My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Poodle Skirt Socks

I will confess here and now that I did no knitting on the Alpine shawl last night. Events overtook me and I was busy doing this, that, and the other thing.


But I did finish my Poodle Skirt socks.


To recap, these are knitted from Scarlet Fleece sock yarn purchased from The Loopy Ewe, in the “poodle skirt” colorway. I knit the foot with size 0 needles and went up to a size 2 for the leg. The texture pattern is from the Blueberry Waffle sock pattern.

(By the way, The Loopy Ewe is currently out of stock on the Scarlet Fleece sock yarn, but according to Sheri’s blog, there’ll be more listed for sale soon!)

I also cast on for a new sock, this one in Zen String Serendipity sport weight yarn. Also purchased from The Loopy Ewe.


Ohmygosh I love this yarn! A very firm twist and very soft. The knitted fabric has a gorgeous sheen to it. It is very similar, I think, to the Socks The Rock medium weight yarn.

I’m making this sock in the “Ben” colorway — a lovely forest-y colorway.


Because it’s sportweight, I started out my toe with a size 2 needle and happily got a nice firm fabric. I started out with 56 stitches around — I do fingering weight socks with 64 stitches around. When I had about 3 inches done I popped it on my foot and found it to be just a bit too loose so I ripped it out and started again with 52 stitches. This time it seems perfect. Shows that I should have done a gauge swatch to begin with, huh?

Reader Michelle had a sock gauge question:
Sock Help! I’m coming to the source of my inspiration. Wendy, I have a question. I am a sock knitting addict. I enjoy knitting them IMMENSELY! I use a classic sock pattern and since my hooves are quite generous 9 1/2 I make mine with 64 stitches on size 2 needles. Although some sock yarns call for size 0 or 1 I haven’t attempted those sizes yet because I’m not sure on the # of stitches. How many do you increase to offset using a smaller needle?

It’s all a matter of gauge. Check the gauge on your 64-stitch around socks on size 2 needles. Say, for example, that you are getting 7 stitches to the inch. If you divide 64 by 7, you get an ootch over 9 inches — 9.14 inches, to be a bit more exact. Round that down to 9. Most fingering weight sock yarns on size 0 needles state a gauge of 8 stitches to the inch. You should do a small swatch to check your gauge to make sure (see my story of ripping out the toe, above). Say your gauge with fingering weight sock yarn and size 0 needles is indeed 8 stitches per inch. Multiply 9 by 8, and you get 72 stitches. There’s your number of stitches for your fingering weight socks.

You can always figure out how many stitches you need for socks by measuring around the ball of your foot. Mine is about 8.5 inches, so I base my socks on an 8-inch circumference, because you want your socks to have a bit of negative ease. So I always start my fingering weight socks based on 64 stitches. If I had bothered to check the gauge of the Zen String Serendipity yarn before I started I would have found I was getting 6.5 stitches to the inch and would have known to cast on 52 stitches.

If you have fat ankles, you can increase a few stitches after you turn the heel. Conversely, if you have thin ankles you can go down a couple or few stitches. You can increase for shapely calves. Et cetera.

And if you are doing your socks top-down, you just reverse the whole thing.

Lucy Sez


“I’m practicing my interpretive dance.”


  1. I’m another size 9.5 wondering about sock sizes. Funny how it seems to be people with this size foot who want to know how to modify the patterns! Maybe it’s because we have so much trouble finding shoes, we’re extra wary about making the socks.

  2. Sounds to me like you *did* do a gauge swatch, it was just shaped like a sock!

    Loving that interpretive dance, Lucy.

  3. I like the colorway of your new sock. I haven’t used that yarn (yet) and I’m glad to hear that you like it.

  4. I do love that Ben colourway too!

    I’m constantly amazed at the rate at which you make socks. Now, I understand that they’re small projects, and you’re an experienced quick knitter, but the speed still astounds me!

