I’m a confident-beginner kind of knitter, and I’ve always wanted to knit my own pair of socks. A few years ago, I took a sock-knitting class with my sister. The teacher was a patient, friendly woman who showed us how to knit a baby sock from start to finish. It went well—or so I thought. Within a few days, I promptly forgot every trick, twist, and turn that our kind teacher had taught us. It wasn’t her fault—it was mine. There were just too many steps to remember. As a result, I didn’t end up remembering any of them.
Several years later, I’m still sockless. And I’m still sock hungry. When I first saw the new book Knitting Brioche-Stitch Socks, it wasn’t the title that caught my eye. It was the subtitle: 14 Easy Patterns for Tube Socks. Hmm. Knitting tube socks? Tube socks don’t have gussets. Or heel flaps. Or fancy insteps. Tubes socks are … tubes.
Hey, I can knit a tube! Can’t I?
I talked to Ursula Reikes, the technical editor of Knitting Brioche-Stitch Socks, to better understand what this new book is all about. Thanks to her, I can now bring you the skinny on knitting socks, brioche-stitch style.
If you’re a confident beginner who knows how to do three techniques—slip stitches, yarn overs, and knitting or purling two stitches together—you’ll already have a jump on knitting any of the socks featured in the book. The designs are worked in row pairs. Work the first row in a repeat of slip stitches and yarn overs; work the second row by knitting or purling two stitches together. Then, simply repeat the row pairs again and again until you reach the toe.
What makes these socks different from traditional socks is the stretchy fabric the brioche knit stitch creates. That stretch is perfect for socks—it instantly clings to the shape of your foot. It’s especially handy for kids’ socks, because the socks will stretch to fit growing feet. A longer sock shelf life!
Ursula gave me three smart tips to stick to when trying my first sock:
1. Read the instructions carefully. It seems obvious to say it, but it really can help to read a pattern from beginning to end before ever picking up your needles. Doing so will give you a big picture of the project, so you’ll know where you’re headed before you begin your journey.
2. Cast on loosely. The book recommends casting on using two needles instead of one, like this:
3. Do a practice run. Because the combination of stitches can seem a little complex at first, practice the sequences on a swatch to get the hang of it before you launch into a sock. (Don’t we all need an excuse to knit that gauge swatch anyway?) Instructions are included for knitting a gauge swatch back and forth, so you don’t have to cast on a sock in the round.
Once you have the two-row rhythm down, you simply keep going until it’s time to work the toe. These socks can be worked with any kind of toe shaping you like, but the book features a star decreasing method (right) made up of simple decrease rounds that should be familiar to confident beginners. And the toes in all of the patterns in the book are worked with regular ‘ol knit or purl stitches, instead of brioche stitches.
There are plenty of variations on the basic brioche stitch in the book. Start with the “Basic Brioche Stitch Socks” pattern (left), and then move on to half-brioche, interlocking circles, ribs, cuffs, colorwork, and more. A handy chart at the back of the book makes it easy to knit any of the sock patterns in almost any size.
After Ursula explained the gist of the technique to me—while reassuring me that everything she mentioned is in the book!—I felt a new knitting confidence arise. I’m ready to find a cozy spot, settle in with my needles, and practice the brioche stitch. With beautiful, fitted socks to look forward to, knitting tubes has never sounded more fun.
So, have you tried knitting socks yet? Which techniques do you like best—and which are not-so best? Leave your story in the comments and you could win a copy of the Knitting Brioche-Stitch Socks eBook! We’ll choose a winner one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won. (You can also purchase the book here, and if you do, you get to download the eBook for free right away.) Good luck!
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Thanks to all who entered the drawing to win the Knitting Brioche-Stitch Socks eBook! The randomly chosen winner is Sharon, who said:
“I am not sure which method i like best. I am still trying to work out my swatch, my knitting leaves something to be desired. my friends just laugh i am glad i could help them with their laugh for the day. thanks for a chance happy crafting”
Sharon, we’ll email you a special coupon code for your free eBook. Congratulations!
You can also find Knitting Brioche-Stitch Socks on Ravelry.