Happy Stitches

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Sizing Ankle-down Socks! Part 1 May 27, 2016

Filed under: Knitting tips and hints,Uncategorized — happystitches @ 06:22
#12 Bike Socks

Bicycle Socks

How do you figure out the right number of stitches to cast on for an ankle-down sock?  This can be an especially vexing problem for a first sock. You want the cuff snug, but not constricting; you definitely do not want a loose, baggy cuff (unless that is part of your design!).

You virtuously perform the “stocking stitch gauge under slight tension (sts/in) x ankle measurement = stitches to cast on (rounded down to the nearest multiple of four” calculation, and get going. However the resulting tube looks HUGE.

Sometimes swatches lie (or are mis-measured).

With your first sock, everything is new–the method of knitting (in-the-round), the yarn, the needles. And sometimes swatches lie. Seasoned sock knitters have a wealth of experience to draw upon (something I call ‘mental swatching’) to get to the magic number. They can extrapolate from past experience and when their calculations look ‘off’ they can say to themselves “the number suggests 72 sts, but last time I worked with this yarn and a textured pattern 64 stitches worked beautifully, so I’ll round this down a bit more and cast on 68 sts.” There is often a moment of uncertainty.

A new sock knitter just wants to get the stitches on and get started, not mess around with more swatches, especially when they have already done a couple and are still not getting the right number of stitches.

(It also needs to be remembered that, for a newer knitter, un-knitting a couple of rounds of stitches is a BIG deal. They represent a significant portion of the new knitter’s lifetime output. For the hardened knitter, it’s a drop in the bucket.)
If you find yourself in the situation where the tube (i.e. sock cuff) you have just knit is too large, please don’t waste it. If you are happy with the feel of the fabric, then use the tube as a UTS (Ultimate Tension Swatch).
DON’T RIP JUST YET.
USE IT.
It should be a couple of inches long (keep going if it’s not). The extra length is probably what is needed to let it settle to it’s proper gauge (and it might be fine). Now put the stitches on a thread, and put the tube on your leg above the ankle. Pinch any excess fabric into a fold. Then count the number of excess stitches you have. The remaining number of stitches should then be just right (round it down to the nearest multiple of four). Now you can happily restart your project, confident of success. Off you go!

Lucy’s Craftsy Classes – 50% Discount Affiliate Link

#29 Simply Spendid Socks

My First Socks Class pattern

See Part 2 in a couple of days – for a method of creating a sock cuff that avoids this problem.
Alberta Fire Fundraiser – to date we’ve sold 355 Fiesta Bag patterns in aid of the Red Cross fund, we will be closing this offer on Monday 30th and making our donation. Thank you for your support.
Our 1/2 price pattern-of-the-week, is our lovely Faroese Flower Shawl pattern. Faroese Flower Shawl

 

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One Response to “Sizing Ankle-down Socks! Part 1”

  1. Mairi Says:

    My cuff-sizing cheat is what I call the ‘stretch test’. You best-guess the number of stitches, then knit a tiny amount of the cuff (as little as half an inch), distribute the stitches evenly (front and back) across the needles, then stick two fingers in and stretch it aggressively over a ruler. For an average (ladies) instep measurement of about 12 inches, getting a 6 inch stretch means that the sock will go over the heel. Less than that, it’s too tight and you won’t be able to get it on your foot. Much more, and the leg/cuff will be sloppy. With more or less leeway depending on how elastic the stitch pattern for the cuff is. It’s way less knitting than required for conventional swatching – you know more or less right away whether you have enough/too few/too many stitches.


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