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June 05, 2007

Sidewinders: Act I

Sidewinders are knit sideways -- back and forth -- from the top of the cuff to the end of the foot.    Once completed, the flat sock is joined into a tube using a little Grand Finale magic.

In Act I you'll cast on and concentrate on the first half of the heel.  Paired decreases are used every row to shape the heel from the bottom of the sole to the ankle bone.  These decreases remind me of a mitered square and have the same effect -- bending a straight line of stitches 90 degrees, perfect for turning a heel.  The cuff is worked in Double Garter stitch -- which simulates ribbing – while the leg is initially worked in Garter Stitch to give the back ankle a snug fit. 

Previous installments of this serial pattern include: The Prologue.

Did you get gauge?  Great!  Let's get started.

Sidewinders Act I: Heel In

Stitch Patterns

Double Garter

Row 1 (RS): Purl
Row 2 (WS): Knit
Row 3 (RS): Knit
Row 4 (WS): Purl

Slip Stitch Edge

Row 1 (RS): Slip 1 stitch purl-wise with yarn in front
Row 2 (WS): Knit 1 stitch through the back loop


RS -- Right Side Row.  In this pattern, all even rows are right side rows.
WS -- Wrong Side Row.  In this pattern, all odd rows are wrong side rows.
YO -- Yarn Over.

Right Slanting Decreases

k2tog -- Knit two stitches together
p2tog -- Purl two stitches together

Left Slanting Decreases

skp -- Slip 1 stitch knit-wise, knit 1 stitch, pass the slipped stitch up and over the knit stitch and off the needle.
ssp -- Slip 1 stitch knit-wise, slip another stitch knit-wise, return the 2 slipped stitches to left needle, and purl them together through the back loop.


Getting Started

Using the provisional cast on of your choice, cast on
(112, 113, 112), [(116, 117, 116)(119, 118, 119), (125, 125, 125)] stitches.
nonaSays  Don't know any provisional cast ons?  Cast on with waste yarn.  Switch to your real yarn with Row 1.  The waste yarn will be removed later to reveal live stitches.  For other variations, try google.

Row 1 (WS):  Place stitch markers to divide the sections of the sock as follows:

Purl (39, 38, 33), [(41, 38, 35), (42, 37, 36), (45, 41, 39)foot stitches,
Place foot marker,
Purl (12, 13, 15), [(12, 14, 15), (13, 15, 16), (13, 15, 16)] heel stitches,
Place center heel marker,
Purl (12, 13, 15), [(12, 14, 15), (13, 15, 16), (13, 15, 16)heel stitches,
Place leg marker,
Knit (41, 41, 41), [(43, 43, 43), (43, 43, 43), (46, 46, 46)leg stitches,
Place cuff marker,
Purl  8 cuff stitches.

Row 2 (RS):  Establish the stitch patterns used for each sock section as follows:

Work the 8 cuff stitches in Double Garter, starting with Row 1 of the stitch pattern.
Work the leg stitches in Garter Stitch
Work the heel stitches in Stockinette Stitch
Work up to the last foot stitches in Stockinette Stitch
Work the edge stitch in the Slip Stitch Edge stitch pattern, starting with Row 1
nonaSays  Don't forget to keep working the foot's Slip Stitch Edge.  It seems trivial now, but is very significant in the Grand Finale.

Continue in the establish stitch patterns for (4, 5, 6), [(4, 5, 6), (4, 5, 6), (5, 5, 7)] more rows.

nonaSays  Are you concerned that your sock is lacking a toe?  Don’t worry, the toe will magically appear in Act II.

Shaping the Heel

Next Row -- Row (7, 8, 9), [(7, 8, 9), (7, 8, 9), (8, 8, 10)] --   Continuing in the established stitch patterns, begin the heel shaping by working paired decreases every row as follows:

RS Rows:  Work to 2 stitches before the center heel marker, k2tog, skp, work to end of row
WS Rows:  Work to 2 stitches before center heel marker, ssp, p2tog, work to end of row
nonaSays  Some sizes start the heel shaping on a RS (even) row, while others start it on a WS (odd) row.  No Worries!

Repeat the decrease row (10, 11, 13), [(10, 12, 13), (11, 13, 14), (11, 13, 14)] more times -- you'll eventually get down to 2 heel stitches --  and at the same time...

