Setting your sock’s intention
The first step to a great pair of socks is determining what the purpose of your socks are.
- Will you be wearing them hiking?
- Around the office?
- Bed socks?
Depending on your intended use for the socks (aside from wearing them on your feet), it will have an impact on the weight of yarn you’re choosing to use. You’re not going to want to knit DK weight socks and try to squish them into your shoes to wear them to the office – you’ll have very squished toes as you lose a shoe size from the yarn!
- The most commonly used weight for socks is fingering weight or sock yarn, rated superfine or a “1” by yarn council standards.
- Generally, this yarn weight fits comfortably in your shoes, and you’ll have a much easier time finding loads of amazing brands/colors that have the fiber content you prefer to use.
- Technically you can make socks from any yarn, but not all yarns will wear the same and hold up to all the work a sock has to do.
Choosing a sock yarn: You want something Stretchy, Strong, & Absorbent!
- You want a fiber blend that has some flexibility.
- You want your sock to be able to bounce back to its original shape after it’s been stretched out during wear while putting your socks on (that cuff stretches a great deal while pulling on a sock!).
- Your yarn should be able to withstand rubbing up against your shoes while you wear them or even just walking in them.
- You want a durable yarn; this comes from both the fiber content and the number of plies and twist.
- The tighter your yarn is twisted (while it’s spun), the more durability it will provide.
- Yarn used for socks needs to be abrasion-resistant. A lot of pressure happens when walking; the sock needs to withstand the stress from your foot, the ground, and shoes.
- As tempting as they are, choosing a super soft yarn often leads to socks that wear out sooner. So if you’re going to be on your feet all day, they won’t withstand the pressure for as long as they tend to pill and get holes faster. This isn’t a privilege everyone has due to skin sensitivities, so some will have to consider softness.
- A fiber content that can absorb extra moisture (sweat) while continuing to keep your feet dry is essential.
- Wool kicks butt at this, as it absorbs almost a third of its weight in moisture before it starts to feel damp on your feet.
In the plies
The best sock yarns have multiple plies spun tightly together, with little loft to the wool itself. Having more plies spun tightly together creates a denser yarn, and in turn, a thicker fabric, which will be more resistant to abrasion. Single Ply yarns are terrible for sock use – They wear holes into them quickly, and they’re often inconsistent in their spin with thin and thicker bits.
- While 2-ply yarns are better for socks, you’ll still find some variances between them based on their twist.
- I have two yarns here, both 2-ply yarns, but you’ll see a very noticeable difference between them when they’re both in their twisted form and untwisted forms.
- The green has a much tighter spin to it, which allows it to be a better option for socks than the other.
- 3-plies is going to give you a much sturdier sock than a 2-ply.
- I find that most of the sock yarns I come across have three strands, and like the 2-ply, the tighter the spin, the better.
- 8-ply is super neat. It gives a very dense fabric, is incredibly sturdy, and often has braided plies.
- Braided Plies means the 4 strands plied together to make up the 8-plies are also plied together as 2-plies first.
Common Sock Fibres
Generally, the most popular long-lasting sock yarns are wool blends that contain at least 20% nylon. The wool provides warmth and breathability, while the nylon provides strength, elasticity, and durability. Wool also helps regulate your body temperature, keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Great for warmer climates. It’s incredibly durable but not stretchy as a stand-alone fabric. Having a cotton blend with nylon is best.
Mohari is a wonderfully durable fiber when blended with merino and nylon.
Angora is a delightful addition to your sock blend if you have consistently cold feet, as it significantly boosts its heating capacity.
- This is something you’ll want to avoid.
- They wear through quickly and provide no breathability. So when your feet sweat in them, they become wet (and often smelly!).
- This type of yarn holds moisture directly against your feet, making them feel cold and clammy with wear.
- There is no best acrylic sock yarn because it makes your feet sweat.
In the name of Science
If you have a yarn that you’d love to try for socks, and you’re unsure how it would hold up as socks, you could always knit a swatch from it and carry it around at the bottom of your bag or purse for a couple of weeks. Apply some friction to the sample to see how it responds – if it quickly looks worn or pills, I recommend avoiding using it for socks.
- Socks need washing. Depending on your commitment, or the recipient’s commitment to washing socks, you’ll have a couple of options.
- If you’re not a fan of handwashing, Superwash Wool is the way to go as you “ll be able to pop it in the washing machine with your regular laundry.
- For non-superwash wools, you’ll need to handwash those socks, which some folks may find time-consuming (I don’t mind handwashing; it allows me to keep an eye on wear and tear before there’s a problem.
Some of my Favorite Indie Yarns for socks:
- Turtlepurl Yarns – Striped Turtle Toes
- Log House Cottage – Squishy 8-ply Sock
- Ancient Arts – Socknado
- Cactus Yarn Studio – Hug Me Cactus
- Fall for November Yarns – Timeless Sock
- Dye for Ewe – Snug
Popular Big-box Store Yarns: