Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Customizing Sock Patterns Epiphany

One of the pleasures of knitting your own socks - at least in theory - is that these socks fit so perfectly. No baggy heels, no extra at the toe, no seams giving you blisters, no sagging, etc.  

Well my sock reality has rarely matched sock theory.  The sad part is I really enjoy knitting socks almost none of them fit me well.  Most are too tight on the calf and then the same sock can be too loose around the ankle. And don't get me started on the foot.  That's always the worst part.  Well, the length is always great, cause I just stop when it's long enough, but the foot width, ugh, it's the worst. Just way too huge. That's why I can't wear any of my Monkey socks.  (Also, why I have trouble buying shoes unless they come in a narrow width)

It's not so bad with a  basic stockinette pattern based on "Sensational Socks", but if I follow a "real"  pattern with mega ribbing or lace like Monkey socks, Campfire or Charade, forget it.  Ribbed socks are easily twice the width of my foot stretched out. In fact last year I was going to knit a bushels of socks but got so discouraged.

But this year, a light went off, what if I alter the pattern a bit. 

I had been knitting sweater and considered using decreases and increases in teh socks, but the math needed to keep the pattern look was beyond me.

 The first spark came form reading "Favorite Socks". Many of the patterns use two needle sizes. A larger for the calf and a smaller for the ankle and foot. I thought why not try that with any and all sock patterns.

But, this was not enough change for my narrow feet and didn't really want to knit Monkeys on zeros.  In fact I hope to avoid ever using zeros, I'm too impatient.  So I thought, when I decrease the gusset, why not keep goin a few extra decrease rounds til the it's a snug fit?

Well, that's what I'm doing here.  A totally customized pair of Campfire socks.  Larger needles on the calf (US4), smaller (US3) for the rest, decreased the gusset from the CO of 44 to 40 sts.  Although I have fewer stockinette stitches because I can't figure out how to decrease the instep pattern. 

And for good measure I threw in using a different yarn for the heel. Not sure if I like the color combo, but like that I learned to do this.

The pic above is of the test sock, Central Park and my Brompton Bike.

btw. I kinda feel silly for not thinking of this sooner.

1 comment:

  1. don't worry about the instep pattern--let it wrap to side of foot and have more stitches on instep (24 say) and fewer on sole (20) and the pattern wrapping to the side.
    there is a limit (about 6 to 8 stitches more on top than bottom before the pattern stitch are felt on the sole)--but no math or effort required!

    Option 2--sub a single Circ of sole--and work the insole with DPN--but use a smaller circ..(size 1 or 0 for sole, size 2 for instep.
    always work from circ to circ..
    a smaller needle will change gauge.
    but not enough that the sock is too short.--but if you think it is--you could work an extra row or two ever dozen or so rounds

    I have a split last foot (eee at ball of toe, B at heel!) so i work heel that are narrow.
    check out heels by number.

    there are many different style/ways to turn a heel.. some are wider, some like the square or dutch heel are narrower.. and create a better fit(for narrow heels!)

    the heels with the fewest stitches left after the turning are the narrow ones.

    there are different ways to shape a toe too..
    Nancy Bush, in Knitting Vintage socks has generic directions for 6 different styles of toes--find the one that works for you.

    and consider toe up sock.. start with a magic cast on, and increase till the sock fits right.. then find a stitch pattern that works for your number of stitches.

    for leg--you can increase on sides (and have 2 'side seams') or you can increase in center back and have a single center seam.

    vintage sock also has some patterns for shaping..

    I like to start the flap pattern a few rows before i start the flap.
    (that is i knit heel stitch while still working in the round!

    the heel stitch has a tighter gauge, and this helps tighten ankles.

    another option, on plain socks is to work a clock--a pattern at the side seam, just above the heel flap. a cable design (inside a diamond) changes gauge, and can snug up the sock at this point..
    you can search for socks with clocks--some are lace (for people who have cankles and need ease!) some are color work, some are stitch patterns.

    OK enough ideas for now!