Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Roman Holiday Socks

I came up with these looking for a breezy, quick knit summer sock that would be a good use for some particularly favored handspun yarn.

The yarn I wanted to use was spun from Carol's sock fiber at Feistywoman Designs. I talk about spinning the fiber here. Since the yardage was shorter than most commercial sock yarn, I wanted a lacy pattern that was simple enough to memorize and wouldn't get lost in the stripes. I think these fit the bill!

(I'm afraid I'm a bit awkward at describing how I do the fake flap and gusset heel-if anyone has a link to a less confusing description, please leave it in comments!)

The main stitch pattern is worked in a variation of Roman Stripe from the Barbara Walker Stitch Treasuries. I think it's in the second book. I had to fuss with it a bit to make it balanced and non-biasing.

These socks are super stretchy so a wide variety of stitch counts will work for a wide variety of foot sizes. Do what works for you in your favorite yarn-ideal for handspun, especially.

Stitch Pattern for Foot

1) K1, *yo, K1* repeat to one stitch remaining, K1.
2) K across
3) K1, *K2TOG* repeat to one stitch remaining, K1. The next time you do this row, SSK instead of K2TOG. Alternating decreases in this manner will reduce the natural bias of the stitch.
4) K1, *YO, SSK*, repeat to one stitch remaining, K1
5) K1, *YO, K2TOG*, repeat to one stitch remaining, K1
6) and 7) Knit across.


This sock is based on the idea that you know what suits you in a sock. You know what number of stitches to use with what needle to make the sock fit you! Because of this, the sock may be worked on any even number of stitches. It can be done from the toe up, or from the cuff down. It can be done on magic loop, DPNs, or 2 circular needles. You may use any heel construction you like. Here's what I did to get the socks you see here, roughly a woman's extra-large.

Needle-Size 2 Knitpicks Harmony Wood in the 36 inch length
Yarn-Handspun "Easter Eggs" from Feistywoman batts, approximately 300 yards. Use any fingering to sport weight yarn.


Cast on 12 stitches on each needle using Judy's Magic Cast-On.
Increase every other row until there are 26 stitches on each needle.

Begin stitch pattern shown above, working the pattern on the top of the foot only. The sole of the sock is knit only.
Work as many repeats as you need to get to three inches before the end of your foot.

Gusset (Fake gusset, but who will know?)
Now, start increasing on the sole, every other row, by K1, M1 (or KFB, I prefer M1) K to one stitch remaining, M1 (or KFB)
When you have increased by about 30% of your sole stitches, in my case to 38 stitches on the sole, you'll begin working the heel.

Knit the instep stitches. Now, knit your increased stitches, then your original sole stitches minus one. Wrap and turn. In my case, this was 31 stitches, wrap and turn. Purl to one stitch before the increased stitches on the other side, in my case 24 stitches, wrap and turn. Knit to one before the wrapped stitch, wrap and turn. Continue in this way until you have six wrapped stitches on either side of the heel.

When you've purled and placed your last wrap on that side, knit to the wrapped stitches on the other side, pick up the wraps and knit them with the stitches. When you've knit all the wrapped stitches, turn and purl back to the other side, pick up the wraps and purl with the stitches.

Knit back to one before your original increased stitches. There will be a small gap between your last picked up wrap and the first increased stitch. SSK these two stitches. Then, turn, slip, and purl across to one before your increases on the other side, where again, there will be a small gap. Purl 2 together. Slip 1, K 1 across and repeat the SSK on the next increased stitch, slip 1, purl across and repeat the purl 2 together.

Continue in this way until all wrapped stitches on the knit side are done. You should have one stitch not P2TOG'd on the other side, this is all part of the plan. Resume your stitch pattern on the instep stitches. When you come back around to the leftover purl stitch on the heel needle, SSK and knit across.



Once your heel is complete, you want to set up to begin doing the stitch pattern the whole way around the leg. You will begin the stitch pattern on the heel stitches on row 4, 5, 6, or 7 only. If you're on rows 1-4. just knit the heel stitches. When you're ready to begin the pattern all the way round the leg, move one stitch at the beginning of the heel to the instep and move one stitch from the beginning of the instep to the heel. This will prevent the pattern having a jog from the leg to the foot sections.
When working the leg, drop the K1 at the beginning and end of each row.
1) *yo, K1* repeat around
2) K across
3) K2TOG. The next time you do this row, SSK instead of K2TOG. Alternating decreases in this manner will reduce the natural bias of the stitch.
4) *YO, SSK*, repeat around.
5) *YO, K2TOG*, repeat around
6) and 7) Knit across.

That's it! Keep working the leg pattern until you're almost out of yarn. Do an inch or so of 2x2 ribbing (or whatever kind you want) and bind off loosely. I used a "cast on one, bind off three" bind-off for mine, but the sewn bind-off will also work fine.




MadCarlotta said...


And I see you had the decency to shave your legs before taking a picture of your socks. Unlike a certain Shark we know...

PS My captcha word is "skinte", which is exactly what I am until next Friday so I'm very amused

Unknown said...

MadCarlotta, I haven't shaved my legs since my wedding day in 2005. :)

KnittingReader said...

I love these! What great colors and the pattern is terrific.

Thank you so much for Haroun and the Sea of Colors--it's a great book.

Feisty said...

I KNEW it was Roman Stripe! Recognized it right away!

You do such a lovely job with my fiber, proud to have you work with it.

Unknown said...

@MC, Lucky genes. I have gorilla hair on my left leg where I have the scarring etc from the surgery but my right leg is fine, pale hair.