Workshop: MUMTU Socks Pt3:
Orientation, Glossary, Visualizing Magic Loop

  1. Intro, Items Needed, Stitches Used


Neutral Position (see 1st picture below): Turn the needles and place them into your left hand, tips pointing to the right.

  • Needle 1 (bottom/sole of foot) is in front and will be held in your left hand when knitting.
  • Needle 2 (top/instep of foot) is in back and will be pulled around and held in your right hand when knitting.
  • The working yarn hangs off the right-hand side of Needle 2 for each sock.
Round: all the way around both needles.

Row: used in the heel directions, when you’re only working back and forth on one needle.


If you've never used the Magic Loop technique before, it might help to understand how to visualize it in-action before you cast on. (If you have used Magic Loop before, skip to Part 4.)

Start by conceptualizing the set-up for your socks. Envision the cable needle lying on a table, folded in half, with the ends pointing right and the fold at left. The two halves are parallel to each other, with one just above the other. The total number of stitches for each sock are divided so each needle carries half the stitches. (When you're knitting socks from the toe-up, this division is generally made so all the top (instep) stitches are on one needle and all the bottom (sole) stitches on the other.)

This is Neutral Position

Sock 1 will be on the right and Sock 2 will be on the left. The stitches for the top of the foot will be on the lower needle; the stitches for the sole of the foot will be on the top needle. A good, healthy amount of cable loop juts out on the far left, dividing the 2 tops from the 2 soles. Each sock is attached to its own skein of yarn, which is attached at the right side of each sock on the **upper** needle.

As you work your way around the sock, you do the following (basic process of magic loop knitting):
  1. Push your top-of-foot stitches up towards the point of the lower needle to position them for knitting.
  2. Pull your upper needle to the right so the sole-of-foot stitches are on the cable instead of the needle. You want to pull it far enough that you can bring that needle around comfortably to use it for knitting the top-of-foot stitches off the lower needle.

    However, you don't want to pull it so far that you lose the extra fold of cable dividing the instep/top stitches from the sole/bottom stitches.

  3. Pick up the working yarn attached to Sock 1 at the right side of the upper needle. You are now going to knit the top-of-foot stitches off of the lower needle, onto what was the upper needle (but is now in your right hand). This is the beginning of a round.
  4. When you finish knitting the top-of-food stitches for Sock 1, drop the working yarn for Sock 1. Pick up the working yarn for Sock 2, and begin knitting the top-of-foot stitches for Sock 2 off of the left (lower) needle and on to the right (used to be upper) needles. The length of cable still retains an "upper" needle / "lower" needle divide. This should make sense when you look at it.
  5. Once you have knit all the top-of-foot stitches for Sock 2, drop the working yarn. Use the fold in the cable to adjust the stitches so the two halves are, once again, parallel. Turn the needles so the pointy ends are, again, on the right-hand side pointing right and the fold is, again, on the left-hand side pointing left. You now have your top-of-foot stitches on the upper cable (Sock 2 is on the right; sock 1 on the left) and your sole-of-foot stitches on the lower (sock 2 on the right; Sock 1 on the left). You'll notice that the working yarn is positioned off the right side of each sock on the upper needle, just where you need it.
  6. Pick up the working yarn for Sock 2 and proceed for the sole-of-foot stitches on sock 2 as per step 3.
  7. When you have finished knitting the sole-of-foot stitches for Sock 2, drop the working yarn. Pick up the working yarn for Sock 1, and proceed for the sole-of-foot stitches on Sock 1 as per Step 4.
  8. When you have finished knitting the sole-of-foot stitches on Sock 1, you have completed one full round on both socks!
  9. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
At the beginning of each sock edge, always check the position of your working yarn before making the first stitch.
  • If your first stitch is a knit, then you want the working yarn to come in from above your right needle, like this...

    ... so you don't inadvertently create an extra stitch when you wrap the yarn for your first knit stitch. You want it to look like this:

    If (when your first stitch is going to be a knit stitch) your yarn is coming in like this...

    ... you are going to end up with a YO between the two needles (i.e. an extra stitch) that doesn't belong there.

  • If your first stitch is a purl, then the working yarn should come in from below your right needle (i.e., wrapped around it). This means the yarn placement in the picture immediately above this would be correct if the first stitch you're going to knit is a purl stitch.

  • Make sure your working yarn isn't caught in the bend of your cable!

    While it's not the end of the world—it will not create a problem in the knitting and you can extract it the next time you work around—it can be a real pain to deal with.

I've found that when I'm knitting two socks at once on magic loop, I hold the needles normally for Sock 1...

...but I change my hand position for Sock 2: I put my hand through the cable...

... then fold it down...

... like this ...

... so the area between my thumb and forefinger pushes up against the work. It's a more comfortable grip and helps me control the work better. Plus, I like how it feels!


When you've put down your work and forgotten where you left off, how can you can figure out where to start knitting again? There's no possibility to get it wrong if you stopped at the end of a row or round. But what about those times when you're forced to stop mid-way on a row, between the two socks?

Start by looking at your work. By now, you know that your working yarn needs to come from the right side of the knitted section farthest away from you. However, there are two possible ways to hold the work and still have the working yarn coming from the right side of the knitted section farthest away from you. So which of the following two pictures shows the proper orientation to begin knitting again?

Picture A? ...

... or Picture B?

Did you really even need me to confirm that it's Picture A? I bet not!

Why is Picture A the correct answer? Because your working yarn always lands at the end of the side you just finished, so it will be on the cable side when you're ready to knit the next side off the needles. Picture B would have you either (a) knitting back into the stitch just knit or (b) trying to knit the first stitch on the cable—which you'd never do (or admit having tried) because it would involve crossing your needle over the cable... and even if you temporarily lost your mind and knit the first stitch that way, you wouldn't be able to pull it off to knit the next stitch!

So always orient your work with the needles closer to you and the cables farther away. Only one of the two working yarns will be in the right place for beginning.

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