Cathartic Ink

putting my own spin on things

Knit to Fit; Adjusting for a High Instep


I’m super excited to share a new pattern by my friend Kiersten, Rhetoric.

I test knit the pattern and while I think we got most of the kinks worked out before its release, there were some moments of great consternation along the way. Because of the nature of the cables and the way that they travel, this sock is written in one size only and the best way to resize it is to change your gauge. I have weird feet, I admit it. They’re wide, short, and I have a high instep and high arch. It makes fitting shoes kind of a nightmare, and made sizing these socks to fit me a little tricky.

When I first agreed to test knit, Kiersten and I spent a little time discussing how I should knit them, whether I should work the pattern to her exact specifications, or whether I should use them, but adapt them to fit me. In the end, she asked me to do the latter. The original gauge for these socks 7 stitches/12 rows in 4″. At 72 stitches around, this would have given my 9.5″ foot a little too much positive ease for a sock, so my first change was to select a yarn that gave me 8 stitches/12 rows in 4″. This gave me a half inch of negative ease, which is how I like my socks to fit. However, it caused a few problems a little further on, with my instep, and the diagonal from my instep to the back of my heel. As written, it was so snug that I had to yank and yank in order to get it on, straining the stitches.

The solution for giving me more give along that diagonal was to make a gusset that was longer and taller than written. I thought that I had figured out a mathematical equation for figuring out how to determine how many extra stitches you’ll need to fit, but as I write this, I can’t for the life of me figure it out again. Instead, I’m just going to suggest that if you have a high instep, that you add 4 stitches to the gusset (increasing to 15 stitches). At 8spi, this will give you another half inch around, but it will also give you a longer heel flap, as you’ll have those two extra stitches to decrease again. What I can tell you is how much sooner to start the heel flap based on increased vertical height. Because I added 2 gusset stitches, this meant I was adding 4 rows. The pattern has you start the gusset 3″ less than your desired total foot length. Since my gusset would be 1/3″ longer than the gusset as written, I needed to start mine 3 1/3″ less than my total foot length desired. If you were adding 6 rows (3 gusset stitches), you’d start when the foot was a half inch shorter. Clear as mud?

I also found that the leg was even less stretchy than the foot (which makes sense, since that’s where the stitches start to travel, and all stitches are used in the cables, instead of just the top half). To compensate for that, I went up one needle size after completing the heel, resulting in a slightly looser gauge to give me a little more room.

All in all, these are beautiful socks. I knit them in Sweet Georgia Yarns Tough Love Sock and they’re warm, soft, cushy and the nylon content means they should wear quite well. I highly recommend them.

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