Basic Sock Pattern to Fit Shoe Sizes – UK 2 to 6, EU 35 to 39 and US 4 to 8

I regularly receive questions regarding the size of my sock patterns and how you will know if they will fit you or not. This is an important question because you don’t want to put hours into knitting a pair of socks to find they don’t fit you. To help with this, I have written two posts giving a basic top down sock pattern in 6 sizes. This is the first part of the basic top down sock pattern to fit Shoe Sizes – UK 2 to 6, EU 35 to 39 and US 4 to 8. I’m working on a second post which will cover Shoe Sizes UK 7 to 12, EU 40 to 46 and US 9 to 13.

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One of the main problems when you’re reading a pattern is whether the pattern is written for UK, European or US shoe sizes. I’ve shown a comparison of all of the shoe sizes for knitting your socks in the chart below which covers Foot Circumference, UK Shoe Size, EU Shoe Size, US Shoe Size, Ladies Foot Size (XS, S, M) and Finished Sock Length from Heel to Toe.

The sock pattern features a k1, p1 ribbed cuff; a smooth stocking (stockinette) stitch leg; a slip stitched heel flap, turned heel and gusset; a smooth stocking (stockinette) stitch foot; and a classical shaped toe.

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This is a very comfortable sock pattern that works wonderfully well with the wide array of beautiful sock yarns that are available from the wonderful Opal, Regia, Lang and Schoppel Wolle yarns and the amazing selection hand dyed yarns that are available from Indie Yarn Dyers.

Needles:

  • 3.25 mm (US 3) double pointed needle (dpn) for casting on
  • 2.75 mm (US 2) (set of 5) dpns for knitting socks
  • tapestry needle for sewing in ends.

Sock Yarn:

1 x 100g ball of Sock Yarn

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The actual weight of the sample pairs of socks is 42 (54, 68) g. Of course this doesn’t allow for knitting a  matching pair of socks in the sock yarn you are using. Some sock yarns have a longer pattern repeat than others.

I use 2.75 mm Clover Takumi Bamboo Double Pointed Needles and knit my socks using 4ply sock weight yarn which is usually 75% wool with 25% nylon. This is because I wash the majority of my hand knit socks in the washing machine on the wool setting. Sock yarn that isn’t either superwash or with a nylon content will shrink over time when you machine wash it. I used to wash all my socks by hand but after a few years of sock knitting there were too many socks to hand wash and I forgot which socks had been knit using yarn that wasn’t machine washable (several pairs of socks shrank). One thing to note is that some of the colours will fade quicker when you wash your socks in the washing machine than with hand washing. I don’t tumble dry my socks. I hang them on the clothes line or on the clothes rack to dry.

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Tension:

The tension for these socks is 20 rows and 16 stitches / 5cm (2 inch) square in stocking stitch (stockinette). 8 stitches / 2.5cm (1 inch).

Abbreviations:

double pointed needle(s) – dpn(s); stitch(es) – st(s); knit – k; purl – p; slip slip knit – ssk; purl two stitches together – p2tog; knit stitch through the back loop – ktbl.

Foot Circumference:

To find your foot circumference measure around the ball of your foot which is the widest part of your foot.

Foot Circumference 19cm (7.5″) 20.5cm (8″) 21.5cm (8.5″)
UK Shoe Size 2 – 3 3.5 – 4.5 5 – 6
EU Shoe Size 35 – 36 36 – 37 38 – 39
US Shoe Size 4 – 5 5.5 – 6.5 7 – 8
Ladies Foot Size X Small Small Medium
Finished Sock Length Heel to Toe 18cm (7.25″) 20.5cm (8″) 24cm (9.5″)

Basic-Socks-XS-M-Sizes-16

Cuff:

  • Cast on 52 (56, 60) sts using 3.25 mm double pointed needle using the long tail cast on or your favourite stretchy cast on.
  • Join into the round as you rib the first round using 2.75 mm double pointed needles, 13 (14, 15) sts on each needle.
  • Work knit 1, purl 1 ribbing for 10 (14, 14) rounds.

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Leg:

  • Knit 45 (50, 55) rounds.
  • Length of leg from the start of the cuff 14cm/5.5″ (15cm/6″, 16.25cm/6.5″). Or as many rounds as your desired length from the top of cuff to top of heel.

Heel:

On completion of the leg section knit 13 (14, 15) sts onto needle 4 so you now have 26 (28, 30) sts on this needle. You’ll be working the heel flap over these stitches (half of the total number of stitches), working in rows rather than rounds. Start the heel flap on a purl row.

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Heel Flap:

  • Row 1: *sl 1, p1; rep from * to end or row, turn
  • Row 2: k
  • Repeat rows 1 and 2 for 26 (28, 30) rows.

