My current work in progress:

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


Sock Integrity

Yuppers, if you tried to get to my blog earlier today, you will have noticed that it was down for a while, having been hacked. (I feel so violated.) Fortunately my web guru was on top of things and worked her little tail off to get things back up and running in record time – thanks, Daisy! Oh, and death to hackers.

On to the business of the blog . . .

Liz in Indiana left the following comment on Sunday’s blog post:

I bought a lovely and popular sock book (because yours doesn’t come out until next year!), and have discovered that most of the patterns are designed for narrower feet than my own. Their suggestion is always the same: change needle size to get gauge.

Is this the standard solution? Doesn’t this affect the . . . integrity of the fabric? At the moment, I knit fingering wt yarn on 2mm or 2.25mm to produce the sock fabric I like. The book’s sock patterns *start* with a larger needle size than that (to make socks too narrow pour moi). I’m concerned that sizing up for gauge will produce…floppy sock fabric. And nobody likes “Monsieur Floppy.” 🙂

Is this a standard solution? Not for me, it isn’t. Does it affect the integrity of the fabric (love that phrase)? Heck, yeah.

I don’t know about you, but when I find a pattern that makes size adjustments by advising you to change the needle size to adjust the gauge, I think that is lazy designing.

While I do have a few patterns that are written in one size only, I’ve offered those up as freebies, following the philosophy that you get what you pay for. 😉

For the too-small socks Liz mentioned in her comment, you could always try the trick of knitting the sole on the smaller needle and instep on a larger needle. That way the part of the sock that gets the most wear will be knit to a firmer gauge.

About my Costa Sock, Celeste asked:

Since the pattern starts so close to the tip of the toe, do you think these would wear hard on the toes while wearing shoes?

Actually, the pattern doesn’t really start that close to the tip of the toe. The mannequin leg that I have has a foot that is rather small, so the sock I knit is too long for it. I sorta folded the toe down when I took the photo. You can see what the toe really looks like here:

I wish I could find a model foot that is larger, but they do all seem to be the same size, at least that is what I’ve found when googling for body parts. (No doubt the FBI will now be tracking my online activity after that statement.) The foot is even smaller than an L-B-sized foot (and she has dainty little feet). So I really don’t want to knit my socks to fit the fake foot, because I’d be hard-pressed to find a human the socks would fit.

I am currently working on the second Costa Sock — see?

Apropos of nothing, today I had reason to walk down to the lobby of the federal building where I work. As I passed the main entrance, I saw two of the security guards playfully wrestling and punching each other. A third security guard was a few feet away, by himself, dancing a little jig and singing an idiotic song to no one in particular. This is what is protecting us? I feel so . . . safe.

Lucy is continuing her hard life of lying around and occasionally asking for a bon-bon.


  1. Kathy in Hollywood says:

    How about stuffing the sock toe with some tissue, or some scrap yarn or roving, to augment the foot model’s length?

  2. SallyA says:

    I am blogless and clueless. What happens when your blog is hacked? How do you know? What do they do?

  3. I can just see those men “protecting” us in the lobby. Made me laugh out loud!!!

    I’ve always wondered about the “just use the next size up needle to make larger” suggestion, too. I like my firm fabric and do not want “sleezy” socks.

    I just finished the heel on the sock pattern you wrote with the gusset on the bottom. It turned out great as usual. I can’t wait for your new book!

  4. Would it be possible for Liz to add a pattern repeat on some of the sock patterns to make the sock wider? I certainly agree that I wouldn’t go up a needle size either. Liz, I think it’s time to break out the knitter’s graph paper and custom-design for your foot! Although if you have to do that, you should get at least PART of your money back for the book!

    Wrestling security guards….wow. That would have been great for YouTube. Actually the whole thing sounds sort of like a Monty Python sketch!

    Lisas last blog post..Slow Days

  5. Babyface says:

    I am not an e xpert knitter by any means, but if the pattern repeat
    allowed, wouldn’t putting on extra stitches solve the problem? Like
    I said, I’m not even close to being an expert knitter so it is just a
    thought. I am not well and I’m very little, so I have to adjust the
    stitches to make most socks small enough to fit me.

  6. A hacker! May the fleas of a thousand camels infest their armpits!

    I wondered, because earlier today (much earlier) I was prompted for a p/w to get into your blog! Oh no!!! Then I waited a bit and sure enuf, all was well! Since I have no blog I was clueless – again blaming my work computer for the glitch.

