Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On Sock Sizing; Idea re: Leg Length

Being a glutton for punishment - or an attention junkie, not sure which - am working on my next book.

This one's about socks. (The first one was going to be about socks, but I got a bit distracted.)

Specifically about custom-fit socks. And I want to make sure I'm addressing the sorts of fit challenges knitters regularly run into.

I'd love your input!

What questions do you have about custom-fitting socks? What fit problems do you encounter with patterns? Are there standard modifications you find yourself having to make?

Leave your questions as a comment - or email me at kate at wisehildaknits dot com. The best 5 questions (for which I have contact info) will get a digital copy of the book when it's released!

I've been digging into sock sizes and looking at patterns, and something occurred to me: sock leg length (for typical calf length socks) seems to be always related to foot circumference. But I'm not sure this is the best way of doing it... wouldn't it make more sense to articulate leg length relative to height/leg length of the wearer? As petite/average/tall? After all, we size socks by foot circumference, and foot circumference isn't always correlated to height of wearer. I know very narrow size 12s who need the same sock circumference as wide size 7s. And those two wearers might not want the same leg length....

What do you think? Am I crazy? Would this make it too complicated?

20 comments:

Johanna said...

problem/fit modification I have to use, not always successfully:

I have average-length feet, but short, muscled lower legs. Hence, at many "average" calf-length patterns, I find the top of the sock is above where my leg has already started to broaden, leading to either very tight cuffs, cuffs I can't pull up all the way, or cuffs that fall. I've tried modifying by adding increases about 2/3 of the height of the leg.... which sometimes works and sometimes makes them slouch down worse. Must be stitch pattern dependent? Are there other tactics to take besides just resigning myself to SHORT socks?

Kirsten said...

Fit problem: no question... calves! I have fairly dainty feet and ankles, but as a heavier woman my calves are quite large. There is really no hope of any sock staying up, but I normally put a gusset in the back to at least help the problem.

Natural fibre girl said...

My socks knitters would agree. Leg length is related to height. My tall 5'!0" sock knitter makes a 10" leg for her socks. She makes an 11" leg for her husband 6'2". Now, they both like a long legged sock. The other sock knitters make a 7" - 8" leg to fit a shoe size of 7 1/2 to 8 1/2. Of course, the Hunter boot sock knitters make a very long leg with a wide cuff to peak out the top of their boot.
For the most part, we encourage new sock knitters to knit a 7" leg for an average women and a 8 1/2" leg for an average guy. So far it has worked.
Thanks for putting so much thought into this book. We the sock knitters appreciate it!!

Lorrie said...

I would love more on fitting socks to my leg! I have tree-trunk-legs so I always have to adjust to make the ankles and calves larger. I am also almost 6' tall so I have lots of anklet type socks because either the leg length is too short or they won't go around my leg so I just bind off in frustration!

Fiona said...

Question is: How do I custom knit socks for someone (namely me) who is barely 5'1", average length feet, longer second toe, bunions on both sides, narrow heels and extra wide calves? How do I accommodate those wide calves and still have socks that will stay up once they get there?

Lynne said...

Excellent questions so far! I like a longer leg than most commercial socks. What I'd like (pie in my sky) is a way to estimate how much yarn a foot will take to knit (bonus: in a given stitch patten) so I know how much yarn I can use to make longer legs when I'm knitting top-down. (Shut up - I do!) So far I always overestimate and end up with both too-short socks AND a nugget of yarn leftover. And that is mostly why I knit toe-up.

jerredawson said...

Ski boots are wider at the top in women's sizes but narrower in the foot. I used to get mens to accommodate my wider foot or get foamed boots to fit my forefoot and narrow heel. Foot size also changes after pregnancy. I had to give all my shoes away after carrying twins to full term (14 lbs of babies).

I am making socks now for a former model with a very wide forefoot caused by years of having to wear high heels on the runway. I am using the Knitty survey results to try and modify my pattern after doing my measuring from that. The best way I have found to get socks that fit is to measure and adapt the pattern.

travellersyarn said...

When my socks are too small, they are very difficult to pull over my heel (I think that I have a high instep). I would love to know what mod to make for it.

BCGramma said...

