True to form I am still procrastinating over the list of things that need to get done. In honor of that, I have cast on socks for the sock adaptation tutorial.
After losing myself in the Yarn Vault for a period of time (total glee for Yarn Rascal), I selected Jill Draper’s Splendor Sock Yarn in the Glacier colorway. After I untangled Yarn Rascal from his three chosen skeins, I searched through my books for a sock pattern. With a foot circumference of 7.5 inches (19) cm, almost all sock patterns don’t fit so I have a wide selection.
I chose the “Dead Simple Lace Socks” from Wendy Johnson’s book Socks From The Toe Up. The smallest size for this sock measured 8 inches (20.5) cm or 8.5 inches (21.5) cm in circumference. Way too big for me.
The first truth about adapting a sock pattern to fit your foot size is throw out all the numbers in the original pattern. The designer’s gauge no longer matters. Your gauge becomes the ruler. Thus, you need to knit up a sample. It’s at this point I start to whimper. I don’t want to “waste” time knitting a sample. I want to knit the darn sock. The adult in me must win this tug of war in order to produce a sock I can wear.
Next step: Knit a sample in the round. (I know, this stinks.) Cast on half the total amount of stitches of the size one up from yours. (It could be worse, I could have to cast on all the stitches.) For me, that was the size 8. Knit at least 1 inch (2.5) cm in stockinette stitch. (If the adult in you is strong knit 2 inches (5) cm for a more accurate gauge.) Then knit 2 or 3 inches (5 or 8) cm in the stitch pattern as written. (This is not too bad. I get a chance to see the stitch pattern and see if I like knitting it.) This accomplishes two things: 1) It gives you your gauge over St st and your gauge over the stitch pattern. 2) You become intimate with the stitch pattern making it easier to see what can be left out and what must remain if you are going to be happy with the results.
If the pattern is heavy on cables or has lots of twisted and crossed stitches the fabric is going to pull in. If the pattern is lacy it’s going to want to expand. Look at the difference in width between the stockinette section and the pattern section you just knitted. It will tell you whether you need to add or subtract stitches to your cast on count.
To find your cast on count measure the number of stockinette stitches over 1 inch (2.5) cm. This answer is the number of stitches you’re getting per inch. (I know that in reality it is best to measure gauge over 4 inches (10) cm. But I’d really like to start the sock.) Take this number and multiply it by your foot circumference number. Your foot circumference is measured around the ball of the foot, the padded area just below where your toes end. Stitches per inch times foot circumference equals the total number of stitches for your sock.
The second truth about adapting a sock pattern to fit a smaller or larger foot size: You’re not going to replicate the entire pattern as you see it in the picture. Compromises can range from simply losing a number of pattern repeats and having to insert stitch pattern fillers to losing a chunk of the main stitch pattern(s).
With the “Dead Simple Lace Socks”, the adaption was a loss of the number of lace pattern repeats as well as the placement of the lace portion around the sock. Whereas the original pattern had 3 lace repeats for its smallest size on the instep, I can only fit two.
My next decision was where to place them. Did I want them on either side of a center panel of stockinette stitch? Or did I want to widen the look out and place them on either end of the instep? I chose the latter because I didn’t want them guarding the center of the sock like sentinels. Instead, I wanted them to be part of the rhythm and flow of the sock design as Ms. Johnson had captured in her original version.
The more complicated the stitch pattern the more you’ll need to play around and adjust it to fit the stitch count of your sock. When trying to make a pattern fit, remember you have the front of the sock, two sides, and the back of the sock. A pattern works best if it flows with some sort of rhythm around the sock.
Enjoy your weekend.