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Making Custom Socks, things I have learned

Making customs socks , anyone can do it.

I love socks! There is only one thing better than ordinary socks! That is  making custom socks I can knit myself.

knitted pink socks

pair of handmade socks I knit for a friend

In this post I am going to share what I have learned so far about making custom socks. It is not hard to knit your own socks once you learn the basics. There are a few things you have to know about your feet before you begin.

Foot Measurements:

You will need a few key measurements of your foot. The chart below shows several key measurements you should know about your foot when making custom socks.

When making custom socks I feel 4 particular measurements are key.

  1. the circumference around the ball of your foot near your toes.
  2. the circumference around your leg and ankle
  3. the heel diagonal measurement.
  4. Length of your foot from heel to toe

The heel diagonal measurement is important if your feet are not standard. For instance I have high arches and this measurement is wider for me and I need to account for it if the sock is going to get over my heel when putting it on.

I like my socks to fit snug and often make them a bit smaller for that reason, except for the heel area that goes over my instep.

You should always have a 10% smaller sock than your measurements to allow for negative ease. Ease is the natural stretch of the fabric when want 10% less to have a snug fit on your foot.

So if the ball of your foot measures 9 inches like mine then I want to knit for an 8 inch size in that area, this insures a snug fit sock and not a loose one that may roll around your foot. And your stitch count can change in any area of your sock to accommodate your measurement changes along the way. All you need to do is either increase or decrease in that area to meet your sizing needs.

You may need to knit a few pairs to figure all this out. I had to knit a few pairs to refine my sock fitting needs.


You also have to know the gauge of the yarn and needle size you are knitting with. If you are knitting in the round then you should swatch your gauge in the round also. Knit a 6 inch swatch in the round, then using your ruler take a 2 inch sample from the center and count the stitches in 2 inches and divide by 2. Include half stitches. This is your gauge.

I know I get 8 stitches to the inch. Also keep in mind different sock yarns may give you different gauges. Some yarns are thicker than others, so knitting a gauge is important.

I am also a looser knitter so I knit with needles a size or two smaller than what may be recommended. I knit with 2 mm double pointed needles. I also prefer a denser woven fabric and smaller needles will also do this for me. Denser fabric when knitting socks will help them wear better and last longer.

My first pair of socks

Picking Sock Yarn

Fingering is a great yarn for socks. There are many different kinds of fingering yarns.  What should you look for.

  1. yarn with more plys. Multiple strands make yarn more resistant to abrasion and wear.
  2. be careful of softness in yarns, this can indicate a fragile yarn. You don’t want fragile yarn when knitting socks. Socks get a lot of abuse being on your feet all day.
  3. You don’t want to buy loose spun yarn for socks. It will not wear well
  4. Soft yarns tend to pill more also
  5. good sock yarn should include a blend of nylon for strength. And super wash yarns are good for socks also. Just check your blends of yarns to make sure they are suitable for socks.
Making custom socks; Figuring out where to start!

I like to knit cuff down socks using double pointed needles (dpns). You can knit socks from the toe up, using 2 circular needles or magic loop. I prefer dpns and I prefer the wood ones.

Now I have to consider my measurements to begin my sock.

  1. I have a 9.25 inch leg measurement and a 9.25 ball of my foot measurement. My heel diagonal is 13 inches. That’s a big difference, so I have to allow for that both in the ribbing I knit and the heel area.
  2.  I take the 9.25 and multiply it by my stitches per inch. ( 9.25 x 8 =74). Typically in other areas of my foot I can knit with 68 stitches for the leg area, this gives me room to account for ease ( stretch) in the fabric. But in my cast on for ribbing I need to make room for my high arch, so I will need more stitches here.

I begin with a cast on of 72 stitches for the ribbing and then decrease as I work my way down the leg area to 68. Why 72? Because 72 is a multiple of 4, my ribbing is k2p2, also a multiple of 4. So I round down to 72. I don’t want my leg part to be too loose all the way down so I decrease here to 68 for a better fitting leg.

I knit a 15 row ribbing. I like that size for sock tops. Then I knit down about 7-10 rows and I decrease to my 68 stitches and knit the rest of the leg.

