Beginner sock knitting: Sockalong successes

Ever since I’ve been knitting socks, the reaction from people who’ve seen them has generally been “Why would you want to knit them when you can buy them?” or “Wow, I wish I could knit a pair of socks!” I usually just smile at the people who ask me “why bother?” and assume that they are not a crafter of any description or they wouldn’t need to ask that question – any more than you need to me to explain why not! To the ones who say, “I wish I could do that”, I always tell them that they can, and then watch them shake their heads in disbelief.  “I don’t think so, they’re too hard,” they tell me.

I was convinced that I could do something about this, so back in January of this year, I had the idea that I would create some free tutorials to help anyone who wanted to learn to knit a pair of socks. I don’t believe that the skills required to make a pair of socks are beyond anyone who can cast on, knit and purl – and thanks to my training background, I was sure that I could create tutorials that anyone could follow. Just one sock at first, followed by the other. No complicated patterns, no two-at-at-time knitting gymnastics; just a plain and simple basic sock.

It’s now about six weeks since the first Winwick Mum Sockalong tutorial went out on the blog and what an amazing six weeks it has been! I thought it would be great if maybe even thirty people joined in – but thanks to Lucy’s Facebook post a few days before the first tutorial, there have been a few more than that! It’s been quite incredible to see the number of people visiting the Sockalong pages, so thank you everybody for dropping by, and I’ve been quite overwhelmed by how the Facebook and Ravelry groups have taken off.

I have to say, it was quite an education, that first weekend of the tutorial and the Winwick Mum Sockalong Facebook group! So many people joining in (over 500 that first weekend!) and asking questions, sharing pictures of their yarn and getting to know each other. I hurtled from one post to another, alternately amazed at the conversations taking place about my sock pattern and panicking that I would miss someone’s query. I started to wonder whether any of these people ever went to sleep … and then I realised that these conversations were taking place from all over the world. Of course people went to sleep – but in their own time zone! It brought a lump to my throat, I can tell you! People from so many different countries who had always wanted to knit a sock and had never managed it before – but were sure that this time would be different.

They taught me a lot, these Facebook Sockalongers as they called themselves. They queried my pattern and my tutorial, making me look again at whether I could re-write it in a better way. They made me polish up on my gauge knowledge as they worked out how many stitches to cast on. They showed me that there are more sock yarns out in the world in more combinations of colours than I had ever imagined. And slowly, as the weeks passed, the socks began to appear. Single socks, at first, proudly displayed both on and off feet …

Then the pairs started to arrive. One after the other, faster and faster like falling snowflakes.

Almost every hour it seemed that there was another pair to be admired – and the wonderful thing about this group is the sense of community that has developed. Everyone helps, everyone encourages and praises. It really is social media at its best.

And do you know, out of all the pairs that have been made (and this is only a small selection!), there have been very few pairs initially made in the same colour yarn. Thanks to lots of information swapping, I think there are going to be quite a few more pairs of socks in the same yarn as another pair – but the beauty of hand knits is that each sock will turn out differently, even if the yarn is the same. They really are like snowflakes; each one unique and beautiful in their own particular way.

People who thought they would never knit a pair of socks are now on their second, third and fourth pairs. Friendships have been made across the globe and meet-ups are planned. We’ve started a knit n natter group – the Winwick Mum Sockalong Society (now renamed the Knit n Natter group – because people wanted to talk about more than just socks.

So what now? Well, the Sockalong is far from over. New people are joining in all the time and are more than welcome. The tutorials will always be on the blog so there’s no rush and no time limit. I’m always happy to answer questions, whether here on the blog or in the Facebook or Ravelry groups. I love seeing people discover that knitting socks isn’t beyond them after all.

I’m also working hard on a book and Kindle version of the Sockalong tutorials because not everyone can or wants to be online all the time. I’m hoping it won’t be much longer before there’s some progress that I can show you; so far it’s all on the computer which isn’t very exciting to photograph! Lucy has very kindly said that she would welcome a Winwick Mum Sockalong meet-up in the Knit n Natter Lounge at Yarndale this year which I think would be a lovely idea – it would be wonderful to see some of the socks in the flesh – er – yarn! (Plus, it’s an ideal opportunity to stock up on even more sock yarn!) She even said there would be a place to string up sock bunting if we felt inspired to create some so I’d welcome your thoughts on that.

Yes, it’s all very different from this time six weeks ago – wonderfully different and very exciting! I can’t tell you how fantastic it feels to know that my little blog has been a catalyst for some new sock obsessives (over 840 of them in the Facebook group now, and over 170 in the Ravelry group – plus however many of you out there in blogland – it’s no wonder some of the yarn stores have been selling out of sock yarn and needles!) and that so many people now have a new project to occupy their hands and minds and fill their wellbeing tanks.  

Thank you. Thank you everybody.