    Anyway. Your costa sock(s) ROCKS! And Lucy, as always, looks lovely in repose! luv.m.

  7. THANK YOU for your take on sizing socks from patterns!! I have reached the point in my sock knitting career that I know how many stitches I need to CO for a sock that fits MY foot in a fabric that will hold up. So, when I see all these patterns with a CO of, oh, 56 or 64 (common, but not gonna do it for MY feet) then I peruse the pattern to see if I can adjust without a lot of fuss (i.e., is it WORTH it to adjust?). I really wish more of the online pattern listings would actually list the CO stitches for their socks and the yarn weight.

    Along these lines, I find many photos in sock books rather, er, interesting because they often have one (or more) of three things going on: (1) the sock does NOT fit the model’s foot (always makes me wonder at that point if the sock is on the wrong sized foot or is the sock designed so wonky it won’t fit anyone’s foot well?); (2) the sock has holes in the gusset (I’m just floored when I see photos with a big old hole!) or (3) the sock fabric is so loosely knitted that you can pretty much count on that sock wearing a hole through in about an hour. Of course, not ALL sock pics are like this but it’s amazing how many are.

    Can’t wait for your book Wendy!

  8. I’m glad you were able to get the hacking fixed so swiftly!

    As far as altering sock patterns to fit, there’s always a way. An extra purl stitch or knit stitch in a pattern repeat is sometimes all you need.

    turtlegirl76s last blog post..Maryland Sheep & Wool: Part 1 – The People

  9. You! Stop messing with my head! It took me a minute to realize Lucy’s head was upside down! lol

    I was thinking, “What’s wrong with her?”

    I love the colorway and the V of the Costas.

  10. I agree that sock fabric integrity is much too important to sacrifice. I’m also pretty darned picky about the fabric, and I often don’t want to knit a pattern at the gauge suggested. Sometimes I’ve found heavier yarn that will give me a fabric I like at the suggested gauge, which will then enable me to use the pattern.

    Sandra Ds last blog post..Mr. Maize

  11. I have larger than average feet and an even larger than average leg. (We won’t even get into the rest of the body, ‘K?) I have three solutions to the “pattern doesn’t fit my foot” problem. First off, I try to figure out the construction of the sock such that I can add a repeat or put stitches between the repeats or something. If necessary I will go down a needle size; I won’t go up. While I only wear socks half the year, I am hard on them and looser fabric simply wouldn’t hold up. My second solution is similar to the first, in that I rewrite the pattern. With a lace sock pattern that I really, really wanted to do, I ended up figuring out the (five) different charts and how they created the pattern and added stitches by rearranging and reusing the patterns. This took a h3ll of a lot of time and effort on my part, including writing the pattern into written instructions, as I don’t do well with charts. However, I liked the look of the outcome and was glad I’d done it. My next several pairs of socks are simple rib or even stockinette in response, but the socks are lovely. My final solution, the most common one, is the one I don’t like. There are patterns I simply can’t let myself fall in love with. Jaywalkers, for instance. My guess is that if I spent the time on them that I spent on my lace socks, I could figure out a way to increase the number of stitches. And I might still do that some time. But, as much as I hate it, I’ve come to realize that some patterns will never grace my feet and I’m trying to believe that it’s *their* loss, not mine.

    DianeSs last blog post..RIP, Birkenstock Sandals

  12. Wendy,

    I appreciate your response to “integrity of sock fabric”. But now I am concerned. I took your toe up sock at Sheri’s Spring Fling. I bought size 2 circs to learn the technique, they were the only needles I had….so playing around, I began your pattern included in the goodie bag on the size 2 needles with Shibui yarn and obviously they were too big. Since I was just practicing I wasn’t upset…planning on ripping when I received my new needles I ordered. Problem I ordered a size 1, the size I normally knit my socks with THEN I noticed you recommend a size 0. Now since I am ready to begin the socks in earnest, I am wondering if I should hold off and order the correct size?

    Just wondering….Thanks.

    Julie in Texass last blog post..76 degrees…then snow

  13. I have cheated at times with the gusset decreases, and decreased to a number different from my original number of stitches thus allowing for adjustments. That’s why I usually keep the pattern going only on the top of the foot.

    SockPixies last blog post..Progress

  14. Patricia says:

    All hail Daisy!!

