Socks that don’t fit

I consider myself a reasonably good crocheter, but I can’t say the same for my knitting skills. I can do knit stitches, and I can do purl stitches, and I guess that means I can knit, but somehow I am having trouble knitting socks that fit! Let me show you some of my struggles.

Too narrow…

I started a pair of socks by dropping to a 2.5mm needle because I have learned that I am a very loose knitter. Not a problem, but then I followed the pattern regarding the number of stitches to put on, which resulted in me knitting a sock which is way too narrow for me. The fabric has a good tension for a sock, a nice dense fabric that still feels soft and will keep your feet warm. However, I can’t get my feet into it. For some reason I can’t really reproduce, I started a second sock in the same way, but I came to the conclusion that they are never going to fit me anyway, so I just abandoned them.

Too wide…

So I obviously need more stitches because I have wide feet. Right, so I started a new pair and this time I increased the number of stitches considerably. I happily knitted along and fit it a few times, and I thought it was going well. When I finished the heel and had a bit of the leg on the sock, I came to the conclusion that it’s actually way too wide. A sock has to have a certain amount of negative ease, which means that it stretches around your foot. This sock fits perfectly, but because it is exactly the width of my foot, it is actually too loose and flops around my foot. I abandoned this sock without completing the leg.

Too long…

I am not one to give up, so I tried again. This time I bought a pattern by Sockmatician to help me get the socks to fit. In his pattern he gives a serious amount of maths on how to calculate the number of stitches you need, how long to knit the foot, the works. I started this very happily and threw myself into the maths. And I must say, the width of this sock is just perfect!

However, he has a gusset in his sock pattern and this threw me for a loop. I had trouble knitting his heel, so I knitted a heel that I had knitted before, but in combination with the gusset the sock is just way too long. I have a UK size 6, EU size 39, shoe. I believe this sock is more a size 10/45! My husband doesn’t really care for pink socks, so I have abandoned this sock as well.

A new plan

I have been searching for ideas on how to knit socks that fit. I have this dream of having hand-made socks, I have never had them and am really wanting a pair. I bought a recipe by Sox Therapist on how to make a cardboard mold of your feet and using them to knit socks that fit. She goes to great lengths to explain what makes a sock fit well.

Looking at the socks I have knitted till now, I see that my first pair is way too snug on the cardboard mold, the second are way too loose, and the third are spot on. I am having a bit of a Goldilocks feeling here…. In the same way I can also see that my socks are all too long, because the socks are longer than the mold. So if I use this mold to knit my socks, it should work, right?

New equipment

I now have a new battle plan to knit another sock. Just one, and when it fits I have the recipe to start knitting socks for real. I have my cardboard feet, and if you look at the mold you can see that I really have wide feet. My ChiaoGoo knitting needles, I am such a fan of these needles, they knit like a dream. A cozy for my needles; they are just the best! I have these from TIEN en MIEP Designs, love them. And off course, color changing yarn. I am such a fan of self striping yarns, the yarn does all the hard work, all I have to do now is know how to knit 😉

Method to the madness

You might wonder why I am telling you all of this. Usually we only want to show the good things we do, keeping up appearances and all that. And that is exactly the reason why I am showing you all of this, I don’t want to keep up appearances. Learning a craft means making mistakes, and then figuring out how to prevent those mistakes so as to improve ones work. I want to encourage you to take your mistakes in your stride, consider them as part of your learning process and not as something to be ashamed off. After all, if you never try, you never fail, but then you never succeed either.

One day I will have the size thing right, and that is the moment when I feel confident enough to knit my hand-dyed-by-myself rainbow yarn into a pair of socks. But first I am going to practice just a bit more.

With love,

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23 thoughts on “Socks that don’t fit”

  1. This is one of the most inspirational of your blogs. I love them all but this is just the best. Thank you.

    1. yes i agree, an inspiration. I also want to knit socks like all those beautiful ones on IG. Of course, they only show you the ones that are perfect, not the journey as to how they got to perfection, which is probably more interesting than the end result. I have knitted short socks in worsted weight yarn suitable for indoor slipper socks. I also bought a pair from my local yarn shop and the knitters were available for teaching but we are in the midst of the coronavirus. So I will use Esther’s inspiration to check out Very Pink’s Youtube videos to see if I can unravel the perplexing sock conundrum.

  2. Sorry to hear about your sock issues but glad to hear that you are getting on top of them. I like you are more confident with crochet. Since like me you appear to favour toe-up socks. I can recommend this – – which is how I started. I do have narrow feel though, not that that should matter. I use a UK 13 needle for the flat knitting part and a 2.5mm short circular for the rest. (My knitting is normally just at correct tension) Took me a while to get on top of short rows because of the tendency to holes when you transfer to the circular part and I find best way to cast off is to use a twice as big needle – UK no 6 (5mm) so the cast off is not too tight. It does sound as if different people find different sorts of heels suit them. The short rows which is what you get on shop socks suits me.

