First, let me comment that no matter how you choose to knit socks they are a great portable project. They are small and depending on the pattern they are often simple enough to be knit in public. There are many ways to knit socks. One way is with double pointed needles to create a tube. The same tube can also be created using two circular needles or one really long circular needle. They all accomplish the same thing, in addition, socks can be knitted flat, knitted from the top down or the toe up. This article will discuss knitting socks with double pointed needles and knitting socks with two circular needles.
To the best of my knowledge the most common way (if in knitting anything is more common than something else) of knitting socks is to knit on double pointed needles from the top down. The needles form a triangle and the tube is created by joining the cast on row together in a circle (being careful not to twist) and knitting in the round. The main drawback to this method is that using four and sometimes five double pointed needles, especially at the beginning of the sock, is awkward and the needles drop or stitches fall off of the ends if you are not careful. This is my favorite way to make socks, Iím not sure it is the fastest, but it the way that I learned and in a pinch is the most comfortable for me.
Another way that is faster and makes it less likely to lose stitches is to use two circular needles. Once you cast onto one needle and transfer half of the stitches to another, join the circle and start knitting around you may be a convert. The other amazing thing that you can do with this method is to knit two socks at a time, thereby never suffering from the second sock syndrome. This method also helps make sure you donít run out of yarn before you finish the second sock or at least it is easier to spot if you might run out of yarn before you are finished.
A final thing to consider is to decide if you want to make socks from the top to the toe or the toe to the top. Although it seems tricky at first to start with the toe those people that do swear they will never go back to making socks from the top again. This method, especially if you work both socks at the same time does ensure you wonít run out of yarn since you can just make the leg of the sock shorter (hard to make the foot shorter and still have it fit.)
I would like to suggest a few books to get you started, but whatever method you choose, you hopefully will find hand knit socks warm and much more comfortable than anything you can buy in the store.
Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has what she calls a basic sock recipe that works really well and is very simple to follow. She uses double pointed needles.
Socks from the Toes Up: Essential Techniques and Patterns from Wendy Knits by Wendy Johnson
And Cat Bordhiís Sock that Soar on Two Needles