I'm Making Socks! Getting a better fit and looking after your hands

Customised Fit

I've started my customised socks, adapting a simple pattern for plain socks to my personal measurements. The main adjustment has been the heel flap - I've made it longer to match the length from the middle of my outer ankle bone to the floor. I've also made a slight adjustment to the length of the foot.

I'm really pleased with the fit of both so far (I've only been trying them on as I'm making them, I haven't worn them yet). The modified heel flap is really snug around my ankles, it makes the socks almost like a little bootee and the length is very comfortable.

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You can see where the fabric of the sock is drawn in at the heel flap - so comfortable and snug around the heel. I'm placing the stitch markers every ten rows so it is easy to keep track and match the second sock against the first. I've left the cuffs for now, I wanted to see how much wool was left and whether I could make the leg longer before adding ribbing.

I tried this sock on and then one I had made earlier. The difference in fit and comfort was noticeable, the earlier sock is wearable, but the latest adapted one is much more comfortable.


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The stitch markers show where the heel flap starts on each sock. The latest one is about 1.5 cms longer and designed for my feet. The foot length is also slightly longer with additional rows.

DPNs vs Circular Needles

I'm knitting the latest socks on double pointed needles (dpns) rather than circular needles. Whichever tool I use, I find the start a little tricky, and the gauge is much looser in those first few rows. Once I get into the swing of knitting, I find the dpns are much easier to use and much faster. The magic loop method was driving me mad - so much messing about moving the stitches from the cable to the needle!

Other circulars have been recommended, with a more relaxed cable and a better joint between the cable and the needle. There are also those tiny circulars with one short needle and one longer one - these look like knitting may feel a little cramped; and the pack of three dpns with a flexible cable between the two needle ends. These might be good for socks or other small projects - has anyone tried them?

Meanwhile, as I'm planning to do stranded colour work and dpns seem to be the best option for controlling floats, I'm happy to keep practising with dnps. The recommendation is to knit lots of plain socks to become really good at managing the materials and equipment and controlling gauge.

Metal vs Bamboo vs Carbon DPNS

I'm using metal dpns at present, a set I bought at a Knitting Show when I wanted to start some knitting to pass the time. I have bamboo needles, which are recommended for beginners as they provide a bit more friction to keep the stitches on the needles, they are warmer to handle but also slightly slower to knit with (there are about 20,000 stitches in a pair of socks). I wonder, as well, how sturdy they are when they are so thin - I'm using 2.5mm diameter needles.

The metal ones can feel very cold and uncomfortable to use if your hands are cold, too. I find they are also quite harsh and tend to aggravate the arthritis in my thumb joints, especially on the right hand, even with lots of breaks and hand exercises. I've discovered carbon needles with metal tips - very light, warm to the touch and they flex slightly without breaking. I've ordered some to try, I hope they will be less harsh on my hands without sacrificing speed and durability.

Gauge

This is improving mightily with practice, I've gone from 28-29 stitches to 32 stitches per 10cms. I'm aiming for 36 stitches per 10cms, the recommended gauge for socks for durability and fit. I've ordered the new carbon dnps in slightly smaller diameters - 1.75mm, 2.00mm and 2.25 mms - to see which size will give the correct gauge. Amazing how much my sock knitting has come on since my first experiments!

Hand Exercises and Good Practice

I'm getting much better at taking breaks when I'm knitting. I've adopted a similar pattern to the one I use for computer working: twenty-five minutes knitting and then I get up and move around for five minutes, sometimes a bit longer, it depends what I'm doing (I keep all my little chores for these moments).

After trying different chairs, I've found I am most comfortable if I sit at the dining table to knit and use one of the upholstered dining chairs with a back and arm rests. I get the least back and shoulder stiffness and the best knitting (although my tension is tighter when I'm lounging in the recliner)! I've also invested in a daylight lamp which makes knitting, especially with dark yarn, much easier and more enjoyable. I don't think I have the perfect set up yet - it's a work in progress.

I do 20-30 minutes Pilates each day which really helps with preventing stiffness (and headaches); then I do a couple of hand exercises when I take my breaks while I'm knitting. One of these is to open and flex the fingers and thumb as wide as you can and then to clench them as tightly as you can - repeat eight times. the other is to rotate the hands outwards in a circular motion and then inwards: repeat each way eight times (I don't know why eight, that's what the Pilates teacher does, it seems to be a magic number).

I've found the best exercise for when my arthritis starts to get sore is the yoga position "downward dog". I remember being really wary about trying it at yoga, thinking that putting all that weight on my hands was going to be really painful. It turns out it was not, on the contrary, it doesn't hurt and it really helps to reduce the pain. I'm guessing that it increases blood flow to the hands and helps to build the bones and muscles.

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Three things newbies should do in their first week and, for most things, forever afterwards!

