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How to Prevent Second Sock Syndrome

Are you a victim of SSS (Second Sock Syndrome), when you knit the first sock and never quite finish the second one? Or maybe you knit the sleeves to a sweater, but when you tried it on the sleeves didn’t match.

If you’re struggling with any of these two-piece problems, then you might want to try knitting things in pairs using Magic Loop.

Knitting sleeves two at a time with Magic Loop

Sleeves knit two at a time using Magic Loop

This technique works for anything that’s stitched in pairs, like:

  • Socks
  • Legwarmers
  • Mittens and gloves
  • Sweater sleeves

Many knitters swear by this technique because it not only lets you complete pairs that are totally identical, but it also helps knit the pairs faster.

Think of it this way: When you’re knitting in the round using a chart, you cast on, knit Rounds 1-16 of a chart, bind off, then repeat. Instead, you can skip the repeat.

That also means you only have to read each round one time, repeating that same pattern again for the second piece. This saves you time in the end, since you’re not switching gears to start over. Your brain can keep repeating Round 1 over and over, then when you complete the chart, you’re totally finished!

Plus, it feels amazing to be completely finished with something instead of thinking, OK, here we go again! when it’s time to cast on #2.

This tutorial uses Magic Loop and assumes you know how that works. If you don’t, check out our Magic Loop tutorial and be sure you’re familiar with that technique before you tackle it with two at a time.

Magic Loop two-at-time

What you’ll need:

  • Yarn separated into two equal balls (see our post on using a postal scale to make sure the balls are equal in weight)
  • Long circular needle

To make the tutorial clearer, I’m using two different yarn colors — Pink (A) and Green (B) — but you’d likely use only one color. The tutorial assumes you’re making socks, but of course you can work anything you’d like in pairs!

Step 1:

Knitting magic loop two at a time

Using yarn A, cast on HALF the stitches you need for the first sock. For example, my pattern asks me to cast on 12 stitches total, so I cast on 6 stitches.

If your pattern asks you to cast on an odd number of stitches, you’ll just have an extra stitch on one side, and that’s no big deal. So if your pattern asks you to cast on 21 stitches, you can cast on 10 stitches to one side and 11 to the other side.

If you’re using a long-tail cast on, make sure you leave a tail that’s long enough to cast on the other half of the stitches later.

Step 2:

Knitting magic loop two at a time

Slide the yarn A stitches (the ones you just cast on) away from the needle tip, sliding it over to the other side of the needle.

Step 3:

Knitting magic loop two at a time

Using yarn B, cast on ALL the stitches you need for the second sock. So here I cast on 12 stitches.

I now have 12 green stitches and 6 pink stitches.

Step 4:

Knitting magic loop two at a time

Slide the yarn B stitches to the center of the circular needle. Grab the needle’s cable at the center of the yarn B stitches and pull, creating one end of your magic loop.

Step 5:

Knitting magic loop two at a time

Scoot yarn B out of the way for now. Slide yarn A toward the needle tips. Holding the needles together as closely as possible, cast on the rest of the stitches for yarn A. 

This movement can feel a bit awkward, since the yarn tail doesn’t line up with the needle tip. If you’re having problems, sometimes it helps to move the tip of the needle you’re casting onto down a bit to meet the yarn tail. This can also avoid a big gap between the cast-on stitches.

Knitting magic loop two at a time

Once the stitches are all cast on, you’re ready to start knitting with the magic loop! Notice that you’ll knit all the stitches for one sock from one ball, and all the stitches from the other sock from a different ball.

Knitting magic loop two at a time

Just start knitting using Magic Loop and changing yarn balls when you move to the second sock.

Have you ever tried to knit two socks (or sleeves or mittens or anything else!) at a time? Do you prefer this method over knitting one at a time? Let us know your preference in the comments!

16 Comments

Zen Knitter

I wouldn’t knit socks, sleeves or anything for that matter without magic loop. If I couldn’t knit two at a time socks, I would have a house full of shadow boxes displaying all my single socks!

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Kathleen Hollerbach

That’s FUNNY!!! And me, too! 😂

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Christina MacDonald

LOL I would probably be like that too, that is why I am going to learn this method 🙂

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Betsy

What if you want to use Judy’s magic cast on for 2 toe up socks on Magic Loop? It would be helpful if you could do a blog entry about that method for socks.

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Gemma

I’m guessing that knitting two socks or whatever at once isn’t possible with DPNs?

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Tisha

I’ve seen it done, but in a double-knitting style instead. You basically knit one sock inside the other, one stitch to the first sock, the next stitch to the next sock and back and forth. If you google it, I’m sure you’ll see several tutorials.

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Lynda Marie

Correct. On DPN’s you can only work one project at a time.

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Monika Stramaglia

I always use magic loop and knit sleeves at the same time. I need to make adjustments in length and in width, and this way I don’t have to take extensive notes, as I make the adjustments at the same time. In any event, I use magic loop on every project I can, so I always buy my circular needles with the longest possible cord. It is easy, and when I put my work done, I simply slide all stitches onto the cord, and don’t have to worry about stitches falling off.

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Barbara

The first socks I knit were top down 1 at a time. When I finished it was Yikes! I have to do this again!?!?! Plus the Kitchner had me baffles and my toes looked terrible. The next class I took was 2 at a time Toe-up! I’ve never looked back. My next brilliant lesson was this technique for “open-ended” circles. Now all my sleeves are done with magic loop. You couldn’t pay me to knit on double points!

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Theresa Savaria

Thank you for these instructions for 2 @ a time socks. I look forward to trying it.

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Michele C.

Thank you for the clear pictures & instructions. For me, unfortunately, it feels a little incomplete: I’m having a hard time wrapping my (admittedly challenged) brain around what slides where /when, beyond the cast-on as demonstrated — specifically when joining in the round for the second (green) sock, and then how the rounds stay “closed” as you progress down the cuff… It’s probably very simple, and might become self-explanatory during actual knitting, but I just can’t picture it! A follow-up photo tutorial would be so very appreciated!
Again, thanks.

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Jackie Walsh

First of all I love magic loop knitting. I have done toe up 2 at a time socks, and sleeves with stripes. It was great for the stripes, no counting of rows to make sure they were even.

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Ana

Thankyou for your precious help. I’m going to try it immediatly with the sleeves of a jumper

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Sandy

I know there’s diehard magic loopers out there but I’ve never really managed to master it. I ended up buying my most common circular needle sizes in pairs in 12” and 16” lengths, so I can still knit two-at-a-time but each on their own circular!

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kathy

Thank YOU!!!!

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Maria

The beginning is helpful but I wish you would continue because it’s after that first row that I’m all mixed up.

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