10 Tips for Longer-Lasting Knitted Socks

Crystalline Socks by Debbie O'Neill, from Sockupied. I love the cuffs of the socks and how they flow into the leg pattern.     
Aren't the heels neat-o? I especially admire how Debbie makes the interesting transition from leg pattern to heel pattern.

I'm planning the Crystalline Socks from our eMag, Sockupied. They're so pretty and I love how well the pattern works with both solid and variegated yarn. I have a few skeins of both types that will work with this pattern, I just have to decide which one to use.

There really are so many decisions to make when you're planning a pair of socks. You have to choose a yarn, a pattern, and a size; not to mention deciding on modifications you might want to make. Will you do a toe-up sock? A short-row heel? Calf-shaping? Kitchener stitch on the toe?

See what I mean?

With all the time, expense for materials, and effort knitting, we want our knitted socks to last as long as possible. I asked Allison Van Zandt, the owner of Simply Socks Yarn Company (an online store devoted to sock yarn, patterns, needles, and anything else you might possibly need for sock knitting), to share her expertise for making socks last.

10 Tips for Longer-Lasting Socks

Owning Simply Socks Yarn Company, a store that specializes in sock yarn, is a very particular niche. Over the past six years, the most common questions I get from my customers involve making hand knit socks last a long time. So I've compiled "10 Tips for Longer Lasting Socks."

1. Don't wind your yarn into a cake until you're ready to knit. Winding a skein into a cake pulls fibers taut and over months the yarn could lose its ability to spring back into shape.

2. Choose the right yarn for the project; 100% cotton yarn isn't necessarily appropriate for socks because they will quickly bag and lose their shape when worn. Wool and wool/nylon blends are popular for socks because of their innate elasticity.

3. Choose high-quality sock yarn—inexpensive sock yarn tends have short fibers, which pill and wear out more quickly than longer fibers. If your budget is tight, you can find great deals in sale sections.

4. Go down one needle size (or more) when knitting the feet. If a label calls for a US 2 needle, knit the foot of the sock on a US 1, or even a US 0 so you get a dense fabric that holds up to wear.

5. Knit the right size socks. Too-big socks slip around more on the foot and cause more wear as they move around in your shoes.

6. Rinse socks separately before washing with other items. While dye shouldn't run, super-saturated colors might and you don't want your other socks to be affected.

7. Turn socks inside-out when washing. That way the inside of the sock gets a fuzzy halo over time, and not the outside.

8. Consider washing your finished socks in a small mesh bag in the machine so they don't catch on zippers.

9. Don't wash socks in hot water. Even socks labeled "superwash" could felt or shrink a bit.

10. Lay socks flat to dry. Over time, machine drying will lessen stitch definition and make socks look worn. The intense heat of drying might also break down fibers.

—Allison Van Zandt, Simply Socks Yarn Company

Thanks, Allison, for these fantastic tips. I didn't even think about not winding yarn until I'm ready to use it, and I love the idea of knitting the foot portion of the sock on smaller needles. It just makes sense that the tighter fabric will wear longer.

Now I just have to decide on a yarn and cast-on the Crystalline socks. Why don't you get yourself Sockupied and join me? And Sockupied is on sale for $9.99 for a week, so if you haven't tried it yet, now's the perfect time!


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