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What Is The Best Yarn For Knitting Socks? The Ultimate Sock Yarn Guide Updated For 2020

Great to have you here 🙂

Knitting Socks is a very popular knitting project choice.

To be honest, sock knitting can become addictive 🙂

In this post, I share my guide to sock yarn.

What is the best yarn for knitting socks

What Is The Best Yarn For Knitting Socks?

There are so many gorgeous sock patterns, stitches for socks and beautifully dyed yarn to knit up into socks.

Knitting socks gives you an opportunity to explore color, different stitch techniques and best of all great satisfaction.

In this post I explore what is the:

  • Best Yarn For Knitting Socks
  • What is Sock Yarn?
  • What to Consider in The Best Sock Yarn
  • Some of the Most Popular Sock Yarns that Knitters Swear By

Table of Contents

What is Sock Yarn?

Sock yarn refers to a yarn that is usually super fine and labeled Sock Yarn.

The American Yarn Council places it in the Super Fine category with the symbol number 1.

So Sock Yarn refers to both a particular type of yarn and a category. It is usually knitted on very small in diameter needles such as 2.25mm or US needle size 1-3.

Tanis Fiber Arts Hand dyed yarns
Superb hand-dyed yarns by Tanis Fibre Arts perfect for socks.

This type of yarn varies in thickness or yarn weight such as super bulky or worsted weight. For these types of thicknesses, you’d be looking at bed socks or outdoor socks to go hiking in.

It is often a blend of fibers that make the finished fabric more durable. Sock yarn is not only for socks; it is often used in knitted blankets and shawls.

Arne and Carlos using Self Striping Yarn To Knit The World’s Easiest Socks!

Watching this video you will learn how Arne’s techniques for knitting a toe up sock. The yarn they use is Regia Pairfect Design Line 4-Ply by Arne & Carlos Sock Yarn. It is a self striping yarn and you can see the how the colors create different effects.

What To Consider In The Best Sock Yarn:

Socks Should Hug The Leg

Most people prefer a tight, non-floppy sock – socks should hug the leg. There is no joy in constantly having to pull up your socks!
This means you need a yarn that is more tightly plied and less yielding.

Socks Need Washing

As socks are worn every day during the cooler weather, they need to stand up to a high degree of wear and washing. Yarns that pill, felt, or get visibly discolored with regular washing are those you’d want to stay away from.

A yarn that is able to be machine washed is an advantage for those of you who need to save time. If you are up for some hand-washing, then you can choose many other types of yarn.

Thin or Thick?

If you like the feel of thin socks choose – fingering weight only (400m/100g). Think about what type of socks you like to knit or might like to knit. Will the socks be thick, thin, for the office, or wild and fun? Thicker wool such as DK weight, will make bulkier socks, so keep in mind the amount of space in your shoes!

Tanis Fiber Arts Lavanderia Socks
Follow @tanisfibrearts for more knitting sock inspiration and visit her website for gorgeous hand-dyed yarns.

Who Is Your Sock Audience?

Who is your sock audience? Will the socks be for friends, partners, teenagers, little ones? It is easier to start out with someone in mind, think about their favorite colors.

Would they like all one color or self-striping yarn? Would they prefer plain or fancy stitch patterns? What sort of thickness do they like? Long or short? These are the questions to think about to make sure your lovingly handmade socks are worn 🙂 They are sure to love your knitted gift.


What Knitting Equipment You Have

Your knitting equipment – DPN (Double Pointed Needles), circular knitting needles.

Knitters recommend 6 inch double pointed needles, using 2 circular needles, the magic loop using one long circular knitting needle to knit 2 socks at a time or 9-inch circular knitting needles to knit socks.

Tension Of Knitting

Consider what type of tension you have, tight or loose. It is really important when working with any sock pattern, is to check your gauge.

How The Yarn Feels

How a yarn feels one way to the hand often feels utterly different against the calf and foot. Some people will experience a heightened sensitivity to scratchy wool.

Others find they have a greater tolerance for rough yarns in socks that they’d never bear as scarves or sweaters.

Softness will be a consideration for some. Be aware that the softer yarns don’t stand up to abrasion well. They are more likely to pill and get holes quicker.

Socks on knitting needles in scallop pattern in teal blue yarn
For more sock knitting inspiration follow Louise Crowthers on Instagram @boo_biloo or visit her Esty store for great knitting patterns.

Do You Want Your Stitch To Shine?

Are you a fan of intricate stitch patterns? If so you need to think about the color of your yarn. Plain or ‘kettle dyed’ yarn, the best solid color sock yarn, allows intricate stitch patterns in socks to shine.
Dark colors mask textures and cables so choose lighter colors if you want the pattern to stand out.

Self Striping Yarn For Color

Self-striping yarn is fabulous for more colorful, wild sock patterns. Remember the heel you choose in your sock will have an impact on the stripes.

Think Of Your Budget

Think of the amount of money you want to spend. If you can afford more expensive yarn, you’ll be wanting to get something that lasts. Only you can determine what the best affordable yarn is, depending on how much you are willing to spend.

