In a word: ease. In another word? Practicality.
I live with many small children, including a toddler who is often in my lap. Fiddling around with magic loop or double-pointed needles just isn't going to work with chubby little hands eager to grab them.
So, what is a sock loving knitter to do?
For me, mini circular needles have been the answer.
Back in August when I started these socks it was sunny and I could knit outside.The Method to my Madness
I simply cast on the appropriate number of stitches (I'm a big fan of Susan B. Anderson's simple sock tutorial) using mini-circular needles, mine are 9 inch circulars, and then I work on the small circulars until I get to the heel flap.
Once I get to the heel flap I work the stitches for the heel only back and forth using dpn's (double-pointed needles).
Then, I pick up stitches for the gusset and slide the whole she-bang onto the mini-circular, this time adding stitch markers to indicate where the dpn's would be normally.
("Normal" being those of you who are probably not knitting with a sleeping baby or wiggling toddler in your lap).
I get to knit socks, the kids get to cuddle.
Everyone is happy.
Also? Hooray! First finished object of 2013!
I purchased my 9 inch circulars needles from Amazon, but I've also heard that you can get them from The Loopy Ewe. I bet if you ask at your local yarn store they can hook you right up!