Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Yoga of Sock Knitting: Best Foot Forward

I teach a classic form of sock knitting: top down, using 4 or 5 double-pointed needles, slip stitch heel flap and turned heel, grafted toe stitches.  I use these techniques because so many patterns are written for this sock style.  I enjoy the rhythm of working with the 4 needles and I find this sock technique is well-suited to providing a custom fit for the wearer. Once you understand this basic sock form, you can adapt your template to other types of foot and leg wear, such as legwarmers, pedisocks and yoga work socks.

There are 52 bones in the foot, which is about one quarter of all the bones in the body.  All are intended to assist you in standing, walking, balancing, performing tasks at home and in the studio.  It's no wonder that, if your feet hurt, your entire body hurts, which is why proper foot care is important in all stages of life.  The foot is designed to use all its bones, which means that a healthy stance will be broad, with points of contact balanced equally (or nearly so) on the inside and outside ball of the foot and the inside and outside of the heel.  

We ignore the structure of our feet in favour of artificial standards of beauty.  We sacrifice health and comfort in favour of style.  We deplore the idea of foot-binding, but that is what we do when we squeeze our feet into shoes that are too short and narrow, with high heels and pointed toes.  We wonder why our feet ache, our ankles are weak, our arches fallen and our backs twisted and sore.

What does this have to do with sock knitting?  A basic understanding of foot anatomy will help you knit well-fitting socks which fit smoothly and tightly on the foot and leg without reducing circulation.  Socks that are too small will pinch and rub your skin and will wear quickly through the toes and heels. You can avoid socks which are too big, or which stretch so that the foot slides inside the sock or the sock bunches in a shoe.  Both of these things are hazards in balance-if the foot can't feel the floor properly, you are more likely to fall.  

Step 1 in basic sock knitting is measurement.  Find a tape measure and a ruler.  Measure both  bare feet; keep the tape measure snug but not tight.  You want your socks to be about 10 percent smaller than your foot size (negative ease) so that the sock will stretch and fit smoothly.  Record the following measurements:

  • The length of your foot from the back of the heel to the big toe.
  • The circumference of the ball of the foot.
  • The depth of the heel, from the back, from the top of the ankle bone to the floor.
  • Your ankle circumference.
  • Your shin circumference.
  • Your calf circumference, if your socks will be longer than shin length.
Don't assume that both feet will have the same measurements.  You know that one of your feet is bigger than the other-after all, you probably buy your shoes to fit the bigger foot. Since you're custom knitting your socks, you can knit a sock fitted to each foot.  (Most people don't bother, although if you have individual foot issues, the option is there.)

I measure my feet in the morning, before daily activities expand my foot size.  If I knit the sock to fit my foot after it has been working, the sock is too big.  Knitting to fit my smaller foot size allows the sock to grow comfortably with the foot during the day.


My apologies for the glare, but measuring foot length with a ruler  will give the most accurate measurement.  Be sure your tape measure is fairly new so that it hasn't stretched.  The one shown here is just out of the package.


Find a pair of socks which fit you well and another pair that you wear, but which could use some changes.  Spend the next while examining and wearing both sets of socks.  Note what you like about both and what you could do to make them fit and wear better.  In the next post on Sock Knitting Yoga, I'll give you some suggestions about choosing yarns and needles to knit hard-wearing, well-fitting sock fabric.

Namaste.

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