Sockalong – yarns

Sockalong – needles

Sockalong – tension squares, casting on and stitch calculations

Sockalong – accessories and matching yarn

Sockalong – anatomy of a sock

Sockalong – Week 1 – Cast on, cuff and leg

Sockalong – Week 2 – Heel flap, heel turn and gusset

Sockalong – Week 3 – Foot, toe and grafting the toes

Sockalong basic 4ply sock pattern

Sockalong successes

Facebook Sockalong group for help, advice and encouragement

Ravelry Sockalong group

Paperback and Kindle book version of the Sockalong tutorials

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49 Responses

  1. Amy at love made my home says:

    THANK YOU!!!!! You have been such a great inspiration for so many people out there in the crafting world. It really is wonderful!!! I can only imagine just how much hard work you have put into this, but I can see that it has bought a great deal of joy to a lot of people. Thank you for bringing so much socky love to the world!! xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's been brilliant, Amy, I've absolutely loved it. The world always needs more sock knitters 🙂 xx

  2. Christina says:

    Wow Christine, this is mindboggling. Well done for writing such great tutorials, even as a seasoned sock knitter I learned something. What's next?? Have a lovely week. x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Mindboggling is just the word, Christina – I never imagined that so many people would get involved! What's next? More socks, of course! 🙂 xx

  3. Betina says:

    And we thank you, Christine! It's been such an wonderful time!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for your time and hand holding. I am STILL on my first sock, but near the toes! I am really enjoying the time and support this group provides. Love the sock photos – they are all very inspirational. I think a sock bunting is a fabulous idea, especial since we are from all around the world. Won't it be great if we each could knit a triangle from our sock yarn and send it to make a bunting for Yarndale?

    • Winwick Mum says:

      You're so very close to finishing your first sock, Wendy, and you'll just sail through the second so you'll have a pair very soon. I'm glad you like the bunting idea, that can be the next thing for us to get our teeth into! 🙂 xx

    • Rachelradiostar says:

      I love the sock bunting idea too x

  5. Unknown says:

    You are such a good teacher, I could not have done it without you! Hope to meet you at Yarndale! BRAVO!!!!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Thank you, Kelly! Yes, it will be lovely to see you at Yarndale, I'm looking forward to the weekend very much already xx

  6. Run Home To Crochet says:

    The sockalong experience has been totally brilliant … I have made several new friends along this journey and have knitted two pairs of socks (one pair is featured above and I am thrilled and honoured to have seen them in print) and I have three more pairs started and I need to get on and finish. I had sock yarn on needles for 18 months and it was because of your sockalong that they got finished! Thank you and I am now looking forward to the glovealong!! 🙂 xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      That's quite incredible – to have had socks in progress for such a long time and now you've finished so many pairs! I think you're going to need more pairs of hands! xx

  7. clairerobinson73 says:

    Thank YOU Christine! This post is so humbling as you really show your passion for us joining you, yet you are the amazing one putting in all this hard work to help us! Keep up the good work. You are a wonderful lady!

  8. Patricia Rayner says:

    So enjoyed reading that Christine, and inordinately proud to see my socks (with a few errors) ,pictures. This is social media at its best, have had fun, made friends, had laughs, made great socks, learned so much, thank you Christine, and looking forward to the book, that will be on my Christmas list x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Only you can see the errors Patricia, and that's what makes your socks unique to you. Think of them as your crafting signature! 🙂 xx

  9. Patricia Rayner says:

    So good to read that and feel inordinately proud to see my socks with a few errors I admit! I have had fun, laughs, made friends, learned a skill, have 2 pairs of amazing socks, this is social media at its best. Looking forward to the book and it will be on my Christmas list. Thank you Christine

  10. Alison Butcher says:

    Even though I had knitted socks before I have learnt so much. I have now knitted 2 pairs on a small circular needle which I would never have thought of doing myself. The next challenge is to try the magic loop, something I'd never heard of before. I am also aware of all the wonderful sock yarns that are available. Being part of this group has reinvigorated my sock knitting! Thanks Christine …and fellow Sockalongers.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Thank you for being part of it, Alison! There's certainly going to be no stopping you now! 🙂 xx

  11. eclectichomelife says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part if it. Sorry not to have posted my finished results. Life has taken over again as it does now and then. Will get round to showing you. Loved every minute of this fabulous journey. Thank you so much x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I'm looking forward to seeing your socks, Selma, and I'm so glad that you've enjoyed being involved xx

  12. **Anne** says:

    Thank you Christine for thinking of this sockalong. Thank you for a great tutorial, ongoing answers to the tricky questions, encouragement and support when we are struggling. This is one of the best things I done in a long time for so many reasons. I can knit socks now, I've rediscovered the joy of knitting, made so many new friends…the list goes on. My thanks also to Lucy through whom I first heard about the sockalong. Home knitted socks are the best!!

