How to use 9" circular needles for any pattern!

You know I love my 9″ circular needles. I think they’re the easiest way to knit socks and sleeves.

But, because they’re fairly new, there aren’t a lot of patterns written specifically for the 9 inch needle. I’m often asked how to translate your favorite sock pattern into one that can be used on a 9″ circular.

Here’s how to do it! And good news, it’s easy!

How to translate any pattern to using 9" circular needles

In this blog post, I’m going to show you a simple little example of a piece of knitting with 10 stitches. The green string is our yarn!
yarn on 9 inch circular needle

Step 1: Place your End of Round marker

If you’re familiar with knitting on circular needles, then you are probably already doing this step. The end of round marker is an interestingly-colored marker (different from all the rest!) that tells you when you’ve hit the end of your round.

end of round stitch marker on a 9" needle

Place stitch markers where the double points would be

Now, here’s the real trick. You want to place stitch markers on your work to note where would have been between the double point needles (shown in the image as orange).
how to use stitch markers on a 9" circular

Using our little example, let’s say the pattern told you to cast 3 sts onto one double point, 3 sts onto another and 4 sts onto a third needle. You would place markers to section off 3, 3 and then 4 sts.

This trick works whether you’re instructed to use 3 or 4 double point needles.

If the pattern called for 2 needles (such as when you knit socks on 2 circular needles), then you can do the same trick, just using fewer markers!

That’s it! Now you can knit, and easily follow the instructions as they refer to double point needles. If you want a bit more help, you might want to find stitch markers that contain numbers (to remind you which ‘needle’ would have been which.

knitting on double point needles with freshstitches

You can now use 9″ circular needles on socks and sleeves… now that you know how to ‘translate’ the pattern! Happy knitting!

Learn How to Knit a Sock

Rainbow striped socks knit by FreshStitches

I love knitting socks. And I get a lot of questions about which resources I’d recommend for learning.

So, in today’s blog post, I’m going to give you a list of my favorite sources!

Your First Pair of Socks

Do you feel comfortable increasing and decreasing? Have you used double point needles? Great! Then you’re ready to knit your first pair of socks!

My Easy Peasy Sock Pattern is designed for the first-timer. It’s a pattern that’s easy to follow and gives you a nice (although thick) sock.


Socks knit by mmeglet on Ravelry
If it’s your first time, then there are a few things you should know. First, ssk is a decrease, not simply slipping two stitches and knitting the next. If you’re not familiar with the stitch, then watch this video. Second, turning the heel requires working short rows. They aren’t scary, but they’re weird. If you follow my instructions to the letter, your heel will come out perfectly. Don’t overthink it.

If learning from a written pattern isn’t for you, then I highly recommend Donna Drachunas’s Knit Sock Workshop on Craftsy. It’s a video course, so you’ll learn everything you need to know!

If you used handwash-only yarn to knit your socks, you’ll want to learn how to hand wash your socks!

Your Second Pair of Socks

I designed my sock pattern to be the easiest to do… but it’s not the best-fitting sock. For your second sock, you’ll probably want to use fingering weight yarn and choose a different pattern. I adore the Basic Sock Pattern by Churchmouse.

neon knitted socks

I’ve knit 7 pairs of socks from this pattern. It’s easy to understand and contains lots of variations.

I also adore The Simple Collection by Tin Can Knits. I haven’t knit them yet, but I have no doubt that Rye is a fabulous sock to knit as one of your first.

You also might be prepared to ditch your double point needles. My favorite way to knit socks is with a 9″ Circular Needle. Read this post to see why I love them!

Toe-up socks knitting

And more…

My second favorite technique is to use two circular needles. You can even knit two socks at a time! I highly recommend Antje Gillingham’s book for learning the technique.

two at a time on two circulars

Socks can become a lifelong addiction… they’re portable and fun to make. As you make more socks, you might get interested in more complicated patterns and designs. I have the book Sock Knitting Master Class: Innovative Techniques + Patterns From Top Designers, and it really gets your sock juices flowing. Check out this really interesting toe shaping I learned to do:

toe up socks

You might want to have a listen to my recent Coffee with Stacey episode about knitting socks– I chat all about yarns, caring for your socks and different techniques!

Ready to Cast on?

Are you already a sock knitter? Or want to start? I hope you love these resources!

pile of hand knit socks

Self-Striping Sock Yarn

If you watched my most recent Coffee with Stacey, you’ll know that I absolutely love knitting socks from self-striping yarn.

Rainbow striped socks knit by FreshStitches

My go-to sock yarn, Knit Picks Felici (shown above), has been discontinued. Self-striping yarn is hard to find… it’s difficult to dye and some beautiful ones are stunning but not suitable for socks.

So I thought it would be fun to post a list of delicious self-striping sock yarn!

Can you tell I’m shopping?


Have you tried any of these?

Or have a favorite to recommend? I want to hear it!

If you love beautiful rainbow-y socks, you’ll probably also want to follow Susan B. Anderson’s blog… she does lots of lovely knitting!

Do you knit two at a time?

Have you ever knit two at a time?

I originally learned to knit two socks at a time using Antje Gillingham’s book Knitting Circles around Socks: Knit Two at a Time on Circular Needles… but now I use the technique for all kinds of things!

gillingham two at a time socks

What does it mean to knit two at a time?

It’s just what it sounds like! Using two separate balls of yarn, you’ll knit round one of the first sock, then round one of the second sock. Then, you’ll move onto round two of the second sock…

It’s a great technique for ensuring that two pieces are exactly the same!

Once I got the hang of socks, I moved onto knitting other pieces this way, like these monster arms:

knitting monster arms two at a time

And now…

Do you remember when I told you I’d started knitting a Charleston Tee?

When it came time to knit the sleeves, I thought, ‘hey! I should do them both at once!’

knitting sleeves two at a time

(I apologize for the late-at-night photo… I’m busy knitting!)

This way, the sleeves would be exactly identical, and I’d only have to read through the directions once! Hooray!

Because the sleeves are knitted flat (instead of in the round), I only need one needle instead of two.

It’s almost finished… fingers crossed it’s ready for me to wear at Stitches East!

That’s what I’ve been up to this week… how about you? I hope you have an awesome Wednesday, and get some great knitting/crocheting done this week!

If you want to check out more Work-In-Progress posts, please check out Tami’s Ami’s Blog, who’s been organizing a great WIP Wednesday blog theme! And, don’t forget to come back for FO (Finished Object) Friday!

How to hand wash socks

Most of my winter socks are ones that I’ve knit myself. Many of them require hand-washing. It’s not hard… I’ll show you how. But first, let’s tackle some basic sock care questions and I’ll give you a little advice.

Sock Care FAQs

Do I really have to hand wash my socks? Check the label of the yarn you used. If the yarn says ‘hand wash only’, then… well, you need to wash your socks by hand. If your socks are made with machine washable yarn, then it’s up to you (read below for one reason you may opt to hand wash socks that are fit for the machine).

What happens if I put socks in the machine that should be washed by hand? They will felt, meaning that they will shrink and not be nice, lovely socks anymore.

tutorial on hand washing socks

How do you remember which socks need hand washing? The truth is, every once in a while, you won’t remember. Big oopsie. That’s why I recommend treating all of your socks as needing hand washing (see below).

Do I need a sock blocker? A sock blocker is a device that will shape your socks as they’re drying to look nice and pretty. I own one from Knit Picks, and use it for socks that I’m going to photograph for the blog. I don’t ever block socks just so they look nice in my sock drawer. I say skip it, unless you’re doing a photo shoot.

Separate your socks!

I’m going to give you my personal advice. Put all of your hand-knit socks in a separate basket from your clothes when dirty. And pretend that all of your socks need to be hand washed.

hand knitted socks

Why? If you don’t, one of two things is bound to happen:

  • Someone in your family will spontaneously do some laundry… and not know that they should pick out the socks for hand washing. This turns a wonderfully thoughtful gesture into ruined socks.
  • You will think that a particular pair of socks was knitted with hand washable yarn… and throw it in the machine. This will also result in ruined socks.

So don’t risk it. Make a habit of making a separate pile for hand-knit socks, and wash them by hand when you’re down to only one clean pair left.

How to hand wash socks

Hand washing gets such a bad rap… and I’m not sure why! It’s not that hard.

Gather your socks. Fill your sink with lukewarm water.

hand washing wool socks

Pour some Wool-wash (Eucalan is lovely and contains a natural moth-repellant) into the water as directed on the label.

Using Eucalan wool wash to wash socks

Be sure to look for a wash intended for hand washing, as these are intended to care for wool fibers and also do not need to be rinsed out. Contrary to its name, Woolite is a detergent and is terrible for wool. Spend the extra money for a real wool wash… you only use the tiniest bit for each wash and a bottle will last a long time.

Now, plop your socks into the sink, and press down so that they are fully submerged.

step by step tutorial on how to wash socks by hand

Leave for about 15 minutes.

That’s all! They’re clean! Squeeze each sock, getting out as much water as you can without wringing:

squeezing hand wash socks without wringing

Don’t get too disgusted by the icky-color of water that might come out… don’t forget, they’re socks!

Lay flat on a towel to dry.

When they’re dry, re-stock your sock drawer!

tutorial on how to hand wash socks

That’s not so hard, right?

If hand washing sounds like a nightmare to you, then I highly recommend that you knit all of your socks with machine washable yarn. Otherwise, your socks will wind up sitting in your drawer like an obscure antique, and who wants that?!?

But, if the siren song of the oh-so-delicious hand wash only indie dyed yarn sings to you… go for it! Hand washing isn’t so bad!

