Monday, February 15, 2016

Why 60 is My Favorite Number

Today is my 60th birthday. I have a feeling this year is going to be My Big Year. To help make this My Big Year, I’m giving myself a knitting challenge that will take all year. This is a project that I’ve had in mind for a while, that could only sensibly be carried out when I’m 60 years old. Let me explain.

I like numbers. Before I became an avid knitter, I think I preferred prime numbers. But as a knitter I have found delight in easily divisible numbers.

I also like designing and knitting socks. I long ago noticed that many of my socks were 60 stitches around. I came to love the number 60 because it’s divisible by so many integers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, 60. That means stitch patterns with a repeat of any of these numbers would work well in a sock. For a few years now, I’ve thought about creating a series of socks using each of the divisors of 60. Now’s the time.

I would like to invite you to join me in this quest of 60 stitches, even if you are not 60 years old.

For each sock, the yarn thickness may vary depending on the stitch pattern I use. I hope to incorporate all kinds of stitches: knit-purl patterns, cables, slip stitches, mosaic stitches, stranded knitting, and lace.

To figure out which yarn to use for any particular sock design, I pulled out my copy of The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, by Ann Budd. I turned to the section on socks. The first order of business was to measure the circumference of my foot. My foot happens to be 8 inches around. So, if I want to work with 60 stitches then I need to get a gauge of 7 ½ stitches per inch.

If your foot measures 7 ½ inches around, then you need a gauge of 8 stitches per inch.

If your foot measures 8 ½ inches around, then you need a gauge of 7 stitches per inch.

If your foot measures 9 inches around, then you need a gauge of 6.67 stitches per inch.

Then I decide on the stitch pattern I want to use. Then I swatch – in the round – until I find a yarn and needle size that will give me the proper gauge and a fabric worthy of socks.

Rules and Constraints

All of these socks will be knitted from cuff to toe.

I plan to knit most, but not all, on double pointed needles, my choice will depend on the stitch pattern I choose.

The main part of leg and foot of sock must be 60 stitches around.

There will be no shaping of leg, so the leg on all of these socks won’t be terribly long, likely all under 7 inches from cuff to beginning of heel.

The main part of leg must contain a stitch pattern using the chosen divisor; the foot must contain part or all of the same stitch pattern.

The cuff, heel, and toe can stray from the divisor rule.

I must use a yarn that is already in my stash; it does not need to be “sock yarn”.

I will not be presenting patterns in any particular order, but I hope to post one pattern per month. I will post all the patterns in this blog. Free. I want to do this project for project’s sake, not for profit. Of course, if you’d like to donate to My Big Year, I would happily accept.

My next blog post will contain my first pattern: 20 X 3 = 60. A 20-stitch pattern repeated 3 times. Are you with me?


  1. 3 is my number, fits well with 60! Super creative idea! HAPPY BIRTHDAY

  2. I'm not unknown, I'm Rosemary Malbin.

  3. I'm with you but I'll do better when a visual is part of the mix. I should attempt to work with 72 stiches.

    1. So,5, 10 and 15 won't do. But you've got 36 and 18 and 8 and 9.....

  4. Happy Birthday, Amy. Great project! Great idea. I'm in. Now to start thinking and knitting. All I need is another set of sock needles since the 3 sets I have now are currently occupied ��


    1. You can't have too many socks or sock needles!

  5. Happy Birthday, Amy! You almost inspire me to knit a pair of socks. I have resisted them for some reason, but having just finished leg warmers for my 3-year old granddaughter using double point needles, I think I might be ready for socks for myself. Still on vacation. Carl found me some cotton on the ground at a local community garden, so I am working on preparing that for spinning. I wonder how much I would need for socks. Ginny

    1. Thanks, Ginny! I hope you do knit some socks, although I can't say I've enjoyed the socks I've knitted from 100% elasticity, they sag.

  6. Happy 60th! Sounds like a great idea. I will try to follow along.

    1. Hi Carmelle, Thanks and I hope you do follow along!

  7. 5 is my number. I count by 5s. I'm just toying with spinning for my first pair of socks, so I'll watch along for a bit before I join in.