Monday, 3 October 2016

Sock it too me! Getting the right fit for your foot.

Yes, that's a rather over used title, but as a designer, I do tend to get complaints once and a while from various customers that say my ____ sock pattern does not fit because it is too tight, too baggy or way to wide at various point of the sock. Why is this? Is the design flawed? Nope. I just us a “vanilla” way to try to design the sock to fit the majority of the market.

But where does this leave the customer who has dainty ankles, thick ankles, high arches, fallen arches, very narrow feet or very wide feet? Well... it leaves them with ill fitting socks and most likely cold feet due to not being able to wear them. Not fun.

Since becoming a Tech Editor, this is something that I want to change in my patterns. Or a least give a “recipe” for clients to use to get a better, if not perfect fit.

Feet are truly amazing, mechanically speaking. So the garment that wraps around them must be mechanically sound so they do not impede the movement of the foot. Let's look as some ways to make socks fit better for various “problem” areas.

Arches. Ugh. I myself have a high arch and a large heel circumference, which make buying shoes that fit a nightmare. It also makes knitting socks that fit really problematic. What to do?

The circumference measurement around the heel is the ticket. I must make my heel flap LONGER, therefore I'm picking up more stitches for the gusset, and taking longer to decrease back to the original cast-on number for the foot length.

A person with a dainty foot, (here's me being envious) might have to make the heel flap SHORTER to avoid a baggy, sloppy heel and too much fabric through the arch and foot area.

Changing the size of the needle for cast-on might help with tightening up a baggy sock before the heel flap, and likewise a too tight tube for thicker ankles. Increasing or decreasing the cast-on might get you into murky waters if the sock is highly patterned and needs a set number of stitches to work. That's why SWATCHING (yes, I hear the majority of you groaning!) is so crucial for the perfect fit.

So here is the fun part. The math! (Stop groaning!)

Cast-on is the standard 64 sts with a size 2.5mm or 2US, using gauge of 28 sts = 10cm or 4” or 2.8 sts per cm or 7 sts per inch. And my gauge swatch says this is true. Although I should worry about row height in the pattern that I intend to use for my heel, I'm assuming it is fine as well.

My ankle size: 23cm 23*2.8= 64.4 sts Casting on 64 sts is fine.
Heel circumference: 32.5cm 32.5*2.8= 91 sts
Foot circumference: 24.5cm 24.5*2.8 = 68.6 sts or 68 sts

So, 1/2 of 64 sts = heal flap of 32 sts. I make this heel flap 32 rows high, so I will be picking up 16 slipped stitches on both sides. I turn the heel until 12 sts remain. 12+16+32+16= 76 sts

Heel circumference should be close to 91 sts. With a 32 row heel flap, I'm coming in at 76 sts. Not gonna fit. Rats!

Okay, so if I make my pick up stitches 22 on both sides of the heel flap, I get 88 sts. With a little stretch, that's good enough for me! That means I've got to make my heal flap 44 rows high. The decreasing through the gusset will accommodate my high arch and I've got me a happy sock! But wait, I have an unfortunately wide foot. So instead of decreasing to the original 64 sts, I'm going to decrease to 68 sts. No big deal. I might start the toe decrease 2 rows before the “usual.”

Hurray for math!

What does this mean? As a designer, I have a few sock patterns that need updated notes sections. As a Tech editor, it means the client, ie: ME, will be happy. And that's the best feeling for a tech editor.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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