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    Check out Socks for Soldiers

    Here is a compilation of ďPlain VanillaĒ sock methods from the members of the Sock Knitters Yahoo! Group.  I thought it would be interesting to see a variety of basic sock methods.  Thanks so much to everyone who has given me permission to post their method!  These have been pretty much posted ďas isĒ with some minor grammatical changes made for ease of reading.  If you would like your ďPlain VanillaĒ method added please Email Me and I will add it to the list.  Socks really arenít as scary as they seem Ė I promise! 


    Socks are typically worked from the leg down to the toe. Stitches are cast on for the leg, joined into a circle, and worked in the round to the beginning of the heel shaping. The back of the heel (heel flap) is worked back and forth in rows on half of the total number of stitches. This pattern is easy and gives a well-fitting heel.

    At the end of the heel flap, short rows are worked to give a cup shape that hugs the heel. After the heel is shaped, gusset stitches are picked up along the edges of the heel flap and then the foot is worked in the round to the toes. The extra stitches you pick up along the sides of the heel flap are reduced as the gusset is worked. These decreases form the diagonal lines of stitches at the edges of the heel.

    Gusset stitches are decreased every other round until the original number of stitches is reached. Then work even until it measures to your little toe. At that point you will then decrease once again every other row until 8 stitches remain. These stitches are grafted together with the Kitchener stitch, producing a comfortable, rounded toe.

    Cast on 36 (48, 60) stitches. Arrange sts evenly on 3 dpn. Child (lady, man) ... I generally use a size 4 for adult socks and a 2 or 3 for a child, but itís a free to be kind of thing ... whatever youíre most comfortable with dependent on how tightly you knit and the look youíre after.

    Work K2, P2 ribbing until piece measures 5 or 6 inches, or whatever length you want your sock to be. An alternative is K2, P2 for a couple of inches, then work stockinette (knit every row/round) until youíre ready to begin the heal. This is faster and gives a different look, but sometimes I do this when Iím in a hurry to finish a pair.

    Knit across 18 (24, 30) stitches,
    turn work and purl across

    Work back and forth on heel stitches as follows:
    Row 1: (right side) *Sl 1 pwise with yarn in back, K1, repeat across
    Row 2: (wrong side) Sl 1 pwise with yarn in front, purl to end of row
    Work 18 (24, 30) rows

    There will be 9 (12 15) selvage stitches (I find that this isnít too important; what is more important is that you donít see any holes.
    You can always adjust if you count and find you donít have the proper amount of stitches ... either increase or decrease on whichever needle you find the discrepancy.)

    Row 1: (right side) Knit across 11 (14, 16) stitches, then ssk, k1,
    turn work
    Row 2: Sl 1 pwise, p5, p2tog, p1, turn.
    Row 3: Sl 1 pwise, knit to 1 st before gap, ssk (1 st from each side
    of gap to close it), k1, turn
    Row 4: Sl 1 pwise, purl to 1 st before gap, p2tog (1 st from each
    side of gap), p1, turn
    Repeat rows 3 and 4 until you have 12 (14, 15) stitches

    Round now begins at center back of heel. Move half of the heel stitches onto
    Needle 1, and half of the stitches to Needle 3.
    Knit across all heel sts and, with same dpn (needle 1) pick up and knit:
    9 (12, 15) stitches along selvedge edge of heel flap; with next dpn
    work across held instep sts; with next dpn needle, pick up and knit 9
    (12) stitches along other side of heel and knit across half of heel stitches.

    Rnd 1: Knit to last 3 stitches on needle 1, k2tog, k1; knit across all instep sts on needle 2; at beg of needle 3, k1, ssk, knit to end
    -- 2 gusset stitches decreased.

    Round 2: Knit

    Repeat these two rounds until there remain 36 (48) stitches.

    Work even in stockinette stitch until piece measures approximately
    6-1/2 (8) inches. If youíre making the sock for yourself, try it on
    when you think itís long enough. If it covers your little toe, you
    can begin toe decreases.

    Round 1: On needle 1, knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1; on needle
    2, k1, ssk, work to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1; on needle 3, k1, ssk,
    knit to end -- 4 stitches decreased.
    Round 2: Knit

    Continue until you have 8 stitches remaining.

    Bind off in Kitchener stitch or stitch carefully with tapestry needle.



    Jeanie Innis



    Cast on of 68 stitches for Opal or Regia 4 ply sock
    yarn. Size 1 needle. K3 P3 rib for 6 - 8 inches,
    french (round) heel to the top of my little toe and
    then decreases every other row.



    Francesca Clement



    My "plain vanilla" is 2x2 ribbing for 1 1/2 to 2", with a standard heel flap and gusset and a round toe. Although....I just finished a pair with a heel flap that has garter stitch edging to it and I loved it (from the Sensational book of course), and it was even easier to pick up stitches on the edge it makes so.....I may be changing my basic recipe......

