I haven’t mentioned sock knitting on here for quite a while (the last and only other time being in this post), but since then I’ve become slightly obsessed with them and have made a couple of other pairs:
A while ago I bought my first pair of Doc Marten shoes, so I wanted to knit a pair of thick socks to help me wear them in (fairly) painlessly. I found that most sock patterns’ heel flaps were way too short to offer any extra padding; they didn’t even reach the top of my shoe. Designing a knitting pattern has been a goal of mine for a really long time, so I took this as an opportunity to design a sock pattern!
Here are some details on how I did it:
I’ve accumulated quite a few books about socks, but the ones that were most helpful when designing a pattern were Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd and Sock Innovation by Cookie A.
Ann Budd’s book includes an incredibly useful diagram right at the start, which explains what percentage of your stitches you should be knitting at each point in a sock. You could basically make up a pattern just using that diagram, so in my opinion that alone is worth the price of the book! It also goes through the construction process of top-down, heel flap socks in step by step detail. I think this is a great book to get if you’re completely new to sock knitting, but I love that it’s also helpful if you want to take it a step further and design your own.
Sock Innovation includes several tables and ‘formulas’ for sock patterns that I found useful. The most in-depth part of the book is about stitch patterns and writing knitting charts, and whilst I’m not ready to design a sock with a complex stitch pattern yet, I can definitely see myself using it eventually. The main reason why I’m including the book here is because it included instructions for a ’round toe’ which gives you more toe room than the classic wedge toe. I’ve always found sock patterns too tight over my toes (my feet are wide at the front), and the round toe is much more comfortable.
(On the left is Cookie A’s ’round toe’, which ironically looks quite square, and on the right is a regular toe.)
Because I wanted my socks to be extra thick, I used Malabrigo Rios (an aran weight yarn) with 2.75mm needles. I’m really happy with the sturdy fabric this created. It does make them stiffer and less stretchy than normal socks, but I don’t mind that at all.
I viewing this as an ‘experimental’ pair of socks, hence why they don’t look identical! The sock on the right has a normal length heel flap, which barely makes it to the top of my shoe, whereas on the left sock I lengthened the heel flap by quite a lot. I think the perfect heel flap length is somewhere between the two, as I dislike how much of the gusset is visible over my shoe on the left sock. The extra long heel flap also makes it a bit loose over my ankle/top of foot area.
I bought several sets of bamboo double pointed needles a while ago, and this was the first time I’d used any of them. I’d only knit a couple of rows when a huge splinter came off one of the needles, and I realised I’d basically been sold a set of untreated wooden skewers. To make them usable I had to carefully sand each needle using progressively finer sandpaper, until there was no risk of splintering. On the right you can see the original splinter after it had been sanded down.
Despite al the time I spent sanding them, these needles were still very unpleasant to knit with, and I definitely won’t buy bamboo dpns again!
What I learned by designing these socks:
- Cast on a number of stitches that’s divisible by two, and then two again. Trust me. On the first of these socks I cast on 50 stitches, which forced me to knit the leg in an awkward 5-stitch-repeat rib pattern. It also makes it awkward to calculate the numbers for the rest of the sock.
- Don’t knit socks for Docs in a light colour, especially if the Docs are new. I wore a pair of white socks with my DMs whilst I was wearing them in, and those orange stains still haven’t come out! Unfortunately I didn’t realise this until after I’d knitted this pair.
- Making up a sock pattern is so much easier than you think! Once you’ve got a couple of basic measurements sorted everything else just falls into place.
I’m so proud of myself for making these! I know it’s just a basic pair of socks, but I honestly feel like I’ve gained a superpower or something!
I’ll hopefully be doing some more sock update posts as I make up new patterns, so keep an eye out!
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