Socks perfected

Suzie Blackman
Tuesday, 16 August 2011

My last pair of socks were pretty good but with my latest pair I have well and truly nailed the perfect sock, and proved that simple is best. No more baggy-toe, foot-wriggling-into-too-tight-sock, heel-slipping-down – just comfy socks.

Socks in Fyberspates Sheila's Sock merino 4 ply in 'Berries'

Here is the updated recipe (assumes familiarity with sock techniques):

  1. Using a standard 4 ply weight yarn (I used Fyberspates Sheila’s Sock), with 2.25mm needles, loosely CO 72 st.
  2. Work a 2×2 ribbed cuff to desired length (about 1 inch).
  3. Work stocking stitch until total cuff measures 7 inches.
  4. Work heel extension on half the stitches, slipping alternate stitches on the knit side, until heel measures 2 1/2 inches.
  5. Heel shaping: Start with ws row, work until 15 sts on needle, p2tog, p1, turn, sl first st on next row. Do the reverse on the knit sides (sl1, k1, psso, k1) and continue until edge stitches are reached.
  6. Pick up and knit 1 st for every edge st of sides of extension and M1 at corners (I didn’t bother counting).
  7. Decrease on alternate rows to 70 sts.
  8. Start decreasing for toe 1 1/2 inches before the end, decrease 1 st from the end on each side on alternate rows until 14 sts.
  9. Kitchener ends together.

My heel extension is considerably longer than any pattern instructions I’ve seen, making a deeper gusset also. Try this if your sock heels slip down or you struggle to pull your socks over your heel. I don’t have a chunky heel, quite the opposite, so I can’t be the only person who has this problem. You may notice that the foot is narrower than the cuff – this makes perfect sense to me but I’ve not seen it done in other patterns.

I like a tight gauge for socks, hence 2.25mm needles. I discovered the hard way (while hiking) that a larger gauge makes socks that rub. My favourite needles for socks are KnitPro Nova metal fixed circs available from p2tog and Get Knitted.

Got your own sock recipe and tips? Please share!

The author

Suzie Blackman

The dyer, designer, photographer, creative technologist and maker-of-things behind It's a Stitch Up. She lives in East London in a home filled with colour, fluff and house plants.


  1. Viv says:

    I like the idea of a longer heal flap! I shall try this myself. You don’t mention in your notes your foot size/measurement. Do you always swatch before starting socks? I’ve not knit socks on 2.25mm before. I wonder if 72 stitches would be enough for me. I take a ladies size eight and my foot measures approx 8/8.25 inches round

    • suzie says:

      Hi Viv,
      I’m also an 8 (and occasionally a 9!) but I have really narrow feet, so you would need more than 72 sts for ‘normal’ feet. That said, I knit quite tight. I have never used the foot circumference measurement because I’ve never been sure where you’re supposed to measure! I have also never swatched for socks because they stretch quite a bit when you wear them. For me it’s trial and error.

      • Viv says:

        Thanks Suzie
        I’m gonna give it a try, see what happens
        Apparently we are supposed to measure around the ball of the foot for a guide.
        So far all my socks end up baggy and turned around on my foot So here goes!!
        I have a hank of your Shinjuku all caked up an read to go

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