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37 comments
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Wow this is great, so lovely and outstanding, I love the special lined colors am seeing so beautiful thanks for sharing @shanibeer

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The colours are great, aren't they? They are created automatically by the way the wool is dyed. It's fun seeing what the pattern will be 😍

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wow! very interesting idea with the fit of the heel. I haven't seen anything like it yet. I also think that it is more convenient to knit socks on several knitting needles. I haven't heard anything about those spokes you mentioned. It will be interesting to know your opinion about them later. Yes, doing the exercises is very correct. the main thing is not to be lazy and do it regularly, which does not always work out

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do it regularly

My hands insist! 😍

Have you tried socks? I'm beginning to feel more confident with them.

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I haven’t knitted socks for a long time, but I think I’ll have to do it soon because one pair of woolen socks has worn out

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Oh wow, now I want all of my socks to be this comfortable around the ankle. I know your feet will love you even more for this! 😄

Good for you for taking breaks while knitting, we must take care of our working hands.

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It's fascinating learning new techniques 😍.

I'm not sure about those bright colours popping at my ankles, though. You know how you acquire nicknames: in one neighbourhood I was the lady with the flowers; I'm not sure how I feel about being the sock lady 😂

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🤣🤣🤣

Shani you made me laugh! I know what you mean but when you do amazing work there’s no hiding it! I think the flower lady is way nicer than some of the neighborhood nicknames I’ve heard before. 😅

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These are lovely pair of sucks, they are mostly my friend when there is cold. My bones get Cold easily and they are really of help.
But then all the ones I have are black in color.
Haven't worn something this colorful.

I like and do cherish your pattern of work, I don't like getting myself worked out and also take breaks in between work...
We have to stay healthy and fit before we can be creative.

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Woollen socks are your friend when it is cold, for sure 😍.
Black is a good colour to go with most things.

We do have to stay healthy and fit, you are right 😍

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This is a spectacular job, I congratulate you and send you many blessings.

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That is such a good idea to do ribbing at the heel! I may have to try that if I brave trying to knit socks again.
I'm with you on wondering about bamboo DPNs thin enough to make socks - they look like toothpicks to me! And I've even had a bamboo straight needle snap that was much wider - though to be fair, it was an odd circumstance as I had my knitting sticking out of my bag and I whacked it on the door as I exited the bus.

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The heel flap uses a slip stitch pattern - on knit rows, slip the first and every alternate stitch, knit the rest; on purl rows, purl all the stitches. It creates a dense fabric that wears well and hugs your foot. It does look like rib in the end, but it is not very stretchy, if at all.

I whacked it on the door

Real-life testing 😍

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Awesome results. And interesting to learn that bamboo needles are also a thing. In my head I thought just metal. Carbon also makes sense though.

!LUV

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Bamboo, and hard wood. I have a lot of bamboo needles in larger sizes, but they look puny and fragile in these tiny diameters.

I'm looking forward to trying the carbon needles. Not least, they look very smart 😂

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I have never knitted socks before but this fit looks great.
Although I usually use crochet, I share your opinion regarding needles. The metal ones get very cold especially in winter and are not very comfortable for the joints, the bamboo ones I really like but you can't knit as fast with them. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

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Hello @kattycrochet 🙂,

I'm looking forward to trying the carbon needles - it will be interesting to see how they work out. I can be quite fast with the metal needles, unless I drop a stitch 😂

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While I have knitted socks in the past, it has been a little while. Thank you for this inspiring post. Your socks are lovely @shanibeer!

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Back after my tiny Easter holiday (I moved my things into a studio which I probably cannot pay for long but which is soooo lovely :-))) I saw your post and thought - wow what a coincidence. I also have arthritis in my fingers and especially in my thumb joint on the right hand as I have hurt it some years ago. RIght now I excavated crochet as it is easier on my thumb (but not on my fingers - dilemma). But it sounds promising that stretching/exercising your hands alleviates your pain. I need to try this too.
Your socks look both super lovely with the pattern on them. The ribbing idea is interesting and I can imagine it helps to avoid to get blisters on the heels, because the fit is tighter. So far I always (haha… for my four pair of socks I ever made) use the German standard sock which uses a kind of reinforced pattern with slip stitches on the heel.
And with the needles: I am also team dpn’s, long cables make me super nervous. My hands also cramp with small circular needles and I have one pair of the flexible dpn‘s but did not like them (but cannot remember why). Wood or metal dpn’s make no difference for my fingers though. But I never tried the carbon needles…

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... moved into a studio ..

So exciting! Studio tour please 😍

My arthritis is very variable, I was pleased because it hadn't troubled me for sometime, and knitting with larger needles doesn't seem to provoke it. Now I am facing similar dilemmas to you (although I am planning some crochet, so it will be interesting to see how that works for me).

The heel flap is using a slip stitch pattern - slip the first and every alternative knit stitch and then purl every stitch on the return. I've found some fancy patterns to try in the future, but they are all slip stitch variations.

I'm looking forward to trying the carbons, let's see what happens 😍.

How is your garden? I have started preparing mine, although it is still a little cold at night to plant some things.

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I am exactly now in a construction market and they had again plants for 50 cent (strawberries, carnations, Veronica spicata) and I couldn’t resist 😍
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Ah, strawberries, they elicit so many dreams 😍

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