Turn Heel:

  • Row 1: purl across 15 (16, 17) sts then p2tog, p1, turn.
  • Row 2: sl 1, k5, ssk, k1, turn.
  • Row 3: sl 1, p to 1 st before the ‘gap’, p2tog (combines 1 st before the ‘gap’ and 1 st after the gap), p1, turn.
  • Row 4: sl 1, k to 1 st before the gap, ssk, k1, turn.
  • Repeat rows 3 & 4 until all heel stitches have been worked and 16 (16, 18) sts remain.

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Gusset:

Pick up and knit 13 (14, 15) sts along the edge of the heel flap. Knit across the instep stitches (top of foot) 26 (28, 30) sts. Pick up and knit 13 (14, 15) sts along the edge of the heel flap. Then knit across 8 (8, 9) sts from turning the heel. The centre back is now the starting point for the following rounds.

Before you start the next round, slip the other half of the heel stitches onto needle 1.

On next round k8 (8, 9) sts, then ktbl 13 (14, 15) sts, k26 (28, 30) sts, ktbl 13 (14, 15) sts, k8 (8, 9) sts. This prevents any small holes or gaps showing along the edge of the heel flap.

Next round: knit.

Now you are ready to start the gusset shaping.

Gusset Shaping:

  • Round 1: Needle 1: k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1; Needles 2 and 3: k; Needle 4: k1, ssk, k to end of needle.
  • Round 2: K
  • Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until there are 13 (14, 15) sts on each needle. Total number of stitches 52 (56, 60).

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Foot:

I always try on my socks when I have knit about half of the rounds needed for the foot. Then it helps me to know how many more rounds I need to knit. I normally knit until I reach the knuckle on the big toe. If you’re knitting the sock for someone else:

  • Knit 26 (35, 43) rounds.
  • Length of foot from the heel is 14cm/5.5″ (16.5cm/6.5″, 19cm/7.5″).

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Classic Toe:

The length of the Classic Toe for each size is 4.5cm/1.75″ (5cm/2″, 5cm, 2″).

  • Round 1: Needles 1 and 3: k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1; Needles 2 and 4: k1, ssk, k to end of needle.
  • Round 2: k
  • Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until you have 24 (24, 28) sts left.
  • Then repeat round 1 until there are 12 (12, 16) sts remaining.
  • Making sure that the toe stitches align horizontally with the heel, slip the stitches from needle 4 onto needle 1 and the stitches from needle 3 onto needle 2.
  • Graft the toe stitches using Kitchener Stitch.

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Finishing:

Weave in all loose ends. I hope you will love wearing your new socks. I hand washed and blocked the medium sized socks on sock blockers. The smaller sized socks were hand washed and then patted into shape and allowed to dry lying on a flat surface.

Once you’ve knit a pair of socks using your size you can tweak the socks that I have made to knit socks that will fit you comfortably and well.

Summary of Sock Sizes:

A quick summary of the sizing details of each sock.

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The sock pictured above is the X Small Woman’s size which fits Shoe Size -UK 2 to 3, EU 35 to 36, and US 4 to5. The foot circumference is approximately 19cm (7.5″). The finished length of the foot measured from heel to toe is 18cm (7.25″). The sock yarn I used to knit this sock is Opal Play Sock Yarn in colour 8824 Chinese Whispers. I knit the sock using 2.75mm bamboo double pointed needles at a tension of 8 stitches/10 rounds = 2.5 cm/1 inch. The actual weight of this sock is 21 grams.

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The sock pictured above is the Small Woman’s size which fits Shoe Size UK 3.5 to 4.5, EU 36 to 37, and US 5.5 to 6.5. The foot circumference is approximately 20.5cm (8″). The finished length of the foot measured from heel to toe is 20.5cm (8″).The sock yarn used to knit this sock is Opal Solid Colour Sock Yarn in colour 5183 Turquoise. I knit the sock using 2.75mm bamboo double pointed needles at a tension of 8 stitches/10 rounds = 2.5 cm/1 inch. The actual weight of this sock is 27 grams.

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The sock pictured above is the Medium Woman’s size which fits She Size UK 5 to 6, EU 38 to 39, and US 7 to 8. The foot circumference is approximately 21.5cm (8.5″). The finished length of the foot measured from heel to toe is 24cm (9.5″).The sock yarn used to knit this sock is Opal Sweet & Spicy 3 in colour 9123 Cocktail. I knit the sock using 2.75mm bamboo double pointed needles at a tension of 8 stitches/10 rounds = 2.5 cm/1 inch. The actual weight of this sock is 34 grams.

I look forward to hearing about how your socks turn out and hopefully seeing some of the pictures of your lovely sock projects. I always love reading all of your comments!

