How to Knit Socks on a Circular Needle: Round and Round You Go

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Knitting socks on a circular needle involves working in the round, shaping the heel, gusset, and toe using decreases and short rows. This is a great technique for experienced knitters who want to try something new. Make sure to keep track of your stitches and try the sock on as you go to ensure it fits properly. Once you’ve completed both socks, you can enjoy your new cozy footwear.

Knitting socks on a circular needle can seem intimidating, but it’s easier than you think! You don’t need to be an experienced knitter to create beautiful, comfortable socks.

With the right supplies and instructions, you can learn how to work in the round; shape the heel; make the gusset; and craft the toe with decreases and short rows.

So grab your circular needles and yarn and let’s get started!

In this article, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about knitting socks on a circular needle: from gathering your supplies to finishing off with some helpful tips about care for your hand-knit socks.

Now that you have all of the information you need, let’s get knitting!

Gather the Necessary Supplies

Get ready to make the most stylish socks around – all you need is the right supplies!

The first step in knitting your own socks is choosing the materials. You’ll need a set of circular needles, preferably ones with a flexible cable and sharp tips.

Select yarn that closely matches your gauge, as this will determine how tight or loose your stitches are and ultimately affect the size of your sock. To measure gauge, knit a four-inch swatch using stockinette stitch and count how many stitches and rows there are per inch.

Next, decide on the length of your sock – whether it’s ankle length or knee high – then calculate how much yarn you’ll need for each color if you plan to use more than one. Make sure to get extra so you can account for any mistakes or unexpected changes in patterning.

Also consider grabbing some stitch markers to help keep track of rounds and other sections while knitting in the round.

Once you have everything gathered together, check over all materials one last time before starting work on your project. Make sure all needles are securely connected and that nothing has been left behind at the store; nothing ruins a good project like having to take an emergency trip back out for forgotten supplies!

With all necessary items collected, it’s time to move onto casting on to the circular needle – but not before double checking that your chosen yarn meets gauge requirements.

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Cast On to the Circular Needle

After casting on the requisite number of stitches, you can begin to form the foundation of the sock. This requires careful consideration when it comes to yarn selection and gauge swatches.

It’s essential to choose a yarn that’s both comfortable and durable for sock-knitting. Merino wool or cotton-based yarns are great options as they’re soft, lightweight, and easy to care for.

Gauge swatches are an important step in any knitting project, but especially so when making socks. Making multiple swatches will help determine the right needle size and stitch pattern that’ll create a snug fit around your foot without being overly constricting.

The choice of needle size depends largely on the type of yarn chosen and desired fit of the sock. Generally speaking, a smaller circumference needle should be used when working with finer yarns while thicker yarns require larger needles for best results.

Once these three considerations have been taken into account, you’ll be ready to cast on your desired number of stitches onto your circular needle using either a long-tail cast-on or German twisted cast-on method. When done correctly, this will form a strong foundation from which you can start building up your sock structure row by row until it fits perfectly!

With all these steps out of the way, you’re now ready to move onto shaping the heel and gusset with decreases and short rows.

Work in the Round

Once the foundation is laid, it’s time to get knitting in the round and investigate the theory of working with decreases and short rows for a snug fit. Start by joining your stitches together so there is no gap between them.

It’s important to make sure that your stitches are facing the right way before you begin knitting. To create a pattern, you can switch up the knit and purl stitches as you work around the circular needle.

When making an even-numbered stitch pattern, use a marker to mark where each round ends and begins. This will help keep track of your progress as you move through different patterns.

As you continue working in the round, be mindful of any increases or decreases when creating shapes or patterns in your socks. Decreases can be used to shape areas like toes whereas short rows are used for shaping heels.

For more intricate designs, keep track of what row number you’re on by counting how many times around your circular needle you’ve gone since casting on those initial stitches at the start of this project. When adding design elements such as stripes or color blocks, it’s helpful to write down notes about which color goes with which row number so that rounds stay consistent throughout all pieces being worked on simultaneously (if applicable).

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As long as yarn tension remains consistent and stitch count is correct, there should be no problem tackling other complex techniques such as cables or lace knitting while working in the round on a circular needle.

With these tips in mind, let’s now move onto shaping those heels!

Shape the Heel

Now it’s time to get creative and give those feet a custom fit by utilizing decreases and short rows!

