Calf-size survey: results & data

Last month I asked knitters to submit their measurements so I could gather data on calf sizes. Here are the results.

First of all, I want to say, loudly and without equivocation: I AM NOT A STATISTICIAN. In fact, I haven’t taken a math class since high school, so my data analysis skills are, ahem, a little rusty. If you think you could do a better job, please do! Here’s the data:

Click here to download the raw data as a CSV file.

Click here to download the data as I crunched it, with charts and all, as an XLSX file.

Feel free to share any extra conclusions!

So, here are MY conclusions:

  • There does seems to be a general correlation between weight, shoe size, clothing size and height to calf size. Though there is a lot of variation within each group, you can generally assume calf size increases as each of those variables also increases.
  • That said, measurements vary WIDELY. There’s no such thing as “normal.” If you can get a measurement you’ll be better off.

Now onto the more specific results:

Let’s start with the CLOTHING SIZE measurement. I should note that these sizes are self-reported and we all know how variable clothing sizes can be from brand to brand. The idea is to get a generalization of clothing size and go from there. Anyway, enough caveats. Here’s a chart (all data in inches):

Sample Size Median Lowest Highest Range average
XS 12 13.00 10.50 14.50 4.00 12.88
S 38 14.00 11.75 17.00 5.25 13.88
M 49 14.50 11.75 17.50 5.75 14.65
L 38 15.75 13.00 19.00 6.00 15.82
1X 28 16.13 13.00 19.50 6.50 16.17
2X 13 16.50 11.50 21.00 9.50 17.58
3X + not enough data

Sample size is the number of respondents in each size group. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough data for sizes 3X and above, so I had to exclude them from this one.

Now onto for SHOE SIZE. Here’s the data plotted out (click image for full res version):

Shoe Size

I had excel calculate the trend line, which was y = 0.6306x + 9.8918 — I then plugged this in to each size I got the following results, rounded to the nearest quarter inch:

Shoe Size
(U.S. Women’s)

Calf Circ. (inches)
5 13
5.5 13.25
6 13.75
6.5 14
7 14.25
7.5 14.5
8 15
8.5 15.25
9 15.5
9.5 16
10 16.25
10.5 16.5
11 16.75
11.5 17.25
12 17.5

To me, this one seems pretty useful. It could just be because I wear a size 9.5 and my calf size is 16″, so I happen to fall into the trend.

Next we have the HEIGHT data.


Same story here, and the trend line is y = 0.0971x + 8.8301 — the resulting data:

Height (inches)

Calf Circ. (inches)
60 14.75
61 14.75
62 14.75
63 15
64 15
65 15.25
66 15.25
67 15.25
68 15.5
69 15.5
70 15.75
71 15.75
72 15.75
73 16
74 16
75 16
76 16.25
77 16.25
78 16.5

Finally we have the WEIGHT data.

This trendline was y = 0.0356x + 9.4028. On this one I removed the highest and lowest weights just to try and keep the outliers from skewing the data. I didn’t know if this was a good idea or not, but feel free to download the raw data from the link above and try it yourself. Here’s the trend results:

Weight (pounds)

Calf Circ. (inches)
90 12.5
100 13
110 13.25
120 13.75
130 14
140 14.5
150 14.75
160 15
170 15.5
180 15.75
190 16.25
200 16.5
210 17
220 17.25
230 17.5
240 18
250 18.25
260 18.75
270 19
280 19.25
290 19.75

So, that’s what I have to share. I’d like to keep collecting data and revisit this in a few months to see if a larger sample set would help clarify things, so if you haven’t submitted your information yet, go for it! The more info we have, the better!

What do y’all think? Is this helpful? Will this info be a good aid in your knitting? Let me know!

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  • Kirsti(k)nits says:

    Really interesting. My clothing size and weight suggested one ranges of measurements. My height and shoe size suggested a range of measurements almost 2″ larger. I’ve always been of the general impression that I have “fat calves.” Measured and was below average for everything but clothing size, where I was median. Should probably stop being so mean to my poor, perfectly normal calves.

  • Omar Tillo says:

    Hi there,
    I’m very interested in your data.
    Have you done any more work on this?

    • Laura Birek says:

      Hi Omar — I haven’t done any additional work on this! You can definitely download the files to access the data, though — see the link at the top of my post.

  • Daniel John Dombek says:

    I’m 5′ 10″, 250 lbs. and wear a size 10 shoe. Calf size: 21 inches. I have a hard time finding calf-length riding boots.

  • Mandy says:

    This is so wonderful. I have lipedema and a lot of it is in my calves. However, I have learned through much research, how to beat the expected curse of lipedma and lost a substantial amount of this diseased fat. According to your data, my calves are now, FINALLY right on average! I thought they were still large because of the way they fit in boots compared to those around me. Thank you for this new confidence boost!

  • Sarah J Shrader says:

    I came across your article just entering wide calves and averages, or something around that. I am 5 foot 3, 250 and size 7.5 boots with a 20 inch calf. I have purchased around 10 pairs of “wide calf and extra wide calf” only to continuously be disappointed not being able to wear cute wide calf boots with out taking out a personal al loan. Ughh

  • Ella says:

    What a fascinating study!
    Based on my inability to find tall boots that fit, I have always had what I felt where extremely large and muscular calves. I’m 5’6”, and even at my thinnest weight of 140, my calves measured 15”. According to your collected data, I’m not that far away from the median, which just makes me super angry at shoe and boot manufacturers!! Why are they making boots for stick legs when the average is much more robust?!
    Thanks for the study and for making me feel a little less abnormal!

  • Sophie says:

    My calves at 31 ??? and I’m 11

  • Emma says:

    THANK YOU! I have been trying to find data regarding calf size because my skinny jeans are always too tight in the calves.

  • jack says:

    i’m insecure about my calf size and apparently i have reason to be. I’m 205 lbs and have the calf size of 100 lb pound person. the truth burns. time to hit the gym

  • Wynn Lare says:

    What a find!
    I have large calves proportionally and this info is very useful.

    It’s a long saga!
    Even at 5′ 7″ and 135 in first year of college: ski boots were already causing problems.

    It would take almost 4 decades for me to fully understand what is happening.

    But more importantly, having large calves can cause increasingly serious illness with circulation.

    Many years ago varicose veins were treated as a cosmetic.malady and it’s much more than cosmetic.
    Over time there could be nerve damage, reduced evel of mobility, and worse.

    I needed to work in shallow cold water near a dock.
    I was looking for waders.
    Even men’s waders are not made to accommodate calves much over 16-18″ and that was shocking.

    I have yet to find anything that would allow extra room for larger calves, even outfitters for fly fishing.

    My calves depending on weight have been 18+ even 20″.
    I am in the process of going to a lower weight and maintaining.
    I know I will.
    I have reduced weight, but I need to permanently keep it lower.
    Or have even more trouble with my legs.

    I wear a 9.5 sandal, a 10W shoe.
    11W boots if I can find them.
    I need extra care for a tender area that was worked on years ago to bust a venous clot.

    I want to have the best health for my legs and not have it be so time consuming to work around.
    And also not miss out on activity.
    I was an avid water skier and snow skier.

    I saw your lace wedding dress post!
    You are a singular person!

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