Vanilla sock calculations

My earlier post Sock gusset calculations has proved very popular so I thought I would provide a similar calculator for the rest of the numbers in my  Free Vanilla Socks pattern – how many stitches to cast on, how many to increase for the gusset and how many to wrap for the heel.

You’ll still need to look at the other calculator for where to start your gussets, because that applies to all the patterns.

Note that, although this is intended for use with my patterns, the calculation for how many stitches you need will hold true for any sock pattern you choose to knit.

Sock gusset calculations

Anyone who has used my sock patterns will know that I think it’s important to make sure your socks fit properly, and the only real way to do that is to use a little bit of maths. I’ve always tried to make it as easy as possible, but I know that some people have still struggled – I get it, some people just have a blind spot about numbers.

A kind friend, who has insisted I don’t name her, gave me a spreadsheet she’d created for herself that helped decide where to start the gussets, which is really the hardest part. With her blessing, I have tweaked it a little and now it is available for you to use.

Short row sock heels

Jo Torr Perfect vanilla socks free short row heels

There are a lot of methods for making short row heels for socks, this is the way I like to do it.  This method can be worked either toe-up or top-down, and can be substituted into any pattern.

The heel is turned on approximately 1/3 of the sole stitches, though this can be varied if you need to make minor adjustments to the fit.

Part one – decreasing

  1. (RS) Knit to 1 st before the end of the sole sts.  Turn work so the wrong side is facing you.
  2. (WS) Place marker, slip 1, purl to 1 st before the end of the row.  Turn your work.
  3. Place marker, slip 1, knit to 1 st before the marker.  Turn your work.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until 1/3 of the stitches remain in the centre, and 1/3 is on each side, with markers at each turn.  You should finish after a purl row.

Part two – increasing

  1. (RS) Knit to 1 st before marker.  Slip 1, remove marker, pick up bar before next stitch, knit together with slipped stitch.  Turn your work.
  2. Slip 1, purl to 1 st before marker.  Slip 1, remove marker, pick up bar before next stitch, purl together with slipped stitch.  Turn your work.
  3. Slip 1, knit to 1 st before marker.  Slip 1, remove marker, pick up bar before next stitch, knit together with slipped stitch.  Turn your work.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until all markers have been removed and all stitches are included in the row, finishing with a purl row.  As you turn and begin to knit again, this is the start of the first round of leg if you are working toe up, or foot if you are working from the cuff, and you have returned to your original total number of stitches.  To make sure you don’t get a hole where the heel joins the leg/foot, in this first row you should pick up the bar before the first stitch on each needle, twist it to form a loop and slip it onto the needle, then knit it together with the first true stitch.

All the markers have been placed during the decreases

Knit side

Purl side

If you want to see this heel in action in a sock pattern, then please try my  FREE Perfect Sock.

Be careful choosing fonts to write your patterns

I want to talk to you about which fonts to use when you write your pattern.  I don’t mean which fonts are more attractive or easy to read, though that certainly is a topic for discussion, I mean which fonts are best if you want your customer to be able to get the best use out of your pattern.

I’m pretty confident in saying that, for most of us, the first patterns we wrote were in Microsoft Word or a similar word processor, and we used the font that the software defaulted for us.  It depends which version of the software you used but the chances are that if you worked on a Windows machine you’ll have used Calibri.  Did you know that there’s a very good chance that if one of your customers printed your pattern from an Apple machine, it won’t have looked the same as your copy?  The same is true of Apple users who will likely have written in Helvetica, and that will probably have looked different from a Windows machine.

Different?  In what way?

The problem is that, unless someone has paid extra for the font, Calibri won’t exist on the Apple machine, and Helvetica won’t exist on the Windows machine.  That means that when your customer opens the document the system won’t be able to find the font you used, so it will use its default.  It will do its best but its default font might be a slightly different width to your font so you might end up with text running into your photos for example, or the alignment might be wrong.  All that time you spent on your layout, wasted.

But my pattern was a pdf.  Surely that’s ok?