  13. Unknown says:

    Love this blog post, very inspirational!! I am still working on my first sock. I'm so glad to be a part of the fb and Ravelry groups. I love the FB group (I use fb the most), everyone helps encourage and keep motivation going strong. Thank you Christine for ALL that you have done and for make knitting socks so very addictive!!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      You're very welcome, Janet, it's been great fun and I love helping people to create their socks! xx

  14. Escherichia says:

    Thank you for your guidance and support, Christine!
    We're not saying "good bye" to our Sockalong Adventures, are we? I'm just warming up! 🙂

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Most definitely not – there's so much sock yarn out there that needs to be knitted! 🙂 xx

  15. Helle Vouzi says:

    Thank you Christine for your time and effort, you are an inspiration for us all. It has been a great experience. Love to look at all the different socks from all over the world. What a great inspiration It has been!

  16. Penny says:

    Really brilliant! From tiny acorns etc
    , x

  17. Unknown says:

    You've been amazing Christine, always there within minutes of anyone asking a question. I'm so glad there is a graduates group as I love going on to facebook and looking at knitting and crochet! Thank you for starting such a brilliant sockalong, I know we are all very grateful! Xxx

  18. Anonymous says:

    Lovely socks! I have just started to learn how to knit, so a sock is way out of my league. But who knows, one day I'll post a picture of my own knitted socks … 🙂

    • Winwick Mum says:

      As long as you can cast on, knit and purl you can knit a pair of socks so I'll look forward to seeing your finished pair one day! 🙂 xx

  19. Sarah ~ One Hundred and One Tales says:

    I honestly thought that sock knitting was beyond me! In fact, since learning to crochet, my knitting skills have not been tested for about a year. After being bought some lovely sock wool by one of your regular sockalongers, I had no excuse not to start! My first sock is almost complete now and number 2 will be on my needle soon. Extra yarn has now been bought for pair number 2,3, 4… my 13 year old would now also like a pair knitting! I love the sockalong world. THANKS Christine for making this a possibility for so many people and bringing smiles to lots of faces xxxx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's been lovely to see your sock growing, Sarah, and it makes me really happy when I see people who thought they would never knit socks wearing their hand knits. I can see you're going to be quite busy with your socks! xx

  20. Jo says:

    I'm so pleased it's been such a success. I have to say that sock knitting is quite addictive so I doubt these new sock knitters will stick at one pair. I still haven't finished my first sock, time just isn't on my side at the moment but I'm hoping to get going again very soon.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      The best thing about socks is how easy it is to put them down and pick them up again; I'm sure life will get a bit calmer soon and you'll be able to get back to your knitting, Jo xx

  21. linda says:

    I really enjoyed your Sockalong Christine and am hoping to finish my second pair soon. I will be making some kids socks for charity too. I like Lucy's idea it would be great to have a Sockalong meet up at Yarndale.:)

    • Winwick Mum says:

      That's great to hear, Linda, thank you! I'm going to be speaking to Lucy soon about the Yarndale meet up so will post on that as soon as I can! xx

  22. Jill at emeraldcottage says:

    I wanted to join in but didn't quite make it this time so you will have to do another one 🙂

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's not too late, Jill, the Sockalong is an ongoing thing so you can always jump in whenever you want to. The posts will always be here on the blog for you to find them, and there's always help, advice and lots of humour in the Facebook group so do come and find us and get your socks on the go! xx

  23. Sally says:

    Out of interest – do you 'block' your socks? I've bought the wool and now waiting for my 25cm circular needles to arrive. I've enjoyed following your blog from NZ. Thought if I started now – I should get a pair finished by our next winter..!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Hello Sally, thanks for visiting! I've never bothered to block my socks – the blocking only lasts until you wash them so if the socks have been for me then I just put them on! However, blocking does help to show off any pattern in them and stretches them to their fullest size so if they're for a gift then blocking does make the socks look very smart. It's entirely a personal preference, and you can make inexpensive blockers at home (YouTube is a good place to look for videos) if you want to give it a go. I think you'll be surprised how quickly your socks grow – "just one more round" and suddenly they're done! xx

  24. Meira Shana says:

    Holy smokes! There is a possibility that I can learn to knit socks because of Y O U!

    I've dated the pattern and saved your website – and will see how long my procrastination takes!

    It took me 40 years to attempt entrelac. Then after a few minutes, realized how very simple the technique was/is!

    Hope your socks won't take me *that* long – I'm going to be 78 in August. 😉

    Thank you VERY much!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      You did make me smile, Meira! Once you get going with socks you'll be amazed at how quickly you can knit them up, and you've got plenty of years left to get lots of pairs knitted! 😉 Happy birthday for August, and do join in with our Facebook Sockalong group if you're on Facebook – we've got members of all ages so you wouldn't be alone and there's always lots of help, whatever the time of day! xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      You did make me smile, Meira! Once you get going with socks you'll be amazed at how quickly you can knit them up, and you've got plenty of years left to get lots of pairs knitted! 😉 Happy birthday for August, and do join in with our Facebook Sockalong group if you're on Facebook – we've got members of all ages so you wouldn't be alone and there's always lots of help, whatever the time of day! xx

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