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Manufacturing & Construction

Construction is the process in which the custom sock is created and, therefore an important element of style as well. A common denominator for all socks (custom and standard) is that they are all produced in circular machines.

During production, fabric is built by the knitting of yarns, using knitting needles mounted in either single cylinders (for flat knits) or double cylinders (for ribs). A double cylinder machine possesses two cylinders, one on the top of the other, which does the rib pattern between the two cylinders. Depending upon the type of equipment and the sock style that is being made, cylinders create stitches at a rate between 50 and 500 revolutions a minute.

Knitting Construction

Vertical rows of stitches are called “wales” while horizontal rows are named “courses”. The number of wales per inch depends on the size of the yarn that is used and the total number of needles mounted on the circumference of the machine’s cylinder(s). This is known as “the needle count”.

Example: a very fine and lightweight men’s sock may have needle count of 200. A coarse walking or biking sock may have a needle count of 60.

Knitted-in designs

Unlike detailing, knitted-in design are produced on the knitting machine and come in two forms:

  1. 1) Single color dimensional designs like cables, clock patterns, basket weaves or crochets.
  2. 2) Multi-color designs which often have both dimension and have more than one color.

Knitting Construction Diagram

Knitting Construction Diagram

Construction Terms


In sock terms, ribbed is the most popular construction. This standard sock construction is well-known because it has visual and tactile appeal. It also gives extra elasticity to the sock. These are knit on a double cylinder.

Ribbing is the vertical profile of the weave known as the rib. Socks can be knit in various rib patterns for either styling or function. A rib can be composed of one or more rows of stitches. To determine the rib construction of a sock, you have to stretch it slightly as it would be on the foot and the ribs will show.


The cushioned construction is related to the knit, generally in the sole of the sock (called terry pile) on one side of the sock, and a ribbed or plain knit on the surface. In most cushioned socks, especially those that are used for the purpose of athletics and sports, the cushioning is on the foot portion of the sock.

Cushioning is mostly seen among socks for sports and athletic purposes, although more recently, has been seen in dress socks for men and women.

Flat Knit

This particular knit is the second most popular construction. For a flat knit sock, the fabric has to be knitted on a single cylinder machine, and building a fine smooth finish appearance. Flat knits are often used for casual and dress socks of all kinds. This construction is also seen in socks with treatments like embroidery or small neat patterns.


Jacquard is a process used for knitting in patterns, design, or textures in the sock fabric. Jacquard equipment is slower than conventional knitting machines. However, the lower productivity is reflected in cost.

Arch Compression

Arch Compression is also called a “support”. It’s a strong spandex (elastane) band which is knit-in the foot on the sock and goes around the arch of the foot. This construction prevents the sock from slipping in the shoe and adds extra support.


Mesh is the construction of the sock with an open texture – either coarse or fine. It is primarily used for women’s socks, but can be found selectively in men’s sock fashion.



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