Workshop: MUMTU Socks Pt2:
Gauge, Measurements, Primary Stitch Count

  1. Intro, Items Needed, Stitches Used
  2. Gauge, Measurements, Primary Stitch Count (You are here!)


For the purposes of this pictorial, I'm using Rowan Designer DK Wool on US 5 / 3.75 mm (40" KnitPicks Options Interchangeables) needles to make a pair of sleeping socks for my 8-year-old daughter.

STEP 1: Gauge

To assure your socks will fit, you must make a gauge swatch to determine your stitches per inch. Select a needle size that produces a tight (but not hard) fabric in your chosen yarn. You may need to swatch more than once to get fabric density you prefer.

I have found that the needle recommended on the ball band is usually too big for my taste. In general, if the ball band says to use a US2-4 needle, I use US1.

A higher-density fabric means a more snug fit and longer wear for your socks!

Be sure to swatch in the stitch or color pattern (especially if working fair isle) you will be using in your project. And for magic loop socks, you will want to knit your swatch using magic loop technique. Yes, this means you will be making a larger swatch than you might otherwise wish to do, but it will be worth it! If you just aren’t built for heavy swatching, make a magic-loop swatch at least 2” x 2” in size, like this:

If you've never made a gauge swatch before, it's simple. After knitting the swatch, grab a ruler—any kind of ruler will do—and count the number of stitches per inch.

In this swatch, I'm getting 6 stitches per inch... perfect for a sleeping sock. Given how tight I knit, it's normal for me to have a gauge of 9 stitches/inch using fingering weight yarn.

For this pattern, we don't need to worry about row gauge.

Make note of your stitch gauge here in the STEP 3 chart below.

STEP 2: Measurements

For ankle or calf socks, take these measurements, which are key to making socks that fit, and write them down:

  1. _____ width around ball of foot (widest part of foot)
  2. _____ length of foot from toe to back of heel
  3. _____ OPTIONAL: length of foot from tip of toe to the point on the sole corresponding with the line where the leg meets the top of the foot. See picture below. This measurement is only important to take if the socks are for someone other than yourself. When knitting for yourself, you can just try them on to check length! If you are making socks for someone else and don’t have this measurement, it's ok. See Chart 2 for standard measurements.
  4. _____ OPTIONAL: desired height of sock from floor to top of cuff. If you’re uncertain, a good rule of thumb is to make the sock height equal to the length of the foot.

For Measurement #3 (above)

STEP 3: Calculating Primary Stitch Count

The foot and leg of your sock will have the same number of stitches and comprise the majority of your knitting. Therefore, we refer to this number of stitches as your primary stitch count.

To calculate primary stitch count:
________ your gauge (#stitches per inch)
x ________ width around ball of foot
= ________ Subtotal 1
- ________ 10% of Subtotal 1
= ________ Subtotal 2

* ________ Adjust Subtotal 2 to nearest multiple of 4

* This is your Primary Stitch Count!

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