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May 20, 2007

Toe-less Ankle Sock: Sideways

The first challenge in my quest for a well-formed sideways sock was to tackle the heel.  After an initial attempt that closely resembled an internal organ -- a kidney perhaps -- I decided to knit a short-rowed heel ala Priscilla Gibson-Roberts and then mimic its shape vertically.   A few attempts got me fairly close, close enough to test my heel hypothesis on a toe-less ankle sock.

Here's the general game plan with a few casual numbers for a toe-less ankle sock that is 8.5 inches in circumference and has a 3 inch foot and leg.  My gauge is 8 stitches and 10 rows to an inch.

  1. Cast on using a provisional cast on of your choice -- I used the waste yarn approach.  The provisional cast on is later removed and the resulting live stitches grafted to the last row of stitches -- forming a tube.  The grafting runs from the center back of the ankle down the center of the foot's sole, splitting the heel shaping in half.  I casted on a total of 78 stitches: 8 stitches for the leg cuff, 16 stitches for the leg, 30 stitches for the heel, 16 stitches for the foot, and 8 stitches for the foot cuff.
  2. To shape the ankle slightly, the first 12 rows of the leg are worked in garter stitch.  Additionally double garter stitch is used ankle and foot cuffs to act as ribbing.

  3. At the same time, after working 8 rows, begin decreasing to reduce the heel stitches from 30 to 2 and to shape the heel from the bottom of the sole to the ankle bone.  2 stitches are decreased every row 14 times and are worked at the mid-point of the heel.  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.

  4. The instep of the sock is worked in relative calm, up and over the arch to the opposing ankle bone.  40 rows total.

  5. Increases are used to increase the heel stitches from 2 to 30, shaping the heel from the instep back down to the sole.  2 stitches are added every row 14 times and are worked at either side of the 2 center heel stitches.  Once the increasing is complete, 8 rows are worked even.

  6. At the same time, to complete the back ankle shaping, the final 12 rows of the leg are worked in garter stitch.

Once the knitting is complete, the live stitches from the provisional cast-on are grafted together with the stitches from the final row of knitting.  Friends! I had a grafting epiphany -- details here!

I'm extremely happy with the results.  The heel fits perfectly and definately reminds me of a short-rowed heel.  I added no ease to the circumference of the sock -- 8.5 inches in length (85 rows) to fit 8.5 inches of foot.  The sock puckers a bit at the front of the ankle, but not much more than a regular sock.  I've been wearing the sock for a couple of hours now -- in the privacy of my own home -- and it feels great with no saggying or bagging.  Next challenge? The foot and toe! 

For those interested, I'll write up the pattern once I'm done with my experimenting and have a sideways sock I'm happy with.  As always suggestions, jokes, links, and random observations are greatly appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed :-)

May 20, 2007 in Project - Socks | Permalink


I love them! Whenever i read about how one creates a pattern, or adapts them to something more relavent, i'm reminded of writing a research paper. Always referencing and quoting. Taking another's ideas and relating them differently. For anyone who thinks kitting is some hokey craft they really in for a big suprise.

Posted by: nishanna | May 20, 2007 3:52:35 PM

That's a really successful sideways sock. Are you planning to extend the pattern to include toes?

Posted by: Francesca | May 20, 2007 4:36:18 PM

How clever are you? And on a completely unrelated note, I'm happy to see that someone else in blogland is as pale as I am! :)

Posted by: Elli | May 20, 2007 5:06:02 PM

Yikes! The first picture looks a bit Frankenknit. Imagine being a new knitter and see that! I have to confess to being more than a little intrigued with your mission, so keep it up!

Posted by: AmyP | May 20, 2007 5:13:33 PM

Thanks so much for sharing this with us, it's so creative and very inspiring! Just can't wait to see it finish, and I'm already imagining how my stripey yarns would turn out sideways ;o)

Posted by: Maryann | May 20, 2007 6:11:04 PM

WoW! I love what you have come up with for the sideways sock. I puzzled over the mystery when you posted the other day and wondered what you would make. I really like it. I am glad you will be sharing the pattern. Thanks!

Posted by: Sarah | May 20, 2007 6:12:30 PM

Love it! My brain is too tired at the moment to really grasp what you did (just led a GS meeting at my house), but it does look great!

Posted by: AuntieAnn | May 20, 2007 6:16:30 PM

Beautiful!you did a marvelous job so far, the toe less anklets are calling my name. Thank you.

Posted by: Rachel | May 20, 2007 6:21:57 PM

Random observation: those look great!