Yarn Blends

Avid sock knitters do not recommend yarns that contain any silk, bamboo, angora, cashmere or alpaca; even in blends. The best silk sock yarn is more for shawls or delicate knitted items.

Cotton-blend yarns are also more fragile than pure wool ones. These fibers do not stand up to abrasion well.

If you live in a warm climate, you’ll probably want to stick with cotton or cotton-blend yarns. These are the best summer sock yarn.

Pure synthetics will not provide as much long-lasting warmth. This type of yarn holds moisture directly against your feet, making them feel cold and clammy with wear. There is no best acrylic sock yarn because this type of thread makes your feet sweat.

If you’re new to knitting socks, you’ll probably want to start with yarns labeled sock yarns. These tend to be more durable and easier to wash than similar weight yarns that aren’t made for socks.

For the best non-wool sock yarn consider blends of cotton/nylon and bamboo/cotton/nylon. This will be the best value yarn if you are allergic to wool.

@GiddyHelen on Instagram. Sock Knitting with self striping yarn in purples and blues
@GiddyHelen Sock Knitting Follow @GiddyHelen for more sock pics

What Is The Best Sock Yarn For Knitting Socks?

Experts on yarn like the author; Clara Parkes, says the best yarns for socks are elastic. This is because socks need to stretch around a foot but then cling to the foot while wearing and hug the calf.

She discusses sock yarn in her excellent and informative book:

The Knitter's Book of Socks: The Yarn Lover's Ultimate Guide to Creating Socks That Fit Well, Feel Great, and Last a Lifetime.

Why Wool and Nylon?

Wool has the best bounce and fiber memory, while cotton, angora, and alpaca have less elasticity. If you’re fond of any less elastic fibers, your best bet is to pick a blend of wool and nylon. This has the best stretch yet warm sock yarn.

Wool is the best fiber for spinning sock yarn. ’

In general, knitters have found the best, longest-lasting sock yarns are wool and contain at least 20% nylon. This is said to be the best sock yarn ever and is the most popular sock yarn.

The essential ingredient for durability is nylon, acrylic, or some form of synthetic material. This is the best sock yarn for stretchy and longevity.

Yarn For Socks Needs To Be Able To Handle Rubbing

Yarn usually used for socks needs to be resistant to abrasion. There is a lot of pressure on fibers used in knitted socks because they rub on your foot, your shoe or the ground as they are worn.

So choosing a super soft yarn is not a good idea.

Socks Need To Absorb Or Wick Away Moisture

As feet sweat, socks need to either absorb or wick away that moisture to feel (and smell) good. Nothing beats wool. It can absorb up to one-third of its weight in moisture before it begins to feel moist.

Unless Your Feet Always Smell Like Roses, Socks Need To Be Washed

Socks need to be washed. Consider superwash yarns. These yarns when knitted up can be tossed in the washing machine. The best washable wool sock yarn is labeled ‘superwash.’ However, for sock yarns that are not superwash, washing by hand is not a difficult task.

Sock Yarn Weight

The most common best sock yarns are fingering, sport, and DK weight ranging in gauge from 6 to 8 stitches per inch. Normally the finer the gauge, the more fluid and form-fitting the sock.

You can knit socks in worsted-weight yarn at gauges up to 4 stitches per inch.

Sock Yarn That Knitters Recommend

Most big brand yarn companies offer sock yarn. Knitters highly recommend Sock-EaseTM Yarn by Lion Brand Yarns, KnitPicks Stroll Handpainted Sock Yarn, Regia 4 Ply, Schoppel Zauberball and Lang Jawoll.

So Many Yarns To Choose From At Knit Picks

Mohair is a wonderful durable fiber when blended with merino and nylon.

Wool/Angora – If you suffer from consistently cold feet, nothing beats the heating power of angora. Even a small amount of angora in an otherwise wool sock boosts its heating capacity significantly.

What Is The Best Self Striping Sock Yarn?

Self-striping sock yarn creates fabulous fun and sometimes wild stripes when knitting socks. Sock knitting experts suggest the best self-striping sock yarn are those that have long color changes. When shopping for the best self-striping yarn, keep this in mind.

What Is The Best Worsted Weight Sock Yarn?

Worsted weight refers to the thickness of the yarn. Worsted weight sock yarn is thicker than those yarns labeled sock yarn. Great for making thicker, bulkier socks.

Knit Picks Chroma a wonderful worsted weight yarn – 70% wool / 30% nylon.

Best Sock Yarn Review

Reena at Knit Better Socks is a guru when it comes to sock yarn reviews. Reena has been sharing her sock knitting experiences on the blogosphere for many years.

Her writing provides a wealth of knowledge and her expertise is second to none!

Key Takeaways and Top Recommendations

So there you go, all you need to know about best sock yarn for knitting socks. We know you will find a gorgeous yarn to suit your needs.

Enjoy your sock knitting 🙂

Something we forgot? Leave a question or comment at the end.

Now It’s Your Turn…

I’d like to hear what you have to say.

What did you think about today’s guide?

Or maybe you have a question. Either way let me know by leaving a comment below right now or send me a message on twitter.

