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Sheep Shp Yarn

Scared of dpns or circulars? Turning a heel terrifies you? The thought of Kitchener grafting makes you go ga-ga? Try these easy socks on two straight needles.

Inspired by a machine-knit method, they start at the heel, work along the sole to the toe, back along the instep and then up the leg. The heels and toes use a really easy short-row method, and to give the ribs a bit of extra zing they're done in a cable pattern -- the cheat's version, dead simple to do and no cable needles to worry about.

As socks in pure new wool tend to wear out far too quickly, these are reinforced at heels and toes by knitting in a polyester sewing thread along with the wool. Use the really stretchy bind-off I discovered in Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears so the top of the rib sits comfortably on your calf. Sew up the side seams using mattress stitch so they're invisible on the outside and comfortable on the inside and there you have it --gorgeous socks and not a dpn or circular in sight! They're comfy and cosy and quick to knit -- ideal for the phobic first-time sock-knitter.

photos: Elizabeth Allen

To fit ladies foot, average width

Foot circumference: 8 inches
Foot length: Custom

Jaeger Matchmaker Merino DK [100% pure new wool; 131yd/120m per 50g ball]; color: #822; 2 balls

1 set US #6/4mm straight needles
Several yd/m of smooth waste yarn in contrasting color and similar thickness to working yarn - mercerized cotton is recommended
1 spool polyester sewing thread in coordinating color with working yarn
Safety pin
Tapestry needle
20 sts / 28 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here]

C2F [Cross 2 Front]: Bring right needle in front of first st on left needle and knit into second st; k into first st, drop both sts from left needle.

Instructions for Mattress Stitch can be found here.


Left Sock
Using waste yarn, CO 21 sts.

K 4 or 5 rows. Break yarn.

Join working yarn, leaving a long tail, and p 1 row.

*Make a slip knot in end of sewing thread and slip around end of left needle.

When working next row, k loop of slip knot together with first st on needle, and hold thread together with working yarn when working remaining sts. Hold the tail end of the thread together with the yarn and thread, to knit in the tail.

Continue to work with thread and yarn held together while working heel.

K20, w&t. P19, w&t.
K18, w&t. P17, w&t.
K16, w&t. P15, w&t.
K14, w&t. P13, w&t.
K12, w&t. P11, w&t.
K10, w&t. P9, w&t.
K8, w&t. P7, w&t.

Place a safety pin in the row just worked; the length of the sock foot will be measured from this point.

When working the short rows which follow, the sts which have been wrapped in the preceding set of short rows will be wrapped again.

K8, w&t. P9, w&t.
K10, w&t. P11, w&t.
K12, w&t. P13, w&t.
K14, w&t. P15, w&t.
K16, w&t. P17, w&t.
K18, w&t. P19, w&t.
K20, w&t. P21. Break sewing thread, leaving a 6-inch tail.

Hold thread tail together with working yarn when working next row.

Cont in stockinette st until foot measures 2 inches less than desired length, ending with a WS row.*

You can try the sock on to check length by slipping your heel into the cup-shaped heel formed by the short rows, and laying the work along the sole of your foot. Make a note of how many rows have been worked for the sole.

Toe and Instep
Work from * to * as for Heel and Sole. Be sure to work the same number of rows for the instep as you worked for the sole.

Join for Leg
Note: When joining the back and front of the sock in the step which follows, you will be working into the first row of sts worked with the working yarn, at the beginning of the heel. To obtain the right number of sts, it will be necessary to pick up an extra st in a loop adjacent to the first or last st of the row.

The waste yarn will be removed from these sts during the finishing process.

Be certain that sock is not twisted!

Fold work at toe, so that CO edge of heel meets sts on needle.With WS facing, pick up and p 21 sts in loops of first row of heel worked in working yarn (see photo). 42 sts on needle.

Next Row [RS]: K20, k into back loops of next 2 sts (to tighten join between front and back of sock), k to end.

P 1 row.

Row 1 [RS]: [K2, p2] to last 2 sts, k2.

Rows 2, 4 [WS]: [P2, k2] to last 2 sts, p2.
Row 3
[RS]: [K2, p2, C2F, p2] to last 2 sts, k2.
Repeat Rows 1-4 until leg measures 5 inches, or desired length.

BO Row [RS]: [P2tog, slip st on right needle back to left needle] until all sts have been bound off. Break yarn, leaving a long tail, draw through last st and pull tight.

Right Sock
Work Heel, Sole, Toe and Instep as for Left Sock.

Join for Leg
K 1 row.

Fold work at toe, so that CO edge of heel meets sts on needle.With RS facing, pick up and k 21 sts in first row of heel worked in working yarn (see photo). 42 sts on needle.

Next Row [WS]: P20, p into back loops of next 2 sts, p to end.

Work Leg as for Left Sock.


Remove waste yarn by snipping first and last st of last row worked in waste yarn (be careful not to cut working yarn). Pull the strand of yarn which forms the row of sts held by the working yarn; the row should unravel easily and the small flap of waste yarn will drop off.

Sew seams at side of foot and side of leg using mattress stitch.

Weave in ends.


Elizabeth Allen is a machine-knitter and designer who never lost her love for knitting with two sticks. (Note: two sticks, not four or five!) She's been knitting every which way for the last 20 years or so and often incorporates hand knit touches into her machine-knits, and vice versa. She got into sock knitting when Santa gave her a copy of Cat Bordhi's book Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles. However, Elizabeth's socks didn't.

So she tried dpns, but preferred wrestling with a tarantula. Thus the Socks on Two Sticks were born.