My 3 year old is going through a fussy phase – she hates wearing socks. Well, I hate her little legs getting cold in this chilly autumnal weather, so a solution had to be found! Luckily, she asked me to knit her some rainbow socks “with lots of pink”. She stroked my stash of Biggan Design DK First Cross Merino with a purr. Then she started giving me directions: the stripes had to be ‘this’ wide (she showed me with her fingers); they had to have pink toecaps and heels, and pink foldovers; they had to be thick and not floppy; they had to come all the way right up to ‘here’, and they had to be soft (she has very sensitive skin). Crikey, talk about being an exacting customer!
Using the bright and incredibly soft Biggan Design yarn helped lots, because I already know that it’s soft enough to be next to her skin and that it’s durable: my husband has been abusing his iPhone sock made out of it for almost a year now, and it *still* looks good as new. So I know it’ll be great for socks.
I showed my Facebook likers the sock in progress (photo, above) and some asked me for the pattern. Well, it’s not one of my own! It’s even better than that, and I’ll share how I knitted the socks with you now. Note: I’ll add finished ‘action shot’ photos and detailed pics of the socks on Rose later on – I’m in too much of a rush to share this brilliant pattern with you!
What You’ll Need To Begin
OK, first of all, choose your yarn. For once, don’t bother going for special sock yarn in teeny thin ply. Go on, knock yourself out! Now look at the ball band where it gives you a gauge square for a particular size of knitting needles, and get yourself that size of knitting needles (either a circular, or a set of double-pointed ones). You’ll also need ready-access to the foot you’re knitting for, or know the width and length of the feet.
I must admit at this point that I decided to use 3.25mm needles instead of the recommended 4mm needles for the DK yarn because Rose likes dense socks to go under her wellies. Don’t fret if you’re a needle size out – just use the ball band as a guide.
Now absolutely do not bother doing a tension or gauge swatch… I know! I know! I’m loving this pattern already! It’s because you just go for it: you go ahead and knit the top of the toe and use that as a tension swatch. No messing around.
Basic Knitting Pattern
And the pattern? It’s this very short, clever, witty one by Don Yarman: Yarmando’s Evil Genius Socks. You can use this for any yarn, any gauge and any size of foot. It’s absolutely brilliant in its neatness!
I wrapped my yarn around the 3.25mm circular needle 5 times, then followed Yarmando’s pattern precisely for the foot part. I knitted the toe increases entirely in pink, then switched to red yarn. Every 10 rows I switched to the next rainbow colour, still following his pattern. I switched from green to pink again just for the heel increases, then back to green and the rest of the rainbow, only now I did a plain K1 P1 rib for the leg instead of stocking stitch for the foot.
Because I knitted my sock in a very dense knit, I needed a little more ‘give’ at the calves. Rose loves things like lovehearts, so I worked a little increase at the start of my purple stripe. Just a simple ‘m1’ either side of the centre stitch at the back of the sock leg. On each 2nd round I increased a stitch each side of the previous round’s increases, forming a little ‘v’ shape, and knitted the new stitches instead of ribbing them. When I had increased by 8 extra stitches, I then used knits and purls over the next 3 rounds to shape the V into a love heart (see bottom of post). After that, I reverted back to the k1 p1 rib until the sock was the length Rose demanded it (mid-knee).
For the top foldover, I knitted half a stripe in pink (so for me that was 5 rounds), then I cast off using my favourite simple elastic rib cast-off by Margaret Stove and described so well by Mel Clark on her website Slip Slip Knit. I put the last stitch onto a 3mm crochet hook, ie one size down from my knitting needles. Then I turned my work around 180degrees so that I was crocheting anti-clockwise instead of continuing to work clockwise – this was so that my edging would face the right way when I folded it over. I crocheted a simple scallop edge: I used the one Matushka Anna describes and photographs so well on her wonderful blog Praying With My Feet. She doesn’t slip-stitch the scallops in symmetrically, and the scallops sit more evenly and perfectly as a result, in my opinion.
When I’d worked my way all around the top, I finished off the last stitch and darned in the end. Then tackled all the other ends (27! That’s the price you pay for beautiful rainbows, though…). Remember that if you darn in the ends along a row or round then you can sometimes lose stretch: better to darn up and down the rounds vertically. It also makes it less likely that the ends will work their way out, too. (Note: I give detailed end-darning directions with photos on many of my knitting patterns).
For Clarity: How I Worked My Calf Increases
Increase Round 1: Work as normal until the middle stitch (so for me, this was k1 p1 for 10 sts), then work ‘m1, k1, m1’, then complete the round as normal.
Next round: k1 p1 rib as normal, but purl the 2 increased stitches and knit that middle stitch (so I k1 p1 for 10sts, p1, k1, p1, then continued ribbing p1, k1).
Increase Round 2: Work up until the stitch before the first increase (ie k1 p1 for 10 sts as before for me), work ‘m1, k3, m1’, then finish the round as normal.
Next round: k1 p1 rib as normal, but purl the 2 increased stitches and k3 over the heart. (For me: k1, p1 for 10 sts, p1, k3, p1, then p1 k1 repeat to end)
Increase Round 3: Work up until the stitch before the first increase in the round 2 below then work ‘m1, k5, m1’.
Next round: k1 p1 rib as normal, but purl the 2 increased stitches and k5 over the heart.
Increase Round 4: As above, but this time m1, k7, m1
Next round: k1, p1 rib as normal, but purl the 2 increased stitches and k7 over the heart.
Shape Top Round 1: k1, p1 rib up till the heart (so for me, k1 p1 for 10 sts). P1, k2, p1 (centre stitch of heart), k2, p1. Then continue p1 k1 rib to end.
Shape Top Round 2: k1, p1 rib up till the heart. P8. k1 p1 rib till end.
Next round: k1 p1 rib throughout.
For my little girl, these 8 extra stitches were enough, and I increased every other round because she has short little legs. You may not need to increase at all if you’re knitting a normally stretchy sock. Comment below if you need me to go through how to figure increases out, and I’ll write another blog post teaching you how xxx