Keeping similar tension from sock to sock

If someone’s addressed this before, I’m sorry. I tried to do a quick search, but couldn’t find it.

Here’s my dilemma…I am working on my first “pair” of socks. I use the term loosely because technically I’m on my third sock. The first sock I made I stitched in my usual manner, which was very loose (so it came out around teh size of a christmas stocking). Needless to say, I frogged the whole thing. The second sock I increased my tension, and it came out better. A lot tighter overall, but the top of the sock is slightly loose on my leg (will stand up on it’s own, but slouches ever so slightly) Now I’m restarting my first sock, (or the third attempt as I see it) and the tension must be tighter on this one, because I’m only about 15 rows into it, but it’s already slightly smaller on the top than the second sock I knit (top down socks).

I don’t want to frog my second sock as well, so I think I’ll try to loosen up slightly on this final sock (cause I’m not knitting the darn things again! I’m so sick of that particular yarn and I want to wear them!)

Any tips on maintaining the same tension from sock to sock?

I think that as we knit, we all develop what becomes “normal” tension for each of us. This is what we knit at most of the time, be it tight, loose, or somewhere in between. It is VERY difficult to adjust the tension by trying to knit tighter or looser than you are used to, especially if you need to make two pieces that need to match, like two socks. The best thing to do is to knit in your usual manner, whatever it is, and adjust the needle size to achieve a tighter gauge. This might mean going down quite a few needle sizes but it will be a lot easier in the long run rather than having to concentrate so hard to make your tension something it isn’t.

Hope that helps.

You could try doing both socks at the same time. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, and it eliminates SSS (second sock syndrome) too.

Do you think that trying on the first sock stretched out the top?

Not too much. I think that it’s just I’m more conscious about keepng my knitting tight. I’m normally a loose knitter, but in reading different patterns and making that first sock, I realized that it’s supposed to be more snug, and you’d need to keep more tension on the yarn. I actually started getting tighter and tighter as I worked the completed sock. The foot is tighter and better fitting than the top, and I think it was the same number of stitches throughout.

The difference in sizes is kind of comical. Here’s an approximation of the difference in wi\dths of the socks at the top.

{--------------------} first sock
{--------------} second sock
{------------} Third sock

If I keep this up, I’ll never have a matching set.

Now I know that somewhere I saw something about knitting two socks at once…I want to say it was on knitty. Has anyone done that, and can you point me in to those directions?

You can do two socks at once on Magic Loop if you have a very long circular needle. You can also do one inside the other on DPNs, this is very tricky and advanced. Most people who do two at once do so on two circulars. Google ‘socks on two circs’ and ‘2 socks on 2 circular needles’ etc. for some good tutorials. You may find it easier to start off with one sock on two circulars first, also may be easier to start off the first few rows on DPNs.

Here’s one tutorial. Google for many more.
Happy knitting, socks rock.


Good sock links (including tutorials for 2 at a time using different methods) here.

I looked through knitty again, and found this which I think I’ll try with some waste yarn on larger needles before even thinking about trying them on real socks. If you read all the way through the article, it doesn’t seem so daunting. I have never used magic loop (nor do I know what it is) and I prefer dpns to circs.

Thank you all for your suggestions. I’ll try to post pics of this pair of socks once I’m done, and my next pair so we can compare :teehee:

Never done those myself, but one thing I remember reading about them is that it’s common for the inner sock to turn out smaller – just the problem you want to avoid! So I definitely think it’s a good idea that you want to swatch first. Your other option is to just start both socks at the same time on separate sets of DPNs and go back and forth between them. If you’ve got an extra set, that may be easier.

Never done those myself, but one thing I remember reading about them is that it’s common for the inner sock to turn out smaller – just the problem you want to avoid!

I definitely want to avoid that problem, but I’m trying to figure out how the inner sock would come out smaller. You have the same number of stitches, and if you’re working on them at the same time, your tension is more likely to remain the same. I’ll try it and let you know how the swatch comes out.

Has anyone ever tried this? How did it come out?[/quote]


You know what? You’re right – I totally misspoke. I was thinking about double knitting hats where you are knitting on the outside layer and purling the inside layer so it’s reversible. When the knit and purl tensions are different, one side will be a little smaller. But with socks, you’re knitting both from the outside, so it doesn’t matter. Sorry for the confusion! :oops:

[edited out after re-reading the pattern]

I would definitely consider refraining from using an advanced pattern/technique until you have some successful sock experience under your belt.

This comes from experience, because I knitted my first pair of socks from an advanced pattern! Straight Laced from Knitty.

Enjoy knitting socks! :smiley: