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June 18, 2008



Probably giving myself away here, but very few of my surprise sock recipients read the same things I do!

I don't let them know that I'm knitting socks for them. I ask, casually, "What's your shoe size?"
and then do a kind of, "really? I'm size x and a half myself" and do a kind of shoe/sandal comparison conversation.

I also kind of point a conversation into the kind of socks I like to wear, colors, types of yarn, not letting on the whole time that I'm remembering size, color preferences, sock preferences, and so on. Just making sure that I write it down in my knitting journal or some place safe for reference.

Lots of times the surprised recipients have no recollection of the discussions we've had on shoes, socks, or colors at all.


Like Anna, I also ask, "What size shoe do you wear?" and then proceed to discuss shoes. Later I compare shoe size to sock size. My favorite sock book is Charlene Schurch, "Sensational Knitted Socks." She has an excellent table on shoe size to sock size. So far this has worked well when the socks are a surprise.


I move some generic conversation around to shoes and nonchalantly ask their shoe size. I can get close enough from that.


Yep, I also go the shoe size route! If they are gift socks I also tend to try to use a pattern that is really stretchy like ribbing and certain lace patterns. I wouldn't make surprise Jaywalkers for someone!


Mostly I don't do surprise socks. I cannot bring myself to go by shoe size because I wear a size 9.5-10 and my measurements are nowhere near those listed in Schurch's book.
My one surprise pair I knit to my foot size. I figured if it came out a bad fit then I'd take it back and knit a new pair. They fit my grandmother fine, she says she loves them.
I am toying wit the idea of doing the heelless socks from the new book "knitted socks" for Christmas presents.


I do the same thing others do and try to surreptitiously find out the recipient's shoe size. Then, if I'm worried about sizing, I find a local friend with similarly sized feet to try on my WIPs to make sure I've made them the right length.


I kind of do the shoe size thing if I believe they have a normal width foot. Wider or narrower can be a problem. I have very thin feet and usually have to make adjustments accordingly. You might consider checking in with a close relative of the recipient for help with the problem especially if the recipient knows you are a big sock knitter AND is a good guesser.


Yarn ahrlot has a lovely estimating chart in one of her books (I think it is Knitting Rules) It has a fairly accurate gauge-guesstimate about a person's height and their relative shoe size :-)


I don't believe in surprise socks. To me, the beauty of hand-knits is the perfect fit.


I knit for shoe size. Socks are stretchy and wear-in to fit perfectly. If I know a person has a wide or narrow foot, I add or subtract a few stitches in the round. It's worked for me so far...


Shoe size but I prefer measurements. However,I can recommend Cascade Fixation in the Broadripple Pattern (Knitty). It is a stretchy yarn and pattern.


I too generally use the shoe size as a starting point. But I generally only knit socks for myself & the grands. I did knit one pair for my SO who wears a size 13 EEE shoe. Even using DK weight yarn, they took forever. Love knitting those little socks for the grands - & they are the most appreciative recipients ever (so are my niece's 3 children).

Perplexed Penelope

Thank you everyone for your generous feedback ... and please keep 'em coming! I never tire of insights from expert knitters.

A special Thank You to Allison for allowing me to post a question c/o her blog.


I just out and out ask the person or measure them directly. Everyone knows I'm a sock knitter. The fact that I am going to knit socks is no surprise to anyone. They just might be excited to figure out that they are getting some though, if it's their first pair!


I knit a pair of socks for myself, and when they don't fit my feet, I start making the rounds, like the prince with Cinderella's glass slipper. If they fit your feet, they are your socks.


I usually ask someone close to the person, i.e. their husband, parent, son or daughter, for their shoe size.

Trisha Allison

Hi! I've made a few surprise pairs and I usually ask someone who lives with them to measure a footprint inside a sandal. I tell them it's a surprise for that person and not to let them know. If they have a pair of well worn sandals, even the inside of a shoe, that person can usually get an accurate measurement of your recipients foot.

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