Hemşin Sock Again

Hemşin (HEM-sheen) is a village - actually two different villages with people of the same ethnic origin - in Turkey's E. Black Sea region. I first saw a similar sock to this on a friend whose mother had knitted it for him.

I'd started this sock before but wasn't liking the yarn -too splitty and fuzzy. So I pulled out the needles and started over, this time with a nice dark teal yarn and an almost-white for the pattern. I'll have to get the original sock in front of me to analyze the heel though.

You can see where the white was being knitted a bit tight (Englisg style) at first but it's mostly okay now. Photos coming.

The striped bottom (and various variations) are very common in Turkey village socks. In addition to the aesthetic side, it also creates a sturdier fabric since you get a very equal distribution of the two colors on the back.

Image icon 20130906_231927-1.jpg226.4 KB
Image icon 20130906_231938-1.jpg255.76 KB


Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Gorgeous sock, Bob. I look forward to updates on how it progresses. I should try some of these someday as I love looking through Zilboorg's book and other books that include Turkish socks.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

bobinthebul's picture

Thanks Joe. I think it was Zilboorg's book I saw that had lots of Turkish patterns (as in motifs) but the socks were not constructed in Turkish ways. I should start one and take a photo or two of how it progresses. It's a "vertical" cast-on. I.e. the cast-on is four dark, two white and four dark, totalling 8 stitches (I use Judy's magic; Turkish knitters would not of course). You then knit the first row, put in an increase in between the needles, knit the other side and put in another increase. The next time you knit down the 4-2-4, you put in a loop on either side of the first increase you did, and ditto on the other end. So your original cast-on grows as the "side bar" (you can see the middle of it as the white band on the edge of the sock), plus whatever ornaments you want to add (in this case, the repeating "hook" pattern inside the blue part of the band (extending from those original four blue cast-on loops). The sort of irregular white stitches on the inner side of that band from the point to where the sock straightens out are the increases, done in white.

I believe some Norwegian work (which has a historic tie to Turkish knitting) is constructed in the same way.

Sara Katsan's picture

Aw-right! now you're talking my language!

great! please show us as it progresses

btw: i am convinced that the reasoning behind the sole being in those 1+1 or 2+2 stripes/diagonals/diamonds is that it is a quick way to get across to the other side, without thinking or needing to concentrate at all, it just 'gets it done'. i never thought about it being for a strength reason. who knows. i was made fun of for doing it, but i made my heels on a few pairs in garter stitch thinking it would make a stronger heel and be more comfortable. not sure why they laughed, as i am still experimenting/learning on the fly.

good to see you doing traditional patterns.

bobinthebul's picture

Who is this "they" who laughed? I say let them knit one.
(And besides, as you're knitting with two colors, how else did they think you should get both strands across?)

I've seen a couple socks where the stripes were completely vertical, others where they were completely diagonal, and even one where the colors were alternated 1x1, with alternate dark/light on each row. (The diagonal requires an offset 2x2.)

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Thanks for the reply. I think the patterning across the Norwegian mittens - which are often different on the palm and back - is for the same reasons that you and Demetri point out: It carries the yarn across but also maintains the double thickness for wearability and warmth. Again, the patterning has many opportunities for decorative elements and that is part of the fun of it all - "Where can I take this next?" That's one of the reasons I enjoy socks - there is always another idea sparking off the one I'm currently designing/knitting.

And that's true of Zilboorg - she takes the inspiration but not necessarily the techniques for Turkish socks. Although, technically, I guess we should just say the Balkan region, since several groups knit similar styles but have different colorways, motifs, etc.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Thunderhorse54's picture

Very nice. I've never tried color work. The more I see what the guys on here have done. I'm exploring it more and more.

Tom Hart's picture

So amazingly beautiful... The colors, the pattern. Makes me proud to be a knitter and gives me an aspiration.

ronhuber's picture

I love that pattern. Will look forward to seeing progress reports. Beautiful work.

JRob's picture

They look great Bob. Can not wait to see them done and on your feet.

bobinthebul's picture

Second time through the pattern (let's see if this link works...


Bill's picture