Socks and yarns

Hello everyone! This is a wonderful website. I love the helpful videos!

I am here to beg for helpful explanations about sock yarn, and hoping people can share their experiences and advice!!!

I have just worked out how to knit socks with some cheap acrylic yarn which was just for testing purposes, so now I want to knit some socks with the “correct” materials. I have been reading all around the web and I am so confused by all the terms.

Sock yarn, “fingering weight” yarn, “4 ply fingering weight” yarn - I am thoroughly lost. HELP! What do all of these terms mean?

What exactly is the “right” type of yarn to use for socks? I see lots of “sock yarn” on the internet, but what exactly makes it “sock yarn” ie what is it that makes this yarn specially suited to making socks? (Apologies if this is a dumb question!!!)

This is a great question.

What makes a sock yarn a sock yarn, is that it (should!) have nylon in it, to keep it from wearing out super fast. Plain wool will wear right through in the heel, very fast.

Fingering weight yarn is on the thin side. You will need small needles to make your socks (look on the yarn label to see what they recommend). When doing the ribbing for the sock, you can use even smaller needles, since ribbing will come out on the loose side otherwise. The nice thing about fingering weight sock yarn, is there are TONS of wonderful options for sock yarns in this weight!

Of course, I’m one of those impatient knitters, that likes to use thicker, worsted weight yarns on my projects, so that they don’t take as long. Unfortunately, the selection of sock yarns out there in worsted weight is very slim. So far all I’ve found is very scratchy wools in limited colors.

If you want to use a worsted weight yarn that’s not already nylon reinforced, you should reinforce it with nylon yourself. You can buy “sock nylon” and double it up with your wool, and use this in the heel and toe, or through the whole foot, or through just the sole. One brand of sock nylon is “Woolly Nylon.” You can also find it sold as nylon serger thread. You can buy it in several colors from Schoolhouse Press. I’ve also seen it in JoAnn’s Fabric store. I haven’t verified how well this wears compared to nylon blended wool sock yarn, but apparently this is an acceptable route.

To use nylon reinforced wool in just the sole, you’d knit a sock like Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “Moccasin Socks.” With this pattern, you can knit the leg and the top of the foot in your nice soft wool, and then knit the bottom of the foot in your nylon-reinforced yarn. Scratchy yarn works fine here, you don’t notice it! And it should wear very well. This is also a great pattern because if the sole ever does wear through, you can re-knit it! Just the sole! I love this pattern. Here’s a thread I’ve posted about it, with a picture of the socks. (I want to make a video demo of making these socks, but I’m looking into the copyright liability of doing this.)

So there’s my $.02 about sock yarns!


Hi Amy, thank you for your detailed answer! :smiley:

So for sock wool, I am to look for wool/nylon blends, OR use wool and blend in my nylon as I knit. Thanks so much for the tip about the wooly nylon and using it in the parts of the sock that wear out quickest!!! Brilliant!!!

Would the same apply for cotton socks??? What about knitting with a 100% cotton yarn? What problems would I encounter with cotton? Would elasticity be a problem? (Sorry about all the questions!!!)

I’ve never knit cotton socks. I think elasticity is a bit of a problem with them.

Seems like you could knit an elastic thread in with the yarn, though, wherever you wanted extra elasticity, like in the cuff.

Yes, you can reinforce it with sock nylon.

The socks I’m making right now are my experimental-yarns socks. I’ve got 9 different kinds of yarn in the sole, to see which will wear the best! :slight_smile: