My Favourite Vanilla Sock Recipe

You may have seen my rainbow of socks if you’ve seen me at a yarn show. I often get asked what the pattern is, so I’ve actually knuckled down and written it out for you. I find vanilla socks such a soothing, mindless, take anywhere project, I always have at least one on the go. I hope this puts some sock love into your life, enjoy!

I knit my socks on a 2mm needle with a 72 stitch count, for a denser more durable fabric. If you prefer a 2.5mm needle, only increase up to 64 stitches (32 per needle). This is a toe-up pattern, I started knitting socks cuff down, but once I tried toe-up I was hooked. Only having to cast on 12 stitches instead of 72, and do the awkward magic loop divide and join in the round, plus no kitchener at the end! What’s not to love? It also works great if you’re working from a 50g skein (or leftovers of another full skein), because you won’t run out of yarn for the toe, you can simply knit up your cuff until you run out of yarn (split your yarn into 2 equal balls if you’re doing this to make sure you have enough for sock 2!)

I use either magic loop or 9-inch circulars (past the toes), but if you use DPNs simply treat needle 1 as 1 & 2 and needle 2 as 3 & 4. Honestly, this pattern is such a simple recipe you should be able to adapt it for any preferred needle set up. If you like to do 2 at a time socks, I prefer to knit both my toes separately then put them onto the same cord.

This is the first time I’ve putpattern down on paper and not just in my head but I hope you find it useful!

K: Knit
P: Purl
Kfb: Knit front and back (increases 1 stitch)
w&t: wrap and turn (short row)
Ktbl: Knit through the back loop

Start at the Toes

Cast on 12 stitches using Judy’s Magic Cast On.

Round 1: Knit all stitches, being sure to catch and secure your cast on tail (12 stiches per needle).

*Inc round: K1, Kfb, Knit to last 2 stitches, Kfb* (14 stitches per needle).

Repeat this Inc Round a total of 3 times (18 stitches per needle).

*Round 5: Knit all stitches.
Round 6: Repeat Increase Round*.

Repeat these *2 rounds* for a total of 4 times (26 stitches per needle).

**Round 12: Knit all stitches
Round 13: Knit all stitches.
Round 14: Repeat Increase Round**

Repeat these **3 rounds** for a total of 5 times (36 stitches per needle).

Your toe is done! Admire the cuteness before you relax into the mindless stockinette for a few inches now.

Time to put your heel in

Heels always seem to be the thing that puts most knitters off trying socks – heel turns aren’t scary, all you need to know is how to knit, purl and do a few short rows, so grab your beverage of choice and settle in, you’ll be a seasoned pro in no time.

My preferred heel is actually the Fish Lips Kiss Heel, but as that is a paid-for pattern (It’s $1 on Ravelry, and I recommend it. Ignore the fact that it has 17 pages of instructions, it’s mostly waffle, you only need the core instructions on page 9&10 to do the heel.)

But for completeness here is a similar alternative, a German short row heel.

You will want to have knitted the foot of your sock to the approximate length of where your ankle bone sits. An easy way to measure this is to make a cardboard template of your foot – stand on a piece of paper (Cardboard will last longer if you have it) and draw around your foot and mark where the ball of your ankle joint pokes out along the side. then just measure how long it is from your toe to this point. I’m a UK 8/EU41 and my measurement is 7 1/4 inches.

Your heel will only be worked across 1 needle, back and forth in rows rather than rounds.

Row 1: Knit to 2 stitches from end, w&t.
Row 2: Purl to 2 stitches from end, w&t.
Row 3: Knit to 1 stitch before wrapped ‘double stitch’, w&t.
Row 4: Purl to 1 stitch before wrapped ‘double stitch’, w&t.
Repeat Rows 3 and 4 until you have 11 wrapped stitches on either side of the centre (+1 unwrapped on each end). You should have 12 unwrapped stitches in the centre section.

You’ll see we have split the heel into 1/3’s with this – you can adapt these numbers for any stitch count – for a 64 stitch count I would wrap 10 stitches on each side, and have 10 left in the middle.

Now we are going to actually turn the heel. Dun Dun Durrrrrr.

Knit to the first wrapped stitch, you can place a stitch marker here if you like. Then knit across your wrapped stitches, knitting the ‘double stitches’ together as if they were 1 stitch (almost like a k2tog). You should have the single unwrapped stitch on your left needle, now we’re going to wrap that stitch.

Purl to the stitch marker, slip the marker, and purl to the first wrapped stitch. Pop another stitch marker here. Now you’re going to purl your wrapped stitches together the same as you did on the knit side, treating each ‘double stitch’ as one. Then w&t that final, previously unwrapped, stitch.

Heel turned, you’re on the other side, woohoo!

Row 1: Knit to the 1st marker, slip it, and continue to the 2nd marker. You can remove this marker now. W&t.
Row 2: Purl to the remaining marker, remove it, w&t.
Row 3: Knit to the wrapped stitch, knit the ‘double stitch’ together, then w&t the following stitch.
Row 4: Purl to the wrapped stitch, knit the ‘double stitch’ together, then w&t the following stitch.

Repeat rows 3 & 4 until you wrap the stitch next to the wrapped stitch on the end of your needle (on the purl side).
Knit to the 1st wrapped stitch, knit both the ‘double stitches’ together as before. You’re now going to get your other needle involved again. Instead of turning, keep knitting, now working in the round again. You’ll knit all stitches on this needle, then when you get back to your heel needle you’ll have 2 double stitches at the start. Simply knit these together and you’re done, you can keep knitting in the round until your cuff now!

I hope I’ve explained that clearly enough, just take it one step at a time and you’ll get there.

Knit to your desired leg length (minus the cuff). I like to do about 20 rows of ribbing, or about 1 1/2 inches).

My favourite rib is a twisted rib, but feel free to do whatever you want, 1×1, 2×2 they’ll all work. The great thing about a sock recipe is you can make it your own.


Round 1: *K1tbl, P1* repeat to end of round.

Repeat round 1 until your cuff is as long as you want.

Cast Off

Important – You must use a stretchy cast off, otherwise you’ll find you might not be able to even get your sock on.

My go to is Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.

Sit back and put your ever so cosy feet up, because you just finished your socks (Ok so you might have to knit sock number 2, but we won’t talk about 2nd sock syndrome…).

Remember to share your makes on Instagram with hashtag #nafyarns or tag me @needleandfred so I can see them!

Need some yarn for those socks?

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