Consider the sock. Humble little footnote to everyone's wardrobe that almost everyone takes for granted. From the heavy-duty workhorse variety to the oh-so-serious knee-length version to fanciful little anklets, socks are not only capable of making a fashion statement, but they all speak volumes about their wearers.
Time was when any self-respecting knitting basket held a pair of socks under construction. Entire armies of feet were warmed by socks lovingly made by mothers, wives and even strangers back home. Knitting a pair for a teenage boyfriend was tantamount to going steady. Even when they gave way to the store-bought variety, granny's handknits made great bed socks on cold winter nights. Sadly, entire generations never came face to foot with a handmade pair.
Handknit socks are in again. In response to all the requests we've received, here's a pattern for simple, sporty socks that guarantees success the first time you tackle a pair. Stitched with knitting-weight yarn, they work up quickly.
Instructions are written for Small (S) size. Any changes for Medium (M), Large (L) or Extra Large (XL) are written in brackets. If there is only one set of figures, it applies to all sizes. Recommended for knitters with some general knitting experience.
FINISHED FOOT LENGTH:
- Small 23 cm (9 ins)
- Medium 24 cm (9-1/2 ins)
- Large 26.5 cm (10-1/2 ins)
- Extra Large 28 cm (11 ins)
- All measurements are approximate.
- 1(1,2,2) balls (100 g) Patons Classic Wool
- Set of four 4 mm double-pointed needles OR whichever needles you require to produce the tension given below
- Stitch holder
- Scrap of contrasting colour yarn
- Tapestry needle
cm = centimetre(s)
g = gram(s)
in(s) = inch(es)
k = knit
mm = millimetre(s)
p = purl
psso = pass slipped stitch over
rem = remain(s)(ing)
rep = repeat
rnd(s) = round(s)
sl = slip
st(s) = stitch(es)
tog = together
20 sts and 28 rows = 10 cm/4 ins in stocking stitch using 4 mm needles. Work to exact tension with specified yarn to obtain satisfactory results.
To save time, take time to check tension.
TO WORK CUFF:
*Loosely cast on 40(40,44,44)sts. Divide so 12(12,14,14)sts are on each of first 2 needles and 16 sts are on third needle. Being careful not to twist sts, join in rnd, pulling yarn firmly to prevent a gap.
- Rnd 1 (right side): [K1,p1] to end of rnd. Mark end of rnd by threading short length of contrasting colour yarn through work between first and last st.
- Rnds 2 to 6: Continue in [k1,p1] ribbing.
- Next: Knit in rnds until work from end of ribbing measures 15(15,18,18) cm/6(6,7,7) ins, ending at marker. Break yarn.
TO BEGIN HEEL:
Slip last 10(10,11,11)sts from 3rd needle, then first 10(10,11,11)sts from first needle onto single needle (for heel), thus having marker at centre. Slip rem 20(20,22,22)sts onto st holder (for instep). 20(20,22,22)sts now on needle.
With wrong side of heel sts facing, join yarn and work back and forth as follows:
- Row 1 (wrong side): Sl1, purl to end of row.
- Row 2: [Sl1,k1] to end of row.
Rep last 2 rows until heel measures 5(5,5.5,6) cm/2(2,2-1/4,2-1/2) ins, ending with wrong side facing for next row.
TO SHAPE HEEL:
- Row 1: P13 (13,14,14), p2tog, p1. Turn.
- Row 2: SI1, k7, sl1, k1, psso, k1. Turn.
- Row 3: Sl1, p8, p2tog, p1. Turn.
- Row 4: Sl1, k9, sl1, k1, psso, k1. Turn.
- Row 5: Sl1, p10, p2 tog, p1. Turn.
- Row 6 (right side): Sl1, k11, Sl1, k1, psso, k1. 14(14,16,16)sts now on needle(s).
- Large and extra-large size only: Turn.
- Row 7: Sl1, p12, p2tog. Turn.
- Row 8 (right side): Sl1,k12, sl1, k1, psso. 14 sts now on needle.
All sizes: With right side of work facing, pick up and knit 10(10,11,12)sts up left side of heel. With 2nd needle, knit across 20(20,22,22)sts on st holder (instep). With 3rd needle, pick up and knit 10(10,11,12)sts down right side of heel. Knit first 7 sts of heel onto end of 3rd needle. Slip rem 7 sts of heel onto beg of first needle. 54(54,58,60)sts now on needles. 17(17,18,19)sts are on first needle, 20(20,22,22)sts are on 2nd needle and 17(17,18,19)sts are on 3rd needle.
CONTINUE, WORKING RNDS AS FOLLOWS:
- Rnd 1: First needle: Knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. 2nd needle: Knit to end of needle. 3rd needle: K1, sl1, k1, psso, knit to end of needle.
- Rnd 2: Knit.
Rep last 2 rnds 6(6,6,7) times more. 10(10,11,11)sts now on first needle, 20(20,22,22)sts now on 2nd needle and 10(10,11,11)sts now on 3rd needle, for a total of 40(40,44,44)sts.
Knit even in rnds until foot from picked-up sts at heel measures 16(17,18,19) cm/6-1/4(6-3/4,7,7-1/2) ins, ending with completion of 3rd needle.
TO SHAPE TOE:
- Rnd 1: First needle: Knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. 2nd needle: K1, sl1, k1, psso, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. 3rd needle: K1, sl1, k1, psso, knit to end of needle. Knit.
- Rnd 2: Rep last 2 rnds 4(4,5,5) times more. 5 sts now on first needle, 10 sts now on 2nd needle, 5 sts now on 3rd needle. Knit sts from first needle onto 3rd needle. Break yarn approx 30 cm/11-3/4 ins from last st.
- With tapestry needle and yarn end, graft rem 2 sets of 10 sts tog as shown in diagram, to close toe. Remove marker.*
- Rep from * to * for second sock.
With the exception of the heel, which is worked back and forth on 2 needles, these socks are worked "in the round," to avoid a bumpy seam, using 4 double-pointed needles. The stitches are evenly distributed on 3 needles which form a triangle; the remaining needle is the working needle. When you work in the round, the right side is always facing you.
For a durable, sturdy fabric, knit socks to the firm tension given.
To strengthen heel and toe, add a strand of fine yarn, spun with a percentage of nylon (such as Patons Kroy 3-ply), when working these high-stress areas.
To make slippers, hand-stitch suede soles onto finished socks using heavy-duty polyester thread.
Once you've completed one pair as written, experiment with different styles: Work 1 -to-3-round stripes of same-tension contrasting colour yarn(s) between bottom of ribbing and beginning of heel shaping.
- Or add a band of Fair lsle on top edge of cuff just below ribbing.
- Or work entire cuff to beginning of heel shaping in [k2,p2] ribbing.
- Or work heel and toe in contrasting colour yarns, work-sock style.
- Or crochet picot edging around top edge of cuff.
lf the socks are a gift, pack some extra yarn into the present. Cut a long-cuffed stocking shape from stiff cardboard. Wrap enough scrap yarn around the cuff to darn a hole or two, then tuck into one sock.