Archive for May 5th, 2015

Sock knitting is not complicated. Knitting a sock that fits is also not complicated. To knit a sock that fits calls for a little math, knowledge about the shape of the feet on which the socks will go, a fearlessness to toss out techniques that don’t work for you, and the ability to break rules.

A Little Foot Anatomy

Knowing your foot shape helps. Foot companies, especially ballet foot wear use these four typical types of shapes:

foot scan

foot scan 2

Knowing your foot shape helps. Foot companies, especially ballet foot wear use these five typical types of shapes:
Notice how the shapes differ. Put your foot on a piece of paper and outline your entire foot. Now look at the tracing. Which picture above most closely resembles your overall toe shape? Rounded? A straight slant? Are they more square? If you can draw a straight line over three toes, your foot is square. Most square feet are wide at the toes and narrow at the heels. Complicating this type of foot even more is the high arch, which normally goes with it.

Most shoes and socks use the Greek wide toe shape as the “norm”. If your foot doesn’t fit this ideal shape there are a few places in sock knitting where you can go wrong and throw off the fit. As for my feet, I am Egyptian taper toed while The Skipper is Greek tapered toe with a narrow heel. He also has one foot that is larger in circumference than the other so for him I am knitting socks for two different feet with two entirely different sets of numbers. It is harder to knit socks that fit him than it is to knit socks that fit me because I need to break technique rules and standards for his socks to fit.

The next thing you want to check is the arch of the foot. The foot has three types of arches: normal, flat, high. Most shoes and socks are made for— you guessed it— normal arches. If you find your sock feels tight around the area that goes from the heel and across your foot just below the ankle that probably comes from having high arches and/or high insteps. You need to increase the number of stitches in the instep/arch area by making a gusset to add stitches and then decrease before you start the heel. Short-row heels are not for you. Normal arch and flat arch feet can get away with no having gussets in their socks, if they want.

foot scan 3

foot scan 4


If you’re not sure about your arches, take the wet foot test. Wet the bottom of your foot then step on a dry, flat surface. The type of imprint you make will tell you what you have.

Once I know the ins and outs of the foot I am knitting for I can tweak stitch count numbers and change techniques to make sure the sock fits properly. I can also stay away from techniques that won’t give me the best fit.

This is not a one size fits all. Knitting a perfect fit sock is trial and error at first. When you get to know what you need to tweak and how those changes in numbers will affect the pattern you’re working from, things get a little easier. Every sock you make is a learning experience and it starts with knowing the shape of your feet.

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