

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  • 07 of 10

    Working the Gusset

    Stitches picked up for gusset.
    Stitches picked up for the gusset. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    The gusset of a sock gets the leg stitches and the heel stitches back together. It shapes the sock so it comfortably fits around the heel and the top of the foot.

    To begin:

    • Take an empty needle and pick up and knit six stitches along the side of the heel flap. The stitches you should pick up are easy to find because we slipped stitches along the edge of the heel flap.
    • Use another needle to knit across the 10 stitches of the leg that have been hanging out.
    • Pick up another empty needle and pick up and...MORE knit six stitches along this side of the heel flap, plus three of the stitches from the heel itself.
    • Slip the last three stitches of the heel onto the needle with the first stitches you picked up (so you have an empty needle again) and knit those three stitches, along with the first stitches you picked up.

    Now the stitches from the leg are considered needle one, the next needle is needle 2, and the needle you just finished knitting is needle 3.

    To shape the gusset, work the following two rows:

    • Row one: Knit straight across the first needle. On the second needle, knit 1, slip, slip, knit, and knit to the end of the needle. On the third needle, knit to within 3 stitches of the end of the row, knit two together, and knit the last stitch.
    • Row 2: Knit straight around with no decreasing.
    • Repeat these two rows until you have five stitches on each of the second and third needles; 20 stitches total.
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  • 08 of 10

    Knitting the Foot

    Sock foot.
    The finished gusset and sock foot. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Once you have the gusset shaped and are back to just 20 stitches.

    • Knit straight for another inch.

    This makes the main foot of the sock.

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  • 09 of 10

    Knitting the Sock Toe

    The sock toe.
    The sock toe. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Almost done! All that's left is shaping the toe of the sock, which once again involves decreasing. As before, the stitches of the leg are needle one, the ones after that are needle two, and the final needle is needle three.

    • Row 1: On needle 1, knit 1, slip, slip, knit, knit to the last three stitches, knit 2 together, knit 1. Needle 2, knit 1, slip, slip, knit, and knit to the end. Needle 3, knit to the last three stitches, knit 2 together, knit 1.
    • Row 2: Knit straight with no decreasing.
    • Row...MORE 3: Repeat row 1. You will have 12 stitches remaining.
    • Slip the stitches from needle 2 onto needle 3 so that you have two needles with 6 stitches each.
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  • 10 of 10

    Finishing the Sock

    Finished sock.
    The finished sock. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Since this is just a practice sock, you can finish off just by cutting the yarn with a long tail, threading it onto a yarn needle, slipping all the stitches on, and pulling tight.

    But since this is a practice sock, you might as well practice the standard way of closing off a sock, known as grafting or the Kitchener Stitch.

    Once you've closed off the toe you have a perfect little sock to stuff with potpourri and put in your sock drawer!