Stuff I Do

Dutch Renaissance Part 2

Okay, ready for some math?


I had Shoryl help me gather some of the measurements I needed to create custom fit stockings.

  • Top of calf (the narrow bit just below the knee): 16.25″
  • Ankle (at ankle bone): 8.75″
  • Length between the two: 12″
  • Widest part of calf: 18″
  • Foot width (around the balls of the toes): 7.75″
  • Foot length from back of the heel to top of toes: 9″

I could take a few more, like the distance from the widest part of my calf to where my leg starts to narrow more quickly, but this is enough to get started. I measured the gauge of my swatch and got 6 stitches and 9 rows per inch. This gives me some rough measurements to start from. For the basic shape of the sock, I’ll be using the Toirneach kilt hose pattern from Knitty as inspiration.

  • Stitches to cast on for cuff: 16.25 x 6 = 97.5
  • Stitches to increase to after ribbing: (18 – 16.25) x 6 = 10.5
  • Stitches at ankle: 8.75 x 6 = 52.5
  • Number of paired decreases needed: (97.5 – 52.5) /2 = 22.5
  • Number of calf rows: 12 x 9 = 108
  • Even decreases every X rows: 108 / 22.5 = 4.8
  • Stitches around foot: 7.75 x 6 = 46.5

But wait, there’s more! These numbers only express the number of stitches by the number of inches in my measurements. I’m going to adjust those a bit, mainly to account for the fact that socks are worn with negative ease. That is, they need to be smaller than your foot so they stretch a bit.

From knitting many, many pairs of socks for myself, I know that I usually have 8″ unstretched at the ankle.  That makes my new “sttiches at ankle” measurement 48, not 52.5. This works pretty well with my normal stitches around the foot, since I use 48 for that. However, in order to get a little bit of bulk to make up for not wearing multiple pairs of socks, I’ll be double-stranding the foot.  I’m actually going to just eyeball that for now, and say that 46 is a good number of stitches for around the foot.

For the cuff, I’ve decided to use Small Arrow Pattern from A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker (if you’re following along, it’s on page 274). This is a multiple of 6 stitches +1 when worked flat, so for working in the round, I’ll only need a multiple of 6. Since this is the same as my stitch gauge, it will be very easy for me to convert this to how many stitches I’ll need total.  However, I’m a bit nervous about using the measurement at the smallest part of my calf, so I’m going to round up instead of down, giving me 102 stitches to cast on. I’m okay decreasing down to 98 stitches for the garter portion, but that’s only 4 stitches.  While this might be risking my socks falling down, I’m going to go ahead and remove that decrease, working evenly from the cuff to the top of the leg.

I’m not going to address the foot at this point. I usually work my standard foot from the heel to about the knuckle of my big toe.  While I could do math for it, I’m honestly not quite sure what difference the double-stranding is going to make in terms of row count … and I haven’t quite decided what type of toe I’m using yet.

Now I can recalculate my numbers from before:

  • Stitches to cast on for cuff: 102
  • Stitches to increase to after ribbing: 0
  • Stitches at ankle: 48
  • Number of paired decreases needed: (102 – 48) / 2 = 27
  • Number of calf rows: 12 x 9 = 108
  • Even decreases every X rows: 108 / 27 = 4
  • Stitches around foot: 46

That looks a lot better, and I think that’s a good place to start. Next time, I’ll be charting the lace pattern for working in the round, and casting on the first stocking.