Have you tried knitting socks on two circular needles? Yes, it's possible! And it may be easier for you if you have trouble working with double-pointed needles (dpns). It's also an excellent skill to have in your back pocket when you really want to make that sock pattern, but the dpns are busy with another project.
This method can make the knitter feel a little more in control of the socks. Practicing it is a good intermediate step between working with double-pointed needles and working two socks at a time on two circular needles (if you love to knit socks, that's exceptionally efficient). You do need to make sure you are working with needles that are the same size. They can be different lengths, but they should be the same size.
Here is a quick overview of how to work a basic top-down sock using the two-circulars method.
Equipment / Tools
- 2 16 to 24 inch circular needles in size specified in pattern
- 3 stitch markers
- Top-down sock pattern
- Yarn specified in sock pattern
Cast on the number of stitches specified to one of the circular needles.
Divide your stitches onto the two needles you are using.
- Beginning with the first stitch cast on, slip half the stitches onto the second needle by slipping them as if to purl. On both needles, slip the stitches onto the cables.
When slipping stitches, slipping them "purlwise" (as if to purl) ensures they stay properly mounted on the needles. Slipping knitwise (as if to knit) turns the stitches to face the other way.
With the stitches on the cables, arrange the needles so the needle with the working yarn attached is at the back (red tip) with the last stitch cast on at right, and the needle with the first stitch cast on is to the front (silver tip), with the stitch to be worked next at right.
- Leave the stitches on the back needle on the cable; push the stitches of front needle onto the needle tip. Bring the other end of that needle around, and prepare to knit with it.
- With the working yarn attached to the back needle and using your favorite method, join to work in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches. Work in pattern across the first half of the round; turn the work.
You can place a stitch marker in the last stitch or between the second to last and last stitches on the needle to mark the end of the round. If your needles don't match, you can probably remember which one is the second part of the round.
Make the Leg
Set the stitches up the same way, but with the needle positions reversed.
- Leave the stitches on the back needle on the cable; push the stitches of front needle onto the needle tip. Bring the other end of that needle around, and work across the stitches of that needle—1 full round complete.
The key point to remember when knitting anything in the round on two circular needles is that the stitches on the needle are always worked with the tips of the same needle. In our example:
- For the first half of the round, the stitches on the red needle are always worked off one end of the red needle, onto the other end of the red needle.
- For the second half of the round, the stitches on the silver needle are always worked off one end of the silver needle, onto the other end of the silver needle.
The only thing that crosses between the two needles is the working yarn. If you can remember that you're always working with only one needle at a time, things will be much easier for you.
Heel Flap and Turn
Once you have the basics of knitting in the round with two circular needles down, continue round and round for the length of the leg of your sock. When it's time to work the heel flap and heel turn, you simply let the other half of the stitches hang out on the cable of their circular needle.
- Work the stitches of the heel flap flat back and forth on one of the circular needles.
With the flap and turn complete, the last tricky bit has to do with getting the stitches properly distributed for working the gusset and the foot.
Start the Gusset
With the heel turn complete it is time to pick up stitches for the gusset.
- Work across the flap stitches one more time; using the same needle, pick up and knit stitches along the heel flap in the number specified in your pattern. Place a stitch marker.
In a pattern written for double-pointed needles, this is where you would change to another DPN. Use the marker to note where your decreases will be in lieu of the junction between two needles.
- Work across half the stitches of the sock instep (the ones on the other needle, in red below) using this needle.
Slip the stitches just worked to the cable of their needle. Pick up the other needle (red), sliding the other half of the instep stitches to the end.
- Work across the other half of the instep stitches, place another stitch marker (this would be the end of a needle if you were using double-points), and pick up stitches along this side of the heel flap.
- Work across half the heel stitches.
The beginning/end of the round is now back to where it was on the leg, and you should have half of the stitches on each needle. Now you can begin your gusset decreases, working in the round with two circular needles as before.
If you're using a pattern written for double-pointed needles, remember that the stitch markers indicate where the ends of the needles would be, so that's where you will make your decreases.
Working the foot on two circular needles is just like working the leg.
Remember these two points:
- You're working each section of stitches with both ends of the same needle.
- The stitch markers indicate where your needles would end if you were knitting with double-pointed needles.
Follow the pattern down the gusset, foot, and toe as you normally would in any other sock knitting method. When you're ready for grafting, your stitches will be evenly divided between the two needles already, so you're ready to work the toe shaping, graft the ends, and go.