Donna's Writings


Pattern: Subversive Sock Pattern

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Click to Enlarge

This simple sock pattern is one I use all the time to make soft & cozy socks for myself as well as rough & sturdy work socks for my husband. You can change the size by using smaller or larger needles and thinner or thicker yarn. You can change the style by using a different ribbing pattern for the leg. After you make a few pairs, you’ll memorize the basic structure and techniques of sock making, and you should be able to add or remove stitches to adapt the basic pattern for using stitch patterns with different repeats. It’s really easy to make a sock, but the isntructions look confusing. The only way to figure it out is to make one. If you don’t want to make a pair as a test, use extra bulky yarn and fat needles and knit a Christmas stocking.

Tools and Materials

Yarn: 200 yards light worsted weight yarn.

One 560 yard skein of Toasty Toes superwash merino from Interlacements will make 2-3 pairs of socks, depending on how high you knit the leg portion. This yarn is so soft and cozy, it’s like putting your foot into a cloud. I also like Hifa sock yarn for strong hiking socks because it has nylon spun in with the wool. It comes in 2- and 3-ply versions. I use the 2-ply for myself, and the 3-ply for super strong work socks for my husband.

Needles: One set of four or five double-pointed needles size 3 US (or size required to obtain gauge).

Notions: Blunt tapestry needle for weaving in ends and sewing toe.


6 st = 1 inch (10 cm)

Knitting socks at a tighter gauge than normally recommended for the yarn creates a denser fabric that will be stronger than a looser fabric.

Because gauge is different when knit flat or in-the-round, use the beginning of the leg for your gauge swatch. If it’s right, you are that far ahead! If it’s wrong, just rip it out and start over. You haven’t spend more time knitting than if you’d knit a separate gauge swatch.


Women’s medium (shoe size 6 ½ – 9).

Finished foot circumference = 8 in. Foot is knit to desired length.

  • To make a larger sock (9.5 in. around), use worsted-weight yarn and size 4 US needles to get a gauge of 5 sts = 1 in.
  • To make a smaller sock (6.75 in. around), use sport-weight or sock yarn and size 2 US needles to get a gauge of 7 sts = 1 in.


Ribbring stitches (knit in-the-round)

Single rib: K1 P1 around for all rounds. (Multiple of 2 sts.)

Double rib: K2 P2 around for all rounds. (Multiple of 4 sts.)

Elastic rib: K3 P1 around for all rounds. (Multiple of 4 sts.)

Eyelet rib: (Multiple of 7 sts.)

Rounds 1, 2 and 4: K5, p2 around.

Round 3: K2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, p2. Repeat around.

Repeat rounds 1-4 for pattern.

Baby cable rib: (Multiple of 4 sts.)

Rounds 1, 2 and 4: P2, k2 around.

Round 3: P2, work 2-st twist. Repeat around.

Repeat rounds 1-4 for pattern.

Work 2-st twist as follows:

  • k2tog leaving the stitches on the left needle.
  • Knit the first stitch again, then slip both stitches off the needle.

Heel stitch (knit back-and forth)

Row 1 and all RS rows: (Sl 1, k1), repeat across.

Row 2 and all WS rows: S1, p across.

That is, on right side rows slip one, knit one, slip one, knit one, etc. (slip every other/odd stitch). Since you have an even number of stitches, you will end with a knit.

Then, on wrong side rows, slip the first stitch only, then purl across the rest of the row. The stitch you are slipping is the last knit stitch from the end of the previous row.


Cast on 48 sts (round up or down a few sts if necessary for your pattern stitch multiple). Distribute evenly on three or four double-pointed needles. Join in round, being careful not to twist stitches.


Work in the ribbing stitch of your choice for 6 in., or desired length of leg minus 1 in. (2.5 cm).

If desired for a looser ankle, change to Stockinette stitch (St st). Work even for 1 in. (2.5 cm).

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Click to Large


The heel is worked on half of the stitches:

Work across 12 sts, turn and work across 24 sts on the WS.

Place remaining 24 sts on holder to work later.

Work heel flap back and forth using heel stitch for 24 rows, or until heel makes a perfect square. End after working a WS row.

Turn heel

This is the curved part at the bottom of the heel. Don’t forget to turn the heel or you won’t be able to pick up sts properly for the instep. I forget this all the time, and then wonder why my sock looks so funny!

Row 1 (RS): Knit across 14 sts. SSK, k1, turn.

Row 2 (WS): Sl 1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn. (This creates a space between the stitches)

Row 3: Sl 1, knit to 1 st before space, ssk (stitch before and after space), k1, turn.

Row 4: Sl 1, p to 1 st before space, p2tog (stitch before and after space), p1, turn.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until all heel stitches have been used up, end after working a WS row.

14 sts remain on heel.


Work in St st, or with the sts on the top of the foot continuing the ribbing from the leg. The sides of the instep and the sole are always worked in St st.

Knit across heel stitches. With same needle, pick up and knit 12 st from side of heel.

With second needle, work across 24 instep stitches (previously put on hold).

With third needle, pick up and knit 12 st from other side of heel, and knit across half of the heel stitches.

Round 1, dec 2 st as follows:

  • Knit to last 3 st on needle 1, k2tog, k1.
  • Work across all st on needle 2 for instep.
  • On needle 3, k1, ssk, knit to end of needle.

Round 2: Work even.

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until 48 st remain.


Work even until piece measures 7 ½ in from heel, or 2 in. shorter than desired length.


Work in St st.

Round 1, dec 4 st as follows:

  • Knit to last 3 st on needle 1, k2tog, k1.
  • On needle 2, k1, ssk, knit to last 3 st, k2tog, k1.
  • On needle 3, k1, ssk, knit to end of needle.

Round 2: Knit

Work rounds 1 and 2 until 12 st remain.


Cut yarn leaving and 18 in. tail.

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Click to Enlarge

Option 1: Gathered toe

Thread tail trough all st, pull tight and fasten off.

Option 2: Woven toe

Keep sole stitches on one needle, arrange instep stitches on second needle. Weave toe with kitchener stitch. Fasten off.

Weave in loose ends.

Subversive Knitting

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