Socks and needles and maybe dumb question

I am tackling socks, thanks to Silver’s tutorial. First I did one - just one sock - with some scrap yarn, just to figure it out. Feeling pretty smug about making a sock, I bought some Wick yarn to make myself a Real Pair.

I couldn’t figure out how much yarn was needed - and for some reason that I no longer remember, I bought size 5 40" circulars to do it with magic loop (can’t remember why I chose size 5). The Wick yarn is a worsted weight and is recommended for size 8 needles. 1 ball is 120 yards, 50 g.

I did do a gauge swatch, in the round, on my size 5 needles-right now I don’t recall what the gauge was, but since I was using Silver’s tutorial, there wasn’t any gauge to compare it to anyway. I only made the cuff about 4 inches, on a whim, because I was thinking “summer socks” and didn’t need it to be bigger.

well, that short cuff was a Good Thing because one ball of yarn BARELY made the first sock. And the second sock (I thought I did it the same size??) took several yards more than 1 ball. Luckily I bought 3 balls.

Now here is my question that I cannot figure out in my head, and I don’t want to buy size 8 needles to figure out - if I had used size 8 needles instead of size 5, would I have gotten a BIGGER sock for the same yardage?? I mean, could I have knit a taller cuff and still only have used 1 ball for 1 sock?

I just can’t wrap my brain around this concept - although I guess the size 5 needle made a thicker/denser fabric, so…

Thanks in advance for straightening me out on this. I am really having trouble figuring out how much yarn is needed for 1 pair of socks, and being way out in the boonies and therefore necessarily needing to buy yarn and needles online, I need to figure it out so I don’t have too much or too little!

Yes, even though the larger needles use more yarn over the same number of stitches as a smaller needle, it makes a larger piece too. Look at it this way… if gauge with 5s is 6 sts/inch, 10" would take 60 sts. If gauge with 8s is 4.5 sts/inch, you’d only need 45 stitches for 10". And it would take less rows too. So you’d be making a lot less stitches for the same size.

I mostly use larger needles (10.5 or 7/7.5 mm) on worsted and can get an XL sweater out of abou 800 yds, whereas if I’d knit it on 8 or 9s like the patterns call for, I’d probably need 1100-1200 yds.

I am by no means a sock making dynamo; however, I believe (depending on what your tension/gauge is) if you were to knit the same amount of stitches you used with the size 5 needles to make socks out of worsted weight yarn with size 8 needles than yes, you would get a larger sock. How much larger I don’t know though. When I make socks using regular sock weight yarn I like to have at least 200 yds. per skein for crew length socks (mid- shin/calf). Extra yarn I have put aside either for repair, color deference for toes, heels, and or cuffs on another pair of socks. Also, I might use scraps for something else like mini mittens.

Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch has a good chart that list different weights for different socks (male, female, and child) IIRC. If you would like to go further into sock making you might see if your local library carries a copy.

Thank you both for explaining it!! I see how that works - so with the right needle ( size 8 ) 1 ball of Wick would probably make 1 regular sock.

So, usually “sock” yarn is more like fingering weight - needles 1-3, is that right - or usual?

and thank you for the book idea! I’m nowhere near a library (think serious “boonies”, like 45 miles to anything that passes as a grocery store) so I’ll put it on my amazon wish list.

Yes, sock yarn is really thin and takes tiny needles, but socks can be knit with any weight yarn and any size needles up to chunky and size 13s. The thicker ones would be more like sock slippers for indoors, unless you have a pair of boots that are too big…