Measuring foot so socks will fit? Way too loose!


I recently made my first-ever sock with worsted-weight acrylic, as a test run before using pricey wool. I measured my foot circumference as 10" while standing, and based on my gauge swatch (4.75 sts X 6.64 rows / inch) cast on 48 sts.

The sock came out sorta fitting, but loose–no snugness at all. My first mistake is obvious: I didn’t deduct 10% before deciding how many sts to cast on. My second is that the gauge swatch was tighter than the actual sock, which had a gauge of 4.43 sts X 6.13 rows per inch.

So I tried a second sock, and here’s where it gets confusing.

First, I re-measured my foot circumference, this time sitting on the couch, and I got 9". I tried again standing, and got 10" again. So I planned my sock based on 10". But my first question is which number I should have used? Because of what happened next, I think it’s the 9" number.

Next I took 90% of 10", which is 9", and multiplied by my gauge of 4.43 sts to get 40 sts. I worked toe-up this time, so I cast on 12 sts and increased until I had 40. I could tell early that something was funny, but I finished the sock.

When I finished it, it seemed to fit almost perfectly. There was only a slight bit of stretch, but it fit both width and length. The weird thing was that I found I was knitting way tighter than last time, and got a gauge of about 5 1/3 sts per inch! So this “perfect fitting” sock has a circumference of about 7.5", but fits nicely with not much stretching. I wore it sitting and standing.

So now I’m totally confused. If I had used the 9" circumference that I took while sitting, I’d have shot for an 8.1" sock, and if I’d used my gauge of 5 1/3 sts, I’d have cast on either 42 or 44 sts, which sounds a hair loose now but would have been close. If I’d used a 10" foot circumference and the correct gauge, I’d have cast on 48 sts, which seems way off.

Can anyone unconfuse me? I’m using Kate Atherly’s “Knit to Fit” book, which seems pretty comprehensive. I’m on a quest for the perfect-fitting wool sock.

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Measuring your foot at the widest point is usually done while standing. I wonder if you’re measuring your gauge across the middle 4" of the gauge? Also, are you doing the gauge swatch in the round?
You’re using a good reference for socks and especially for measurements.

Hi salmonmac,

Thanks for your response!

The gauge swatch was knitted in the round, and I was pretty careful to measure it in several places and average it.

Hmm, it’s not uncommon for gauge to change from swatch to project, frustrating but it sometimes happens. Since you like greater negatve ease than most patterns allow, you should certainly go with that. Are you planning on knitting another sock with the same cast on?