Sock Design: From Socks to Stockings: Calf Shaping

Are you a sock knitter dying to learn how to design your own knitted socks? If your answer is “Yes!”, these sock design tutorials are the one-stop resource for you.

Sock Design For Everybody: Table of Contents

Welcome to the next part of the tutorial an sock knitting and design: Sock Design for Everybody! Today’s topic is all about calf shaping: when do you need calf shaping – and why?

Calf Anatomy

You all know I’m attending Med School, so I’m pleased to introduce calf shaping in sock knitting from an anatomy perspective today! Let’s have a look on human calves: why do they look that way after all?
Sock Design for Everybody: Calf Shaping Anatomy
The anatomy of calves: why do look calves as they do?


Your calves are shaped by a muscle group called Musculus triceps surae, consisting of three parts: Musculus gastrocnemius (Caput laterale and mediale) and Musculus soleus.
Men’s calves are usually more prominent than women’s. Men’s stockings definitely need calf shaping, but it’s a nice feature anyway – women come in many different shapes, too!
So let’s talk about shaping: how can calf shaping be achieved in sock knitting?

Calf Shaping in Sock Knitting

Calf shaping is achieved by increasing (or decreasing, when working top down) your stitch count from the point on where your calf starts. For me, this is about 6 inches (15 cm) measured from the start of the leg section after working the heel (yes, I’m working toe-up mostly).
For women’s socks, I’m increasing from my standard 60 stitches to 80 (ish), for men’s socks I’m increasing to 96 stitches. You want your increases to be more at the beginning (say, two stitches every other round), then switching to two stitches every 4th round after approximately 6-8 increase rounds.
An example chart (taken from one of my Alpine sock knitting patterns) is shown below.
Sock Knitting: An Example Chart for Calf Shaping
Sock Knitting: An Example Chart for Calf Shaping

Do You Knit Stockings?

And if yes, how do you implement calf shaping? I’m curious to hear your story – please leave a comment below!

Happy knitting,


PS. The extended version of this series is available in book form and called Sock Knitting in Plain English – I’m sure you’ll like it!

Sock Knitting in Plain English

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