    Debbie in northern California



    Even "Plain Vanilla" socks can vary as to how you feel or what the yarn tells you and who you are going to make them for. Women's fingering wt. usually a #1-2 set of dp needles depending on the fabric it makes. I prefer a firm fabric so I use more #1's. Usual co is 64 stitches with a needle 1 size smaller than what I am going to use for body of sock. Ribbing 1x1 or 2x2 10- 15 rows. Change to larger needles then stockinette or purl every 5 or 6 stitches for desired length usually about 6-7 inches. I have a preference for a shortrow heel usually in garter stitch, but sometimes do a standard flap with a round heel. I usually use one half or the stitches and a size smaller needle for the heel also. The toe is either a standard round with kitchener graft or a garter stitch with a progressive decrease and simple round cinch closure. What is nice by starting with the idea of "Plain Vanilla" you can go whereever the yarn leads you and try different combinations of stitches and techniques so that even with "Plain Vanilla" you can end up with a unique and comfortable pr. of socks. I have enjoyed reading everyone's recipes and have gotten a few ideas for my next "Plain Vanilla".

    Linda, Bayou Vista, TX



    Toe ups and sized from small feet to huge Jake son feet, a backwards loop for cast on, knit across, pick up same # from underneath and start increasing as I divide onto 4 needles..for little feet it might be a cast on of 10 or 12 stitches, for Jake's size 12 wide it's now cast on 20...and when I get to increase for the arch (Judy Gibson's
    Your Putting Me On Socks) I start a 1x3 rib on the side that will be the top of the foot, helps keep the sock fitting nicely and makes sure I KNOW which side is bottom and which is top so increases are all on the same that might be increase 8 or 11 times..again whose feet the socks are for...and work Judy's heel, and go up with the 1x3 ribbing until I am ready to make a cuff and usually I do 2x2 for a cuff.

    Simple, brainless socks in self patterned or wild or tonal yarns that will get a lot of everyday wear in boots for most of us..easy for me to adjust size, make a sock that fits no matter the yarn and needles I use and I don't have to pack a pattern around and I can do it right no matter what is going on around me or how stressed I am.

    Right now it's little short socks for my young friend Sarah, and I short rowed in the back after the heel to get more length there so we can be sure the sock back will come high enough so her roller skates won't rub sore experiment in getting the right fit to suit Sarah who hates long legged socks, nice thing about little short socks is that 1 skein of Ellen's Half Pint Farm sock yarn should make her 2 pair of green socks.


    Maggie in IL who would also like to give credit to
    Judy Gibson and her Your Putting Me on Socks



    Toe up, on 2 sets of double points, 5 needles. Usually 64 sts, give or take the stitch pattern, and 68 or 72 for DH, again depending on the stitch pattern. If I'm doing ribbing, then I usually go for 68 for hubby, or 72 for plain st st. I do a gusset/reserve heel flap type of sock (off hand I can't remember the name at all); I do a long gusset & heel for hubby, and slightly shorter for me. For legs, I just continue in pattern
    until I get bored, add 2 by 2 ribbing for 2 inches, and then I'm done. I usually make pretty tall socks, unless I'm running out of yarn, time, and patience.

    Anastacia Zittel



    I usually co 64 sts. do k2 p2 ribbing for 15 rows and then change into k3 p1 for the rest of the sock. Hugs your leg and foot nicely.

    chappy - Picture


    Mine is to see what size needle and stitch count seems to fit the yarn and then do something like this. After I see what stitch count will work, I do the ribbing as Knit one in the back loop, purl one for half as many rows as there are stitches. Then stockinette for as many rows as there are stitches, then the heel over half those stitches and once the gussets are formed do the foot for as many rows as stitches, decrease the toe every other row for half the decreases and every row for the second half down to an inch worth of stitches top and bottom and Kitchener closed.

    So, for a 60 stitch sock, that is 30 rows of ribbing, 60 rows of leg, a 30 stitch heel flap and 60 rows of foot after the gusset shaping.

    If I am not sure how much yarn I have I may do the whole business backwards toe up.

    Linda Walsh



    Plain vanilla sock? What's a plain vanilla sock? :-P I think I knit one of those once... :)

    The formula I base my socks on is 10 SPI/15RPI on size 2mm needles, cast on 80 stitches, knit 10 or so rows of ribbing (an inch if I can force myself to), knit in the stitch pattern I've chosen until the whole thing is around 6 inches long, do a short row heel with 60% of stitches until 1/6 of stitches remain, long row back out, and do patterned top, plain sole until I've got 7.5" of sock, then make my "mock short row toe" - I do a triple decrease across 2 needles (slip last of 1 needle, K2tog from next, PSSO) for about 22 rows (11 decreases) and then kitchener the puppy shut.

    Of course I also vary gauge with yarn, I frequently add or subtract a few stitches depending on the needs of the stitch pattern I've chosen, and I'm quite likely to do crazy things like continue stitch patterns onto toes, or do interesting edgings on the sides of the foot. :-P I hate plain vanilla knitting. :) but the underlying structure of a really fancy sock is the same plain vanilla structure!


    For complete pattern please visit


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    Knitting patterns, instructions and photos.



    My plain vanilla socks are as follows:


    size 2 needles

    56 stitches

    2x2 ribbing for as long as I want (usually about 1-2 inches)

    stockinette until cuff reaches about 7 inches

    heel with s1, k1

    stockinette foot

    normal toe


    Cindy in Rowlett, TX