Holy Sockotta, Batman!

Some months ago, I scooped up a skein of Sockotta in the LYS bargain bin. After arming myself with “Simply Sensational Socks” by Charlene Schurch, I embarked on my first pair of top-down socks (my entire prior sock experience was one pair of toe-up anklets).

The nice thing about this book is that it has a chart of average foot measurements by shoe size. Comparing my own measurements to the book, I seemed pretty much right-on for the measurements for my 8-to-8.5 shoe size. So after swatching, I just followed the instructions in the book for the garter rib sock, and finished the first one late last night. What I didn’t realize was the bad thing about this book – the instructions do not allow for any negative ease, or even mention it (at least, not that I saw, but I do admit I have not read the entire book). I ended up with a sock that agreed with my measurements, but which was much too loose to wear with a shoe. I could tell that the leg was a bit on the large side while I was making it and trying it on, but it seemed like it would stay up, so I didn’t worry about it. And after finishing it, it seemed comfortable enough with just the sock on my foot – but once I tried to put on a shoe, it was clear that it needed to be about an inch shorter, because as the sock stretched, all the extra material just bunched up at the heel. I figured I could just rip out the toe and make the sock shorter, but clearly the foot circumferance was a bit too bulky too.

I had my husband try them on just for fun, and not only did they fit him, he said “I’d wear socks like these”. Dilemma solved. Now I just have to knit the other one, and he’ll have his first pair of hand-knit socks.

So back to the book and the patterns – after reviewing the pattern I used for my anklets, as well as a number of other patterns, nearly all of them say to reduce the number of stitches determined by your gauge and foot measurements by 10-15%, in order to provide negative ease for a snug fit. After realizing the problem, I did remember doing that for the anklets. I’m really surprised that this book said nothing about that. Also, I found her instructions for rearranging the heel stitches after knitting the heel flap to be incredibly confusing. After looking at some other sock knitting resources, I figured out what it meant. Once I knew what I was supposed to do, the instructions made more sense – but I think the instructions could have been written much more clearly, and perhaps with some illustrations. My other gripe with this book is that it should have been spiral-bound. It’s impossible to keep it open for reference. But I don’t mean to make it sound like I don’t like the book. Now that I’ve made one sock, I understand the instructions. And knowing that I need to modify the sizes for negative ease, I’m sure I won’t have any problems knitting more socks from the patterns. Things that I really liked about the book are that it shows both toe-up and top-down socks with the different sections knitted in different colors, the charts for standard foot measurements, yardage charts, the instructions for 4-needle, 5-needle, and circular needle knitting, and of course, all of the patterns for different pattern repeat counts.

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6 Responses to Holy Sockotta, Batman!

  1. Christy says:

    I took a class on sock knitting, and the teacher mentioned that problem with the book. She loved the book overall but said to be careful about the recommended stitch count. She also was of the theory not too worry too much about sock size…that it would probably end up fitting somebody that you knew. Looks like that worked out well for you.

  2. Margene says:

    Take the book to Kinkos and they’ll put a spiral binding on for under $5. Now you know what size will fit you best!

  3. Heather Joins The Round says:

    I was going to try something from that book next time–I’ll keep that point about ease in mind.

  4. Brenda says:

    I noticed when I got SKS that she didn’t mention negative ease at all. Luckily, I had read other sock patterns and so knew to put some in, but I did think it was the major flaw of the book. Otherwise, I like all the different stitch patterns and the top-down and toe-up versions.The sock looks great! I’m glad it fits your husband.

  5. Carrie says:

    I like this book, but I also knew how to knit socks first, so I just looked at her pattern and went. I noticed that she didn’t have the minus 10% thing, and I did find her instructions for the heel confusing. You’re absolutely right that it might not be a “first sock” book.

  6. rebecca says:

    I really recommend at least taking a look at the sock knitting instruction book by Really Clear Instructions (TM). They made my very first pair of socks so easy. It’s toe-up and has lots and lots of clear pictures and easy, easy instructions. She tells you how to measure much more easily than by shoe size-all you have to know is the length between the end of your toes and the mid-point on your ankle. That’s it! I can’t recommend this book enough for sock knitters.

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