Choosing the Yarn
- 1). Decide whether the socks will be washed by hand or machine; this may narrow fiber choices. If the socks will be machine washed, the yarn will need to be either superwash, meaning it will not felt together with heat and agitation, or a non-animal fiber. Socks that will be washed by hand can be made of any fiber, because hand washing can be gentle enough to avoid felting.
- 2). Choose the fiber content of your yarn based on the desired warmth and wear of the sock. Fibers like wool and alpaca are insulating and will keep feet warm, while fibers like cotton and linen will breathe more and keep feet cooler. Yarns that are a nylon blend are more durable and will last longer than sock yarns without nylon.
- 3). Choose the weight of the yarn based on the pattern you want to use, and whether the socks will be worn as slippers or inside shoes. For quicker, thicker socks or slipper socks, use a worsted weight or bulky yarn. For thinner socks, use a fingering or sport weight yarn. A thinner yarn will take longer to knit, but allows for more pattern customization because there are more stitches in the sock.
- 4). Choose the color(s) of the yarn based on the pattern. A plain stockinette sock can work well in a self-striping or variegated yarn, and the color changes can keep the otherwise repetitive knitting interesting. However, a busy yarn can take away from a complex pattern. Socks with large amounts of lace or cabling should be knit in solid colored yarns, or yarns with very subtle color changes so that focus stays on the pattern, not the yarn.
- 5). Determine how much yarn will be needed to complete the socks; this information should be included with most patterns. Sock yarns usually come in 50- or 100-gram skeins, and ideally one skein will be enough for the pair. Some ankle or child-size socks can be knit from one 50-gram skein, but most adult-size socks will need a 100-gram skein. Knitting both socks from one skein ensures color uniformity, as shades can vary by ball even if the two are from the same dye lot.