Posted by: Sandy | May 20, 2007 6:23:32 PM

I need to invest in some sock yarn for summer and as soon as I do, I will be looking forward to making these. Perhaps in a cotton blend sock yarn. Thanks for keeping me updated!

Posted by: allie | May 20, 2007 6:27:54 PM

Random thoughts: My first thought was, why would I ever need to knit socks sideways? Then I realized that on top of learning a new knitting skill, and having vertical stripes (my calves will look thinner), sometimes it's easier to knit flat - only two needles to deal with, purling once in a while is fun. So I'll be game to try it out when you get a pattern written up.

Posted by: Brenda | May 20, 2007 7:55:42 PM


Posted by: Romi | May 20, 2007 7:57:09 PM

Me again, since I saw your swatch earlier today I think that your sample heel looks like a short row toe I made not long ago, my only problem is how to incorporate it nicely at the proper place in your creation,,, now in the middle of cooking dinner I thought it is quite easy but looking at your open toe less sock I am not so sure anymore,,,
Maybe you need to decrease 2 stitches at the center of your piece for one side, the same way you did for the heel and then one stitch on each end to get the other side, what do you think?

Posted by: Rachel | May 20, 2007 8:16:25 PM

It's fun watching your process in noodling this out. And you explain it so clearly. I love the photo of the pre-grafted sock with each step marked.

Posted by: Laura | May 20, 2007 11:14:03 PM

I love them. You know, it seems to me, your mitered heel, plus a wide spread proliferation of mitered knit projects = 1 pair of nifty mitered socks. phoenix mindgears start turning...

Posted by: phoenix | May 21, 2007 1:00:48 AM

Ihave been trying to develop the sideways sock patternto fit better so am very interested in your ideas. You mention the cuff being too tight. I found the garter stitch cuff works well if you use the short row technique. This just gives it a bit extra "give"

Posted by: Jude | May 21, 2007 2:54:00 AM

Just this morning I remembered seeing a free sideways pattern on Knitpicks:


Your knitting looks great. Congrats on figuring out this sock!

Posted by: Kathy | May 21, 2007 6:54:21 AM

I've always loved your slogan "If Nona Knits Then You Can, Too." It could also be "If Nona Does the Hard Work of Figuring it Out, Then You Don't Have To." LOL

I have some of that Opal Hundertwasser just waiting for your pattern. Thank You.


Posted by: Kathleen | May 21, 2007 7:59:38 AM

What a fascinating creature. It almost seems taxidermied, splayed out like that. Very informative. Now I understand the mechanics and look forward to a Nona's Better Mousetrap Sideways Sock pattern.

Posted by: Sonya | May 21, 2007 8:14:27 AM

Yes, please post the pattern when you are happy with your work! And thank you.

Posted by: Ruth | May 21, 2007 8:50:29 AM

I always love your original patterns. You are such a creative inspiration to new knitters like me. Thanks

Posted by: Mary | May 21, 2007 9:58:15 AM

That miter-like heel is freakin' brilliant.

Posted by: AuntieAnn | May 21, 2007 10:57:57 AM

Very interesting topic! I love seeing new ideas. I will look forward to your grafting epiphany as it is one of my least favorite tasks.

My first thought for avoiding grafting was to work the sock so the "seam" is at the instep and then knit together the live stitches with a cable running up the instep. Not really an easy solution, but it avoids grafting.

Posted by: Maia | May 21, 2007 12:21:22 PM

I'm looking forward to your end result. I tried to knit a side-ways sock, about 5 times, with varying degrees of failure. I think I achieved all the same problems you had, and maybe some more. Great job!

Posted by: Lizabeth | May 21, 2007 12:46:13 PM

Clever! I have a thought on your puckering issue. I find that short-row and afterthought heels pucker across the front of the ankle for me because they're really a bit too shallow for my foot; it's the strain from having the foot stitches pulled too tightly that makes them pucker. My solution to this is to add a gusset -- I start a couple of inches before the point where I intend to place the heel, and add a stitch on either side of the instep/front stitches (depending on which way I'm going) every other row until I've added about an inch worth of stitches on either side, and then work even until it's the right place to put in the heel, and then after the heel I work even the same number of rows and then decrease one stitch on each side every other row until I'm back to the original number. This works splendidly and lets me use these shallow heels without any instep puckering. The equivalent for your sideways sock, of course, would be shortrows on either side of the ankle.

Posted by: Sara | May 21, 2007 7:54:12 PM

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