Are Hand Knit Socks Better than Store Bought Socks?

I’m an avid sock knitter and almost never have empty sock-size needles. In fact, I keep half-finished socks in my purse, just in case I get stuck somewhere or have a few spare minutes. Knitting socks brings me joy. So you might be surprised to learn that I also have a drawer full of store-bought socks. Yup. Funky prints and gray athletic socks and wool hiking socks, too. There’s a reason for that.


I get a lot of questions from people about all my sock knitting. One of the most common is this: are hand knit socks better than socks from the store? Well, yes and no. The answer, as in so many other things, depends on your priorities and needs. Let’s explore some of the factors that might affect whether you decide hand knit socks are better than store bought socks for you.

Foot Sensitivity

One of the first factors to consider is the sensitivity of your foot – but depending on what sensitivity you struggle with, this could cut either way! Let me explain. Some people find that hand knit socks, even at a very fine gauge, are still too rough for their feet. Others find that the seam in the toe of most store-bought socks is really irritating.

Customizable Shape and Size

Mass-manufactured socks rely on stretchiness and standardization to achieve fit. That means there will always be people for whom these socks aren’t a great fit, especially at the larger and smaller ends of each size range. When you knit your socks by hand, you can more easily customize their length, circumference, heel type, instep height, and more. You can also make different shapes and sizes for two different feet.

Moisture Wicking

If your feet are prone to sweating or if you’re out in wet weather, you might want some wool socks. Wool has moisture-wicking properties and doesn’t retain odor. But most mass manufactured socks are made of cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture and retains it, leaving your feet feeling soggy and damp. That’s, uh, an unpleasant sensation, to put it mildly.

Ease of Accessibility

Sometimes you just need some socks. If you need socks right now, this very instant, hand knit socks aren’t going to be your best choice. Even at my very fastest, a pair of socks will still take me about a week to make. This is also important because not everybody has time or ability to make their own clothing.

Ethical Manufacturing

If you care a lot about the conditions where your clothing is made and the materials it’s made from, you might prefer hand knit socks. There are ethical clothing companies, but each company seems to define it slightly differently, and you have to rely on somebody else to monitor and enforce those guidelines. When you make your own clothes, you control the manufacturing conditions, and you choose the materials. There’s something to be said for that.

Curious to learn more about knitting or to dig deeper into sock knitting? Click on through for tutorials, free patterns, technique tips, and more.

White Frame Corner