  3. What a good, amusing story you told us with a learning lesson at the end. I really had fun reading it. I will keep your good advice in mind when I have to frog for the……….. Time, because I didn’t read the pattern as well as I should have done!

  4. I really enjoyed reading this post. I too am on a journey to knit the right size socks for my foot. I’m knitting some right now, 2 at a time and cuff down, but I think they might be too narrow. But they’re very relaxing too knit anyway. ?

  5. I use the sockmatician’s toe-up pattern most of the time and I’m also a size 6. I usually knit the foot to 6.5″ before I start increasing for the gusset. Hope this helps 🙂 My first pair of socks were way too big and I use them for bed socks in the winter.

  6. Thank you for this post. I too am learning how to knit socks and I found a wonderful video, step by step, cuff down, instruction from Simply in Stitches on YouTube; the pattern is from the Unapologetic Knitter (so fitting a name for your positive outlook on making mistakes and that’s how we learn) 🙂 . I am on my third pair now. Good day to you.

  7. Despite struggling with this new technique, this blog has a really good vibe that I couldn’t help but chuckle at. I used to “knit”, by that I mean I could knit and purl. But then discovered crochet, I love to crochet, it’s my passion and my hobby. Last month I thought I would re-attempt knitting, it really did not go well. Switching from one hook to two needles was very difficult, and for some reason I’m completely lost my ability to purl “fluently” too. Thank you for your honesty, at least I’m not the only one struggles with a new craft ?

  8. Loved this post, I too struggle with socks and have found Winwick Mum brilliant for beginners you should take a look. She has tutorials on you tube too. Good luck, you’ll be using your beautiful yarn very soon I’m sure. Xx

  9. I am glad to learn I am not alone! I see such beautiful socks that people knit but mine, like yours, are either too big or too small. I have abandoned the journey for the time being.
    Perhaps as cold weather approaches in the fall,I will try yet again.
    Good luck in your quest! ?

  10. I can knit and I can purl…and that is the extent of my knitting. I have thought about knitting a pair of socks –like you I have always wanted a handmade pair –but I wasn’t sure where to start so I will be following along on your adventure! 🙂

  11. I have three words for you: scarf, shawl, blanket. I was floored when you first began knitting socks and thought you very brave. (I can knit and purl, but I would never attempt socks.) So before you become too frustrated, knit a beautiful scarf, shawl, or blanket so you will remember how much FUN knitting is when you don’t have to worry about size, and then return to your socks renewed and refreshed.

  12. Esther, my very favourite sock pattern also uses math, based on one’s knitting gauge. Doesn’t matter what sized yarn is used, just follow the table provided. It’s called Mash-Up Magic Toe-Up Sock recipe (MUMTU Socks) and is available on Ravelry.

  13. Glad I’m not the only one that has the Goldilocks syndrome! I eventually gave up on finer yarn and knitted a pair of thicker socks…tadaaaa they fit….but not in my shoes! I’m determined to knit socks with sock yarn but I must say I have frogged quite a few. Love love love all your patterns and videos – thank you for taking the time and patience to do them! I learned to crochet via YouTube! ?

  14. My approach is to knit toe up socks, with the afterthought heel. Or sometimes using a short row heel. because it is toe up I just keep expanding the toe until the sock is as wide as a pair of socks I know fit. then I knit up the foot until the sole is as long from toe to needles as toe to start of the heel on another pair of socks I have that have a short row heel. It is not scientific, but it works!
    good luck

  15. you could make some really awesome sock puppets with the socks that dont fit. that is if you are not going to frog them 🙂

  16. Hi Esther, I found great patterns on No maths involved, she just says things like “increase in this way until the sock reaches your little toe”, so you just try it on every now and then. I really enjoy your blog and your tutorials, thank you.

  17. Thank you so very much for sharing your experience and resources. I am just starting my first pair of socks and I have been agonizing over sock patterns and gauge swatches. I feel mightily encouraged now, again thank you so much!

  18. Hi! When I was first learning to knit socks, I found that I really really had to do a swatch at least once in the round to see what my average guage was in the recommended needle size, then knit two rows of purl for a demarcation, then did a needle size up and needle size down. I found if I made socks with a 2.75 mm needle and 72(+/- 5) stitches and a 3″ heel flap, I was golden.

    If you like the cardboard foot idea, I’d recommend looking up cat bordhi, she wrote a book (personal footprints for insouciant knitters) on how to use them. She also has innovative ideas on gusset placement and heel construction.

    Keep trying! You’re doing amazing!

    I love socks so much, I’m going to be giving crocheted socks a try soon, as knitting has started to hurt my hands.

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