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Knitting Socks on 9" Circular Needles

I saw my first socks being knit on DPNs at a knitting group while living in Qatar and I was fascinated to learn this magical thing of knitting using five needles at once and so DPNs were what I used to learn sock knitting. Eventually I tried my hand at other methods and despite trying the magic loop method on longer circulars and using two circulars at a time, I always came back to knitting on the DPNs as my preferred method.
Then I saw 9" circulars and that was when sock knitting changed for me. I always like to test out new products in my shop and I only sell items I have used in my own crafting so that I can give honest reviews and recommend products. Basically if I don't like something I won't sell it, so I had to try out 9" circular needles.
 
Now if you knew me you would know that I usually find something I like and stick with it and then I feel quite traitorous and unfaithful if I change to something else, but these 9" circulars had me hooked right from the start. Yes, they were a little fiddly to start with, but after a few rows I really loved them. I mean, DPNs and Magic Loop are both a little fiddly at first too right? Especially when you are first casting on and joining in the round, and when knitting those first few rows. I found that learning to knit on 9" circulars was so much easier than learning to knit on DPNs and not as frustrating as shuffling stitches around long circular needles.
I see a lot of posts on social media asking how to knit on these tiny needles or how to do a heel turn etc on them so I thought I would put some photos and a little video up here to try to help those who might be struggling. I wrote my Comfy Sock Recipe to be knit on 9" circulars as well.
My choice of sock knitting is usually top down and a heel flap however the Fish Lips Kiss Heel and Cat's Sweet Tomato Heel can also be knit using 9" circulars and there are clips on Youtube showing the arrangement of the stitches.
BASIC INSTRUCTIONS FOR SOCKS ON 9" CIRCULARS
Cast On (Top Down Socks)

Using 9” circular needles cast on the required number of stitches, then join for knitting in the round and place a stitch marker to indicate the start of the round.

Leg

Following your pattern of choice, knit until the leg is the desired length before the heel.

Heel Flap
Knit across half the stitches on your needle and place another stitch marker. Turn the work. You will now work back and forth across the heel stitches using just these same set of 9” needles. The other half of the stitches remain on the needle but are not worked as you turn each time you come to a stitch marker so only the heel stitches are active.
In this pair of ankle socks in the photo above, I have just finished knitting the heel flap but you can see the set up on the 9" circular needles. I have been knitting back and forth across the solid pink section to form the heel flap.
Turning the Heel
Continue to follow your knitting pattern and turn the heel working back and forth as normal but just using 9" circular needles as with the heel flap.
Gusset

You should now have two sections of stitches on your needles. The live stitches of the heel turn that you have just finished working, and the live stitches of the top of the sock leg that have been ‘resting’ while you have been busy with the heel flap.

Set Up Round: With right side facing and continuing to use the 9” circular needle, pick up and knit the required number of stitches along the side of the heel flap. Slip the marker then continue knitting across the ‘resting’ stitches from the top of the sock that are on the needle. Slip the next marker and then pick up and knit the required number of stitches along other side of the heel flap. Knit across half of the heel turn stitches and place marker. This is the new beginning of the round.

You should now be knitting in the round again on the 9" circulars and be able to follow your knitting pattern instructions for the gusset decreases.

Foot

Knit the foot as per your pattern instructions

Toe

You can continue working the toe on the 9” circulars until the sock is too small to fit around the circular needle.  You can change to DPNs to finish the last few rows before closing with Kitchener Stitch, however you can use the 9" circulars in a Magic Loop fashion to finish the toe. I usually decrease to about 16 stitches each needle (32 stitches in total) stretching around the needle as I decrease.

Following on from the instructions above:

Set Up for Toe: Remove beginning of the row marker, knit across the sole stitches on the needle then knit to the first marker. Slip the marker and you are now ready to begin the toe decreases with a marker each side of the work again to indicate where the toe decreases should be. Continue to follow the instructions of your chosen pattern for the toe decreases.

If you are struggling with the small size of these needles, here is a little video of me knitting with them. You can see how I use small movements to knit which I think makes using them easier and of course they are also perfect for Continental knitters.

 
PRODUCT REVIEW
Sock Ruler
I recently received my first shipment of the new Sock Ruler (R) (Patent Pending) and it was so popular that there are currently only a few left in store, however I have ordered more which should arrive any day. 
I have found this ruler to be a wonderful tool for sock knitting, especially when the recipient of the socks is not around to try them on.
This is a little write up from the designer of the Sock Ruler (R) 

The Sock Ruler® (patent pending), is constructed of a heavy duty, yet flexible plastic; an innovative measuring tool for sock knitters that goes inside of the sock, allowing it to lie flat and ensure accurate measurements (both metric and imperial). Easy to use, no tape measure blues! Made in the USA.

 

A Message from the Sock Ruler Creator

There has been the occasional misconception that The Sock Ruler® equates to the foot's actual length, which it does not. It was not designed to measure the length of a person's foot, although it is helpful to have that information when you knit a sock. Some people have asked me about knitting for a man who wears a size 14 shoe, for example. That man's foot length is probably 12".  The toe decrease would typically begin two inches before the end of the sock. For a 12" foot that toe decrease would start at 10" which is the length of the ruler. After you start the toe decrease you no longer need to use The Sock Ruler®. Please refer to the Shoe Size Conversion Chart should you need help determining the length of the foot of the sock.

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