I'm a huge supporter of modifying patterns; the point of making our own socks is to have socks that fit our feet perfectly! Many knitters ask me how to grade a pattern that they love but isn't written for their size. One option is to re-write the pattern and re-work all the math for your size. This is the most time consuming and math-heavy option. Here are some less math-intense ideas to make that wrong-sized pattern work for you:
Firstly, you're going to need to know what size you need the sock to be. If you don't know how figure out what size sock you should be knitting, there is a worksheet that you can use here.
Secondly, you're going to need to know your gauge for the pattern that you're trying to modify. If gauge swatching isn't your favourite part of the knitting process, read this to remind yourself why it really is a good idea. Once you know these 2 numbers you'll be able to figure out how many stitches you'll need to cast on by multiplying the stitches per inch/centimetre by the size in inches/centimetres.
Once you know what size you need the sock to be and how many stitches you need to cast on to get there you can try one or more of these:
- If you have a 'go to' sock pattern that you know works for you (most of us have a favourite plain vanilla sock pattern that never lets us down), take your favourite elements of the pattern that you're trying to modify and work them into your go-to pattern. If you love the stitch pattern for example, add the stitch pattern to the front of your go-to sock.
- Depending on the sock you're modifying you might be able to add/remove the extra stitches to/from a part of the sock. If the back of the sock is entirely stockinette, you might be able to increase/decrease the number of stockinette stitches to get to the stitch count that you need. Keep in mind that this will also increase/decrease the number of stitches for the heel and toe so you will either need to do some math or substitute the heel and toe with something you're confident will work with your stitch count.
- Check the Ravelry project pages for the pattern that you're modifying. Sometimes other knitters have already re-sized a pattern and left helpful project notes on their project page that might help you with your project.
- Use a different size needles and/or yarn than called for in the pattern. If the pattern calls for a fingering weight yarn and size 1 (2.25mm) needle, you might get the size sock you need by using a needle that's a bit bigger or smaller, but know that this will also change the density of the fabric and may change how the design looks.
- If you only need to modify a specific area of the pattern then try to keep your modification limited to that area and follow that pattern as written for the rest of the sock. For example, you may need to modify all of your socks to accommodate a bunion, limit your modifications to the bunion area.
- Keep notes!! Whatever modifications you make, keep notes so you can replicate them on the second sock (unless you're knitting them two-at-a-time) and also so you can refer to them for future modifications.
I hope this helps you the next time you fall in love with a pattern that's not written in your size. Did I miss anything? Do you have any tips for modifying sock patterns? Share them in the comments.