Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Hi everyone,

Okay, I'm back with a sock tutorial.  I've been knitting myself a pair of blue ribbed knit socks for myself.  I thought this would also make a really nice tutorial. So here I go..wish me luck.  I'll be sharing a little bit each week. Before I get to the sock tutorial, I wanted to show you a photo of one of the finished knee-high ribbed knit socks that I made for my father:

There was some "shaping" involved in the cuff, which meant increases and decreases.  That went well. I'm not sure if I did the increases and decreases in the right spots. In fact, I'm pretty sure I did NOT, but I did achieve the end result I was looking for. My dad tried it on and laughed. He was so happy because the socks fit perfectly.  The sock looks "small and skinny", but they stretch to fit, and it was like sand in an hourglass. Absolutely perfect fit.

Okay, now for the good stuff.  Here's my "tutorial" on how to make socks.  The pattern that I'll be giving here are socks to fit my big Size 11 feet.  Actually, they're more like a size 10.  However, my feet are really wide, so I usually have to wear a size 11 shoe.

The first thing that you want to do when knitting custom-fit socks is to measure the feet of the person you are knitting the socks for. In this case, I'm making myself a pair of socks.  There are THREE things that you want to measure:

A) Length of the foot (from the back of the heel to the end of the big toe)

B) The diameter of the calf (where the top of the cuff will be).
- in this case, I measured the diameter of my calf about 4" inches from the top of the heel. I'm making these socks to wear with my Teva walking sandals.

C) Ball of the foot (measuring the circumference around the widest part of the foot)

When I take the B and C measurements, I ALWAYS take those measurements standing up.  The numbers will always be more accurate and realistic that way.

So just how GIANT are my feet?  Here's what I came up with:

A) 10 1/2" inches long

B) 10 1/2" diameter around the calf (measured 4" inches from top of heel)

C) 9 1/2" inches around ball of the foot.

The next thing to do is to choose a sock yarn that you like.  I happened to have this in my knitting stash, so I wanted to use it up. This is a German sock yarn that is mostly wool with a bit of acrylic mixed in. This is really nice because it makes the socks washable. You also don't have to add reinforcing thread in the heel or toe, unless you want to, since the yarn already has some acrylic built into it:

The yarn I am using here is called "Zauber Wolle" That means "Magic Wool" in German. This yarn is not cheap, BUT it has the ABSOLUTE BEST color transitions of any variegated sock yarn I have ever seen so far.  This is enough to make one pair of socks with a short cuff.  Oh, also gather some knitting needles, a ruler, a DVD to watch while you're knitting.  Here's a slightly closer photo of the yarn that I'm using for these socks:

I'm just loving these different shades of blue.  I'll be using two different sizes of double-pointed knitting needles. However, you don't need to worry about that till the next lesson. Today I'm just going to talk about knitting a gauge swatch to figure out how many stitches you'll need for your socks. 

I am using Size 0 US (Size 2 mm) double-pointed knitting needles for my socks. 

I knit TWO different gauge swatches.

The first one is in "knit 2, purl 2" ribbing for 32 stitches across times 42 rows.  The result was:
1" inch = 16 stitches across

The second gauge swatch was knit in stockinette stitich (knit across and purl back) I also knit 32 stitches across times 42 rows.  The result was:
1" inch = 9 stitches across

This is what my "rib stitch" gauge swatch looked like:              

I like my socks to be custom fitted. I also don't like socks with cuffs that slouch around my ankles.  That was popular in the 80s. Been there, done that, don't want to do that again. So, I'm after a nice-looking cuff that will fit nicely around my calf.  So in this case, even though I had 16 stiches to the inch when using the rib knit pattern, I decided to go with the stockinette stitch gauge for figuring out how many stitches I need to knit the cuff of my ribbed knit sock.

I subtracted 1/2" inch from the measurement to get a nice fit. In this case, my calf is 10 1/2" around minute 1/2" inch = 10 inches. 

Take the number 10 and multiply that by 9 stitches to the inch = 90 stitches.

I ALWAYS use four double-pointed needles whenever I knit something in the round, and knit in with the fifth needle. You get a much nicer garment that way with less stress at the corners on the those stitches.  That is something I learned while living in Scandinavia. 

I also like to make it a number that is divisible by 4 and 8 so that I have an even number of stitches to work with.  In my case, I rounded DOWN to 88 stitches.  It's a nice even number AND it works with my "knit 2, purl 2" ribbed knit cuff.

That is all for today's sock tutorial.  Next Wednesday we'll actually start knitting the sock itself. So practice knitting your gauge swatches. If you have any questions, please let me know.  I'll do my best to answer your questions.

I'm also a really experienced sock knitter. I've been doing this for over 12 years now. However, this is my first time teaching someone else how to knit socks. So please let me know if there's something I need to explain better for all you sweet readers.

Until then, I leave you with a photo of these beautiful, pink flowers that I photographed a few days ago:

I'm just loving all of those different shades of pink. 

That's the news from the beautiful ocean shores of California today.  Love and hugs to your day, Heather 


Lili said...

Good tutorial! I've been wanting to learn to knit socks. the yarns these days are fabulous. So, do you think someone who only knits a little could really learn to do this?
Your rhodies look beautiful. they're in full bloom in our area as well (Seattle, WA).

Anonymous said...

Hi Heather,
Loving all your input on the sock tutorial. I've been knitting for awhile but haven't attempted socks yet. Now I'm really excited to get started.
I will probably have to wait til my job at the garden center is finished end of June. (Are you by chance my flower garden friend?)
Love your blog and all you are sharing with everyone. I look forward to discovering more of your delightful experiences!
Vicky Weyhing

Rebecca said...

Those should certainly be some lovely stockings, Heather. I really like the color.

I know I should never say "never", but I doubt that I'll ever knit myself a pair of stockings. I'll just watch and admire YOU!

Justine of SewCountryChick said...

That is a great tutorial Heather! Your socks look so cozy.

Jenny Saunder said...

Nice post.........Regarding Custom Socks
Custom socks are a great way to complete the look for you new athletic team uniforms.