Sunday, December 11, 2005

New Stocking Formula, Dammit!

Since the aforementioned link no longer works I'll post my copy of it, since it is pretty damned helpful in figuring up stuff for a knitted, non-lace stocking that actually fits. I've used it a couple times for adjusting the size of knee socks as well.


First, you'll need a bunch of measurements:
Circumference of your thigh where you want your stocking to end
Circumference of your knee
Distance from the top of the stocking (where you took the thigh measurement) to knee
Distance from top of stocking - minus 2 to 3 inches for the welting at the top of stocking
Circumference for thickest portion of calf
Distance from knee to calf measurement
Circumference of ankle
Distance from calf measurement to ankle
Circumference of instep
Length of foot
Next, you need to figure your knitting gauge. Decide what yarn you intend to use, and what size needles you want. Knit a sample swatch by casting on 30 stitches and knitting in stockinette stitch (knit one row, purl one row) for 3 inches. Do not omit this step -- I can personally guarantee that you will knit to regret it. From your sample, carefully determine your gauge, both width-wise (stitches per inch) and length-wise (rows per inch). The most accurate way is to place a straight pin (it won't distort the knit) into the sample about one third of the way across. Measure from that point one inch. Place another pin, and count the number of stitches. Do a similar procedure to measure the number of rows per inch. Don't make the mistake of trying to make your sample smaller and measure from the edge. You don't get an accurate measurement at the edges. You must measure from the inside to get the best measurement.
This is pure mathematics. If you have a measurement that is 10 inches wide, and you knit at 5 stitches per inch, you will need 50 stitches at thatpoint. If you need to knit for 2 inches long, and you knit at 7 rows per inch, you'll need to knit 14 rows to get 2 inches. Round out to even numbers for your widths.
Thigh-To-Knee Decrease: Take the number of stitches at the thigh, and subtract from it the number of stitches for the knee. That's how many stitches you will need to decrease when you work from the thigh to the knee.Because you decrease 2 stitches at a time (one on each side of the centerback), divide this number by 2 to determine the number of times you must work a decrease row. Because you must knit 2 to 3 inches even for stability and welting at the top of the stocking, you'll want to look at the shorter measurement from thigh to knee. Determine the number of rows you need to knit to get from thigh to knee. Now you have the number of rows you need to cover the distance, and you know how many of those rows need to be rows in which you decrease. Divide total rows by decrease rows to get even spacing.
Knee-To-Calf Increase: Use the same procedures outlined above in reverse.
Calf-To-Ankle Decrease: This uses the same principle as the Thigh-To-Knee,but you need to make a decision first. You may choose to evenly distribute the decrease rows all the way down the calf to the ankle, or you may choose to put the majority of the decreases near the calf, and fewer (or none) as you get closer to the ankle. Either way is appropriate. Look at your leg,and figure out the best way to handle it. Once the decision is made, you can proceed as above.
Welting is simply several rows of stitching to help give strength and stability to the top of the stocking. The simplest form is six or eight rows of garter stitch, and is more common in the earlier stockings. By 1838, a knit 3-purl 3 rib was common, as was any variation of that (knit4-purl 4; knit 5-purl 3). Basketweave (k 3, p3 for 3 rows; then p 3, k 3for 3 rows) was also used.
Something has to mark the center of the back, so you can keep track of rows. The simplest way is a single purl stitch down the center. They wereoften more elaborate, to also allow for a little give. Some known variations: a six stitch panel (2 purl, 2 knit, 2 purl) or (1st row: k1, p1, k2, k1, p1. 2nd row: p1, k1, k2, p1, k1) or (1st row: k1, p1, p2, k1, p1. 2nd row: p1, k1, p2, p1, k1)a five stitch panel (1st row: p1, k1, p1, p1, k1. 2nd row: k1, p1, p1, k1, p1) Feel free to design your own panel.
Clocks are designs at the ankles. Sometimes they are just on the outside of the ankles; other times they are on both the inner and outer ankle. The Gunnisters have them on both sides. You can put one design at the ankles, or you can put two or three on top ofeach other. The Gunnisters have 1) a moss stitch diamond, 2) an moss stitch inverted triangle, and 3) a broken knit 2-purl 2 ribbing only on the sidesof the ankle. These are fairly common because they are nice geometrics.Florals motifs have been found, but are less common, probably due to their intricacy. The easiest way to design clocks is to chart them. Using knit and purl stitches for contrast, basically just figure out what you want. From the chart and your calculations, you can figure out where you'll need to start them on the stocking.
Moss Stitch Diamond:
k k k k k k k p k k k k k k k
k k k k k k p k p k k k k k k
k k k k k p k p k p k k k k k
k k k k p k p k p k p k k k k
k k k p k p k p k p k p k k k
k k p k p k p k p k p k p k k
k k k p k p k p k p k p k k k
k k k k p k p k p k p k k k k
k k k k k p k p k p k k k k k
k k k k k k p k p k k k k k k
k k k k k k k p k k k k k k k
Inverted Triangle:
k k p k p k p k p k p k p k k
k k k p k p k p k p k p k k k
k k k k p k p k p k p k k k k
k k k k k p k p k p k k k k k
k k k k k k p k p k k k k k k
k k k k k k k p k k k k k k k

