As I’ve said in previous posts, the first sock I knit turned out to be way too big. I had gauge problems for one, and I thought that that was the only thing that was wrong with it. And I was really, really wrong. One other thing that I’d overlooked was the factor of Negative Ease.
The next sock I knit was not too wide for the intended recipient, but I had problems with their foot length. Even though my round gauge was the same as in the pattern, and I started toe decreases two inches before desired length, the sock still turned out too long. Then I started to read Clara Parkes’s The Knitter’s Book of Socks.
And I certainly had a light bulb moment.
Negative ease is as the name implies: you make your object smaller (10% or more) than the size that the pattern requires. For example, if I was making a sock for someone with a 10 inch foot length and a 9 inch foot circumference, I would subtract 10% from the foot circumference and the foot length. This would give me a foot length of 9 inches and a foot circumference of about 8 inches, so that’s the length/circumference I would need to knit the sock at.
Clara Parkes likens negative ease to a mattress pad fitting to a mattress; the mattress pad is smaller than the mattress so that it will fit to it snugly. Your sock needs to be smaller than your foot so that your sock will fit snugly.
I hope this made sense; as always, comment below if it didn’t.