    I got the password thing too and thought
    1. It’s me/my computer (There was also a security glitch with a site/program I use for work)
    2. It’s me- WendyKnits is getting exclusive!


    Thanks for the comments on sock sizing. I have narrow feet and recently got a book with sock patterns that are too wide. I thought about changing needle size, but now I think I’ll fiddle with the pattern/stitch repeat.

  15. Vanessa says:

    You know, I’ve often wondered how security guards deal with the inevitable boredom. Apparently I don’t need to worry about your guys. I’m sure they will snap to in an instant if danger threatens.

    Love your Costa socks.

    I usually just read and enjoy your blog, but I do want to take the opportunity to thank you for all the inspiration and instruction!

  16. We missed you at MSWF, maybe next year we will be lined up to have you sign your new book. Guess what I bought, more sock yarn! You have me hooked on hand-dyed yarns, I didn’t even buy any commercial printed yarns this year.
    Anyway, I thought I would mention my technique for sock pattern adjusting. My Koigu book uses a huge gauge (7 sts per inch) and I like 9 sts per inch, so I added more repeats and stitches. I am using a smaller needle than they do and 72 sts as opposed to their 64 stitch sock (and the pattern has a repeat of 3 sts). A little more work, but I am much happier with my socks.

    Roseanns last blog post..Maryland Sheel & Wool Festival

  17. Perhaps the security guards were celebrating that they passed themselves off as Latvians and hacked into your website and were planning to nail you on dealing in body parts?

  18. I’m shocked, shocked to find that wrestling is going on in there! Lol… : )

    Amys last blog post..Spring Fling Web Gems…

  19. You know, why people have to do @hit like that is beyond me. Especially to a KNITTING blog for crying out loud!

    And I would be happy to model your socks for you — if you ever want to do a gargantuan size sock — I am your woman!

    SockKnitters last blog post..I WON!! I WON!!!! The Painted Sheep 🙂

  20. I am laughing out loud at the thought of those security guards. Too flippin’ funny! And on the narrow sock thing (a problem I often have), sometimes if it’s just the foot that’s too narrow, I add stitches to the sole when I head into the foot (if it’s top down), or make the sole large for toe-up socks and then get rid of those stitches before I head up the leg.

    Jocelyns last blog post..Slowly and surely

  21. I was disappointed to read that those a-hole “security” peeps were merely wrestling and dancing.

    It’s always better when they have quick-draw competitions and end up shooting each others’ nuts off!

    KOARCs last blog post..Weekend Wrapup

  22. Esther says:

    Thank goodness you’re back! When I first checked this morning, I got a screen that said your account had been suspended. Later on I got the ID/password screen. Hopefully, I will never face another horrible Monday morning without my Lucy fix. 🙂

    I’m with MaryO, may the fleas of a thousand camels indeed infest their armpits.

  23. Hi Wendy – the foot form I use is actually almost dead on to my own foot – which is a 9 (pr 9 1/2 depending on the shoe) It’s a bit narrower than my own foot, but it works really well with my socks.

    The company imprinted on it is RPM Industries, in Auburn NY

    Hope this helps!!

  24. Lugene says:

    In the book “Sensational Socks” by Charlene Schurch, she has a table (as does Cat Bordi’s most recent Pathways book) that lets YOU decide the size of your socks based on your foot measurements and then adapts the pattern for the correct circumference of your foot. So, you can have it all when you use these patterns then you can use your measurements and the number of stitches in the pattern repeat to adapt to any pattern. Hope this helps.

  25. I’m intrigued by your two-needle size solution to the non-stretchy pattern. I’ve had poor luck with lace-type patterns (like Monkey) which are difficult to get on over the heel, but generally OK once they’re on the foot. I use your basic toe-up formula, with a gusset, short-row heel and heel flap. So my question is: Would the two needles (larger needle for instep) solve the problem of the tight heel?

    P.S. I can’t wait for your sock book!

  26. Debra I says:

    Here’s another problem — while I use negative ease when knitting my socks, of *at least an inch* around the ball of the foot, my socks still end up being too loose in the fit on my feet. Your gusset heel gives me a better fit than the short row heel, but I’m beginning to believe that math and knitting don’t mix. My gauge is good, the fabric is of pleasing consistency, but when it comes to wearing, the darned things stretch out more than I would like. Maybe someone sells Lycra to strand with sock yarn?