The only heel I am certain is an accurate style is from the book TheWorkwoman's Guide from 1838. The drawings show it as a pointed flap. One half of the total number of stitches are knit as a flap long enough to go down and around the heel. At that point, several decreases are evenly spaced in the same row, reducing the total number of stitches by 20%. The heel is bound off and sewn. Take up the instep stitches and pick up stitches all around the foot. Decrease as needed along the foot to the toe. Decrease for the toe resemble the modern mitten. Simply decrease evenly until there's only a dozen or so stitches left, then fasten off. I do have reference to a similar heel in a Tudor stocking, which I am told is in the V&A. I have not seen it, nor do I have any more information on it, other than it exists. I can't imagine that a seam under your heel is going to be very comfortable. You'd have to be very careful about weaving it. Also, this will likely never show. This being the case, feel free to use your favorite heel, foot, and toe. Okay, now it's time to put this all together.I used just shy of 4 ounces of a medium sport weight on size 4 needles for each 25 inch stocking. Plan on eight ounces for the pair, but if you want them longer, you will need to buy extra. It takes nearly the full 4 ounces for one stocking. This gave me a gauge of 5 stitches and 8 rows per inch.
1. Cast on the required number of stitches for the thigh. I cast on over two needles, just to make sure that the cast-on is loose enough. If yours is tight, like mine, you might want to do that.
2. Work 1 to 1.5 inches in your chosen welting. Start your chosen centerback panel and continue this panel until you get to the heel. Work another.5 to 1.5 inches in plain stockinette stitch.
3. Start the decreases to knee. For a nice, neat appearance, don't decrease immediately beside the center back panel. Keep one knit stitch before and after the panel. You may want to decrease by knitting two together in the back of the stitches on one side of the panel, and in the front of the stitches on the other side. This keeps both decrease stitches slanted in the same direction (either toward, or away from, the center back).
4. At the knee, knit .5 to .75 inches plain. Then start the increases to the calf.
5. Once you reach the calf, knit .5 to .75 inches plain. Then start the decreases to the ankle.
6. Start your chosen clocks in the appropriate place. They will probably start about 2/3 of the way down the calf, and should bring you right downthe ankle, to the start of the heel.
7. Divide the stitches in two. Put half the stitches aside for the instep. Either follow your favorite sock pattern from here, or continue along. Work the heel flap on the other stitches until the flap reaches under your heel,almost to the middle of your foot. Decrease every 4th or 5th stitch in the next row, and bind off. Fold the heel flap in half, and sew it up.
8. Pick up all the stitches on the instep. Looking at your measurements for your instep, figure out how many more stitches you need. Pick them up evenly along the heel rows. You'll probably need to pick up one stitch every other row, maybe even 75% of the rows.
9. Knit plain for 2 rows. Then start decreasing for the foot. Generally, you decrease 2 stitches (one on each side of the instep) every other row until you are back to the number of stitches for the ankle, then knit straight for the foot. Your foot may not be shaped that way, so decrease only as many as you need, or perhaps every third row.
10. Knit even until you are two inches from the end of your toes. Start decreasing every other row, by knitting together every 7th and 8th stitch (or something like that), then every 6th and 7th stitch, every 5th and 6th stitch, and so on, until you are down to only a dozen or so stitches. Cut the yarn, leaving a 15 inch tail. Run the tail through all the stitches, take them off the needles, and pull tight. You may want to run the yarn through the stitches again, then weave in the ends.

"The Gunisters" she mentions are a pair of stockings in a museum from the 1600's(?). I apparently took that bit out when I saved my version of the page.
The Workwoman's Guide: I bought one as a reprint something like ten years ago from Amazon Drygoods. Possibly availible from


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