Shortening Sock Feet

I have no idea why but lately the socks I’ve been knitting have turned out to be a bit too long to fit comfortably into my shoes – the foot is just a bit too long so it bunches at the instep or the heel pulls up instead of sitting comfortably in place. As a result I’ve stopped wearing those socks!

I haven’t changed the needles I’m using, the yarn is sock weight, my tension hasn’t changed noticeably, I’m knitting the same number of rows for the gusset, the foot and the toe. For some reason, however, the sock feet are coming out that bit longer.

The other day I decided either to give those socks away (I put three pairs in the give-away basket – they’re practically unworn) or to shorten the foot. I decided to give shortening the foot a try.

There are two possible ways of doing that – open the toe seam and unravel the toe shaping, then remove 4 rows and reknit the toe; or cut the foot, unravel a couple of rows each side then graft the two parts together using a 3-needle cast-off (also known as the Kitchener Stitch).

I decided to try cutting and grafting.

Let me describe how I do this:

  1. I start by picking up 32 stitches on one side of the foot and the remaining 32 stitches on the second side (being very careful to stay in the same row). I do this across the sides of the foot so I can begin and end the grafting process on the underside of the sock.
  2. Once I have all 64 stitches on two needles I cut a stitch on the instep, and start unravelling that one row one stitch at a time.
  3. I continue unravelling the selected row until I am able to separate the toe and the rest of the sock.
  4. I pick up stitches 2-3 rows from the raw knit edge on both sides of the toe. I unravel back to the needles. Before going further, I shorten the loose end, and weave it in so the first stitch remains taut and the yarn tail is out of my way.
  5. I carefully start grafting the toe to the sock using the Kitchener stitch, making sure I keep the grafting yarn loose. I work about half way across one side, adjust the tension of the grafting stitches; then carry on to the end of that pair of needles (and adjust the grafted stitch tension again).
  6. I continue on the second side to finish the graft, adjusting the stitch tension as I go along. I anchor the grafting yarn to the first stitches of the toe and the foot, trim the yarn and weave the loose end in.
  7. I have a finished, shorter, sock!

It takes me just under an hour to shorten one sock. Shortening the sock by unravelling the toe, taking out the 4 rows, and reknitting the toe would take at least 2 hours/sock. I’m ahead of the game by using the grafting method.

I’m now on my 4th pair.

To avoid having to do this in future, I’ve been knitting 4 fewer rows in the foot from the end of the gusset to the beginning of the toe-ing off. Although nobody has complained the gifted socks are too long, I know they must be because they’re too long for my size 8 foot! The socks I’m now knitting are 4 rows shorter and should better fit people who wear a size 7 1/2 to 8 shoe. The longer footed socks in my give away stash will be reserved for people who wear size 8 1/2-9.

5 thoughts on “Shortening Sock Feet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.