My husband and I are enthusiastic walkers and are lucky that we can easily reach both the River Thames and the Kennet and Avon Canal from our house, both of which have wonderfully maintained paths for walkers. Our goal is to walk the full length of the Kennet and Avon, though not all in one go.
As a walker, the most important thing is appropriate footwear; in my opinion a very close second is a good pair of socks. Of all the shop bought socks I’ve owned, I think I hate the walking socks the most – I’ve never found any without a seam across the toes and after a few miles, believe me, that starts to rub. But we are knitters, and if you can knit socks then you only need a few modifications to make a good pair of walking socks.
Pattern – walking socks don’t need to be anything fancy, I like to use my free Vanilla pattern with a heel flap and gusset.
Yarn – unless you have allergies, then wool is ideal. It lets your feet breathe and you won’t get sweaty feet (yuk!). As ever, with socks, I recommend a proportion of the yarn (20 – 25%) to be nylon, for its durability. So basically, your standard sock yarn; the only difference is that it really needs to be thicker. Regia and Opal both do an 8 ply/ DK sock yarn which is perfect, but there are plenty of other options too. For a pair of adult socks you’ll need approximately 150g.
- I like to do a plain stocking stitch foot, I find this most comfortable in the boot, with a 2 x 2 rib for the leg, ending with my standard twisted rib for the last 2″/5cm or so.
- I know that the place I get most wear is on the ball of my foot so I like to add some cushioning to that part of the sole. The way I do it is this:
- Work the toe as usual, then knit until the sock has reached the start of the ball of the foot (you’ll need to try it on).
- Work a section of about 2″/5cm (how long you need will depend on your foot; it needs to cover the ball of the foot) using the stitch pattern charted below. It’s similar to Eye of Partridge except that you have no plain rounds, there are slipped stitches on every round. Do this just on the sole, work the instep in stocking stitch as usual.
This stitch pattern makes you a lovely dense fabric that is really comfortable under foot BUT it does have the drawback that the row gauge is different to the gauge of the instep, meaning that the sole will be shorter than the instep.
- To compensate for the difference in length, you need to work some short rows on the sole, as follows:
- After you have finished working the slipped stitch pattern, knit one full round and the instep stitches of the next round.
- Knit the sole stitches to 1 stitch before the end, then turn. I have tried a few short row methods and have found that the German Short Rows work best here.
- Purl the sole stitches to 1 stitch before the other side, then turn.
- Knit across the sole stitches again, dealing with the “double stitch” as you come to it.
- Knit one full round, dealing with the second “double stitch” as you reach it.
This short process has added two rows of length to the sole, bringing it closer to the length of the instep. If this enough, then great, just carry on knitting your sock as usual from this point. If not, then repeat the process as many times as necessary, with one full knitted round between each pair of short rows until the lengths of the sole and instep are the same, then continue as usual.
Be warned that your sock might look a little odd off the foot, but once it’s on you won’t see any difference.
I hope you’ll try this and let me know how you get on. Happy knitting and happy walking!