Tips and Tricks:
Knitting Socks into Stockings
In April we had the pleasure of listening to renowned knitwear designer Fiona Ellis speak to the guild about the History Of Hosiery
Knitted socks are one of most popular knitting projects out there. There are many different ways to create socks whether you are knitting them toe up or cuff down, numerous cast ons for the cuff, different heel constructions and countless ways of completing (or starting) the toe. The combinations are endless. After you've decided the basic construction you can throw in a stitch pattern to make the possibilities limitless.
Most socks are designed to cover the feet and lower leg, from the calf down. But why not extend them up? Here are a few tips on extending your favourite sock pattern.
Swatch & Measure
Swatching is the most important element of any successful sock. Typically one would measure the circumference of the leg above the ankle and the foot, figure out your gauge of stitches per inch, subtract about one inch worth or 10% of the stitches to account for the negative ease that will help the socks stay up. Use that number to cast on the cuff or increase up to that number for the foot, and leg respectively if working toe up.
To turn a simple sock pattern into knee socks you will need a few more measurements. You will need to measure your leg at the widest point and at the ankle. Next you will need to measure the length from the back of your knee to the top of the ankle. To figure out your rate of decreases you'll need to subtract the number of stitches for the ankle from the number of stitches needed for the widest part of the leg and space the decreases out over the length measurement between these two points. It would be helpful to take circumference and length measurements over this space for better fitting socks. You might also have to add rounds of length to account for the horizontal stretch that can be caused by the negative ease. Once you have figured out your stitch count over the length of the leg you can continue as usual for the heel, foot and toe. After you have mastered the knee sock, you can extend it even further, above the knee. Just apply the same formula to the measurements above the knee: circumference x gauge - 10% (for negative ease). You could also add ribbing once you get above the knee for some extra hold.
How To Add Interest
As with any plain sock there are many ways to add interest. Using hand dyed yarn will add subtle or pronounced visual interest from the change of colours depending on the colour of the yarn and how many colours it contains. You can make striped socks with two or three colours or self-striping yarn. One can also use yarns designed especially to knit up in patterns made specifically for socks. These are made popular by companies such as Schachenmayer who produce the Regia line of yarns or Opal, just to name a couple. Due to the varying stitch counts of the socks these yarns can pool with varying effects.
To make your knee socks truly unique you can add textural interest by using stitch patterns. Add a stitch pattern all over or on the top of the foot ending to above the ankle, have a column extend all the way to the top of the sock. Mimic this on the back for visual interest or knit the stitch pattern solely on the back of the leg to simulate a the back seam that was commonly found on ladies stockings until well into the 20th century. Remember, when adding any stitch pattern to include it in your swatch so that you can account for changes in gauge.
The possibilities are endless!
Want to know more?
Have a look at the Knitting to Stay Sane blog on the topic.
– Anastasia Pelechaty