I’m an outlier. I’ve accepted that.

I’m a large person, but even in a nation of large people, I’m special because I’m tall as well as wide. I’m not as wide as I used to be, but there are certain body parts whose size cannot be changed through non-surgical means.

What I’m saying is, I got big feet. They’re long and wide, and I suspect the heel is particularly proturby. A short-row or afterthought heel is an impossibility. A flap/gusset works well, but I hate making them. The Fleegle, Strong, and Square* seem to fit best. To go around my heel, I usually need at least a 72 stitch pattern if using fingering weight yarn and a 2.5mm needle.

What this means is that many of the sock patterns I knit have to be reconfigured to fit my enormous stompers. Some patterns come with a range of sizes, which is nice, but even then they don’t always work out. This is especially true with a cable pattern, which is going to be naturally tighter. Generally, I don’t have a problem with this, for two reasons:

  1. The pattern isn’t that complicated: it’s basically a stitch pattern set on a stockinette background, and you can easily make adjustments (such as adding to purl columns) that will spread the pattern out more. This is especially true if you’re the kind of person who substitutes their own preferred heel and toe into a pattern.
  2. The pattern was free, so even if it doesn’t end up working out (even though I got gauge and followed the instructions), I can fall back on “well, it was a free pattern; you get what you pay for.”

What really steams my rice, though, is when I pay for a pattern, and it comes in one size, and if you want a different one, just change your yarn or needles, lol. And as if that’s not aggravating enough, it has the gall to state something like “one size should fit most” or, even more irritating, “sock is shown on a man’s foot.” The second one could actually be construed as a little insulting: “this sock doesn’t fit you? Well, it should be big enough to fit on a man foot, what kind of ogre feet are you walking around on?”

First of all, it’s a little aggravating to see a basic stitch pattern applied to a basic sock recipe, with a $5 price tag. To be fair, the aggravation is not just with the designer: it’s also towards myself, for having failed to just look through a stitch dictionary/figure out the stitch pattern on my own. Looking through a stitch dictionary is not worth that much, in my opinion. Sure, having the creativity to see that pattern and apply it to a sock in a way that looks visually appealing is worth something. I just think that if I’m going to pay for it, I want a little more effort than that. (I do understand that many sock patterns contain instructions I don’t need, because I substitute my own toes and heels, and part of my frustration is in paying for that superfluous information. I just wish there was a tiered system, where the entire pattern is full price, but you could pay maybe half that for just the charts.)

And if a range of sizes is included and none of them work for me, that’s fine. At least I can usually look at those numbers and use them to extrapolate a bit and come up with my own, as I did for the Darjeeling pattern (which, to be fair, I have yet to finish successfully, but that’s a separate issue).

Second, I don’t really like the implication of “one size fits all” anyway. It’s silly when it comes to something like a hat (I also have a larger-than-average head), but ridiculous when it comes to a sock. A slouchy sock is a lot bigger issue than a slouchy hat. And to illustrate that point using the example of a male foot is also nonsensical, because not all men have larger feet than women. On average, yes, they are bigger because they’re taller. But it could also be misleading if you don’t specify what size the man’s foot is. A 6’1″ man with a size 11 foot is considerably different than a 5’3″ man who wears an 8. “I put this sock on a guy, so it ought to fit you” is disingenuous if you used a man who’s smaller than average.

The particular patterns in question, I’m not aggravated about because they were difficult to modify. In fact, they’re usually pretty easy, but the difficulty isn’t the point. (It’s definitely a factor, though, because if I can futz with it for five minutes and come up with a working modification, there’s no reason a professional designer couldn’t have done it.) The larger point is that they didn’t even try to accommodate. And that I, like the sucker I am, paid for it.**

I think I’m done buying sock patterns for a while. If I don’t have it, can’t get it for free, and can’t figure out how to reverse-engineer it, then I’m not going to bother knitting it.

*This is what I’m calling my toe-up heel that I’ve seen called Dutch, but I’m not quite sure actually is. Gusset increases, an inch worth of short rows, and then back-and-forthing as you decrease away the gusset stitches. Generally with the leg pattern brought down.

**I will concede that there are times when space constraints might prevent a designer from making a pattern as detailed as they like. I’ve never worked in publishing, but I know books and magazines don’t have unlimited pages. However, many knitting pattern books contain at least 20 pages of beginner-level stuff, like how to bind off and decrease. I’m sure it helps some people, but I would like to think that a beginner would get a book focused more on “how to” and not one focused on patterns. As for magazines, I modestly propose cutting out an ad or two. Oh, that would cut into your profit margin? How about cutting your costs massively by not using dead dinosaurs to deliver dead trees? It’s the twenty-first century, people.

However, when the pattern is offered as a Ravelry download, there’s just no excuse. I’ve downloaded 10 or 20 page PDFs from there. Or better yet, put it up on your own website. Anyone who can think of a username can have a WordPress blog. Even offering it as errata on an already-published pattern would be preferable to being told to use different yarn than the yarn you originally chose, or to have feet smaller than the generic, size-not-specified male human they put their FO on.

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