sock design - how far do you like to take the ankle ribbing?

Hi Everyone.

Since I still consider myself a beginner, I really welcome advice and ideas. I'm making my first sock. If it turns out ok, I'll knit the second and call them a pair. :)

The yarn is finger weight (at least I think that's what the lady in the store said) and the 5 DP needles are 2.25mm / #1. I've started at the top with a K2P2 rib; so far there is about 5 1/2" of sock. The plan is to do a short-row heel after about another inch of knitting.

The questions relate to how far to continue the ribbing. Some books seemed to indicate switching to stockinette stitch about an inch above the heel and for the rest of the sock. Others would keep the ribbing along the top of the sock, all the way to the toe. At some level, it doesn't really matter, as long as the thing gets finished, but because I'm one of those types who looks at ideas and patterns, and then goes off and creates his own, it seemed wise to see how choices like this affect how much you enjoy the knitting process or how comfortable the sock is to wear, once it's completed.

By the way, the afghan that I'm knitting is coming along slowly - at 255 stitches across, I've completed 101 rows of the 363 rows that will finish it off. I started in August 2013 - 6 months ago - so at this rate, I'll have a picture ready for people to see in February 2015! It was originally intended for my parents, but they have started downsizing and even returning gifts to people, just because they don't have room, so the afghan may never make it to their place. We'll see.


For me it depends on the yarn, and what season of weather I will be wearing the sock. If the yarn is really springy I might do the inch thingy it just depends. If the yarn is not springy i probably will go with the ribbing down the full length of the sock.
If i am knitting a sock to be worn in the summer I might go with the 1 inch ribbing then the stockinette. It just gives more lightness to the feel. In Winter i prefer doing them all the way to the heal or to the toe.
Its really all up to you. If your following a pattern, you might have to follow the directions(for the yarn length) If your just doing yours on your own, experiment. I sometimes like the ribbing all to the heal, sometime I like it all the way down to the toe. This is really handy if I am wearing them with my clogs the extra padding on top of my food helps to keep it from rubbing on the shoe. I have also experimented with various ways of doing the ribbing, there are lots of books out there that can show you different ways of ribbing, One I am doing now is k1p1 one row then knit the second row then repeat the two rows.
I tried a different way on the top of the foot. I did a pearl stitch for the top. I used a wool nylon blend and it is great works good with my clogs!

bobinthebul's picture

I'd look at some sock patterns and see what you like. I also do an inch and a half or so; it usually ends up being around 15 rounds, before going into the main leg pattern. Then the heel. As for how long your leg is, it depends on your own taste if it's just a plain sock; or the pattern if it's patterned knitting. (For example with the Nemesis sock, you do one and a half times through the pattern; if you want to do more you have to commit to two and a half times through the pattern.)

As for what kind of ribbing - once again, It would depend on the leg pattern. If you have a 3-based pattern then a 2k1p might be good; if you want things a bit snugger a 1x1 could be better, or if you have a 4-based pattern and you want the cuff pattern to flow nicely into the leg pattern then 2x2 or 1x1 could both be good.

Hope that helps!

yowek's picture

Thanks for your words - they are helpful. I found myself asking other questions, such as: are there stereotypes of socks for men and women? For example, if a woman has a sock with some kind of pattern along the top of the foot, there is a good chance that either with or without shoes, that pattern could still be seen - women and girls have shoe styles that allow the top of the foot to be exposed. Men either have shoes or nothing. So, at one level, unless you go around in sock feet, the minute you put on your shoes, whatever pattern may be on the top of the foot of the sock will be covered by the shoe itself.

I guess part of the question is - if a man's sock is going to be hidden by a shoe, and only the part above the heel will be seen, is stockinette the most comfortable option for the part of the sock inside the shoe? If the sock is intended for someone who will often go around in socks without shoes, this is a different situation.

Because I'm learning and there's a good chance that if this sock is successful, there will be more, I may start quite simply, and now that I'm about an inch from the heel, I will probably do stockinette stitch the rest of the way.

I suspect that more questions are bouncing around in my head, but until they sort themselves out, it doesn't make sense to put them in print just yet. I'm also sure that the more experience I acquire, the more I'll be able to choose various options depending on other criteria.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

It sounds as if you are working your way through to having a basic sock pattern that you can use as a basis for your knitting. That is a good thing, in my opinion. I did the same thing myself, designing my other socks around those set features. [Although I do allow myself some variation and leeway depending on how I want the finished sock to look and fit.]

I think the decision to add an inch of stockinette is a good one, but one of the nice things about sock knitting is that it is easy to rip back if you decide you don't like how it turns out.

One suggestion I make to new sock knitters is that they use a simple heel for the first few pairs. Your short row heel should be okay if it is clearly written. However, don't be afraid to change to another heel pattern if you need to; it's a lot easier to work at having your first pair of socks be a success than give up entirely. Once you become familiar with the basics you can always experiment with other options. [That's how I approach it anyhow.] Same with toes, etc..

Anyhow have fun knitting the socks and please remember that it takes a bit of practice to become comfortable with them. I've had several people I've taught say that we want theirs to turn out as nice as mine; all I can do is remind them that I've had about 25 years of experience at it.

Take care and remember that we are all here to help you along.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.