Sock Heels

There are many heels out there one can knit on a sock and since you are making a custom made sock you can choose whichever heel you want. There are heel flap heels, wrap and turn short row heels and quite a few others. I suggest you look around the internet, watch a few videos and try a couple of heels to see which one you like and which one gives you the fit you want.

Typically a heel will be half the stitches of your sock leg. so for me my leg is 68 stitches my heel would be 34 stitches. But since I have a wider arch I make my heel 38 stitches.

Which heel do I like? I like the smooth operator sock heel by Susan B Anderson Smooth Operator Socks on Ravelry. It is what they call an afterthought heel. That means you can knit in waste yarn to keep the place of your heel and keep knitting the foot of the sock until you want to go back and knit the heel.

In her pattern for the heel she picks up 2 stitches on each side of the gap in the beginning the heel. That means I now have 4 extra stitches in my heel count. For me I now have my 38 stitches.

Now I must say that she decreases those extra stitches on the first round of knitting the heel. I do not decrease them right away. Because of my high arch I knit them and decrease a standard 2 stitches for each decrease round on each side of the heel. This gives me a couple of extra rows in the heel and makes a bit more room for me in my instep to account for my high arch.

With making custom socks you can adapt these parts of the sock to fit you! You are the creator. Don’t be afraid to increase or decrease stitches where you need more or less room. Make notes along the way as to what you change so when you knit sock #2 you remember what you did and where in the sock you did it.

Knitting the foot of the sock

The length of the foot of your sock you also want to allow for ease. My foot is 9.5 inches long and I knit it for 8.5 inches long.

Knit the foot till it is about 1.5 inch short of that measurement and this is where you will begin the toe decreasing.

I also decrease my foot stitches from 68 to 64 stitches after I have knit about 2.5-3 inches past the heel. I don’t want to decrease to early because of my arch. I decrease to 64 stitches because I want a snug fit in the foot of my sock.

I did not know all this at first, I had to knit a few pairs of socks to see what works for my foot.

I knit till about 1.5 inches before my total length measurement (8.5 inches) then I decrease my toe.

I do the grafting stitch (kitchner stitch)  then I have a sock.

My thought about making custom socks

You can find videos on youtube for all parts of sock knitting. There is also lots of other info on the internet if you search for the things you would like to know.

I suggest you watch several  videos from different people and find the techniques you like best. Try them out. It’s just a pair of socks and you can make another and refine things to suit your needs. Don’t be afraid to experiment. And once you can knit a plain pair of socks then you can learn to incorporate different knitting stitches in your socks or even color work designs into your socks. The possibilities are endless.

Remember this is a custom sock and you can incorporate any parts you like or need into making custom socks. And you can ask questions here, or even share your finished projects on the blog. Just post in the comments.

my second pair of socks

Books on sock knitting I like

A great book on making custom socks is Custom Socks by Kate Atherly. She gives a ton of information on how to customize every part of sock making. You may want to knit a few pairs first to get familiar with the construction of a sock before you venture into this awesome book.

There is also a sock book customized for knitting socks for big feet. It is a great book with lots of information. It is called Big Foot Knits by Andi Smith

Ravelry is an online knitting group where you can find lots of patterns, groups and information pertaining to knitting. Some patterns are free and some you can buy right from the designer. It is a great place for all kinds of knitting patterns and camaraderie with other knitters.

You can also look on Facebook for knitting groups where you can share your knitting projects and also ask for help.

Here are some Facebook groups I enjoy.

Addicted to knitting socks on FB, request to join

Knitting on FB request to join

Strictly Knitting request to join

Sock Knitting FB

Knit your socks off FB

Addicted to knitting socks and gloves

Craftsy classes

My newest adventure in socks is a class on Craftsy by Lucy Neatby. After knitting several pairs of socks I decided I was up for a real challenge. This is the fiesta sock class.

fiesta sock class by Lucy Neatby on Craftsy.

My fiesta sock.

my funky sock cuff and leg

my fiesta sock leg

my cabled sock heel

my fiesta sock heel so far

This is a fun class with lots of information and well taught. If you are up for a fun sock then try this class.

Craftsy also has several other sock knitting classes that will walk you through making a sock. They often have sales on classes so if you want a bargain then wait for a craftsy sale.