Great socks are knit.
Knit fabric is a series of interconnected loops. There are various configurations of these interconnected loops that can accommodate a multitude of fits and comfort features. Socks are knit on circular machines from top-to-toe utilizing single strands of fibers that work in concert to provide the best in protection and comfort for the foot. These are some of the added features that better sock makers enhance to improve fit and comfort.
The cuff is the very top of the sock. It is important to both the appearance of the sock as well as its functionality. Great socks utilize a welt-cuff which is a double-layer of knit fabric at the top of the leg for a more secure fit. A conventional cuff is knit with a single layer of fabric from the top down. This is for a more relaxed fit preferred by some.
This is the part of the sock that is above the heel and is normally seen outside of your shoes. Legs are knit in various constructions specific to the sock’s use. Sometimes elastic is utilized in the leg to keep it in place.
The point in the sock where the leg construction changes to begin knitting the ankle followed by the heel of the sock.
The heel is a pocket formed when additional stitches are knit into one side of the fabric of a sock to provide a construction specific to the shape of the human heel. Tube socks don’t have heel pockets requiring the fabric to stretch over the heel. Some FBF socks utilize a “Y” Heel pocket. This method knits an extended heel pocket to create a more anatomically correct fit by expanding only the back portion of the heel pocket.
The bottom-most part of the sock is called the sole. It is the main point of impact and absorbs nearly the full weight of the body when stepping. Sometimes the sole of the sock is densely cushioned to absorb this shock. Coincidentally, the sole is also the area of the foot that sweats the most. In FBF socks, we utilize fiber combinations that remove moisture from this area.
Arch of Sock
The arch portion of the sock covers the arch of your foot. It is opposite the instep. Better socks for specific activities are knit with elastic that runs around the circumference of the center of the foot through the arch and instep. This construction is often referred to as an elasticized arch. It is intended to keep the sock in place and also provide an added level of arch support.
There are true ribs and mock ribs. A true rib is an alternating series of raised and recessed vertical rows of stitches knit into the sock that allow it to stay up without binding on the leg. This forms a fabric that recovers by itself when stretched and is considered the better-quality method to knit the leg and other parts of socks. A mock rib uses elastic or spandex in a jersey fabric to create the appearance of a true rib.
The part of the sock covering the front of the leg that protects the shin. In some taller boot socks, this panel is lightly cushioned to eliminate the abrasion and impact of sturdy boots.
The part of the sock covering the top of your foot, in particular, that area of a sock over your foot arch. Some socks have elastic knit throughout the circumference of the foot at this point. This construction is referred to as an elasticized arch.
The toe pocket in a sock allows for better fit and comfort. The toe of the sock is formed based on the same principle of knitting as is the heel of the sock.
When the sock is knit it is shaped like a tube with the open circular area where the toe is formed historically closed with a sewing machine or a looping machine. Today the best sock makers use knitting machines that are able to close the toe of the sock directly on the machine. These toe closures are virtually seamless and feel smooth to reduce abrasion.
The foot of the sock extends from the beginning of the heel to the end of the toe and from the instep to the arch, top to bottom. As with the sole, cushioning can be utilized in this area, not only for shock absorption but also for a better shoe fit for wearers with narrow feet.