  27. When I got the ‘private – locked site’ box asking for a password – I was so upset! That very thing happened not so long ago with Shrinkingknitter – and it was for real – and I felt like I’ve lost a friend – and to have it happen again!!!! I wondered if knitters just attract such bad comments that all the knit blogs were going to become private! I AM SO GLAD TO SEE YOUR BLOG AGAIN! Keep up the good work!

  28. Maureen says:

    Someone needs to test the security guards’ coffee. They sound entirely too happy. I worked for years in aerospace, where the security guards seldom seemed happy, or even normal. And it scared me to death that they were armed.

    MaryO, I love your comment. Camel fleas in the armpits is great. But, I REALLY hate hackers, and I’d like to point them fleas a little lower, if you get my drift.

  29. I’m excited to hear about your sock book coming out next spring! I always thought you had a sock book in you waiting to come out. Great News! I’m loving the ones you worked up lately.

    I agree with your lazy designing comment. It always strikes me as odd why some designers to say to go up a needle size for a larger sock because to me that mean the sock would also be knit looser and it wouldn’t have that tightness that a sock should have.

  30. Hi Wendy, I too expierence difficulty this morning.  Is nothing sacred anymore.  Loved Mary O’s comment and another laugh over Maureen’s. Since I am blogless I really didn’t know what was going on. Glad all is taken care of now.

  31. What…no milk jug rings for Lucy?

    Death to hackers indeed. If they only knew what knitters were capable of with our pointy needles…

    Peggys last blog post..Shadow Box Hat

  32. As to the gauge problem. She firsts needs to work out her standard gauge on her prefered needles. Yours Wendy is 8 stitches to the inch on 2mm needles mine is 9.5 stitches to the inch on 2.25mm in standard fingering weight yarn. Once she has that she can adjust the pattern repeat until it fits her foot and get the type of sock fabric she likes.

    As to the hacker. Could it be some poor soul who takes the PETA anti-wool website at face value and forgets wool comes from all over the world? You do prefer to knit with wool or wool blends.

  33. Wendy, when I tried to read your blog yesterday I kept being asked for my ID and password from your server. Was it a legitimate request or was it the hacker trying to hack me? Now I am pretty worried. Could you let me know, please? Thanks. I love the sock!

  34. Dorothy says:

    Whatever did a hacker hope to do? Disrupt communications for knitters? I really like the new socks and cannot wait for your new book to come out. Lucy is a sweety as usual!!

  35. Theresa in Italy says:

    I’m with Mary O and Maureen on the fleas. May the hackers be doubly infested! And I do feel for Lucy. Such a tough life.

  36. nicole/sweden says:

    my life is as hard as lucy’s.

    when ‘knitter’s review’ got hacked for the umpteenth time someone mentioned wondering about a younger bored generation with its propensity to be slumped over a keyboard with drool coming out of their mouth uttering: “because i can, because i can…”
    : )

  37. Liz in IN says:

    Thanks, Wendy! Sock fabric integrity rules! And thanks to the great commenters, too. I had come to the realization that I could add stitches/repeats and use smaller needles, add sole stitches, or oh, I don’t know, RE-DO all the charts (if designers would provide charts).

    Suffice it to say, in future I’ll be taking a pass on so-called knitting ‘pattern’ books which provide nothing more than arty photos and (if I’m very, very lucky) charts of fancy stitches, but then require me to redesign anything I actually want to make. Nossir. I could be spending that money on yarn! And Wendy’s sock book!

    But I mean, really. Two words: Barbara. Walker. Take your pick from all the stitches in the world. Add your generic sock (pullover, cardi, hat, mitten, etc) pattern of choice, do a little measuring, a little math, knit a swatch or two…et vi-ola, U R UR Own Designer. 🙂

    Golly, I think I had a little epiphany, there. Allelujah.

    Death to hackers. Sic those big tough security guards on ’em!

  38. Celeste says:

    Thanks for the response!

  39. Thank goodness you’re back….your work and Lucy are a part of my day. What a useless reason for living a hacker must have. I just want to scream profanity, but what’s the use. Fleas sound real good, too….I had to laugh so loud….or a dose!
    Congrats on the book. I’ve often wondered if I could ever put one together… that’s real bravery and talent. Keep up the great work, and thanks for inspiring me and my ongoing projects.