Maybe, maybe not.  It all depends on the font and how you generated your pdf.  Some fonts can be embedded in the pdf when it’s created, meaning that the definition of the font will be associated with the document and it will look as you intended.  Some fonts, but not all.

How do we know?

You need to look at the properties of the font.  On my Windows 8.1 pc this is in c:\\Control Panel\Appearance and Personalisation\Fonts but these system things change so frequently that it’s easiest just to search for “fonts” on your machine.  From here you can find the properties of the font you want to use.

These are the properties for the StitchMastery Dot font.  The important thing to look at is the “Font Embeddability” – here it is “Print and Preview”.




Different options for font embeddability and what they mean

Font Embeddability Meaning
Installable The gold standard.  Not only can you embed this in your document, but also your customer can save it to their machine and use it in other documents.
Editable It can be embedded in your document, but can only be used on your customer’s machine for your document.  They will be able to edit this font which is useful for customers who like to make notes.
Print and Preview It can be embedded in your document but your customer will only be able to view or print it.  If they want to edit your document, they’ll have to use a different font.  Not only that, but they won’t be able to select any of your text to highlight.
Restricted Cannot be embedded in your document.  Don’t even think about using this.

This is the information that is available to you on a Windows machine.  On an Apple machine all it tells you for emeddability is “yes” or “no”.  “No” means that it’s a restricted font, “Yes” can mean any of the other options, but you can’t tell which.  If it’s important to you to give your customers full control, then you’ll have to find that information by searching on the internet.

What does it mean to embed a subset?

Sometimes you’ll see that a document has a subset of the font embedded.  This is fine, it means that only the characters that have been used in your document have been embedded.  This means everything you’ve written will look as you intended, but the file size will be smaller.

So what should I do?

If you want your customers to get the best out of your document, then do a little research and make sure you can embed your chosen font in the document.  One final thing though, please make sure to check the licence and choose one that can be used commercially – either you can pay for it, or there are a lot available free.  Font designers are like knitwear designers – they don’t want someone using an illegal copy of their hard work any more than we do!


What is test knitting?

A number of people have asked me about test knitting, so I thought I’d try to answer some of the more common questions.

What is test knitting? 

Test knitting usually happens before a pattern is published, designers will ask a few people to knit the pattern to test the instructions.

So testers are checking for mistakes?

Not exactly.  Most designers will have the pattern checked by a technical editor before it is sent to the testers, this is certainly how I work.  The technical editor will have checked that all the numbers work, so you shouldn’t be too worried about mistakes, but won’t have actually made the item – that’s where testers come in.  You’ll check that the pattern can be followed by “real” knitters, fits properly, and uses the amount of yarn that the pattern says.

Why do designers want test knitters?

Different designers have different reasons, but commonly it’s to make sure that the pattern makes sense and is easy to follow, also to have some finished projects to show to potential customers.

What’s in it for the testers?

It varies a lot between designers.  All my testers get a copy of the finished pattern when it’s released, and those that finish on time also get one of my other patterns as a thank you.  I sometimes test knit for other designers and my motivation is firstly that I like to be able to help out my friends and fellow designers, and secondly I like the thrill of getting hold of a pattern early.  A lot of my testers also say that they like to feel that they’re able to have some input – it’s not unheard of for designers to make changes to their designs based on feedback from testers.

So the testers don’t get paid?

By some designers, yes, but not by me, sorry.  A lot of people that test knit do it for fun and don’t want the added pressure that comes from it being a paid job.

What do the testers need to do?

Knit the pattern that’s being tested.  Follow the instructions exactly as they’re written and if you find a bit that doesn’t make sense to you – ask.  As knitters, I’m sure we’ve all knit patterns that weren’t completely clear but it was ok, we had enough experience to have a pretty good idea what was meant. As a tester you can’t do that, you need to draw the designer’s attention to it – if that bit is confusing you, the chances are it will confuse someone else.

