Standards are a really important thing in knitting. They give designers a place to start when writing a pattern and allow knitters to have some basic understanding of how big a garment will come out when they knit it.
But standard sizes can be maddening when you fall outside of the average. This is especially true with socks, because most patterns are written for an "average" foot, and it can be hard to figure out how to add (or subtract, for that matter) stitches and still come up with a sock that's pretty.
Andi Smith has larger-than-normal feet, and she wanted to help other big-footed knitters to make socks that fit them just right, which is the goal of her book Big Foot Knits.
About the Book
- Pages: 132
- Format: PDF (paperback copies available August 2013; this was reviewed in PDF form)
- Number of patterns: 12
- Skill level: none given, but the first few patterns are suitable to newer sock knitters, and they get progressively more detailed
- Sizing: patterns are given in 3 sizes, ranging from around 10.5 inches to 14.5 inches in average foot circumference (the patterns vary slightly in sizing)
- Illustrations: full-color photographs
- Knitting instructions: none other than an overview of popular increases and decreases used in sock knitting
- Publication date: July 2013
- Publisher: Cooperative Press
Finding Your Fit
The first part of the book is really great reading for anyone who wants to knit socks, not just those who tend to run bigger than the average patterns. It includes a whole bunch of places you should measure both foot and calf to determine the perfect fit for you. Some of these were things I've never even thought of, like the height of your big toe, which can make a difference in how the toe of your sock fits.
In addition to measuring, she has you look at the shape of your foot, including how your toes slant and the width of your heel, to help you determine the best kind of heel and toe shaping to use.
She includes lots of examples and worksheets with the numbers filled in so you can see what you're looking for when you measure your own feet and what those numbers mean.
Armed with this information, and the tips on how to increase or decrease when needed, you could take just about any sock pattern you like and upsize or downsize it to fit your foot perfectly.
But of course that information alone wouldn't make for a very long book, so Smith also included 12 patterns for sock sized for people with bigger feet. All patterns have three sizes, usually starting around 10 inches for the foot circumference. But if you do have those elusive average feet you could use the tips here to make a smaller sock, as well.
Patterns are given in a chart, for both cuff-down and toe-up construction. This makes them really easy to read and it's simple to keep up with the size you're working because all the instructions for that size are in a row.
One thing that might give some knitters pause with Smith's instructions is the fact that she uses an afterthought heel. That means that a bit of waste yarn is worked into the sock where the hell would go and you continue knitting the leg or the foot in a continuous tube and then add the heel when the whole rest of the sock is done.
This is great for highly patterned socks or when you don't want to break up the coloration in the middle of the sock, but of course you can put in your own favorite heel if you'd rather.
The socks are all pretty, and named after goddesses and other important women in mythology, which is fun.
Some of my favorites are Freya, which features a twisted rib and eyelet pattern that's perfect for summer; Arundhati, another lacy little pattern that's worked with mini-skeins for fun color variations; and Eidothea, which has v-shaped lace (not all the patterns are lacy, I promise, those just happen to be my favorites).
Each project offers suggestions for modifying it for a different sized foot.
Big Foot Knits is a must-read for women with bigger-than-average feet who want to make socks that actually fit. It's a good book for the rest of us, too, because it reminds us that we don't have to follow knitting patterns exactly as they are published -- even for something as seemingly intricate as socks.
Reading and working through this book should give knitters confidence to take any sock pattern they like and knit it up in just the right size for them.