When you first tackle any kind of project the terminology can have you scratching your head and socks are no different.
The terminology can be a little easier with socks as they mostly relate to foot parts that you may know the names of, but even so, understanding a little more behind exactly what those words refer to in this new context is helpful. So lets take a look:
This is often ribbed or patterned and slightly narrower than the ankle in order to grip the leg and help the sock stay up. (head here if you want to try my technique for creating a very elastic cuff)
Not all socks have a cuff
Mamble socks (above are longer and designed to slouch so the pattern runs all the way up.
The Ankle refers to all the fabric between the heel and the cuff rather than just what happens at your ankle bone. Your ankle measure is an important one for sock making, in most people the ankle measures roughly the same as the foot circumference so socks are designed with the same circumference at the ankle. If yours don't then you can adjust this to give yourself a much better fitting sock.
This is both the widest part of the foot and often where any kind of gusset starts so those stitches of the gusset are often referred to as instep stitches. (a gusset in this case means a section of extra stitches that widen the sock around the instep)
Its important to know your instep measurement because the cuff and ankle will need to be able to stretch wider than the instep or you won't be able to put the sock on.
The part of the sock that covers the heel and is shaped in order to turn the piece from a tube into something sock shaped. There are lots of ways of creating a heel. (There is a tutorial for a traditional construction here) and terms you might see relating to the heel are heel flap, heel turn, afterthought heel, short row heel. As I type this I realise that heels deserve a post of their own!)
This describes the fabric from the heel/instep to the toe, all around the foot. Its worth noting that most sock patterns base their sizing on the measurement you take here and you should measure at the widest part of your foot (avoiding any bunions you may have as this would skew the sizing)
This describes the bottom section of the foot and it may be differently patterned to the top.
The sole of the Tipping the Scales socks has a different pattern to the top of the foot.
Fairly self explanatory, but this section is gently rounded to the toe and in terms of your foot, most commonly will start above the big toe joint that forms the ball of your foot (around where your toes start to divide) Depending on foot shape, you may find your little toe only just pokes into the toe section.
I hope this article has clarified things for you. If you feel ready to dive into sock making you may enjoy this article too.
And here is our selection of sock patterns if you feel ready to dive in and start a new adventure.