My Vanilla Sock Knitting Recipe

In garment design, we talk about size inclusivity a lot. There is a huge effort to encourage designers and yarn companies to offer more sizes for their garment patterns, and to update older patterns to be more size inclusive. When it comes to accessory patterns, this need for size inclusivity is just as great, but we are often still stuck in that middle of the range viewpoint, that ‘one size fits all’ mentality.


We are gloriously different in size and shape, and that is true even within one body. Does it make sense that if there are bodies that need garments outside the middle of the range, that there won’t be bodies who need socks, hats, shawls, gloves outside the middle of those ranges? Of course not.

Step one: find your gauge

To create your vanilla sock recipe, you first need to know your gauge  with your chosen yarn and needles. Since you’ll be knitting in the round, do a gauge swatch in stockinette stitch in the round. At the end, give your gauge swatch a gentle soak and lay it flat to dry. Once dry, measure your swatch to see how many stitches and rows you have per inch.

Step two: calculate the sock circumference

First, you need to figure out the circumference of your foot. Then, figure out the circumference of the sock itself. A sock that’s the same exact circumference as your foot will result in a sock that is too lose and will slip and slide on your foot. Instead, you want about half an inch to an inch of negative ease (or 1.25-2.5 cm). That means you should subtract that amount from your total foot circumference to reach the actual circumference of your sock.

Step three: figure out how many stitches to cast on

Using the stitches per inch (or per cm) that you calculated when you did your gauge swatch and the desired circumference for your sock, you’re going to calculate how many total stitches you need. Your formula for this is simple: (stitches per inch or cm) x (total inches or cm circumference) = number of stitches to cast on.

Step four: create your heel

Once you've knit your ribbing and your leg, you'll start your heel. There are lots of different options for heels, but the heel flap and gusset gives the best fit for the most people. I have the exact formulas and calculations for creating your heel flap, turning the heel, and working the gusset on my blog.

Step five: close your toe

To knit your toe, you need to know how deep it's going to be. That requires knowing a couple numbers. First, you need to know how narrow you want the toe of your sock to be at its smallest point, and how many stitches that  requires. Then you need to know how many rounds to work to get to that point. I've got the exact formula on my blog for knitting a wedge toe with these numbers. Once you're done, graft your toe closed.

And voila! You have your very own vanilla sock recipe tailored to your own unique feet.  Curious to learn more about vanilla sock knitting? Click on through for tutorials, free patterns, technique tips, and more.

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