You can also contact me here

About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, owner and creator of Knit Like Granny. (Yes, I’m a real person :) ) Thanks for being here. I am an Australian, currently traveling in Europe with my family. I love knitting and have met so many other fabulous knitters through this site. I love learning and helping others discover the joys of working with yarn. Please say hello!

11 thoughts on “What Is The Best Yarn For Knitting Socks? The Ultimate Sock Yarn Guide Updated For 2020”

    • Hi Jalene. Great to hear that you are wanting to learn to knit. Blankets and socks are certainly projects to aspire to. If you’ve never knitted before perhaps start with simple garments like a scarf for beginners, this will help build your confidence and give your practice. There are some great suggestions for Knitting Books for Beginners in our post and books for learning how to knit socks and blankets. Hope you have lots of fun learning to knit and let us know how you get on. 🙂

      • Hi Jalene
        Further to this, one of our wonderful featured Knitting Bloggers; Claudia from had this amazing guidance for your question about knitting socks…
        “I would suggest a pattern with ribbing which will help get a good fit even if your gauge isn’t perfect such as Glenna’s free ribbed pattern: However trying to do ribbing and learn sock techniques might be biting off more than you can chew. If you want a solid basic sock pattern without fooling around with ribbing then Susan B. Anderson’s free basic sock pattern is also probably a good choice: But all sock patterns have an assumption that you know a few sock techniques, such as turning the heel. Your best bet is to learn missing techniques is when you come to a part of the pattern that is confusing is to look on Youtube for a tutorial. If you the money and is completely new to socks you might like Crafty tutorial ($19) But there really is no need to pay to learn socks as there are lots of free tutorials. Hope this helps!!!
        Thanks very much Claudia 🙂 All the best Jalene.

  1. I am new to knitting socks but love doing this. As I had a hard time reading the pattern I took lessons at a knit shop. Had so much fun and learned so much on my fourth pair and can’t wait to start next pair.

  2. I am wondering if a blend of 40 cashmere, 40 Brushtail Possum down, 20 mulberry silk would be good for socks? My daughter wants very light weight socks. Recommended needle for this yarn is 1.

    Another option is Autermann Kid Silk. 75 mohair 25 silk. Very fine yarn. Would I need to add a yarn with nylon or some other addition because this is so fine and socks often need a strong fiber?

    Crazy but she loves silk in her socks. Any advice appreciated.
    Thank you very much.

    • Hi Evelyn. Thanks so much for your questions. Being no expert in sock knitting, I have asked some experts on Ravelry and their responses will hopefully be helpful. Cheers Jodie:)

      From Anita-
      There are plenty of lovely sock yarns (i.e. fingering or light fingering weight, with a tight twist that wears well) with 10, 20 or even more percent of silk. But, I wouldn’t suggest making “socks for wearing in shoes” with either of those you suggested – the one with possum down and cashmere being 80% will be too soft to wear well, and the mohair silk will wear well but has no stretch/recovery and will make baggy socks, because you’ll have to make them a tad larger so that they can be gotten on.
      If she wants “light” socks, consider a merino/silk blend, with or without mohair or cashmere, and use a lacey (holey) pattern for the socks. Also choose one of the sock yarns that’s on the thin side (450 or more yds per 100g), in the Ravelry database those would mostly be in the “light fingering” category if you want to do a search. Here’s one: Serenity Silk plus which is 500 yds/100g. However, when I search projects done with it, they are nearly all shawl-y and only a very few socks, which makes me wonder about its longevity.
      Another thought – when she wants “light” socks, does she mean thin, or cool? there are non-wool sock yarns, too.
      Recommended needle size on yarns for socks is often not what the ball band suggests (which may be for shawls or other drapey things) but several sizes smaller. I hope you’re ok with knitting on multi-zero size needles ‘cause that’s almost certainly what you’re gonna end up with 🙂

      From Michelle-
      You can consider doing most of the sock in a stronger yarn (or at least the toe/ball of the foot and heel), and use the softer yarn for the rest of the sock. Knees Up is an example of using a different yarn for part of the sock (though this specifically makes more legwarmer socks).
      I don’t think either of those yarns are going to work well for a sock otherwise, unfortunately. Both are too soft for the wear you need socks to go through.
      ETA: There’s also Zimmerman’s Moccasin Socks (November), which I haven’t knit but which have replaceable soles. You might be able to get away with a good sock yarn for the sole, and one of your softer yarns for the rest).

  3. I want to knit socks for everyday use for my other half which will be worn in rough boots and need to be hard wearing what type of wool would be best ? The last pair I did only lasted few days and went into holes , wool felt soft as far as I remember ,

    • Hi Caroline
      So frustrating when socks get worn out only after a few uses.
      Can I ask what sort of wool weight you used? and would your other half be happy in a pair of what would traditionally be known as hiking socks, as in very thick? If you happen to have the brand of yarn that would be helpful.

    • Great to hear Maureen! I am currently knitting another pair of socks which I love to make. Please feel free to send me a pic of your favorite socks, so I can share them with my readers. Contact me here Cheers Jodie


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