Picking needles for knitting your sock…

A lot of folks get intimidated by sock knitting… and one of the things that’s so scary is picking what kind of needles to use! There are so many choices!

The truth is that the choice of which needles to use is completely personal preference, so you’ll probably have to try out a few. In this post, I’ll talk about the 4 main needle options for sock knitting, as well as the pros and cons of each one. Then, it’s up to you to pick your fave!

Double Point Needles

Options Available: material (metal, wood or plastic), length (ranging from 5-8″)

Double point needles (often abbreviated dpns) are a very common way to knit socks, and probably the most common way you’ll learn when you’re starting out. In fact, it’s the method I use in my Easy Peasy Sock pattern.


  • Many sock patterns are written for dpns, so using them for these patterns is a lifesaver! (unless you’re already experienced with tweaking sock patterns)
  • They’re not very expensive.
  • Almost every needle company makes dpns (or a few!), so you have lots of options.


  • There is a high probability of ‘laddering’, a funny gap that happens when moving from one dpn to another. You’ll have to knit carefully to avoid it.
  • The skinnier ones (which you use for socks) have a tendency to break. You might want to consider metal or needles with a replacement policy.
  • You’re using 4-5 needles to make once sock. Losing one (or dropping it under an airplane seat) is sad.

Are you going to be tossing your socks in a purse? Think carefully about how likely your stitches are to fall off, your needles are to break or get lost. If you love dpns, you might want to consider getting double pointed needle tubes so your in-progress socks don’t get into any mischief.

Two Circular Needles

Options Available: all of the options usually available for circular needles: material (metal, wood or plastic), length (ones ranging from 16″ to 32″ are usually used), pointiness of the tip

You can use two circular needles knit socks… they basically behave like 2 giant bendy double point needles. This is the way I knit my first pair of socks, and I love it! It’s a wise idea to use two circulars of different length (or different colored tips) so you can distinguish them while knitting. An added bonus is that this method makes available knitting 2 socks at one time (Knitting Circles around Socks, pictured).


  • Because there are only 2 spots in between the needles (compared to 3 or 4 with dpns), laddering is less of a problem.
  • You may already have the circulars in your needle stash.
  • The ability to do two at a time? Rock on!
  • The project can easily be tossed in a bag without much risk of stitches falling off.


  • If you don’t already have the needles, buying two circulars for one pair of socks can be costly.
  • Not many patterns are written for this technique, so you may have to do some adaptation.

It’s true, knitting on two circulars (especially two-at-a-time) has a little bit of a learning curve… but if you stick with it, you’re rewarded with less laddering and a more portable project. I also enjoy that you’re able to use your favorite circular needles (like my super-slick Addi Turbos), and don’t have to switch to another brand/style.

One circular needle (aka Magic Loop)

Options Available: material (metal, wood or plastic), pointiness of the tip

Magic Loop works very much like knitting with two circulars, except that you use one very long circular (usually a 40+ inch). The actual knitting technique is very similar, and has the same bonus is that this method makes available knitting 2 socks at one time (2-at-a-Time Socks uses one circular needle).


  • Just like 2 circulars, less laddering (as compared to dpns) occurs.
  • The ability to do two at a time? Still rock on!
  • Also like 2 circulars, the project can easily be tossed in a bag without much risk of stitches falling off.


  • Unless you knit shawls (or really like knitting your socks this way), you’re unlikely to use your 40″ needles on many projects.
  • Also like 2 circulars, not many patterns are written for this technique, so you may have to do some adaptation.

To me, knitting on 3 circulars and magic loop (1 long circular) have very similar pluses and minuses. More than anything, it’ll come down to your preference. For me personally, having extra cord drives me nuts. Therefore, magic loop drives me crazy! But for others, remembering which of the 2 circulars to use is endlessly confusing.

A 9″ circular

Options Available: material (metal or wood), pointiness of the tip

I’ll confess: this is my favorite way to knit socks. No laddering, no need to switch needles… just smooth knitting!


  • No ladders!
  • Very easy to toss in a bag and travel with.


  • You will need to switch to a different technique (either of the above 3 mentioned) to knit the toe, because there are too few stitches to fit around the circular.
  • Again, almost no patterns are written for this technique, so you’ll have to do some adaptation.
  • Many people say the smaller size gives them a hand cramp.
  • The needles aren’t yet widely available, and won’t be a part of any interchangeable kit.

I travel a lot, and I always bring a sock with me to work on. I absolutely adore the ease and portability (because I’ve had the traumatic experience of a dpn rolling under my airplane seat), and since my hands are small, I don’t mind the knitting. But, I also know a number of people who can’t stand them, so the only way to find out is to try them! The leading manufacturer in making 9″ needles is Hiya Hiya, who has 3 styles available: bamboo, metal and sharp.

Which are your faves?

What’s your preferred method of knitting socks?

If you’re a newbie… I hope I’ve given you a (not stressful) review of the options that are out there!