the latest version of my sock

Here’s a picture of my latest. I’ve been making versions of this sock, on and off, for the past three years. For the past 6 or 7 months, it’s been mainly “on”. I couldn’t really tell you how many times I’ve knit this sock. But I’m feeling that this time may really be The One that I’ve been looking for.

The pattern for this sock is Ann Norling’s Adult Basic Sock. The leg part is single-knit on size 6 needles in worsted weight. 40 stitches. From the heel-flap on it’s double-knit on size 3 needles in DK weight. 48 stitches. I change colors every stitch so that both sides of the fabric will be fully interknit with each other. This creates a strong, long-wearing, and stretchy sock fabric. The heel flap of this sock is knit flat, *slip 1, knit 1* across the row on the knit side, and slip 1 and purl to the end of the row on the other side. So every other row you’re slipping every other stitch. All that slippage adds up and you end up with a fabric that is quite different from standard stockinette. This is doubly true when you double-knit it. For this latest version I’ve used the heel-flap pattern for the entire sole of the sock. My guess is that it will feel smoother underfoot than any sock I’ve knit yet. I will soon find out.

I have tried it on, of course, and it feels OK so far but the real test will be walking around in it. I CAN tell you that the bottom (sole) of the sock seems to have very little stretch while the top (instep) has boatloads. I’m looking forward with great anticipation to seeing what this will feel like on my foot inside of my shoe.

I’m also including a picture of an early attempt from a few years ago. You can see how far I’ve come...

UPDATE: Well I finished it a couple of hours ago and have been wearing it ever since. It’s too small. The reason that it’s too small is that the bottom part of the sock with all the slipped stitches not only doesn’t stretch, it actually constricts the sock. When the sock is on my hoof, the top part of the sock is stretched to the limit and it feels tight. I’m wearing the previous version (same exact everything except for the slipped stitches) on the other foot and it’s not stretched at all. It fits perfectly and comfortably.

So I’m going to try this again and add 8 stitches: 4 to the bottom and 4 to the top. We’ll see how that goes...

Image icon latest 11.9.13.jpg428.3 KB
Image icon early attempt.jpg438.93 KB
Image icon comparison.jpg444.82 KB


Bill's picture

I've seen "The Sock"'s beautiful...and I'm so impressed with how hard Tom has worked to experiment with gauge, yarn and technique!!!!

Tom Hart's picture

Thanks, Bill. And thanks for your weeks of tutoring and walking me through the Ann Norling pattern way back at the beginning of this process. I remember when you told me that it was time for me to learn how to make a sock, I still wasn't able to knit in the round properly. Somehow, whatever problem I was having with knitting in the round vanished when I started learning socks. Thanks for teaching me how to do this, Bill.

ronhuber's picture


Tom Hart's picture

Thanks, Ron. Hopefully this sock will prove to be mate-worthy and I'll be on my way to making my first pair...

Crafty Andy's picture

You are making the perfect sock for you, but it helps all of us with your experience. I have made color stranded socks and it is not easy. Congratulations on your success and you will get the perfect sock sooner or later.

Tom Hart's picture

Thanks, Andy, for your encouragement. I'm enjoying working this thing out. And I think you're right: sooner or later the perfect sock will arrive...

Bill's picture

Sorry about that!'s the new slipstitch sole? Hopefully the extra stitches will do it....

Tom Hart's picture

Yes, Bill. It's all on account of the sole. Hopefully the extra stitches will do it. But I may also add 2 extra rows to the sole, as well. Not quite sure how I'm going to do that...

Nehkhasi's picture

Though it may not fit it's still beautiful and may actually be a wonderful sock for someone else in your life. It encourages me to see anyone of you continue ahead in creating a finished object to not become as frustrated as I can become, deal with it, focus and continue moving forward to create the object I intended to initially. Hope that the next go round you'll hit it exactly where your desire to!


Tom Hart's picture

Thanks, Nehkhasi. I'm hoping so too.

CLABBERS's picture

I admire your tenacity and persistence. I was fiddling with two-color linen stitch a few weeks ago. I was just making swatches. The next step will be incorporating it into a sock or scarf or hat. I really like your sock!


Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Most interesting, Tom. It's been quite an experience watching the results of your experiment.

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

Tom Hart's picture

Thanks, Joe. When someone of your caliber describes my beginner’s experiments in sock-making as “interesting”, I take that as high praise, indeed. I’m enjoying it. I’m really liking sock-knitting. It’s so portable. I can take it with me anywhere.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Thank you for the kind words, Tom. I appreciate them and agree about socks - very portable and enjoyable to knit...most of the time. I'm just finishing up a pair that has been in the works since mid-July. Then I have to write up the pattern notes and turn them over to the test knitters. It ought to be fun to see what their feedback will be. The initial reaction of others has been pretty positive, which is encouraging. Of course, all socks are a potential learning experience, no matter how plain the pattern, which is one of the reasons I knit so many of them anymore. Take care.

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

Tallguy's picture

Too bad I didn't hear of you attempting this sock earlier -- I could have saved you some work. But we sometimes need to do it ourselves in order to learn the lesson!

I thought the same as you -- to make the sole thicker by using the heel pattern. So a couple of years ago, I did just that. As you say, the sole was nice and cushy -- and much shorter than the rest of the sock! I had forgotten that the slip stitch pattern is NOT two rows long, but actually about 1 and a half. So when doing the instep, you are putting in two rows, while the sole is getting much less. Of course, the sole has very little stretch in it as well.

The solution would be to insert a few short rows in the sole. That is, knit the sole, turn and work back, turn and then continue again in the round. How often you need to do this will require some calculation to know how much shorter it is from the instep. I would think that a couple of extra rows would be sufficient. You would have to insert them evenly through the sole -- and that would throw off your patterning slightly -- but as long as you keep track of where you are, you should be alright.

Now, EZ has a pattern similar to this in which she knits the sole separate from the instep. This was to make the sole replaceable, when it has a hole in it. That would be ideal, since you don't need to worry how to do the slip stitch pattern while working the rest of the sock in the round. Might be worth a try.

I have not attempted to make another sock with this technique! I wonder why.

Tom Hart's picture

Thanks, TallGuy.

And yes, you probably could have saved me months of work and a lot of yarn. But the result of it all is that I really “own” the information now. I understand now what gauge is and what it means and why it’s important. And I get now that there is a relationship between the 1) number of stitches, 2) the weight of the yarn, and 3) the size of the needles.

It’s nice to hear from someone who’s tried the sole with the slipped stitches. Yes, I’m adding extra rows to the sole as I go along. I’m not doing it in a calculated way (next time I think I will); I’m just kind of eyeballing it. You can see the shortness of the sole as you knit. When it starts to look uneven, I add a couple of rows. Or rather, as you pointed out, I’m only really adding a row and a half. I’ve done it 3 times so far, I think, maybe 4, not sure. I’m an inch or so away from starting the decreases for the toe. I plan to keep adding rows as I need them right up until the final stitch of Lord Kitchener. I’m also planning to try the “Balıkesir” toe (or a cuff-down variation) recently revealed by Bob-on-the-Bosphorus. I’m very curious to see how that will turn out.