  40. Amen! I hate a sock at too loose of a gauge. Not comfortable at all!

    Jesss last blog post..Hub, the amazing wonder spinner

  41. Linda in Chicagoland says:

    May I just say, YOU ARE BRILLIANT! Your use of two different size needles to knit socks is the very best reason I have ever heard for knitting socks on two circs. It never occurred to me. This may be an indication of my lack of intelligence; I prefer to find it proof that you are brilliant.

  42. Glad you are back! Great sock tips 🙂
    Isn’t Lucy’s coloring changing more on her face, very interesting.

    Betss last blog post..Spring Things

  43. L-B’s comment had me cracking up! Googling for body parts, heh.

    At least the security guards are happy. I’d rather have them in a good mood than ‘shoot-on-sight’ and terribly cranky. (Knowing that your building is not an ultra-high security risk.)

    I like the Costa socks a lot, the flow of the diagonal lines is kind of meditative. One needs it after the hack attack. Thanks, Daisy!

    Cathy-Cates last blog post..Post-Weekend Knitting Update (with flowers and a ‘bug’)

  44. I almost had Diet Coke all over the screen – “googling for body parts” indeed!!!

    Knitnanas last blog post..Sunday? AGAIN? How?

  45. I have found a job for Lucy. Really, it is purrrfect. The Japanese seem to have a cultural love for cats. Housing is at a premium and apartments are very small and they are allowed no pets. To accommodate this love of the furry feline, there are now tea houses. For 12$ an hour they can sit and drink tea and cuddle up to felines. The hitch is that the cats rule. There is to me no tail pulling and the cats cannot be told NO. If the fuzzy one chooses to drink your tea – move over!

    Does this not sound like the perfect gig!

    Peggys last blog post..My Favorite Color is……..Blue???

  46. I’d rather have silly guards – even if they weren’t as effective – than surly brutes eager to infringe my rights. (Can you tell I’ve had some problems with security guards in the past?)

    Imbriums last blog post..One More Word on Words

  47. sabine says:

    Dear Wendy,
    I don’t know if this is me, or you, but thought I’d let you know in case others are having problems. When I type in your site it takes a super long time to come up (4-5) minutes. Yours is the only site I have this delay with, and it is a recent development- about two weeks.
    Love the new socks. Do you find the center spine travels to the side during wear, or is it fairly stationary?

  48. Virginia says:

    I’m glad to hear your workplace security guards are wrestling and dancing jigs. It means they’re awake!

  49. OK, so if the lady feet run small, maybe the man feet would be the right size, only probably you wouldn’t find them in that nice pointed perfectly for 2.5 inch heel foot pose. Actaully I am not sure what pose the man feet do come in, whats more is that I am disturbed to be wondering if you could tell “ken” feet from “barbie” feet…so to speak…. wow. Anyway, just a random thought 🙂

    KarenM.s last blog post..Actual knitting….

  50. Leslie in Reston says:

    Speaking as someone with size 6 feet, I feel I have to speak up about sock sizes! The vast majority of socks in stores are labeled “one size fits all” (hah!), to fit sizes 9 – 11. I’m sure this is just for the convenience of the manufacturers — very cost-effective for them. As a result I always have “Monsieur Floppy” at the toes, which bunches up inside my shoes, or the other option, heels that perch above the back of my shoe, halfway to my calves. I’m relegated to tube socks, with no shaping at all. Likewise, most sock patterns for knitting that I’ve come across tend to be size medium (usually around an eight) or medium and large. Very rarely do I see one actually in a small. Sorry, Liz in Indiana, but you get no sympathy from me. L-B is lucky to have Wendy to knit for her!

  51. What kind of person hacks a knitting blog? What .. exactly .. is the point? I’m just .. boggled.

    Tygher Knitss last blog post..My HOA can Bite Me!

  52. Laura Sue says:

    Um, Leslie in Reston, not that you’ll be reading this, but I couldn’t figure out what Liz in IN said that upset you so. She made no mention of foot size at all. In fact, what she did was encourage us to design our own dadgum socks and not rely on patterns. I’ve downloaded Wendy’s generic toe-up sock pattern with the painfully detailed directions and will work from that. I’m a new sock knitter and don’t understand their constructution well enough, yet, but hopefully will get into a groove. This has been a very helpful discussion. I think we all could complain about our feet, calves, and available sizing. I wear a 7.5EE, so I have to adjust all sock patterns. So, it’s learn to design them myself! As EZ says, you are in charge of your knitting even when you don’t feel like you are!