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Thursday, 12 September 2019

Seed Stitch Gardening Socks

I've been having a play with my standard sock pattern and designed something that's a bit chunkier than the normal vanilla sock. The seed stitch with the Dutch slip stitch sole creates a much more resilient sock that works well with boots. All things told they're perfect for wearing with wellies for an autumn tidy-up outdoors!




If you haven't knit socks before you may find my "anatomy of a sock" explanation here helpful. I wrote it up by way of explanation for my basic pattern. My socks divide into the component parts shown in the photograph below:


The cuff

Cast on 60 stitches using 4 ply wool and 2.5 mm double pointed needles.
Share the stitches equally between three needles - i.e. with 20 stitches per needle. Join the circle so that the sock may be knit in the round. Remember that you knit from right to left so you need to join the circle to knit clockwise going around the circle. Be careful not to get any twists between the needles when you join - otherwise the socks will knit up twisted and become an unwearable disaster. 

If you wish to make your socks larger or smaller you can cast on a greater or lesser number of stitches. Just make sure that your total number of stitches is a multiple of 6 for this pattern to work. I would strongly recommend that you grab your favourite, comfiest socks and use them as a template. 

Row 1: *Knit 2, purl 2*. Repeat from * to * all the way round.
Repeat row 1 until the cuff of the sock is the desired length - about 4cm to my way of thinking, but you can copy the length of the cuff on your favourite socks.

On the last row work to the final stitch, and make a new stitch by knitting into both the front and back of the last stitch. You will now have 61 stitches. By way of explanation: you  need to have an odd number of stitches to successfully work seed stitch in the round.

The Leg

When you've knit the cuff, continue with seed stitch until the leg of the sock (including the cuff) measures 15 cm - or however long you would like the leg of your sock to be. Seed stitch is super easy:
Row 1: *Knit 1, purl 1*. Repeat from * to * all the way round.
Row 2: *Purl 1, knit 1*. Repeat from * to * all the way round. The idea is to do the work the opposite to the stitch that was worked in  the previous round.

The Heel

From this point onward we must distinguish between the 30 heel stitches and the 31 instep stitches. For the purpose of making the heel only the 30 heel stitches are worked. The instep stitches get a rest whilst the heel is being worked. They do not get worked whilst we work on the heel. We'll pick them up and work them again on the other side of the heel.

Row 1: Knit 2, *slip 1, knit 1*. Repeat from * to * until you have worked a total of 30 stitches. Turn. N.B: you will work the heel flap back and forth in the flat.
Row 2: *Slip 1, purl to the end of the row.
Row 3: *Slip 1, Knit 1*. Repeat from * to * to the end of the row.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until the flap measures 5 cm (2").

Now we need to turn the heel. The idea here is to use short-row shaping to create the little pouch that will cushion the underside of the heel. This is structured so that one third of the stitches in the centre are worked all the time, with each row picking up an extra stitch from the third of unworked stitches at each side on the turn of the short rows. I'll set out the exact stitch numbers for my 60 stitch standard sock below, but if you're trying to work out the maths for a different sock stitch combination, just keep that principle in mind.

Row 1: slip 1, purl 16, purl 2 together, purl 1 and turn (i.e. you finish the row before you finish all the stitches and start knitting back the other way ignoring the 10 unworked stitches on the right needle).
Row 2: slip 1, work 5 following the slip 1, knit 1 pattern of the heel, slip 2 stitches knit-wise from the left needle to the right needle, and then insert the left needle into the front of them both and knit them together (SSK), knit 1 and turn.
Row 3: slip 1, purl 6, purl 2 together, purl 1 and turn.
Row 4: slip 1, work 7 following the slip 1, knit 1 pattern of the heel, SSK, knit 1, turn.

Carry on in this way picking up one extra stitch each time to work the decrease stitches (SSK/ Knit 2 together) until you have worked in all the stitches from the edges of the row. You should finish on a knit row with 18 stitches on the needle.


Photo showing what the sock will look like after the gusset stitches have been lifted on either side of the heel. You should have 30 instep stitches, 14 gusset stitches on each of the needles on either side of the heel and 18 stitches across the back of the heel.

The Gusset

We now need to pick up stitches along the sides of the heel flap where those slip 1 stitches with which each row of the heel flap was commenced have given you an exaggerated stitch along each edge of the flap. This makes the business of picking up stitches all the easier.

Using a new needle, Pick up 14 stitches on the left side of the heel, knit across the instep, being careful to pull the tension tight on the first stitch of the instep needle. With another new needle, pick up another 14 stitches on the other side of the heel flap.

At this point in the process I work with 4 live needles: needle 1 for the heel stitches, needle 2 for the picked up stitches to the left of the heel flap, needle 3 for the instep stitches, which have been held doing nothing whilst we've worked the heel, and needle 4 for the picked up stitches to the right of the heel flap. 

Row 1: needle 1 heel stitches: knit 1, slip 1, needle 2: knit 1, slip 1 to last 3 stitches, knit 2 together, knit 1, needle 3: knit in seed stitch across the instep stitches, needle 4: knit 1, SSK, knit 1, slip 1 to the end of needle.
Row 2: knit all stitches on needles 1,2 and 4 and work the instep stitches on needle 3in seed stitch.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have 61 stitches: i.e. 18 stitches on needle 1 (back of heel), 6 stitches on needle 2 (left heel flap picked-up stitches), 31 stitches across needle 3 (instep) and 6 stitches on needle 4 (right heel flap picked-up stitches). We are going to carry on knitting the instep stitches on needle 3 in seed stitch, and all the other stitches in Dutch Slip stitch.

I prefer to return to using 3 needles  at this point. You could continue with 4, but I think it's easier to marshal three. If you'd like to follow my 3-needle lead on  the next row (maintaining the pattern) knit around to needle 4, and on needle 4 work the 6 needle 4 stitches together with 9 stitches from needle 1 (back of heel) onto the same new needle, work the second 9 stitches from needle 1 (back of heel) onto another new needle along with the 6 stitches from needle 2 (left heel flap picked-up stitches), and keep 31 instep stitches from needle 3 intact. In this way you will have two needles of 15 stitches for the left and right heel with a third needle of 31 instep stitches.

The Foot

Carry on knitting until your work is about 5 cm short of the total length that you would like the finished sock foot to measure. Ideally take your measurements here from your favourite/ most comfortable socks.

The Toe

Shape the toe.

Row 1: decrease row - you will lose a total of 4 stitches on this row.
Needle 1: work in pattern to last 3 stitches, knit 2 together, knit 1. Needle 2: knit 1, SSK, work in pattern to the last 3 stitches, k 2 together, knit 1. Needle 3: Knit 1, SSK, work in pattern to the end of the needle.
Row 2: work in pattern without any decreases.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until there are 32 stitches left in total. After this point repeat, only row 1 until there are 12 stitches in total.

When you have 12 stitches, divide them evenly between two needles and finish the toe with a Kitchener seam. You can find an explanation of how to sew a Kitchener seam towards the end of the pattern here.

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