First Pair of Socks - advice for sizing

I'm working on my first pair of socks, and knitting from the toe up. I loved the magic cast on using 2 sets of circular needles, and so far, both socks are progressing nicely.

However, I've noticed that the socks already seem to be too wide, so I am looking for advice. The directions from the book "Getting Started Knitting Socks" suggest to knit the width of the sock to match the widest circumference of the foot. I should have thought about this a little more before starting. If the circumference of the sock matches the circumference of the foot exactly, the sock will lie on top of the foot, but will not be a snug fit. Is this the nature of handmade socks? In my mind, I would guess that the sock should be knit to be xx% smaller than the circumference of the foot so the sock hugs the foot.

Does anyone have a formula that has worked well for them, like knit the sock 10% smaller than the foot? I don't want the socks to be super tight, but they should hug my feet at least a little bit.

Thanks for any suggestions!

And...the crocheted cat finally did get some legs over the weekend.

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chipsir's picture

I have not knit socks from the toe up, only cuff down. no adjustment is needed for the foot that way so I am assuming it will be the same for toe up. Measure your calf's circimference where the sock will come and compare measurments if it is the same or larger you will be fine..... I think lol.

TheKnittingMill's picture

When I knit toe-up socks on 2 circs I increase until the cap fits over all of my toes minus the pinky, then I stop increasing and will knit straight until the gusset. Hope that helps!

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.”
-- E. Zimmermann, Knitting Without Tears

Nathanael's picture

I'll give this method a try on my next pair. I've already learned on this pair to start the toe a little narrower, so this may work well. Thanks!

HuskerChub's picture

You must remember this is knit fabric not woven. Well duh you say, I'm knitting so of course it knitted fabric. But, I say, knitted fabric and woven fabric are night and day different in that knitting has stretch in ALL directions, woven no stretch except in the bias. In addition to the stretch, knitting has a strange ability to compress in the direction opposite of it's stretch, pull a sweater longer from neck to hem and it gets smaller in diameter and vice versa. Because of all this stretching and pulling etc, an item that is knit with zero ease, is skin tight or the same as the measurement of the body part being covered will mold to the body part and not be an issue. Add to this the fact that almost all hand knit socks have a good percentage of wool in them and this really becomes a non issue. If you are knitting cotton or silk or some other fiber that tends to stretch and not pull itself back into shape then you MAY have a concern. I'd say that socks have been hand knit for 100's of years using the knit to the widest part of the foot formula, if it didn't work it would have changed before now. Good Luck and happy feet!

Nathanael's picture

You have some great points. The yarn I'm using is 75% cotton and 25% wool. I'll keep going with them. I think I've just become accustomed to store bought socks that are always too small on me.

Thanks! My feet will be very happy!

Crafty Andy's picture

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You can decrease in two ways, either in number of stitches or size of the needle. It also depends on the material and or yarn. On Noro sock yarn I have casted 72 stitches on size 3 and they were a bit big, but after washing them they went to size. I would have gone a size smaller in needles or drop my stitches to 64.

My foot is a size 9 EE and I have casted on size 1 with fingering weight yarn and 64 stitches toe up and it works great. I had casted on size 2 and they were a lot bigger. Hope this helps.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I agree with chipsir...most resources say go with the measurement at your ankle or the arch of the foot. Some recommend subtracting an inches worth of stitches to make for the best fit. I find that to be true on my foot but no 2 feet are the same. All socks become a matter of what works best for you. I had to adjust the formula I used for years because of my feet spreading a bit as I aged. However it was only by a few stitches. Have fun. BTW haven't knit toe up yet but basic measurements remain the same. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

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