Welcome to the next part of the tutorial an sock knitting and design: Sock Knitting for Everybody! Today’s topic is all about knitting socks that fit. How to achieve the perfect fit in sock knitting?
I Asked For Your Biggest Challenge in Sock Knitting …
… and the response I got was telling me clearly: besides Second Sock Syndrome, knitting socks that actually fit is one of the number one challenges in sock knitting.
Today, we’re talking about sizing issues that affect the fit regarding to length (a.k.a. shoe size). In this article, all further mentions the term “sizing” refers to the length of your socks.
Issues related to circumference (socks being too narrow or too loose for the wearer) are being discussed in Gussets & Instep Variations, issues related to stitch pattern adjustments have been discussed in Sock Knitting For Everybody: Tips & Tricks for Adjusting Stitch Counts.
So what’s the problem? Are your socks coming out too loose, to narrow, too large, or too big? Or do your socks always fit?
Well, I have to admit one thing: I don’t know how it is to suffer from socks that don’t fit. Seriously, this issue with non-fitting socks never said hello to me. My socks always fit their recipients, so the key question here is – why do my socks fit and others do not?
The reason is simple: I use a sock sizing system that works. The good news for you: I’m going to share my sock sizing system with you today.
Knitting Socks That Fit: Shoe Size Comes First
Before you start knitting socks, you need to know the length of the foot of your intended wearer. This parameter is easy to define by using the shoe size of the person who’s intended to wear the socks you’re about to start: you need to know how to translate shoe sizes into foot lengths first.
Do you need conversion tables? If yes, feel free to download my free Sock Knitting Cheat Sheet – it includes all numbers you will ever need in sock related calculations, together with clear and detailed instructions how to calculate anything sock related for knitting socks that fit.
Sock Sizing: Shoe Size Determines Length
The size (in this article: length, as mentioned above) of your knitted socks is determined by three parameters: the length of your heel, foot and toe sections.
All three are related to your row gauge. In case you don’t have a clue about what gauge is or how it could affect your knitting, please consider reading my article Basic Knitting Concepts: What is Knitting Gauge? first.
Knitting a foot section is pretty straightforward, there’s variants of how to knit foots but basically its length is determined by your row gauge: you know how many rows you have to work to achieve a certain length if you know your row gauge. Knitting soles means working stockinette basically, do we agree? (If not, your row gauge is determined by the pattern you chose, but it is possible to calculate it, after all.)
So what’s left? Toes and the heel. Now things get a little bit more complicated, as there are myriads of combinations of knitted heel and toe variants. So how can you be sure your socks are going to fit?
The secret to socks that fit length-wise is to know
- how to translate shoe sizes into foot lengths,
- your row gauge and
- the number of rows in your chosen toe and heel variants.
All this information – and instructions on how to apply it to your sock knitting projects – is available in the free Sock Knitting Cheat Sheet. For all sizes from toddlers to huge men’s feet.
Unsure? Knit Swatches – or Samples!
My socks fit because I know how many rows I am working when knitting toes (both toe-up and top-down) and heels (whatever variants). The only method of determining your row count for both toes and heels is to work swatches (a.k.a, testing it).
Test your toe variant in your chosen yarn and needle combination. My combination shown below: Julia’s Toes in Malabrigo Yarn Sock on US size 0 (2.0mm) needles.
Test your heel variant, too: my variant of a German short row heel using Malabrigo Yarn Sock on US size 0 (2.0mm) needles is shown below.
Do Your Socks Fit?
Are your socks fitting their recipients – or not? I’m curious to hear your story – please leave a comment below!
PS. The extended version of this series is available in book form and called Sock Knitting in Plain English – I’m sure you’ll like it!