I have one that hasn't come up yet. I have issues with the bottom back of my heel to the top of my foot is extra large I think. I have trouble getting socks up and over that part of my foot. If I make the cuff larger to get it over my foot, the cuff sags. If I make it to fit my calf, I can't get the sock over my foot. I've tried adding a few stitches before I start the heel, but it just seems sloppy.
I anxiously await your book.
Smiles

Reiko said...

I am short (4'11") and stout, and end up buying capri-length trousers to wear to work, so as not to have to get my pants altered for length. In the winter, I like to wear knee-socks under my capris - this renders them four-season slacks. The knee-socks also help compensate for the chilly HVAC system in our office building. Most of my co-workers keep a space heater in their offices, but the knee-socks keep me toasty warm. I would love a customizable knee-sock pattern that is office-appropriate (i.e. not Elizabeth Zimmermann's cross-country ski socks), for which the leg portion is not boring to knit. And I echo the other commenters' points about wide calves, and short lower legs. The issue for me is not leg length but rather knowing where to start the calf shaping; where to end the shaping; how far in and out to go in the shaping; and a cuff design that will stretch nicely over the wide calves but snug up to my leg just under the kneecap, without having to run elastic thru the cuff.

canithinki said...

My socks tend to bunch up at the front of my ankles, even when I add short rows on the sole to make it relatively longer. I'd like a way to adjust for that.
As for leg length, I think it has more to do with height than sock size. My most comfortable socks have legs about as long as the foot, but I think others might find that too long.
I've decided that for cuff down socks I will not worry about running out of yarn, I'll just make the toes out of another yarn if I run out. (I always do 2 at a time due to severe Second Sock Syndrome.)

Miss McCrocodile said...

The larger calf is always a concern. The more petite sized recipients of my socks have no complaints. Mind you, the more sturdy ladies don't actually complain, but I fear it's because they don't want to be scratched off my list.
I've also noticed...not really baggy, but it seems the instep could be pinched to fit tighter. Could it be the yarn? I've always used the Ann Budd "Getting Started Knitting Socks" book.
Also, could you tell me why I have a psychological block about learning toe up?

Grace Page said...

I think that multiple calf lengths on socks is a great idea I would love it if there were more options on pattern. I like to wear very short socks(ones that end at the ankle bone)so I usually end the socks before the pattern tells you to. Unfortunately when I take my foot out of my shoes or boots my hand knit socks always come off my feet. I think it would be nice to know what modifications I can make to a pattern to have them stay on properly. Another problem that I have run into is how to make top down socks shorter. How do you know how long to knit so that the heel wont be too short but there wont be a leg on the socks?

Emma said...

I always struggle to custom fit the toes of hand knit socks. My toes are surprisingly wide, so I always find myself having to knit longer in the foot section (until I'm past my little toe) and then doing the decreases more quickly to compensate. This is far from a perfect solution, because it still doesn't very closely resemble my toes...So I would love some advice on toes!

Jennifer said...

I recently started knitting my husband socks with gussetts and he says they fit SO much better than his other handknit socks. So far I've only found patterns calling for sock weight yarns. It would be great if there was a formula for knowing how to make gussetts no matter what the yarn weight is.

margo momma said...

i agree with many of the questions posted on here re: calf-sizing.

i would love a repository for all the different heel types, benefits, etc... what type of heel works best for what type of sock or whether the type of heel you choose to work is based on preference...?

Cam said...

I'm going to say my biggest issue is the same as everyone else's: calf-sizing. I have 15" calves. Even with ribbing, they tend to fall...
Any answers?

Mrs. said...

I took a sock class and my teacher said a good length for a sock is about the length of the hand of the wearer. I have knit socks for myself (around 5'5") and for my husband (6'2") and this rule of thumb seems to work.

Of course ask 10 knitters a question, and you'll likely get 15 answers...

Andrea said...

Just catching up on this now, and so excited you're doing a sock book. I concur on leg length - I'd love to learn more about that. Also how to modify a women's pattern into a men's one - I.e how to widen instep or basically how to knit a pattern for bigger feet than the pattern contemplates.

WIP105 said...

I have the wide calves problem too. I don't know how to make the adjustments to have the length of the leg that I want and the width and then knownwhen or how to decrease for my small foot.