Sunday, February 9, 2014

Socks for Wide Ankles or Calves
(Click on photos to enlarge)

Getting socks to fit those with extra wide ankles or calves can be frustrating.  I’ve tried tension graduation from the ribbing down to the foot with a bit of success but I still don’t find that I can get enough extra width in the calf area and I don’t like to loosen tension in the ribbing too much.  So I got my mind wrapped around adding more stitches at the ribbing than I normally would and evenly spacing decrease stitches as I work down toward the heel.  It’s not a quick knit because it involves moving stitches together after the decreases and transferring stitches from bed to bed but it works for me and I can get a nice fitting sock for those who need more fabric in the calf or ankle area.

I work my socks in the round on my standard gauge machine and ribber from the cuff down with the ribbing seam up the back of the leg.  The same can be achieved with a toe up sock, just reverse the shaping from decreases to increases.  As with any sock, good measurements are key to a good fitting sock.  I want enough stretch so the fabric is not stressed but not so loose that the sock bags and won’t stay up in place.

Knitting a flat sock would be much easier to incorporate the increases and decreases but I don’t like seams in socks so this is the theory behind my madness and here’s the method of my madness.  As an example, I’m using these calculations for socks I made with Cascade Heritage sock yarn at T5.  Cast on as many stitches and add evenly spaced decreases as needed to fit the foot you’re knitting for.

9.5” long foot, 9” around foot, 9” around ankle, wide calf
T5 Gauge:  9 sts, 11 rows = 1”

Ribbed Cuff:
1.  CO 80 sts, 1x1 rib at T3+ for 50R,
2.  Transfer MB sts to RB and K1R across at T5.
3.  Convert to circular knitting by transferring outermost 1/4 of total sts from ribber bed to main bed.

T5, 114R total in leg.
1.  At RC002, 028, 054 and 080, decrease one st on 3rd st each side of 0 (from outside toward center),    Dec down to 72 sts  (With ribbing seam up the back, work decreases on main bed) 
2.  Move sts in to fill the empty needles and move the outermost left hand st from the ribber bed to the left hand outermost empty needle on the main bed, then move all ribber bed sts one needle to L  (See note 1 below.)
3.  After all decreases are made, move all sts on the ribber bed to center over 0 so the heel is centered on the back seam, ensuring that there are the same number of sts (36) on each bed.  (See note 2 below)
4.  Knit even to RC114.

Heel, Foot and Toe:
1.  Shortrow heel down to 12 sts and back out, with Woolly Nylon.
2.  K116R in circular for foot.
3.  Repeat toe as for heel.

NOTE 1, To work decreases:
  1.  With COR, move sts together to fill holes at decreases on the main bed,
  2. Transfer outermost left hand ribber bed st to outermost left hand main bed empty needle,
  3. Move all ribber bed sts one needle to the left.  There should be the same number of sts on each bed.
NOTE 2, To center ribber bed sts on ‘0’ again:
     a.   With COR, move all ribber bed sts one needle to the right,
     b.  Transfer outermost left hand main bed st to outermost left hand empty ribber bed needle,
     c.  Unravel far right ribber bed stitch and transfer to outermost right hand empty needle on the  main bed.
     d.  Repeat the steps in a. thru c. til same # of sts on ea side of ‘0’ and same # of sts on ea bed.
     e.  Resume circular knitting.

EDITED after I received a nice comment below from Tanya, AKA 'ItMakesYouSmile' from
Tanya commented with another good suggestion of how to decrease/increase in the calf area to fit wide ankles or calves for a longer sock or stocking.  She suggested that it might be easier to move half of the stitches to the ribber bed and make the decreases on both sides of the open seam line, then rotate back to start the heel and complete the foot.

I’m happy to report that I had time to play with this and found that for a short sock with only 4 or 5 decreases/increases that the difference was about the same.  But I can see the definite time saving advantage for using her method in a longer sock or stocking.  After I got the decreases done, I scrapped the whole thing off (both beds) and rehung to center the heel section.  Another way would be to scrap off or use a Decker comb just the ribber stitches and transfer them back to the main bed, then either scrap off or use a Decker comb to convert to circular.

Thank you Tanya, for giving us another way to do this.


  1. Thank you so much for this detailed post. Very good information. I have thought a lot about this problem as well. Though my motivation is I'd like to make full length stockings. I wonder if it wouldn't be easier to rotate the sock 90 degrees, making all of the decreases/increases on one side, and then rotating back to start the heel and complete the foot? It might be less work overall than moving all those stitches around? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, as you've spent so much time with this already. --Tanya

    1. Ah, what another great concept. I've just finished up one pair but have one more pair to go, so I'll give your idea a shot on them. Sounds like it'd work great. Thanks!!