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February 10, 2010



Have you tried going down a size with your needles to get a more dense knit? Also you may want to use a wool blend with nylon in it. And never be tempted to buy cheap yarn in craft stores - they never last or feel the same. I wash my (machine washable yarn) socks in a lingerie bag in my washer in a cold wash setting and dry flat - I haven't had any problems and I wear my knit socks all the time even (and I know everyone says you shouldn't) but I go around the house in socks with no shoes all the time so they DO get lots of wear but don't show it at all.


I have found that yarn with some nylon content makes socks that wear better.


I do the same thing that Diane does- I go down a needle size (or sometimes two) on the foot. I try to use a lingerie bag for washing my socks in a machine, but honestly much of the time they are flying around in the wash with everything else. My hand knit socks last just as long (or longer) than my store bought ones.


Most sock patterns for fingering-weight yarn are written with a gauge of 8 stitches/inch. Most fingering-weight sock yarn wears better when knit at 9 or 10 stitches/inch, and finer yarns might be happier at 11 stitches/inch. So, yeah, it's worth going down a needle size or two, especially on the sole.

Also, I've found it really important to make sure I have the right stitch count for my foot. I tend to knit socks with about 10% negative ease both in both width and length. If the socks are too loose, they seem more likely to wear through, via friction as my foot moves in them.

That said, the only pair I've ever blown through was the first pair I ever knit, in some gorgeous handpainted 100% merino. But, since they were my first pair, I hadn't done any customizing of the fit (I didn't know how to).


What everyone else has said: tighter gauge means better wear. I try to aim for 10 stitches to the inch. I've only once had a thin place develop in the bottom of a sock, and I found it fast enough that I was able to duplicate-stitch over it and reinforce it.

I think also the shoes a person wears has an effect; if there are points in the shoe that "rub" when worn, they can lead to holes in the sock.

I just throw my socks in the washer and dryer (on delicate) (except for the handwash-only yarns). I've never had that damage a sock; some of the socks I have are going on 10 years of life now. I don't wear them all the time, but there are some pairs I wear a lot.


There are a few sock patterns out there specifically designed with replaceable soles: Elizabeth Zimmerman wrote one and there is one in Interweave book "Favorite Socks". Granted those patterns don't do anything for longevity but makes replacement easier. (My husband gets holes in his right sock where his pinky toe is -- I think he wiggles in when he's thinking..... :-)


On finer weight yarns, I also carry the slip-stitch heel stitch through the heel turn and down the sole until all of my gusset decreases are done. This seems to help the heels wear better. It makes them stiffer and they don't move around as much.


I knit my socks on size 0 needles for a nice dense sock - wears better. I just finished a pair for my son where I used a reinforcement yarn with the sock yarn for the toes and heels (bottom and back). The reinforcement yarn is wool and nylon. Even though my sock yarn was wool and nylon, also, using the reinforcement yarn in the hard-wearing places should help prevent holiness!


I would also suggest (as so many others) that you go down one size & I think using heel stitch for the sole might also help.

Sole-holes in Sammamish

Thank you to all of you for your advice!
It appreciated!!


Definitely a smaller gauge and I also use a running thread of very fine mohair in the heels and toes sometimes. I had a friend in cold country that would add it to the complete bottom of the foot. Knitting socks is addictive! Yahoo for a good addiction....... :)


I (fortunately) haven't had a sock wear through yet, and my husband lives in his... most of the ones that I have made have been at a very small gauge (I only use 2mm needles or 2.5mm with sport weight) so they are very dense. I also use yarn specifically designed for socks (although this ranges from blends to 100% merino). I have found STR, Smooshy, and Zen Yarn Garden to have taken their fair share of abuse (washer and dryer and continous wear) and they still look rather unscathed.

Virginia S Accurso

I agree with everyone. Going down a size in needles helps for a denser knit. Also there are some yarns that come with a small bobbin of reinforcement for the heels. Jawoll Lang does this with their yarns. I have a pair of socks that I knit back in 2002 that are still being worn with no signs of wear in them at all. So definitely try going down a needle size.

Lorna Jenkin

My husband's socks have been going strong for more than ten years and he wears them a lot; just this year I re-knitted the toes for the oldest. I knit with quality wool sock yarn with a small percentage of polyester yarn which is not noticed in wear, always using 2.5mm dpns. I also use heel stitch (slipping alternate stitches on alternate rows) and continue this under the heel and for the toes, but I don't think it would work for the whole underfoot because it knits only three rows for every four rows worked - it would 'shrink' the underfoot.

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