I’ve had a bit of a problem knitting socks that will actually fit on my foot. Several patterns are typical of this issue for some people (I’m looking at you, Nutkin and Jaywalker), but it wouldn’t be so bad if I could tell if a sock was going to fit before I got to the middle of the foot and wasted all that precious knitting time.
Sure, you could take all your stitches and transfer them to a length of yarn, or a circular needle, and try to wiggle a not proper sock onto your foot, but that actually isn’t telling you much. You might be manipulating the fabric to fit, and a longer tube or actual sock can not be stretched around your curvy heel the same way a small tube can. There is a different solution and it works without having to change needles or move stitches. Once you do this the first time you can check a sock in about ten seconds and will know if you should continue to knit or if you need to make some adjustments.
Let’s get started! You need to measure first. Take a tape measure and wrap it around the deepest part of your heel and arch. Like so:
My measurement was 31 cm. Now look around your house for something round that fits that measurement. I happened to have some cheap Ikea pint glasses that were 32 cm across the top, which is even better. One cm larger than my heel depth is great for a little ease and means I won’t be tugging my socks to get them on every morning.
Now you need to knit your sock until you reach the narrowest point in the leg of the sock AND have at least two to three inches knit.
Take the sock, still on the needles, and stretch it over the glass.
Make sure you have the sock evenly spread out and that the narrowest part is over the item for at least two inches. In this case, I can be assured the sock will fit. I know it doesn’t look pretty but it won’t actually look like that while on my foot because it will have a heel to give me some room where I need it. You can now continue knitting happily away with the knowledge that the sock will fit.
So what if the sock doesn’t fit – if you can’t get the silly thing over the chosen item? Well, you have a few options. Does the pattern have a larger size? Can you go up a needle size or two and still be happy with the fabric you get? Can you add some stitches into the pattern somewhere unobtrusive (like the purl ditches in the Nutkin pattern)? Or can you just give up and try a pattern that has more stretch?
Of course, the proof is in the pudding.
They do fit! You could also use this technique to check if socks will fit larger ankles or calves as well.
Now that I know my heel depth and that a glass in my house matches it with a bit of room, I can check if any sock in progress will fit before I invest too much time. And then I can use the glass to have a beer. Win win!