Help! My Sock Loom Is Holding Me Captive

It all started innocently enough. Just a small paragraph in C.B. Wentworth‘s blog post A Very Crafty Summer about knitting socks on a knitting board. I’d never heard of a knitting board. Not to worry. She promised to explain all in an upcoming post.

And so she did, promising her readers that I Made Socks And You Can, Too! I didn’t even finish her post before I started searching local craft store websites to see who might have a KB Sock Loom in stock. Not finding a sock loom within driving distance, I popped over to Santa’s Workshop, aka Amazon.com, and two minutes later a KB Sock Loom, complete with instructional DVD, and a sock pattern book were on their way to me.

I’ve missed creating with yarn, apparently more than I realized given this sudden intense desire to knit socks. I pretty much stopped crocheting several years ago, having made enough hats and scarves and baby blankets to last me and everyone I know a lifetime. But I never tried socks, because like C. B. Wentworth, I never really learned to knit. Yes, I knew the mechanics of holding the two needles and wrapping the yarn around them, but I never developed the skill needed to actually knit anything.  Instead, I became an expert in tearing knitting out. My mother was an incredibly skilled knitter, a make-argyle-socks-on-four-needles-without-a-pattern knitter, a knit-fine-gauge-sweaters-with-cashmere-fingering-yarn knitter. None of my dropped stitches or uneven yarn tension could be tolerated. Every four rows of garter stitch had to be inspected, and not meeting her standards, torn out and started over. By the start of winter, my hoped-for knitted scarf was only six inches long, and I gave up. I found my grandmother’s old crochet hooks in the bottom of my mother’s knitting basket, checked out a crochet book from the library, and taught myself. My mother knew nothing about crocheting, despite my non-knitting grandmother being an expert. Hmmmm . . . . . . .

Future Socks

My KB Adjustable Sock Loom arrived two weeks ago. I was ready. There was a big yarn sale at A.C. Moore earlier that week, and with a “25% off your total sale” coupon burning a hole in my pocket, I bought enough yarn to knit socks all winter long. I popped the DVD in the player, sat down with my yarn and sock loom, hit play, and cast on my first sock. And did it again. And then a third time. The DVD instructions are very clear and easy to follow, but a video cannot convey exactly how much yarn tension you need to create even stitches. Trial-and-error, as with all new things, is still required.

Using the sock loom is not complicated. If you are old enough to remember wooden thread spools, you may remember the process of driving four nails into the spool, wrapping yarn around the nails twice, and then looping the bottom yarn over the top yarn to create a knitted cord that emerges from the center of the spool. (In fifth grade, all the girls raced to see who could knit a cord long enough to reach from the top of the six-foot tall sliding board to the ground.) The sock loom stitches are variations of this same yarn looping. But it took me time to learn the motions for the stitches, to figure out how tightly or loosely to pull each stitch, and to learn how to hold the knitting tool in a way that does not create hand and arm tension. Sock progress was painfully slow.

The Sock Loom with Emerging Sock

Of course, I couldn’t start with a simple all-knit-stitch sock. For my first sock, I picked an interrupted ribbed stitch pattern from the book Sock Loom Basics: Using the KB Sock Loom by Leisure Arts. I figured that between the variegated yarn and the textured knit, people would have to put their noses practically on my feet to see mistakes. I’m not letting anyone that close. Now, Charley and the cats no longer stare at me when I begin chanting the pattern stitch: “Knit one, knit two, purl one, purl two.”

The biggest problem is that I’ve been obsessed with completing my first sock. It’s practically the only thing I’ve done for two weeks. I’ve not posted on my blog, responded to blog comments, or read and commented on my favorite blogs. I’ve barely practiced harp or recorder. Charley’s long walks have been pared down to a bare 20 minutes, or just enough to get the job done. To be fair to myself, I have to acknowledge that my single-pointed focus on the sock was assisted by a bout with the latest “virus that’s going around” that for the past week left me only enough energy to prop myself up on my pillows and, well, knit.

My First Sock

But today, I am feeling better and my first sock is finished. The two dropped stitches I had to fix are undetectable in the pattern stitch, just as I hoped. The sock fits perfectly. I successfully cast on its mate on the first try last night, and finished the cuff. Now that I know how this whole sock knitting thing works, and that a real honest-to-goodness sock is going to emerge, perhaps I will be a bit less obsessed and get back to the parts of my life I ignored the past two weeks. But you know, I can’t wear my socks until I finish the other one. . . . .

Gotta go. I think I hear my sock loom calling.

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26 thoughts on “Help! My Sock Loom Is Holding Me Captive

  1. Just got my sock loom today. Thank you for all your inspiration and information. I have never been able to knit. I can sew, quilt and crochet but, I just had this real desire to make socks. Wish me luck!

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    1. Good luck with the sock loom. Glad I could encourage you to give it a try. Just take your time and work slowly as you are learning. It takes some getting used to, but once you are comfortable with the stitches and the tension, you will be turning out socks like a pro.

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      1. I finally figured out the cast on method, but my goodness, no matter how lose I do it, it tightens up all the way around, making it almost impossible to pull the yarn over. I’m very frustrated. I can knit with perfect tension, but this is a bit challenging.

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      2. Hang in there Kym! Getting that first cast on row on and looped IS a big challenge. I now start looping over after I cast on 8-10 double loops, using the cable cast on. That keeps them from falling off, without me having to pull them tight. I I hold the working yarn against the loom and loop pegs over until I get to the two last pegs that I put loops on. Looping as I go seems to help keep the whole thing from getting too tight. The good news is that once you get the cast on row looped over, the tension is easier to control.