    Since I have wonky toes that are quite sensitive, I expect that once I start knitting socks for myself, I’m going to want socks that either don’t have a toe seam, or don’t have much of one to speak of. Am I correct in assuming that toe-up socks would be better for this than top-down?

  5. Look at that colour! Lovely. I enjoy the yarn reviews as well.

  6. Ooo…a kitty happy dance!

    I finished my very first pair of socks over the weekend, and I think I’m hooked!! They are a bit large, but I think they will work just fine. Have to fudge on the next pair!

    Thanks for the pattern!

  7. Wendy- I adore that forest color yarn. Is there no-end to the talent that dyers come up with?
    What’s a person to do- knit more socks!

  8. Interesting wot you say about the sock yarn gauge. I get 9 sts to the inch with Regia on a US 2.

    How about that? LOL

  9. Ria – in a word, no. I’ve done nearly all of my socks top-down, and to close the toe up I used kitchener stitch to graft the top and bottom together. “Kitchener stitch” is a magic way of creating another row of stitches in between the top and bottom halves, so there’s no seam to irritate your toes.

  10. And what a lovely interpretive dance it is too!

  11. Hi Wendy! I have a question about (appropriately enough) sock gauge swatches. Do you knit them flat in stockinette stitch? Do you knit a very small tube? I’m always confused when a sock pattern says “make a gauge swatch”, but don’t specify whether the swatch is flat or in the round! ๐Ÿ™

  12. Wendy
    Thank you for all your advice re knitting socks. I finally got a sock to fit using your toe up sock directions and starting with a #0 needle and using a #2 for the ankle and up.

    So I;m actually starting the second sock. All my other attemps are currently onezy.

    Love your blog and you are a great inspiration.

  13. Speaking of too big socks, I have ridiculously high arches, as does my Knitting Muse (AKA my mommy). I have learned to compensate for our arches by substituting flat stockinette on the bottom of the foot for either a k2p1 or k3p1 rib (depending on whether the stitches are divisible by 3 or 4, respectively). It helps our hand-knitted socks to cling to our feet better.

  14. Those pink socks are great – if I were you, I’d make sure I wore them on a gray, gloomy day, to wake everyone up! And the Ben colorway on the new pair is really a great combination. I can’t wait to see how those turn out.

    Lucy should sign up to wow America on Dancing with the Stars – hey, I’d actually watch it then!

  15. For me that part of my love of sock knitting – the gorgeous, unique colours. I just can’t get enough!!

  16. Those socks are terrific! And the Ben colorway is yummy. I love the pooling. Thanks for the sock tips today. Perfect timing for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. i hope that is just a typo and you popped it onto your foot, not your food. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Wendy, I might have missed this, but can’t find it in your archive: did you notice/feel the ribbing on the bottom of your latest STR sock? If so, was it a goooood notice/feel OR a distraction and/or baaaaadd notice/feel???

    And I’m absolutely addicted to the Lucy Sez “column.” I see she really has the moves to go with her good looks! Thanks for sharing her.

  19. Wow I’m in love with that forest color. I need some of that for myself.

    I need more sock yarn like a hole in my head..yup.

  20. Oh that Lucy belly just begs to be snorgled!

  21. skeetshooter says:

    Aaargh! How do you all knit these socks so quickly??? I’m insanely jealous. The fancy patterns on mine is limited strictly to precisly one inch of K2P2 on the top.

    extra notation:

    Of course it didn’t help that I just made a special 40 mile round trip to the yarn store for #1 bamboo Dpns in about 5″ length. Nice lady gave me #0. And if I adjust my arm length to about juuuuust sooooo — I can see the stitches. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. I’m not usually one to ‘stash’ sock yarn, but you find the most enticing ones! Love the new colorways ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Wow. I’m getting an idea that you like the Loopy Ewe, but I could be mistaken.

  24. Hi Wendy! I think it’s so funny when our cat lays around as Lucy is in this photo! It’s like kitty Tai Bo or passive ninja training of some sort!

