More, please

Korknisse notwithstanding, I had about 2 weeks of project monotony in the end of January and beginning of February. It was good for me, because I produced these:

Garnet Dreams Knee Socks

They might look like regular (albeit pretty) socks, but no. They are very much more than regular socks. These are the things that will help me get through the cold winter long before they get the chance to look pretty with a nice skirt, come springtime. These are keeping the cold draft from flying up my pant leg and chilling me to the core. (Well, that along with a knitted sweater). These are knee-highs. Ta-da! The first finished project from my Rhinebeck 2007 purchases.

Garnet Dreams Knee Socks

Pattern: None. A personalized process which I will discuss below.
Yarn: Socks that Rock Mediumweight, ‘Garnet Dreams’, 2 skeins (used approximately 3/4 of each one)
Needles: 3.0mm DPNs
Notes: These contain elastic thread knitted into the cuff, as is my preference – I think every pair of knee socks I make will continue to have elastic in the cuff, it keeps ‘em sturdy and staying up where you need them. Elastic + leg shaping is my anti-slouch plan.

Someone asked me a little while ago what pattern I was using to make these, and there isn’t one. Anyone can make a pair of knee socks, just like anyone can make a regular pair of socks to fit their own feet. All you need is a gauge swatch, a tape measure, and your leg. There are already places online where you can find detailed instructions for stockinette knee socks (such as here), but the gist of what you need to know is this:

a) measure your leg circumference at the widest point of the calf in inches. Multiply this number by your number of sts/inch (according to your swatch), then subtract 1-2 inches’ worth of stitches (negative ease helps them fit and stay up). This is the # of stitches you will knit at the upper leg. Subtract a dozen or two sts from this number, and that’s how many you’ll use for the ribbing to cast on. (I used 88 sts for the leg, increasing just after the ribbing from a cast-on 76 sts, for this weight – BUT if you are using lighter yarn this may change. It is always better to err on the side of snug than loose, in all measurements with knee highs.)

b) measure your leg length from the top of your heel to the back of your knee, above the widest point of your calf. This is approximately how long your sock needs to be, not counting the inch or so of ribbing at the top cuff. I say “approximately”, because depending on your amount of negative ease, there will likely be some horizontal stretch and you’ll need to add an inch or so to keep the sock at its intended length while it is actually on your leg. (My sock length is 14.5 ins.)

For both the leg and foot, it is better to err on the side of too LONG than too short. If the leg or foot is too short, it will pull down as you wear the sock, and you’ll be constantly tugging them up to keep from falling down.

c) measure your leg circumference at your ankle, multiply by your number of sts/inch, then subtract 1-2 inches for negative ease. This is the number of stitches you want to arrive at for your ankle. If you’ve made stockinette socks before in regular length, you probably already have a good idea what you want this number to be, given the weight of yarn you’ll be using. (I used 56 sts since this is a heavier sock yarn. Usually I use 64 sts.)

There’s one more thing here, and it should be pretty obvious given how those socks are swooshing and pooling the colours in different ways at different points on the leg. There is, of course, shaping. You have to decrease from the number of stitches in (a) to the number of stitches in (c), starting after the widest point of your leg and ending by the time you get to the ankle. My shaping follows the yellow line in the image below, according to the shape of my own leg:

Photobucket

For me, for this weight of yarn, I would knit evenly in stockinette for about 4 inches after the cuff, then decrease 2 stitches (at the “back” of the leg) every 4 rows 5-6 times, then every 3 rows for the rest of the decreases. If I was using a slightly smaller gauge I would probably do all my decreases every 4 rows. Then, this still leaves me with a few inches of even stockinette to hug my leg around the ankle. Your leg may be different, though – you might want to do your shaping in a way that stops almost directly at the ankle itself, depending on the shape of your leg.

[EDIT]: Oh yeah, and one more thing: try the sock on OFTEN. This is key. It’s better to know that you need to add a bit of extra length or re-start the shaping a bit earlier or work the decreases a bit farther apart before, say, you finish the entire sock. I try mine on 3 or 4 times throughout the whole process. Then just use the 1st sock as a guideline for the 2nd.

After that, the rest involves the same set of decisions you’d make for any other sock – what kind of heel? (I used the flap. Definitely love the sturdy flap heel) What kind of toe? How long to make the foot? How to stave off boredom of knitting more and more stockinette? Ah yes, such a lovely nuanced decision-making opportunity, socks are. All in all, this is the sort of thing that takes a lot more energy to explain than to actually execute. And I fully plan on having more custom-fit knee socks entering into my closet!

Garnet Dreams Knee Socks

More, more, more please.
Stay warm!

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23 Comments

Filed under fearless knitting, finished object: socks, free pattern, knee socks, socks

23 responses to “More, please

  1. The socks are fab and you are a genius.

  2. Soo

    Great socks. I haven’t had the endurance to knit knee length socks — but perhaps if I was back in Canada I’d reconsider!

  3. So cute! I need a pair of knee socks like that – keep me toasty!!!

  4. Kai

    They’re fab!

    I need to make a pair for my sister for next Christmas, so these are a perfect start with some basic rules!! :)

  5. These socks are something else! I would never have the patience though for all that stockinette.

  6. Those are beautiful! You are quite talented :)

  7. Awesome, and great tutorial. I have some Christmas yarn sitting around that I was planning on turning into knee-socks, and I think I will be following your recipe… =)

    Stay warm! If NY is this cold I don’t even want to think about how bad you guys must be up there!

  8. You are among the very Top Clever Women I know… fantastic socks and a great tutorial, you always make such great sense!
    (no fiddling here!)
    Stay warm, dude, it’s COLD up there!!

  9. Love them – thanks for the tips :o)

  10. Gorgeous socks! I really should make myself a pair. This weather requires knee socks!

  11. Elinor

    Beautiful socks! I love, love, love knee socks. I used to think I couldn’t hang in long enough to knit a pair but you make me reconsider. I’ve been playing around this week with sock shaping – decreases versus changing needle size. You are right that the shaping + elastic produces minimal slouch!

  12. Wow, I remember when those socks were just some ribbing and elastic. Good job, they look great! They also look like they may fit me….

  13. Lin

    Thank you for the long socks tips, they are great. Do you have any staying power spare too?! I have trouble casting on for a second short pair!

  14. Em

    Great socks! I love me some knee socks, especially in this kind of weather.

  15. I adore knee socks- I love the extra warmth and leg coverage, with out the ickyness of tights. I hate tights!

    But I love knee socks. Thanks for the approximation on the yardage, always helpful!

  16. Wow – I can barely hang on through anklets – can’t even imagine knee socks – you rock!

  17. Mmmmm…beautiful, and perfect for keeping out the cold.

  18. I have been meaning to give knee socks a try for soooo long! Thanks for such lovely instructions. :) I may just take the plunge for my next pair!

  19. These are very beautiful kneehighs. I love the color and how the magenta “snakes” around your foot.

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  21. please please please tell about what elastic you used and how you knit it into the cuff. I want to knit these for my son who is at college but after reading your post, I guess I have to wait for him to come home to try them on as I go! Too bad.

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  23. Susan

    Wonderful blog