To shape the heel, you will need to consider two different things: heel width and sock sizing. Depending on the size of your foot, you may have to adjust the width of your heel to ensure that it is comfortable and fits properly. Additionally, you must think about how many stitches you are going to cast on for each row when shaping your heel.

To start shaping the heel, begin decreasing stitches along one side of your circular needle until you reach around half of what was originally casted onto the needle. For example, if you had 40 stitches then decrease down to 20 before continuing with an increase in each stitch followed by a decrease in every other stitch until all 40 stitches have been worked back onto the needle. You can repeat this process for as many times as necessary depending on how wide or narrow your desired heel should be.

Here’s a quick list of tips that will help make sure that perfect fit:

  • Decide which type of sock pattern would best suit your desired look and feel
  • Measure both feet before casting any stitches
  • Carefully adjust increases/decreases according to sock size
  • Make sure finished product fits comfortably on either foot

By adjusting these factors during this part of the process, it will ensure an even distribution across both sides so that when worn they won’t be too tight or loose around any part of the ankle area. Moving forward with forming a gusset gives further opportunity for customization by allowing for stretchability in certain areas while maintaining snugness elsewhere.

Make the Gusset

Forming a gusset is an essential part of making custom knit socks, with over 75% of people needing to adjust the heel width in order to achieve a comfortable fit. To make your own tailored fit, begin by adjusting the tension on your circular needle and casting on stitches at either side of the heel. This will create a triangle shape, known as the gusset.

Heel Gusset Foot
24 Stitches 8 Stitches 32 Stitches
Knit in Stockinette stitch for 3 rounds Increase 1 stitch each round until you reach 16 stitches total (8 per side) Continue knitting the foot section in stockinette stitch until it measures 2 inches less than desired sock length from toe to cuff.
Knit even for 8 rounds without increases or decreases.
Decrease 1 stitch each round until you reach 8 stitches total (4 per side).
Knit even for 3 rounds without decreases or increases.
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Once you have achieved the correct number of stitches, continue knitting around your entire piece in stockinette stitch until it reaches 2 inches less than desired sock length from toe to cuff before creating the toe using decreases and short rows. Making sure that you maintain an even tension throughout this process will help ensure that your socks fit perfectly when complete!

Create the Toe Using Decreases and Short Rows

As you near the end of your sock-making journey, you’ll need to carefully craft a toe that fits just right. Decreases and short rows will help shape the toe to ensure maximum comfort and satisfaction!

To start, you’ll want to adjust your stitch pattern and needle size so that it’s appropriate for the size of your foot. This will be important when crafting the toe using decreases, as it will ensure that the decreases are evenly spaced out throughout the round.

Once you’ve adjusted your stitch pattern and needle size, you can begin decreasing at regular intervals on each round until there is enough stitches left for a comfortable fit. Make sure to keep track of where each decrease occurs in order to create an even shape around the toe.

You may also consider adding short rows periodically throughout this process in order to give more length or width in certain areas if needed. When knitting with circular needles, be careful not to pull too tightly on your yarn after making a decrease or short row as this could result in an overly tight fit around your toes. Instead focus on creating loose tension between stitches so as not to restrict movement when putting them on.

Once all of these steps have been completed, try on the socks before binding off just to make sure they fit comfortably! The last step is simply binding off all remaining stitches so that they are secure and won’t unravel over time.

Now that you know how to knit socks using a circular needle by shaping both the heel and toe using decreases and short rows, get ready for hours of cozy comfort!


You’ve mastered the basics of knitting socks on a circular needle – congratulations! Now you can enjoy wearing your custom-made, one-of-a-kind socks.

But maybe you’re thinking: What if I don’t have enough time to knit them? Don’t worry, with a few hours of practice and some patience, it won’t take long before you can craft comfortable, stylish socks that will keep your feet warm all winter.

Just imagine how cozy they’ll feel as you snuggle into bed each night – and how proud you’ll be that you made them yourself!

Katherine Pearce
Katherine Pearce
Katherine Pearce is a knitting enthusiast and the founder of With a deep passion for the craft, Katherine aims to make knitting accessible to everyone, regardless of their skill level. Through, she provides online tutorials and resources to help others discover the joys of knitting and develop their skills.

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