Avoiding ladders

Stripy socks in Britsock from the Knitting Goddess

Stripy socks in Britsock from the Knitting Goddess

Sometimes, despite all of your best efforts you find yourself with little ladders forming in your sock, where the fabric stretches between the needles. Some knitters find this is a  problem for them with DPNs but less so with magic loop so it’s often a good idea to experiment with different techniques to see which works for you. It might also be worth switching between different needle types - ie between wood or metal to see if that makes a difference.

One top tip to avoid ladders is to avoid over-tightening the first stitch on the needle as this can distort the fabric and actually make the ladders worse, not better. Instead knit the first stitch on the needle normally and then pull the yarn tighter than usual when knitting the 2nd and 3rd stitches.

I am often asked “How tightly, exactly” but there’s no easy answer to that. It’s a bit like “how long is a piece of string”. In answer I usually say to pull just a little firmer than you would do normally without strangling the stitch.

Sometimes, no matter what you do you can end up with a little bit of laddering but in most cases a good wash and block will even out the fabric and it will hardly be noticeable on the finished sock. I think that sometimes certain yarns are more prone to laddering - I particularly find it with those that have a higher than 25% acrylic or non-wool content - in fact I tend to avoid bamboo based yarns for this reason.

As with so many things in knitting this is all highly personal and subjective and as ever, the advice is to find the solution which suits you best. Or just embrace the ladders - as I often say - there are no knitting police. Especially not here.