Usually there will be a deadline that you need to be able to work to.  For socks or mittens, you may be told you only need to knit one of the pair, unless they’re different in some way, in which case some people may be asked to knit “left” and some “right”.

If the designer is active on Ravelry, you’ll probably be asked to create a project page and post some photos.

Am I allowed to tweak the pattern? I usually prefer to do things “my way”.

Unlikely. Check with the designer, she may not mind certain changes, but usually it’s important to test the pattern as it’s been written.

I’m a new knitter, can I be a tester?

Maybe, it depends on the complexity of the pattern.

I’ve been knitting for a while but I’ve not much experience of the type of item being tested.  Can I be a tester?

Different designers have different answers, but for me – yes absolutely!  While I don’t want all of my testers to be new, I like to have a range of experience to really make sure the instructions work for everyone.

This sounds like something I’d like to do – how do I start?

On Ravelry, there are groups dedicated to testing – The Testing Pool, Free Pattern Testers and Open For Testing.  Join one or all of those and you’ll see that designers advertise for new tests.  Also, a lot of designers have their own groups, so if there’s someone you like, then join their group or follow them on Instagram and watch out for mentions of tests.

If you’d like to test for me, then follow this link and fill in the form, and I’ll add you to my list of people to contact next time I have a test coming up.


Reinforcement for walking socks

jo torr walking socks

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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!

Jo Torr Walking Socks Reinforcement

Jogless single row stripes

It is a truth universally acknowledged that ….. you just can’t beat a good striped sock (at least among the members of one of my favourite Ravelry groups).

JogYou’d think that striped socks would be easy wouldn’t you?  Knit a bit, change colours, knit a bit more, what can go wrong?  The dreaded “jog” that’s what!  If you don’t know what this means, it’s the point where you change colours and the stripes stutter a bit and get a little step in them, in a line, all the way up your lovely sock.  It’s something that all sock knitters (or hat knitters, or jumper knitters, anyone knitting in the round) will want to learn how to avoid.

Spiral1To understand how to deal with it, the first thing is to understand why it happens.  Think about how knitting in the round is constructed – when you’re knitting flat, you go backwards and forwards and each row is distinct from the one before and after it: when you’re knitting in the round you’re effectively knitting a spiral and you don’t reach an end until you bind off.


Spiral3What this means is that at the point where you change colours, the “end” of your round is above its “beginning” and that is what causes the jog.




Spiral2When your stripes are a number of rounds deep, then there are a few ways to deal with this issue, but single round stripes are a special case that can’t be solved by the usual methods. To deal with it we must go back to the notion of circular knitting being a spiral and instead of fighting it, we use it to our advantage.  Instead of a new colour breaking into that spiral, we let it create its own spiral and the two colours chase each other round the knitting without ever meeting.

How do I do this?

Cast on half your stitches with the first colour, then the remainder of your stitches with the second colour.  You are now back at the start of the round (SOR) with Colour 2, and Colour 1 is dangling halfway round.  Carry on with Colour 2 and knit until you reach Colour 1 (so you’ve knit half a round).  Drop Colour 2, pick up Colour 1 and, without twisting them together, knit a whole round till you are back at Colour 2.  Continue in this way, each time you’ve knit a round, pick up the other yarn and knit a round with that.

Jogless Stripe

Close up of the colour change – no jog!

What if I want a plain toe/cuff?

Knit your cuff or toe in a single colour then when you are ready to start the stripes leave your working colour where it is and slip half the stitches.  Now introduce the second colour and continue as before, swapping colours every time you get back to where the other yarn is waiting for you.

What if I want more than two colours?

Follow the same instructions as above, but split your stitches by the number of colours you want to use.  The number of colours you can use is limited only by the number of separate balls of yarn you can juggle without tangling.

What if I want wider stripes?

It’s possible, but you need to have one ball of yarn for each round of a colour that you want, not just one for each colour.  Say for example, you want to have a stripe sequence where you have three rounds of red followed by one round of blue – begin with three balls of red and one of blue, then continue as before, dividing the stitches by four.