    Your socks rock (as always!) I somehow manage to be one of those knitters that gets between 10 and 11 spi when knitting on #0’s….so I always have to cast on about 80 stitches. Needless to say, I’m a bit slower than you!

    Little belly fluff (not a full rub!) to Lucy!

  25. I’m curious… how many pairs of socks do you have now? You seem to knit so many, are you also wearing them out quickly? I know you’ve mentioned before that you give a lot away as gifts, but it seems like you also keep a lot. I just wonder if you’ll ever have to slow down, like after you fill an entire dresser with socks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. See, this is the danger in reading blogs…I have an adorable niece and nephew for whom I love to knit. The nephew’s name is Ben. Two skeins of Zen String should be on their way to me shortly. I knew there was a reason I didn’t order that other sock yarn this morning.

    And the Alpine shawl is beautiful.

  27. Very cute poodle skirt socks!! What a fun color.

    Loving the new socks. They look really squishy.

  28. i should know better than to read comments, lol. i want to answer some of them myself! for my own experience, i never noticed the ribbing on the bottom of the wyvern socks i made. granted, i only wore them once (i did them on 2’s, and they kept stretching out too much, so i donated them to A4A), but i never noticed the ribbing. feet aren’t THAT sensitive.

    and what food did you measure your sock with? broccoli? zucchini? how about a nice salami? (ducks)

  29. Awesome looking socks! On the new ones – I like how the colors are moving around the sock as you go. I’m finally trying out your toe-up sock pattern, my first toe up socks. (Normally I do cuff down). I love the fact that the base directions have a flatter toe than most cuff-down patterns. No pointy toes here!

  30. The Waffles, they are good. Very bright and cheery! Very anti-DST. ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Well, a swatch is a small bit of knitting to check gauge. A toe is also a small bit of knitting… so, although knitting the toe is a bit more complex than knitting just a tube, it’s probably not more stitches. If you come out with the wrong gauge, you’d have to rip out either way, and if you get the correct gauge, you don’t have to rip out (or waste) the yarn you used in the swatch.

    IMHO, a toe’s (at least) as good as a swatch.

  32. I have really high arches as well. Truth: I have Barbie feet. I’m also just learning to knit socks, and haven’t quite finished one yet. I don’t have problems with store bought socks fitting strangely b/c of my arch (size is another issue, though), should I anticipate this with my hand knit socks?

  33. so now, I have to try the Scarlet Fleece and the Zen String. I must ask, have you had any problems with felting with the superwash merinos? It’s never been a problem for me until yesterday when my STRs felted. I am distraught. How do your socks hold up in the wash or are you one for handwashing them?

  34. Love the socks! Lucy looks like she’s doing a very happy dance!

  35. Wow, both socks look great! I’m having so much fun watching your socks progress as I work on mine. I’m definitely going to branch out in my design choices (and yarn options).

  36. Thanks for the gauge/sock fit tips. I have long (size 10) narrow feet and I look forward to better fitting socks.Although I’ve been knitting for a few years, I don’t knit a lot and it’s only recently that I’ve started to break out of the ‘follow the recipe exactly’ stage.

    I think Lucy wants a belly rub!

  37. Gorgeous socks, and nice tips on sizing. Thanks!

  38. Wow on the socks and the lace! And Lucy’s interpretive dance is just wonderful…I give her a 10!

  39. Props to Lucy — what a deliciously inviting tum. I thought lace didn’t look like lace until it was blocked???? Why does yours look so perfect? Love the Zen String colorway. I have been knitting for 40 years and am facing my first pair of socks. I want this to be a year of firsts — I made my first scarf, my first diagonal knitting, now on to my first socks.

  40. Very cool colorway in that sock yarn.

    Regarding Scarlet Fleece — if the Loopy Ewe is out of it, one can still buy it directly from the dyer, Kathy Oliver, at Holly Spring Homespun ( She still has a few colorways of “Painted Merino” and “It’s Tubular” available on her website.

  41. Now the real question is, do you have a poodle skirt to wear with those socks? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  42. I’m really liking the color of the new socks!