Ok, so it's not really sooper seekrit, seeing as I've taught it in my classes to at least 50 people (probably more). But it's good, and when people think something is a secret recipe, it makes it more desirable, no? Ok, maybe not. But anyways... So here it is. The way I like to start socks. You need:
1 crochet hook (smallish) 1 40-inch addi needle (or other long circular with a very flexible cord) Sock yarn About one yard of waste yarn in a similar weight
Ok. Grab your crochet hook, your needle, and your waste yarn. Leave the sock yarn alone for now. Give it a drink or a cookie or something to hold it until your ready for it. Assuming that you're right handed (if you're not please reverse the instructions if if helps), things should be positioned like this:
You've got the waste yarn attached to the crochet hook with a slip knot. The needle is on the left, and underneath. The crochet hook is on the right and on top. The working yarn is wrapped under the needle from the right and has been looped back over the top. What you are doing is basically chaining right onto the needle, by using the crochet hook to pull a loop of the working yarn through the loop already on the hook. It will start to look like this:
Each time you add a new stitch, you will need to take the working yarn down under the needle to the right and back around to the top. You want to chain ONTO the needle, not independent of the needle.
How many stitches should you cast on? That's a very good question. I'm shooting for 60-64 stitches with this sock. So I cast on 14. If your st count is divisible by four, do this: St count divided by four, minus two. For mine I did 64/4 = 16 - 2 = 14 sts to cast on. Is that too scary? Well if it is, comment or shoot me an e-mail or pm me on Ravelry and I will figure it out for you. If your st count is *not* divisible by four, do this: St count divided by four, rounded down, minus two. 70 sts = 70/4 = 17.5 is about 17 -2 = 15 sts to cast on.
Ok enough math. Did you hear me? The math is done. Wipe the drool off your chin and pay attention again. When you've cast on the required number of sts, leave a nice long loop, as shown below. We'll use that later for the unzipping!
So you have your however many sts cast on. Now it's time to give some loving to that sock yarn. Ew. That's just gross. Just switch to the main yarn and get ready to work. This is what you do, you knit 7 rows in stockinette stitch, with the first row being knit. Just to be clear: Rows 1, 3, 5 & 7: Knit all sts. Rows: 2, 4, & 6: Purl all sts. You will end up with a tiny rectangle that will look like the one below. Now you're ready to unzip.
Turn your work around so that the wrong side is facing you. Using the other end of your circular needle, insert it into the first st on the needle (the one with the long loop attached to it) from the back to the front. Once your needle is in the work, unzip that first stitch. Do this for all the remaining stitches, one by one.
Once all of your stitches have been unzipped, you are ready to pick up sts on each end of the rectangle to work in the round. All you have to do is pick up two sts on each of the short ends of the rectangle. It doesn't have to be crazy precise where they go, as it is the toe of your sock. But picking up 2 sts on each end moves you from rectangular knitting to knitting in the round.
The next part is easy. You just need to alternate increase rounds (increasing 4 sts each round) with knitting plain to get the toe to the right size for you. Which increase should you use? Another very good question. I used to be all anal about mine, doing left leaning bar increases and llincs and all that nonsense. But then I remembered it's my toe! And if it's cold enough to wear socks here (which rarely happens for me) I am really not gonna care. So I just do kf&b (knit front & back) increases. And honestly, I think they look very nice.
Oh and that lovely background? It's the chart for my newest sock. It's not as bad as it looks. And I think it will be worth it. More on that later.