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January 14, 2007

Design Time

Equal doses of cold weather and curiosity have ignited an acute desire to knit a pair of knee-highs -- or in the vernacular of the past, a pair of stockings.  How can you blame me after seeing these, and these, and these, and these?  Knitting a pair of stockings became inevitable.  My yarn is selected, gauge calculated and stitch pattern determined.  Time to design the pattern. 

Although Holly provides an excellent knee-high tutorial, I'm opting for Elizabeth Zimmerman's stocking heuristics outlined in Newsletter #18 published in The Opinionated Knitter, page 90.  In a nutshell, you cast on [calf circumference x gauge] stitches, which are decreased down to [ankle circumference x gauge] stitches.  The length of the leg is divided into thirds -- the first and last thirds are worked straight on the calf and ankle stitches respectively.  All the action occurs in the middle third, where the calf stitches are decreased down to the ankle stitches over a series of decrease rounds.   Typically, each decrease round decreases 2 stitches -- 1 on each side of a seam stitch centered down the back center of the leg.  Once at the ankle, proceed as you would any sock -- Knitter's Choice.

Okay, that's the theory.  Let's apply it to my yarn, gauge, and stitch pattern.

nona's To Fit Measurements

Knee to Ankle 13.5 inches
Heel to Toe 9.5 inches
Calf Circumference 13.5 inches
Ankle Circumference 8 inches
Foot Circumference 8 inches


St. St. 8 stitches and 10 rows == 1 inch in stockinette stitch.
Lace Cable 11 stitches (1 pattern repeat) == 1.33 inches.  Click here to see my Lace Cable swatch.  The Lace Cable has an 11 stitch repeat -- 5 stitches for the lace and 6 stitches for the cable.

The Top of the Leg

I want the top of my sock to measure 13.5 inches and the stitch count to be a multiple of 11 stitches to accommodate the 11 stitch repeat of the Lace Cable stitch pattern.  I know the width of one 11 stitch repeat is 1.33 inches.  13.5 inches / 1.33 inches = 10.15 repeats, rounded to 10 repeats.   10 repeats x 11 stitches per repeat = 110 total stitches.  To prevent a droopy sock, I'm going to work the ribbing on 90% of the total stitches.  110 x .90 = 99 sts.  The length of the leg top is 1/3 of the total length; 13.5 inches / 3 = 4.5 inches.  The result:

CO 99 stitches and join in the round being careful -- of course -- not to twist the stitches.  Work in [p2, k1tbl] ribbing for 3 inches.  Knit 1 round, increasing 11 stitches evenly distributed -- *k8, m1* 11 times, k11.  Switch to the Lace Cable stitch pattern and work until leg measure 4.5 inches.

Well, my friends, that's enough thinking for 1 day.  I'm going to cast on and start knitting my stocking.  We'll get to the calf shaping next time...

January 14, 2007 in Project - Elizabeth Z., Project - Socks | Permalink


Wow, you make it all seem so easy. I'm going to try that, but not for knee highs, I'm thinking of something a little smaller, maybe a hat.
I love reading your blog. I'm a new reader but enjoying your great entries.
Sheri in GA

Posted by: Sheri | Jan 14, 2007 3:18:32 PM

looking forward to see your stockings.
a few more examples here:

Posted by: hPNY Knits | Jan 14, 2007 3:25:35 PM

I have a couple UFO's to finish up and then I am most definitely eyeing knee highs, too. There were some cool black and white ones in (was it VK?) a while back, but I always wind up abandoning patterns and designing to my own measurements, because I have a horror of slouchy socks. I suspect I will also go with the EZ recipe when the time comes.

Posted by: Ruth | Jan 14, 2007 3:40:50 PM

I swear the math involved in the knee highs I made gave me a headache - but it was oh so worth it. Now I've got me a formula.... I'd love to incorporate a stitch pattern with some gorgeous red I have. Can't wait to see how yours progress.

Posted by: Cara | Jan 14, 2007 3:48:13 PM

All of those pictures make me want some knee high stockings, too. As slowly as my knitting's been going lately, though, it'd take me a year to finish them!
Can't wait to see more of yours!

Posted by: Arleta | Jan 14, 2007 4:51:48 PM

Thanks for sharing so many details. I can't wait to see how they turn out. I think I need to knit some knee high stockings now too!! :)

Posted by: Brandy | Jan 14, 2007 6:26:30 PM

thanks for the awesome tips for calculating/designing kneehighs... i'll have to use those next time i make a pair (for my current pair, i'm following the "wing it" method since their toe-ups)

Posted by: kim | Jan 14, 2007 6:28:22 PM

Looking forward to seeing your knee highs progress. I've been dying for a pair.

Posted by: Ava | Jan 14, 2007 6:54:34 PM

I can't believe I only started acquiring EZ's books in '06 (once I bought my first, I of course bought several others almost immediately when I realized what I'd been missing.) These stockings are going to be absolutely lovely!

Posted by: Sarah | Jan 14, 2007 9:55:17 PM

I've made only one pair of kneehighs so far. . . tried EZ's method but they STILL ended up as slouch socks! Can't wait to see how yours turn out. Maybe I should deliberately undersize (at least in plain stockinette) so they have to stretch to fit? How come ready-to-wear stay up just fine? Tips, anyone?

Posted by: Gretchen | Jan 15, 2007 11:48:20 AM

Thanks! You make this seem very easy. I will have to look that up in my new copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman. I am really looking forward to how you do the calf shaping with the lace pattern.

Posted by: Brenda | Jan 15, 2007 1:21:09 PM

Nona, glad to help out on the backstitch seaming. Let me know what you think of it. If you find your copy of Interweave Knits, the seaming article is on p. 84, in the Beyond the Basics Department.

Posted by: Ava | Jan 15, 2007 2:58:34 PM

I've been away a long time, I know...but I'm back... ^__^ Of course the first thing that catches my eye is the calculator b/c I'm just so geeky...off to catch up on your blog now!

Posted by: T | Jan 20, 2007 11:44:27 AM

i think the reason it looks so big is because the circumference is three times the diameter, so when you have it flattened out and not three-dimensional, it looks big. but when you put it on, it has to become 3-d, so it looks smaller.

Posted by: callie | Feb 1, 2007 10:43:07 AM

GAH! posted that in the wrong place. ment for shoo, vanity, shoo. oh, well

Posted by: callie | Feb 1, 2007 10:44:16 AM

You are so awesome, man! I can not believe I missed this blog for so long. The great thing is full. Your design, people ... ... amazing! I can not wait for what youve read the future. I love "everything you say and want more, more, more! Maintain this, man! Just too good.

Posted by: halladay jersey youth | Aug 17, 2011 1:01:42 AM

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