4 Ways to Make Your Socks Fit Better

What happens when you find a great sock knitting pattern, but you know it won't fit you? Fearlessly change your needle size!

Katie Himmelberg's free knit sock pattern, the toe-up Honeycomb Socks, uses 76 stitches for a sock that measures 8½ inches in circumference unstretched. Because of the ribbing in the foot portion, the Honeycomb Socks stretch to fit a 9½-foot, which is roomy for the average woman.

The way this sock is built doesn't lend itself easily to adding or taking away stitches—the stitch patterns are ribbing and a honeycomb pattern—so what's a larger- or smaller-footed sock knitter to do? Fearlessly change your needle size!

There's no rule that says you need to use one needle size throughout a project. You can even use one needle size for the foot, another for the leg, another for the cuff, and another for binding off.

The Honeycomb Socks by Katie Himmelberg (download the free pattern!)

1. If you want a snug sock, go down one or two needle sizes. Even a change yielding 8 to 9 stitches per inch would make this sock more than 1 inch smaller in circumference in the foot. It would also produce a significantly tighter stitch, which is good if you wear through socks quickly.

2. Knit on 2 circular needles (or 2 sets of double-pointed needles) of two different sizes-one for the instep and one for the sole-to keep to keep the fabric firm where needed. To determine gauge, do a complete swatch in the round. Using a smaller needle for the sole will make a firmer, more durable fabric.

3. But what if only your heel is a little wide? Just use the bigger needle where it's needed. To keep the stitches tight and prevent the heels from wearing through, you might want to use two strands of yarn where the larger needle size make stitches loose. This will firm up your heel and tighten the stitches up a bit, too.

4. Even though the honeycomb cuff pattern thwarts easy size fixes, you can change the needle size in just the cuff. You're not going to get much stretchiness from the honeycomb, but the upper cuff is secretly stretchy, so go for it!

—Heather Ordover, from Sockupied, Summer 2010

Tryon Creek Socks by M K Nance

e run, Heather! There's no fussing with stitch count or rewriting a pattern—simply change your needle size and you're all set. I would advise knitting a gauge swatch, though, to make sure your socks will fit you, even with the different needle used. Socks are a lot of work, and although you could fix your gauge on your second sock, you would probably end up knitting a third sock in order to be really comfortable. No, thanks. Two is sometimes more than enough; am I right?

There are so many great ideas in Sockupied, including fabulous patterns, of course. We've kitted one up for you—the Tryon Creek Socks by M K Nance, inspired by walking along Tryon Creek in Portland. These socks use three knit-purl patterns to break up pooling and add texture to handpainted yarn. Chevrons and modular stitch patterns evoke the water steelhead salmon encounter on their return to an urban waterway.

The kit includes 430-yard skein of Lorna Lace's Shepherd Sock yarn, a blend of 80% wool and 20% nylon, in Firefly, a bright yellow, and one download of Sockupied Fall 2013 eMag for Mac or PC.

This kit makes a great gift, too. Get yourself one today before they sell out.


P.S. Do you have a tip for making socks fit better? Leave a comment and share it with us!


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Knitting Daily Blog
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

3 thoughts on “4 Ways to Make Your Socks Fit Better

  1. If one likes the drape and fabric they are getting with a yarn/needle size, offering a sizing change by simply going up or down a needle size is not an option, especially with socks. I think it is an unfortunate short cut too often offered by pattern designers. I understand that not all patterns can be resized by stitch counts due to the design elements.

  2. It’s cold up here in Canada so I like my socks to go all the way up to my knees. (They also look great peeking out over tall winter boots!). To keep long socks from falling down I often use knitting elastic in the cuff. Hold it together with your yarn and treat it all as one. Shaping the calf also helps to hold them up.
    I also like arch-shaped socks because they fit so well in the foot. There are lots of patterns online with arch shaping, but basically, you increase 2 stitches every other row at the centre of the sole, and decrease them at each edge of the sole. (tip: The stitch design really stands out if you use a 2-colour 1×1 vertical stripe!)
    Increasing and decreasing stitches to shape the calf or foot may not be an option for all patterns, but there are so many great patterns available that it shouldn’t be difficult to find one with shaping already in the instructions, or a plain pattern that can easily be modified.

  3. I would not recommend changing your needle size. Socks want density and if you go up a needle size, you lose the density, which will cause the sock to wear through sooner.