About Nicolette

Comments

  1. thank you so much for these clear sock instruction, ive never knitted socks before, ive searched and searched many patterns never understanding them. so glad i found your site! please keep doing what your doing, you are helping so many people that felt we could never knit the projects we wanted!! <3

  2. Hi Nicolette,
    Many thanks for your really inspiring site,it is an absolute joy !!
    I am not new to knitting but very new to knitting socks. Could you please tell me the best way to match the yarn for the second sock so you have a lovely matching pair? Yours are just perfect 😀
    Carol

    • Hi Carol, I am going to write a more detailed post about how I knit a matching pair of socks. Basically, I make a note of where I choose to make the slip knot for casting on the cuff of my sock. I normally choose to make a slip knot at the start of a plain stripe. Thank you for your lovely comments, so pleased you enjoyed the website. Hope that helps. Nicolette

  3. Bettie Scott says:

    Hi Nicolette, I love your site thank you for sharing your patterns. I’ve only knitted socks using 4 needles not 5 needles, do you have a basic sock pattern for just 4 needles? I would greatly appreciate it and I’m using Opal yarn, 425 m.

    • Hi Bettie, I don’t at the moment. I’ll put this onto my to do list (which is a little extensive). But having said that, if I was changing any of my patterns to being worked using 4 needles instead of 5, I’d put all the stitches for needle 2 and needle 3 (front of leg, instep of foot and top of toe) onto one needle. The stitch count on needle 1 and 4 changes when picking up stitches for the gusset and then doing the shaping of the gusset. In Northern Ireland where I live, I learned to knit socks using 5 needles and most of the double pointed needles in Europe are sold with 5 in them. I hope that helps. I so pleased you enjoy the Knitting Squirrel! Happy Sock Knitting, Nicolette

  4. Kay Wise says:

    I am currently knitting on a sock using Sweet and Spicey 3, in the color Cocktail and I love the color ways it produces. However, I remember reading somewhere in the yarns description that I should not use fabric softener but did not say why I couldn’t use fabric softener.

    I retraced my steps in the blog and could not find it again- was this something I dreamed or did it really say no fabric softener. I don’t think I’m lulu yet. Thanks for helping me truly find out. Love your fun site! Kay

    • Hi Kay, As far as I know, the reason why sock yarns say you shouldn’t use fabric softener on your socks, is two fold, firstly, that the fabric softener is designed to coat the yarn fibres to make them feel softer. This can then interfere with the sock yarn’s ability to absorb moisture and keep your feet feeling dry. Secondly, fabric softener can also damage the nylon that is in the sock for added strength which would impair the lifespan of your socks. This is also why you shouldn’t use fabric softener on sportswear or anything that contains spandex for stretchiness. I hope this helps answer your question. Someone else might be able to tell us the science behind it! So pleased you enjoy the Knitting Squirrel! Nicolette

      • Kay Wise says:

        Thank you for opening my eyes about not using fabric softener on socks- it makes sense now and I will probably buy merino yarns in the future because they are always so soft. Thanks for answering this question. Kay

  5. Great post – I am always in awe of how neat your gusset is… just looked back over your sock lesson and saw that you pick up an extra stitch (where the hole usually appears) and work it together with the next stitch… then in this one you knit into the back on the 2nd round after pick up to neaten the gusset edge… I’m going to try both this time. 🙂
    thanks for your tips….

  6. Kay Wise says:

    Thank you for the women’s foot size chart and will use it frequently. I’m sure I overlooked the chart for the men’s sizes which is of great interest to me as I wear a size women’s 11 1/2 wide shoe and have to knit a man’s size 9-10 in order to fit me.

    I am new at your site and don’t know where every chart is yet so any help you can give me will be much appreciated. I love, love, love your site.

    • Hi Kay, I’m working on the larger sizes at the moment. I’m half way through the largest sock size. I had to take a break from it to knit something else but am knitting it again at the moment. Intending to finish sometime in June. So hopefully won’t be too long before it is ready to put onto the Knitting Squirrel. Nicolette

  7. This Basic Sock Pattern for many sizes (I’m waiting for the BIG sizes for me and my Big Footed American family) will be such a help to many sock knitters. Most of us probably have a basic sock pattern–I started with Silver’s– but I like to see how you do heel flaps, turning a heel and the different toes. Some of your methods are new to me.
    Thanks for all the help and inspiration your site is to all of us.
    And by the way–Neil is quite the handsome hat model. My sons will like the color of yarn he chose. Good job for the guys out there!
    Joyce in Utah

    • Thank you Joyce, I’m busy knitting the largest size of the Basic Sock Pattern at the moment. It does feel like it’s taking a long time, but I’ve paused in the middle to knit other things. Taking it on holiday with me to finish knitting. I think lots of men so much prefer the subtle colours. My brother Paul, went through a period of time when he only wore denim blues and shades of grey! It is so much fun trying different sock constructions isn’t it? I’m really liking the square dutch heel at the moment. Very comfortable to wear! Nicolette

  8. Very clear this sock knitting lesson! Pictures are also helpfull.

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