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  2. Loved reading your story but here’s mine. Like you I was thrilled with the idea if making socks, I bought the sock knitter. I am a knitter and thought this would be fun to try. Oh my gosh…if I wrap to lose all the stitches come off the loom. If I wrap at a medium tension, by the time I get to the end of the row it’s so tight I can’t pull the yarn over the pin.
    So, please tell me how did you finally figure out the tension?? I am frustrated and would like any advise you can give me.

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    1. Hi Kym! Thanks for stopping by. Here’s what works for me:
      I cast on with the cable cast on method, which is explained in the Leisure Arts Sock Loom Basics book. The e-wraps were either too loose and falling off, or too tight and impossible to loop over. When knitting, I put the sock loom on it’s side in my lap, so I can lay the working yarn on the pegs and it will stay in place without gripping the yarn. I touch the yarn just enough to keep it in place while I am working the stitch, so the working yarn can move. Once I work the stitch, I insert the point of the needle in the new loop on the peg and wiggle it a bit as I am gently pulling the working yarn. That seems to leave just the right amount of ease in the loop so that the stitch is not too loose or too tight. I hope these ideas will help. There is definitely a learning curve to getting the loom to work. My first sample sock was pathetic because of the tension problems. As I learned to give the working yarn a chance to move while working the stitches, the tension problems resolved. Let me know if these ideas make sense to you. I can try taking and posting some photos of what I do if that will help. Janet

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      1. Actually that makes total sense. I like working with things in my lap and couldn’t figure out to do that without everything falling off. I will find out how to do the cast on you suggest. Ill keep you posted on how it goes.

        Thanks for getting back to me.
        Kym

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      2. Yes, let me know if those ideas help. Once you get going it is really a lot of fun to see a real sock emerging from the loom. And I love wearing the two pairs I finished. The compliments don’t hurt, either!😉

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  3. It is a SOCK, Janet and a very pretty one too! I couldn’t manage knitting either but was a whiz with a crochet hook and created some amazing fabric on my loom. I still have the hooks but felt like I was selling a family member when I sold my space consuming floor loom a couple of decades ago. I’m going to investigate your sock loom because it looks like it combines a primitive loom with a fancy crochet hook. This looks like an excellent winter hobby. Waiting for a photo of your feet happily encased in your fab socks!!

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      1. Try ordering direct from KB Authentic knitting board. They sell direct from their site. Maybe they can ship? Let me know….I can get one & send to you. Craft store now has them locally.

        Sent from my iPhone

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      2. You are so generous, Janet. I haven’t given up … I want to be held captive too. Going to check the KB website AND my local craft stores. Will keep you posted! If all else fails, then I’ll make the rounds of craft stores in Fort Myers when I’m down there in November. I am determined.

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      3. Hooray! You too can give up all other activities for the pursuit of sock knitting. I still have my 6-harness floor loom, even tho I haven’t touched it in 20 years. I still have room, and can’t bear to get rid of it. I keep thinking that I’ll have a chance to weave again now that I’m retired, but it’s not happening so far. The sock looms are much more manageable, and provide much more immediate gratification. Here’s to happy feet!

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  4. Great inspiration. I’ve knit one scarf (full of holes) and crochet one potholder (uneven edges). Maybe someday…

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    1. Those weren’t uneven potholder edges. They were edges with picots! The sock loom is seriously more foolproof than regular knitting. I can still make mistakes, but I can fix them without tearing out all my work. it’s a much better experience than knitting with needles was for me.

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    1. Good thinking. This week A.C. Moore has the KB looms in stock. Don’t go near the yarn aisle, or you too maybe seduced by the call of the sock. Glad you liked the post!

      Janet Hince

      My blogs: hearttoharp.wordpress.com storiesmightbetrue.wordpress.com

      “The easiest way to do art is to dispense with success and failure altogether and just get on with it.” Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play

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  5. You are awesome!! I can’t believe you were brave enough to start with the interrupted rib pattern. I made 5 pairs of basic flat stitch socks before I tackled that monster. It looks amazing!! 🙂

    Figuring out the tension is the toughest part, but I’ve learned to let the yarn do what it wants to do. If you don’t pull it and don’t let it bulge too far from the peg, that usually creates the perfect tension. 🙂

    Your yarn basket really made me smile. Not only because of the beautiful colors, but because I had the same two skeins in my basket – The Paton’s Kroy, Meadow Jacquard. I’d know it anywhere as I made my interrupted rib pattern socks using that brand and color. 😉

    Keep making those socks!!! I’ll be posting more about socks as well as I’ve made some really fun new ones recently! I have a new favorite yarn. 🙂

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    1. Nearly all the Patton kroy jacquard yarn was on sale at A.C. Moore the day I went with my coupon. What a feast! Now I’ve started cruising yarn websites, which is very dangerous 😊. So many beautiful yarns that I all too easily imagine turned into socks. Doing the rib pattern became very meditative once I got comfortable doing the stitches. I also wrote down every pattern block as I finished it so I wouldn’t get lost. I found the same thing with yarn tension. Letting it go where it wants seems to work best. I can’t wait to see your new socks and your new favorite yarn!

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  6. Congratulations on your first sock. I have seen these looms but have never tried one because I knit socks with needles. I like the color of your yarn. I love this post 🙂

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