Shaping the Calf

After finishing Row (9, 11, 13), [(9, 11, 13)(9, 11, 13), (9, 11, 13)] -- Insert a few short rows to add a little calf shaping.  These short rows should not be included in your row count.  Continuing in the established stitch patterns shape the calf using short-rows as follows:

RS - Work 20 stitches, Turn mid-row.
WS - YO, work 20 stitches to get back to the end of the needle.
RS - Work 16 stitches, Turn mid-row.
WS - YO, work 16 stitches to get back to the end of the needle.
RS - Work 12 stitches, Turn mid-row.
WS - YO, work 12 stitches to get back to the end of the needle.
nonaSays  When working short-rows, you "turn mid-row" after working only part of that row -- trying your best to ignore the un-worked stitches.  The YO is used later to close the gap formed by your mid-row turning escapade.  On WS rows, you always work back to the end of the needle.

Next Row -- Row (10, 12, 14), [(10, 12, 14)(10, 12, 14), (10, 12, 14)] -- Switch the leg stitch pattern from Garter Stitch to Stockinette Stitch.  Also, when you encounter the 3 YOs, knit each together with the next stitch to close the gap formed by turning the short row.  Continue the heel decreases and don't forget to work the foot’s Slip Stitch Edge.

Finishing Up

Last Row -- Row (17, 19, 22), [(17, 20, 22), (18, 21, 23), (19, 21, 24)]   -- should be your last row of heel decreases.  When working this row reposition your stitch markers as follows:

Keep the center heel and cuff markers,
Remove leg and foot markers, and
Add a center toe marker 2 stitches in from end of the foot (the foot's slip stitch edge stitch counts as one of these 2 stitches).

When finished with this row, you should have:

8 cuff stitches,
(41, 41, 41), [(43, 43, 43), (43, 43, 43), (46, 46, 46) leg stitches,
2 heel stitches, and
(39, 38, 33), [(41, 38, 35), (42, 37, 36), (45, 41, 39)] foot stitches

For a total of (90, 89, 84), [(94, 91, 88), (95, 90, 89), (101, 97, 95) stitches.


Please take a moment to admire your heel shaping.  The paired decreases created a right angled miter that connects the leg with the foot at a 90 degree angle.  Too much math talk, I know, but it’s neat!


Tomorrow in Act II, the action will shift from the heel to the toe.

June 5, 2007 in Project - Socks, Serial Patterns | Permalink


Oooh, at last a sock I can knit that won't have those pesky little gaps I always get at the top corners of my heels no matter how hard I try to hide them.

You are so wonderful to share this giant leap forward in sock-knitting via the knitternet.

Posted by: Tiffanie | Jun 5, 2007 10:48:12 PM

Whoa. Whoa! That's really all I can say. I love the unusual way these look.

Posted by: colleen | Jun 6, 2007 5:54:43 AM

You're so smart it's scary.

Posted by: Cara | Jun 6, 2007 6:31:19 AM

For those of us with wider ankles/legs, would you suggest just sticking to ankle socks (a much shorter leg section)? I even thought about trying to add a short row of some sort to make the leg wider than everything else...

So excited I brought my yarn to work so I can get started right away :)

Posted by: Vicki | Jun 6, 2007 6:33:33 AM

Damn...I did my swatch but forgot to pack markers! will have to dig in bag for lost ones or scrap yarn! This looks so cool!

Posted by: Cathy | Jun 6, 2007 7:24:36 AM

I see from today's photo that you have high arches and a high whatever-the-foot-part-on-the-top-is-called like me and the rest of my family. This observation makes me doubly eager to try your Sidewinders. But first I have to finish my first Jaywalker.....cuz I need the same needles.

Posted by: Mary K. IN Rockport | Jun 6, 2007 7:50:57 AM

Thank you! I am going to cast on for these tonite.

Posted by: brenda | Jun 6, 2007 8:21:52 AM

Well, I used my #1's as usual (I'm not fond of the sock fabric I generally get with #2's) and have close to gauge -- 8-3/4 spi, 10.5 rpi. I think I'm going to go with these needles and a slightly larger pattern size and hope for the best. Hopefully I'm not courting disaster. But it's only yarn and can always be ripped out, right?

Posted by: AuntieAnn | Jun 6, 2007 9:08:15 AM

Hi Nona,
Thanks so much for doing this pattern and sharing it with us all. I have the first segment done. VERY interesting, and an enjoyable knit so far! My swatch was right on gauge, so hoping for the best. But, if not, it will fit SOMEONE, I am sure. Thanks again -- Great fun!

