Raindrop Socks Part 1:  Getting Started | Wabi Sabi
February 14, 2022

Raindrop Socks Part 1: Getting Started

by Lisa Reid

This article is part of our All About Socks series. To knit along, use the Raindrop sock calculator to generate a custom pattern based on your own gauge and foot measurements and follow along with this guide for more detailed instruction.

There are a great number of ways to knit socks. This guide aims to delve into the theory of why, and how, each component part of a sock is knit the way that it is. The Raindrop socks are intended as a starting point to help the novice sock knitter understand how a sock is constructed, and I encourage anyone who is so inclined to use it as a template for your own creativity.

This guide focusses on socks that are knit top down, and using the heel-flap construction. There are many other ways to knit socks, but this is my favourite and, I think, the easiest to understand and modify for those starting out.

The foot of the Raindrop sock is fashioned so that the heel and gusset form a teardrop shape to accommodate the heel, which results in the sock fitting nice and close against the arch when worn:

Raindrop sock heel

Because this pattern is generated based on the actual measurements of your foot, and the actual measured gauge of your knitting, there is no reference in this pattern to needle size or yarn gauge. Basically, if you're using a sock yarn and you like the fabric any given size of needle creates, use that and just make sure to measure your gauge accurately for the calculator. If you're not sure where to start, please refer to these two articles for advice on selecting yarn and needles:

The Cast On

Cast on __ stitches.

The very first step is, of course, to cast on.   Since this tutorial is focussed on socks that are knit from the cuff to the toe, the cast on that is used should be as stretchy as possible.  There are a number of very excellent cast on techniques that knitters use for socks, but I generally find a loosely cast on long tail cast on does perfectly fine.  If you're a knitter who has a difficult time doing reliably loose tension, you may want to do the cast on with larger needles (add .25 or .5mm to the size you're intending to use for this).

Because the cuff and leg will be knit in the round, the cast on will have to be joined when the first row begins.  Like most circular projects, make sure that this is done without twisting the cast on, or you will end up with a very strange sock indeed!

The Cuff

Repeat a ribbing of your choice for roughly __ rows or until the cuff measures about 3".

The cuff of socks ideally should be stretchy, but have bit extra negative ease to help stay up.  Some knitters hold elastic thread double with the working yarn for their cuffs, in order to help with this.  In fancier patterns, sometimes the pattern on the leg will extend, in part or whole, up the cuff.  

The most important thing about the cuff, though, is that it should be made in a fabric that isn't prone to curling.  I prefer a knit one, purl one ribbing, since it is suitable for any sock that starts with an even number of stitches, but a k2, p2 ribbing is also common for socks starting with a cast on that is multiple of 4 stitches.

In terms of length, I usually try to knit a number of rows that is roughly half of the total cast on stitches, or until the cuff itself is a little taller than it is wide, but 2-3" is usually what is recommended as a measured length.

image of cuff when finished
When you're finished, the cuff should look something like this.
The markers along the left side row counters: 1 marker for every 10 rows.

The Leg

Continue in stockinette or a pattern of your choice until the sock leg reaches the desired length.

The leg is the section between the end of the cuff, and the start of the heel flap.  It is an ideal canvas for any number of lace, cable, or colour-work patterns,   Or, if you're just starting out or looking for a "while watching tv" project, it can be knit in plain stockinette.

I enjoy knitting socks with fancy lace and texture patterns, but I actually enjoy wearing fairly plain-knit socks.  The Raindrop socks are designed for easy knitting and to be as novice-friendly as possible, and if this is what you want, then use stockinette (just knitting) for the leg and instep portions of the sock.  If you'd like something that's still quite easy, but a little more textured, I would suggest using the Ringwood stitch, which is knit over a multiple of 2 stitches and 3 rows.  If you'd like to use this pattern for the leg and instep of the sock, it is knit as follows:

  1. Knit all stitches
  2. Knit all stitches
  3. *k1, p1, repeat from * to the end of row.
A Raindrop sock knit with the Ringwood stitch pattern on the leg and instep

To decide how long you should work the leg, measure from the top of the anklebone to the point on the leg the sock should end.  Knit from the cuff until the sock reaches that measurement.

Leg is done
Your sock will look something like this when you've finished this section of the tutorial.
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