cotton sock cold feet

I’ve started a sock with a 100% cotton yarn (Sugar and Cream by Lily). I’m doing it top down and I’m 2 or 3 inches into the 2x2 ribbing. And I'm finding that when I stretch out the ribs they stay kind of stretched out instead of snapping back like the wool socks do. Is this going to be a problem? Will they stay up or pool at the tops of my shoes? And what about shrinkage? I’m wondering how many more stitches I should cast on than I would for wool. Any thoughts, advice, or commentary Kind Knittermen?


Bill's picture

you can put elastic thread in the tops of the socks.
...most of my boot socks have elastic in them...

Tom Hart's picture

Thanks, Bill. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I'll have two socks (one cotton, one wool) to show you next time we see each other.

TheKnittingMill's picture

I agree with Bill about the elastic thread. I've used that yarn for kitchen stuff and have never really noticed much shrinking. Seeing as how the cotton will probably stretch out with wear, a little shrinkage may prove to be a benefit rather than a hindrance. I'm sure you already know this, but I would keep a pretty tight gauge with a smaller than usual needle size. Good luck and I can't wait to see them!

Tom Hart's picture

No, I don't already know that! Why the tight gauge and smaller needle size?

MMario's picture

because that assumes thee will be some stretch out

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Cotton usually takes a few extra tricks to fit well as socks, since there isn't much spring back. I knit a pair many years ago and I think I should've added a few extra stitches to make them less tight. Still, there is a book about knitting with cotton - published about 15 to 20 years ago - that has great tips. You may want to check with your local library about finding a copy. One of the tips was to twist your knit stitches in the ribbing section to help them snug up better.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Tom Hart's picture

Thanks, Joe. The feeling I'm getting from everything I'm reading is that it is too much trouble. I may look around for some of that cotton yarn with elastic in it...

Tallguy's picture

There was just a discussion on another socknitting list about using cotton for socks. The majority opinion was that they do not stay up. There were several suggestions for countering the tendency of cotton to stretch and not pull back. One of them was to use the elastic thread. There are cotton sock yarns, and they do incorporate some elastic, and some wool, and they are spun to have that elasticity in the yarn.

You also need to use the smaller needles, and knit the sock a bit smaller than you usually do. Very short ankle socks seemed to be better than longer socks that will not stay up.

But the majority of the people said they use cotton for bedsocks, and it works very well for that.

Cotton is not a good choice for socks, unless you take measures to make them pull in again. A 2/2 rib would be better than a 1/1 rib. You also should use smaller needles for the ribbing, definitely. You will also want to use stitch patterns that have a lot of stretch but that want to draw in again, such as ribbing throughout, or cables.

Tom Hart's picture

Thanks, TG, for the lowdown on cotton socks. I think I'm going back to wool. I don't like small kneedles and tight gauge.

scottly's picture

Tom, my husband will only wear socks that sag around his angles. He says that tight socks give him claustrophobia and give him "old man leg" in which the impression of the sock weave is pressed into your calves and shins and remains there hours after you've removed your socks - he has a point.

Tom Hart's picture

He does have a point. I think if I do get into making cotton socks I'm only going to make them a half an inch higher than the shoe since they'd fall down anyway...

scottly's picture

For casual socks, ankel socks are about the only thing I wear any more. I just think they are more comfortable especially with sneakers or hikers.