I happened upon a knitting pattern for a thick sock to wear with hiking boots or winter boots. “The Fisherman’s Boot Socks” is a free pattern available on the website for “Maritime Family Fiber”, a family owned small business located along the coast of Maine, near New Brunswick, Canada. The pattern can also be found on Ravelry.
The best sock yarn is wool with some nylon for strength. Most sock yarn is very thin for size 1 needles. There are many patterns for heavier socks and slippers, but most of the thicker yarn does not have nylon in it.
When I saw the “Briggs and Little Tuffy” wool yarn with nylon for size 6 needles suggested for this pattern, I decided to order some and try knitting the book socks. Little Woolen Mills is another family owned business located in New Brunswick, Canada. Maritime Family Fiber is one of the retail outlets for the yarn they produce.
Using thicker yarn means bigger needles and fewer stitches, which I like because it goes faster. You are always supposed to knit a swatch to check your gauge before starting a knitting project. Gauge is the number of stitches per inch, which will vary depending on the thickness of the yarn, the size of the needles, and the tension of the knitter. Patterns include a gauge using the suggested yarn and needle size, but if you substitute a different yarn or needle size, or if you knit tighter or looser, it may turn out differently. A small difference in gauge can make a big difference in the finished size of the product. If you are making a scarf or shawl it does not matter, but if you are making a sweater or socks, or something else that has to fit, it DOES matter.
I was using the exact size needles and yarn suggested in the pattern. I wear a size nine shoe, so I assumed that following the pattern for a ladies medium would be close enough. WRONG. The pattern started with the Knit 2 Purl 1 ribbing which I find tedious. It is hard to tell the gauge from that since ribbing bunches up, so I kept plugging along for eight inches of cuff. It looked a bit big, but after sticking my foot in while still attached to the knitting needles, it seemed OK. The next part where you work on the heel was more interesting, and then I continued on with the foot part which goes faster because it is straight knitting. After I got about three inches into the foot, when the project was in the home stretch, it became clear that the circumference of the foot was way too big for my size. At that point I could measure my actual gauge because there was a big enough section of straight knitting. The number of stitches per inch matched exactly with what was on the Ravelry page for the pattern, but my sock was turning out to be WAY too big.
It looked like the sock might fit my husband, so I took the stitches off the needles and put them on waste yarn so he could try it on. His first comment was “how do you know how to do that???”. Haha I have showed him my knitting projects countless times, including socks, and he never noticed how it was made before. Of course there is a step by step pattern that tells you what to do. It seemed like the sock would work for him, so I decided to put the stitches back on the needles and continue knitting, rather than undoing it and starting over with fewer stitches for me.
The pattern has directions for multiple sizes, based on this Tuffy yarn. I could have, and should have, taken the gauge information and determined the circumference of the cuff and foot before I started the project. The ladies medium works out to 10″, which matches what I got. But I have a narrow foot with the widest part at the ball being closer to 8.5″. Their Child 4-8 size would be closer to the circumference of my foot. This is very far off. The problem was not the gauge, but that I did not figure out the measurements for their ladies medium. Another learning experience. I plan to try knitting this pattern again with the smaller size that should work for my foot. The photo below shows the too-big-for-me boot sock, under the regular sock I knit earlier that does fit me.
The purple sock I knit and posted about in May has an “afterthought” heel. Click here to see that post. The boot sock has something called a dutch heel, also known as a square heel. The afterthought heel is easy but you have 2 extra ends to weave in at the end. The dutch heel and french heel are versions of a gusset or heel flap pattern. The dutch heel shape is square, the french heel is more V shaped. I read that the different versions of sock heels can be better or worse depending on the shape of your foot. For example the french heel is better if you have a high arch. Who knew.
I finished both socks and they do fit my husband.
The socks I knitted and posted about in May used normal sock yarn with 64 stitches and size 1 needles. If I knit another pair using the Briggs and Little Tuffy thicker yarn with size 6 needles and 36 stitches, it will go much faster and be ready in plenty of time for winter. Check out the too-big-for-me pair on my husband below.