Any other uses for this technique?

I’m glad you asked.  If you’re a fan of mosaic knitting, you’ll be aware that it involves knitting a single colour on each round, then changing to the other colour for the next round.  See the similarity?  Mosaic knitting presents the same problem with the jog and can be addressed by the same solution, the only difference is that you’ll be slipping some stitches as you go to form the pattern.

Want to put this into practice?

My latest pattern, Walk on the Wild Side, uses exactly this technique and is available now – Walk on the Wild Side.Jo Torr Walk on the Wild Side Socks

If you do have a try at this, then I’d love to hear how you get on!

A sad day for the knitting world….

I was sad yesterday to hear of the sudden demise of Artesano Yarns, when they announced that their business was going into receivership.

You may have seen me say before that they were my local yarn supplier, literally minutes from my home, so I was a frequent visitor to their warehouse and knew them fairly well.  I always found Jenny and Tom to be lovely people, and very supportive of me as a designer.  Their yarns were of very good quality at affordable prices and will leave a hole in the market.

What saddened me more, though, was the vitriol that their announcement attracted both on Facebook and on Ravelry.  Of course there were many people wishing them well, but there were also a huge number of people making some very unpleasant comments.  I fully appreciate that there are some people who have unfulfilled orders; I’m not in that position myself so maybe I don’t have the same perspective, but at the end of the day we are comparing a few skeins of yarn with a family losing their livelihood.  Nobody lets their business fail on purpose and I naively expected people to be a bit more supportive.

I have removed the links to their website from my patterns, I don’t want to be sending anyone down a false path.  I sincerely hope that one day I will be able to reinstate those links and welcome Artesano back to the market.

In the meantime, I’d like to wish Jenny and Tom the very best and hope that they can get through this difficult time without too much anguish.


Welcome to my new website, I hope you’ve had a chance to look around and found some interesting things.

As a thank you for taking the time to look around, I promised a code for use in my Ravelry shop.

The code you’re looking for is WELCOMEJT

It will entitle you to Buy One, Get One Free, until midnight 21st June 2016, GMT.  You’ll need to take it back to Ravelry to use it, I don’t yet have the option to enter coupon codes from this site, hopefully that will come soon.

If you don’t use Ravelry, or would rather just do everything from here, then buy one of my patterns using the Buy It Now button, then contact me, quoting the code, and tell me which other one you’d like.

Please tell your friends about this, but don’t tell them what the code is, ask them to come and look for it, thanks 🙂

What is a style sheet?

Jo Torr tech editor

As a pattern writer, one thing that will make your life and that of your technical editor easier, is the use of a style sheet.  If you already know what one of those is, then great; if you already use one, even better.  If not, then this is for you.

Basically a style sheet is a guide that defines your writing style.  It means you will be able to present a consistent voice to your customers, which makes your patterns feel more polished and professional.  From your technical editor’s point of view, it gives them some rules to check against when they are checking for consistency: if your TE finds in your pattern that you’ve written the same thing in two different ways, your style sheet is how they will know which you prefer.

What type of thing should your style sheet include?

This isn’t a definitive list, but some of the things you should include are:

  • standard abbreviations and their definitions (do you always have to check how to define m1r and m1l?)
  • how you like to use capitals – for example do you write Ssk, SSK or ssk? Does that change if it’s at the start of an instruction?
  • phrases that you use frequently – for example “join for knitting in the round, making sure not to twist”.
  • how you define repeats – do you use (brackets) or [brackets] or *asterisks*?
  • do you say “round” or “rnd”?
  • numbers – 1, 2, 3 or one, two, three?

Every time you write a pattern you should use this to check against, to make sure it is consistent, not just within itself but also with your other patterns.  It will mean that your regular customers will be able to recognise your style.

Remember, this is all about your style; there is no right answer, you choose.  A style sheet will make it easier to stick to those choices.

Helping you create your style sheet is one of the services I offer.  If this is something you are interested in, then please get in touch.

Read about my full range of technical editing services here.