The Art of Sock Design: How To Knit A Gradient

Sock Club
January 10, 2024

Trends from the 1990s and 2000s are back in a big way right now, and gradients are no different! More and more companies are using gradients in their branding, and we at Sock Club are getting more and more requests for knitting gradients into our sock designs.

We put together this helpful guide to answer a few questions about knitting a gradient into socks with logos on them.

Can I knit a gradient into a sock?

Yes! The gradient will not look exactly like it looks on the screen, but we can knit the pattern to show colors fading into one another.

How do you knit a gradient into a sock design?

Socks are knit stitch by stitch, course by course. A course is a row of stitches. When we design a gradient sock pattern, we use blocks of color, and then create a fading effect by alternating courses with the next color.

Custom socks with a green gradient pattern showing the difference between a single stitch and a course of stitches

What types of gradients can you knit into a sock design?

There are several types of gradients used in design:

Linear Gradient: A linear gradient is a gradient that progresses in a straight line from one color to another.

Radial Gradient: A radial gradient is a gradient that radiates from a central point and progresses in a circular or elliptical pattern.

Angular Gradient: An angular gradient is a gradient that progresses in a circular pattern with distinct angles.

Diamond Gradient: A diamond gradient is a gradient that progresses in a diamond shape with sharp edges.

Noise Gradient: A noise gradient is a gradient that includes random noise or textures to create a more organic, natural look.

Spherical Gradient: A spherical gradient is a gradient that follows the contours of a sphere or other curved surface.

A linear gradient works best for knitting designs because we can knit them course by course, allowing us to incorporate more colors and make a sock that stretches and wears well.

Graphic showing the different types of gradients used in design: linear, radial, angular, diamond, noise, and spherical.

Why doesn’t the gradient in my pattern look like it does on my original art?

We design and knit every sock pixel by pixel, stitch by stitch. The challenge of knitting a design into the sock rather than printing a design onto the sock is that we need to make sure that the knit design is able to stretch and feel comfortable as well as look good.

We are also limited to a certain number of yarn colors per sock and per course. While our amazing design team can advise on making pretty much anything happen, there are some physical limitations that come with a knitted product that we can’t get around. Talk to your designer or Account Manager if you have any particular concerns about colors.

Why shouldn’t I order a printed sock with my gradient on it?

Printed socks are a great option for super low minimum orders, like 5 pairs. However, printed socks come with some challenges. Since the design is printed onto the sock instead of woven into the sock, the design will fade over time. Our yarn colors are reactive dyed to hold their true and deep color over lots of washes and wears. Also, since most printed designs are heat treated after they are printed, printed socks are often a bit crisper to the touch than fully woven socks. 

What is a gradient?

Gradients are a smooth shift from one hue to another, or even from one color to another to another. These transitions can be between similar hues, like various blues and oranges, or completely distinct tones, like purple and red or blue and yellow. The gradient trend is exceptionally flexible and can be used to make a statement or act as a background element. Moreover, since they mix and combine different shades, they can give a sense of modernity and generate entirely fresh color combinations. 

What is the difference between gradient and ombre or fading?

Gradient is characterized as the change from one hue (in any tint, shade, or tone) to another hue (in any tint, shade, or tone). If you go from one color (with a similar hue) to another color (within the same hue) then you are using tints and/or shades to get the ombre effect.

In the realm of mathematics, the gradient is an indicator of the incline of a line in a graph. When applied to physics, gradient is the rate of alteration from one point to the next. The term has its roots in the Latin language, where gradus translates to "step", giving the gradient a value to represent the "steps" of change.

The term 'ombre' originates from the French language and refers to a shade of darkening or a gradual lightening in color. This technique is widely used in the hair industry and requires the roots to be darker than the mid-shaft, which then has to be lighter than the ends of the hair.


The main difference between the two is that a gradient can contain many colors as well as shades, and an ombre or fading effect contains only shades of a single color, going from dark to light.

Sock Club
January 10, 2024