Charting Socks

So the sock designing and knitting continues apace. As anyone who knows me as a knitter can tell you, I prefer designing and working from charts, so I can see the stitches in relation to one another and visualize the finished project. My sock knitting experience is limited, but what I’m finding is that most sock patterns don’t use charts—or don’t use them as well as they could.

When I’m planning a sock, I start with a large sheet of graph paper (Melissa got me some 1.5 x 2′ stuff with 8 squares to the inch for my birthday last year). I block out an area along the bottom that’s roughly 64 squares across, then draw a perpendicular line up from the center. That 64-square line is the top of my sock (I’m working top-down exclusively just now). Each end of the 64-square line is the right side of the leg; the line down the middle is the left side. The 32-square right-hand area is the back of the leg. The left-hand 32-square is the front. From there I can plug in stitches as I want. (The 64-square size can be adjusted up or down a bit to accommodate different stitches.)

Some of the possibilities to play with include
• charting different stitches on the front and the back of the leg.
• running a special stitch along the vertical edges of the chart and/or the center line (just remember that you’ll lose a stitch on each side of the heel when you pick up gusset stitches, so don’t include those in the design).
• staggering the placement of stitches so they spiral around the sock.

I make the leg of the sock somewhere between 50 and 80 rows (more or less), then divide for the heel. Most heels are pretty simple: slipping every other stitch in either a vertical strip or a checkerboard pattern. But if you look at your design up to that point, you can easily come up with something more interesting. If you’re working with a diamond-shaped pattern, you can stagger the beginning points for the slipped stitches to echo the diamond. You can twist the slipped stitches (working these as if to purl through the back loop gives the prettiest results) to echo twisted stitches along the leg. Just make sure that the start of each row (RS and WS) is a plain slipped stitch to prepare for the gusset.

Once the back of the heel’s done, you can follow almost any sock pattern to turn the heel and pick up gusset stitches. Keep working the top half of the sock in your established pattern and knit everything else (or purl or rib—don’t be afraid to experiment).

I’ll be posting a pattern here soon so you can see how this method works.