We have made many posts looking at the beautiful sock friendly yarns along with various sock patterns and books over the years. But this post is dedicated to the tools you need to create the socks themselves. The foundation of every knitters work, your needles.

There are different ways to knit a sock and different needles available to you, but with this blog post I will attempt to explain the different varieties we stock here at Knit With Attitude to help you navigate the almost infinite number of needle variations out there. I'll be looking at the different ways of knitting a sock along with the different materials and properties sock needles have.

There are different methods of knitting socks and some patterns may specify a certain type of knitting. Be that the magic loop technique or knitting on double pointed needles. In my experience though most sock patterns can be adapted to be knitted using either of those methods and it's down to personal preference and what makes it comfortable for you to knit.

Double Pointed Needles

First up I will start with Double Pointed Needles or DPN's. These are probably seen as the more traditional way to knit socks and indeed any project where you need small circumferences such as the sleeves of a jumper. Stitches are cast on and divided over three or four of the needles to be joined to work in the round. You knit the live stitches on to your spare needle until you have knit all the stitches on that needle. This process is repeated around the entire circumference until the desired length is achieved. Any small number of stitches can be worked in the round quite comfortably. What I like about DPN's is that I can use them to help me with the maths of a pattern, for example decreasing for the gusset after the heel is worked on a top down sock. I can place the top of the foot stitches on one needle and the gusset stitches from each side of the foot on other needles. Thus creating a symmetrical number of stitches and using the needles themselves the mark where the decreases should go.

One of the downside of DPN's is having a set of loose unjoined needles. This makes it easier to lose one or risk dropping one while knitting fiddly designs. Also as you are working over either three or four needles so the constant stop start or working from one needle to the next can make DPN knitting a little slower, but that just takes practice as with all techniques.

We stock three different types of double pointed needles: Knit Pro Zing, Knit Pro Karbonz and Lykke Driftwood. They all come in sets of five needles and measure 15cm. The different materials have different qualities to them.

Knit Pro Zing. These are great value and highly reliable DPN's made from high grade aluminium. They are pointy and smooth, giving you precision along with a seamless knitting experience. Their durability makes them a great choice for sock knitting on smaller sizes like the 2 or 2.5mm's as they have more strength. The smoothness of metal means that stitches will glide easier making them great for speedy knitting. The zing range is colour coded so that each size has its own colour which is particularly handy when trying to match up different sized DPN's.

Knit Pro Karbonz. Made from carbon fibre with metal tips, these needles are extremely strong. The carbon fibre strength makes these ideal to use on the smaller sizes. Carbon fibre also has another interesting property in that it has grip to it. Great for slippy yarns as you are not going to lose a needle and it gives you a little more control. Still just as pointy as the zings as they have metal tips to give you precision knitting. They also have a slight suppleness to them making them not as hard and rigid as the metal ones making them more comfortable in your hands.

Lykke Driftwood. Fine wooden needles made from birchwood. Wooden needles are softer in the hand making them a great alternative for those who struggle with metal needles. They are also lighter and have a slight grip on the yarn. That doesn't mean they are rough though but have a smoothness to them. Their lightness does mean they have less strength so if you are a tight knitter I would avoid the smallest sizes.

Circular Needles for Magic Loop

Another method of knitting socks is to use the magic loop technique. Magic loop requires a long circular needle (of at least 80cm). Stitches are cast on and divided in half to be joined in the round. Half the stitches go on the left needle and the other half go on cord of the circular needle at the back. You knit half the stitches at a time by knitting the ones on the needle and pulling the circular needle around to knit the next half set of stitches. Magic loop is a great technique for doing any circumference and is useful if you don't have the right sized set of DPN's but already have the long circular needle for the project. Some people find it easier as you only have two sets of stitches to work at a time rather than three or four so you are stopping and starting less. Though lots of people find having to constantly pull the needle and cord around as you go a bit of a faff. Also as the needles are already joined together you are not going to lose one or put one down and not be able to find it.

We stock three different types of circular needles which can be used to knit using magic loop. Knit Pro Zing 80cm Fixed Circulars, Lykke Driftwood Interchangeable Needles Tips and Cords, Cypra Copper Interchangeable Needles Tips and Cords. Like the DPN's the different materials have different qualities to them.

Knit Pro Zing 80cm Fixed Circulars. These metal needles are made from the same material as the DPN's. Strong, reliable, smooth and pointy. Perfect for seamless knitting. Like the DPN's their durability makes them great choice for sock knitting on smaller sizes like the 2 or 2.5mm's. The long 80cm cable is ideal for magic loop giving you plenty of room for circular projects or different sizes. The smoothness of metal means that stitches will glide easier making them great for speedy knitting. The zing range is colour coded so that each size has its own colour.

Lykke Driftwood Interchangeable Needles Tips and Cords. The driftwood range is made from birchwood giving you a smooth needle with a natural feel. This makes them comfortable to knit with while also having a little grip on the yarn giving you control over your stitches. They are not rough and woody but light and and pleasurable to knit with. The only downside with interchangeable needles is they do not come in the smaller sizes so not useful for smaller sock projects. But certainly fine for some cosy DK or aran socks.

Cypra Copper Interchangeable Needles Tips and Cords. These copper needles are more unusual than your regular metal needles. Copper has interesting properties, it is a great conductor of heat so unlike some metal needles these will quickly feel warm in your hands. It is also supposed to have benefits when it comes to joint pain. They also look very pretty. The only downside with interchangeable needles is they do not come in the smaller sizes so not useful for smaller sock projects. But certainly fine for some cosy DK or aran socks.

Small Circular Needles

One last needle type I will look at but still staying with the circulars are the small Knit Pro Zing 25cm Fixed Circulars. These little circular needles allow you to knit socks seamlessly in the round without having to divide the stitches between multiple DPN's or in half as with magic loop knitting. These small needles mean that once you have cast on you just keep knitting and knitting like you would with a larger circular needle. Instead you end up with a small tube, ideal for a sock. They have the same quality as the other zing products but are just small. Depending on your knitting style you might have to adjust slightly how you hold them to account for the small size of the tips. But once you have mastered them you will be knitting socks in no time.