Posted by: Kathy in Iowa | Jun 6, 2007 9:40:21 AM

All I can say is.... Fabulous! Have to finish a pair of socks on the needles now, but this is my next project. Ohhhh, so many next projects. Thanks Nona. You are so good at this. Working out the kinks... and sharing.

Posted by: Anne | Jun 6, 2007 9:56:47 AM

They look fantasic!

Posted by: Caitlin Al-Ansari | Jun 6, 2007 11:07:18 AM

Nona...you soooo rock!!! They look amazing. Do you really have a very high arch? Hope so. I have high arch, long heel, normal ankle. Usually what goes over my foot is too big for my ankle. I'm wondering where to make adjustments here.

Those socks look like they are painted onto your foot.

Posted by: Angeluna | Jun 6, 2007 12:43:38 PM

Well now that I've figured out that I was using US 1's and not US 2's to do my gauge swatch with I should be ready soon. Of course I did gauge swatches using 3 different yarns before I finally clued in. Duh.

Posted by: April | Jun 6, 2007 1:14:29 PM

I can't wait to knit these...only problem so far is trying to print the dang sizing chart. Any possibility of changing that to a jpg so we can save it? Or link it to a separate page for printing. Thanks, I plan on doing my gauge swatch tonight!

Posted by: Karen | Jun 6, 2007 1:16:49 PM

You are so very clever! I can't wait to see how this works!!!!

Posted by: MissyJoon | Jun 6, 2007 3:04:04 PM

I'm a little confused with one part of the pattern... When it says "Shaping the Calf

After finishing Row (9, 11, 13), [(9, 11, 13), (9, 11, 13), (9, 11, 13)] -- Insert a few short rows to add a little calf shaping. These short rows should not be included in your row count. Continuing in the established stitch patterns shape the calf as follows:
Work 20 stitches, turn, YO, work to end
Work 16 stitches, turn, YO, work to end
Work 12 stitches, turn, YO work to end "

Are we supposed to knit to the end of the stitches on the needle (which is what I did and it looks wrong) or just knit to the end of the stitches for the heel.

I'm loving the pattern so far, I just don't want to go too far along without being sure if I'm doing this correctly.

Thanks for posting (and writing) the pattern!

Posted by: stacey | Jun 6, 2007 4:36:22 PM

Thanks for clearing up the question about whether or not to work back to the end of the needle! I hate to be a bug but I have one more question. Are we still decreasing the heel stitches as we work the short rows on the cuff?

Thanks again!

Posted by: stacey | Jun 7, 2007 8:02:26 AM

I really want to try these but I'll have to order needles. What length circulars do you suggest? Thanks!!

Posted by: Kristin | Jun 7, 2007 4:40:55 PM

I'm working away on Act 1, and just beginning
my heel shaping. I notice in the fine print
you mention that the RS = even rows and the
WS = odd rows. I might have my thinking
inside out, because I have been thinking all
along just the opposite. I thought my odd
rows were my right side and my even rows were
the wrong side. I am making the 9-10W size.
I guess what it boils down to, is what does
the bottom of your foot and heels look like
on the right side -- knits or purls?
I keep having to check where I am at, as this
does not seem intuitive to me yet -- you know
how it is with almost any new pattern before
you get used to it. Maybe I've already made
a mistake.

Posted by: Nancy | Jun 8, 2007 8:49:07 PM

I too am confused about whether the 8 cuff stitches are included in the 20/16/12 of the calf shaping or whether it starts from after the cuff marker?

other than that am loving the idea!

Posted by: Kate Freedman | Jun 9, 2007 9:02:23 AM

Just finishing Act I and LOVING IT! This pattern really gives STR a chance to shine! Love the elegant short rows too.

Posted by: Jen | Jun 12, 2007 2:21:47 PM

I have a slight glitch here - holes between the two decreases for the heel. I've tried to be careful to pull the yarn tight over the marker, but there's still a noticable path of holes. I'll probably have to go back and sew everything together. Does anyone have tips for avoiding this before I begin the toe decreases?

Posted by: Laura | Jun 18, 2007 11:43:44 AM

love these socks! where did you get this idea?

Posted by: shelly | Sep 26, 2008 3:27:07 AM

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