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Avery Allison Yarns

When I first started knitting, one of my favorite sweaters sported a "whale tail" motif formed by wandering 4-stitch cables. I asked myself why this couldn’t make the perfect nautical sock. Many, many swatches later, fed up with the yarn requirements and massive stitch count required for a true cabled sock to fit over my ankle, I arrived at a stitch pattern that you’d swear is cabled. The upside? The pattern is created entirely from strategically-placed increases and decreases, features less bulk at the ankles than true cables would, and you won’t be cursing as you attempt to fish your wayward cable needle out from the couch cushions.

Toe-up socks still not your thang? Turn the graph upside down and apply it to any cuff-down pattern in your chosen stitch count.

photos: Lesley Neily

S[M, L]
Length: To fit (Sock shown measures 10.5 inches; fits a woman’s size 11 foot)
Leg circumference: 7[7.5, 8] inches; will stretch to comfortably fit up to 10.5[11, 11.5] inches
Foot circumference: 6.5[7, 7.5] inches; will stretch to comfortably fit up to 9[9.5, 10] inches

Colinette Jitter Bug [100% merino wool; 320yd/291m per 110g skein]; color: #166; 1 skein

Recommended needle size:
2 US #1/2.5mm circular needles, 20 inches or longer
[always use a needle size that gives you the gauge listed below -- every knitter's gauge is unique]

Tapestry needle

31 sts/ 44 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

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

Sizing and Yardage Notes
The increases and decreases within the stitch pattern cause some biasing, resulting in a less elastic fabric and possibly necessitating the use of more than your usual number of stitches for a sock. Swatch generously before committing to a size.

Those with high insteps or voluptuous legs may wish to go up a size after the heel flap by adding an additional purl stitch in each of the four purl columns of the sock. The sample sock, worked in size M to the heel turning and size L for the leg, fits my size 11B feet with limited tugging.

The yardage of the listed yarn is a bit less than that of other sock yarns. Wind your skein into two equal halves and try on the sock after every leg pattern repeat to ensure that the sock fits over the ankle, and that you don’t run out of yarn!

Directions for the Magic Cast On can be found here.

These socks are worked from the toe up on two circular needles. If you are unfamiliar with this technique, instructions may be found here. If you prefer, the socks may be worked using the "Magic Loop" technique, or on double-point needles.

M1: Insert left needle, from front to back, under strand of yarn which runs between last stitch on left needle and first stitch on right needle; knit this stitch through its back loop.

M1p: Insert left needle, from front to back, under strand of yarn which runs between last stitch on left needle and first stitch on right needle; purl this stitch through its back loop.

Ssp: Slip next 2 sts knitwise, one at a time, to right needle. Slip them both, purlwise, back to left needle. Purl them together through their back loops.


Using the Magic Cast On method, CO 8[10, 12] stitches onto each of 2 circular needles: 16[20, 24] sts. K 1 round.

Note: Throughout this pattern, the first needle of the round will be referred to as Needle 1; the second needle will be Needle 2.

Toe Increase Round: [K2, m1, k to last 2 sts on needle, m1, k2] twice. 4 sts increased.

Repeat this round twice more. 28[32, 36] sts.

Work Rounds 1-16 of Toe Chart for your size over sts on Needle 1. For sts on Needle 2, work as follows:

Odd-Numbered Rounds 1-15: K2, m1, k to last 2 sts on needle, m1, k2.

Even-Numbered Rounds 2-16: K all sts.

When Round 16 is complete, there are 60[64, 68] sts; 30[32, 34] sts on each needle.

Set-up Round: Work Round 1 of Foot Chart for your size over sts on Needle 1; k all sts on Needle 2. Note that the squares marked in blue indicate a different number of sts for each size.

Work in pattern as established by this round until foot measures approx. 3.5 inches less than desired length to back of heel, ending with Chart Round 7.

Gusset Increase Round: Work sts on Needle 1 in pattern; k1, m1, k to last st on Needle 2, m1, k1.
Work 1 round in pattern.
Repeat these 2 rounds 10 times more, then work Gusset Increase Round once more. 84[88, 92] sts: 30[32, 34] sts on Needle 1, 54[56, 58] sts on Needle 2.
You will have just completed Chart Round 6.

Heel is worked back and forth over the 54[56, 58] sts on Needle 2.

Row 1 [RS]: Work sts on Needle 1 in pattern (Chart Round 7); k first 36[38, 40] sts of Needle 2. Turn work.
Even-numbered Rows 2-12 [WS]: Sl 1, p17[19, 21]. Turn work.
Odd-numbered Rows 3-11 [RS]: Sl 1, k17[19, 21]. Turn work.

Row 13 [RS]: Sl 1, k15[17, 19], w&t.

Row 14 [WS]: Sl 1, p13[15, 17], w&t.

Row 15 [RS]: Sl 1, k11[13, 15], w&t.

Row 16 [WS]: Sl 1, p9[11, 13], w&t.

Row 17 [RS]: Sl 1, k7[9, 11], w&t.

Row 18 [WS]: Sl 1, p5[7, 9], w&t.

Sizes M, L Only:
Row 19 [RS]: Sl 1, k-[5, 7], w&t.
Row 20 [WS]: Sl 1, p-[3, 5], w&t.

All Sizes:
Next Row [RS]: Sl 1, k5[3, 5], [k next st together with its wrap, k1] 3[4, 4] times, pick up and k 6 sts (1 st in each slipped st) along edge of flap. Turn work.

Next Row [WS]: Sl 1, p17[17, 19], [p next st together with its wrap, p1] 3[4, 4] times, pick up and p 6 sts (1 st in each slipped st) along edge of flap. Turn work.

You will now have 66[68, 70] sts on Needle 2: 30[32, 34] heel flap sts, with 18 gusset sts at each side of the flap sts.

Set-up Row 1 [RS]: [Sl1, k1] 3 times, p1[2, 3], k16, p1[2, 3], [sl1, k1] twice, sl1, ssk. Turn work.

Set-up Row 2 [WS]: Sl 1, p5, k1[2, 3], p16, k1[2, 3], p5, p2tog. Turn work.

Repeat Set-up Rows 1 and 2 once more. 62[64, 66] sts: 16 gusset sts remain at each side of the flap.

Work Rows 1-8 of Heel Chart 3 times, then work Rows 1-7; do not turn work at end of last row. 31[33, 35] sts on Needle 2; 1 gusset st remains at right of flap.

Resume working in the round as follows:
Next Round: Work Round 8 of Foot Chart over sts on Needle 1; k2tog, k5, p1[2, 3], k16, p1[2, 3], k6. 60[64, 68] sts.

Work Foot Chart over sts on both needles until leg measures 1.5 inches less than desired length, ending with Round 8.

Next Round: [K1, p1] to end.
Repeat this round for 1.5 inches.
BO all sts loosely in pattern.

Weave in ends.

Deb Barnhill lives in Nova Scotia with 2 spirited toddlers and a husband who has given up trying to understand her yarn fixation.

She blogs her brains out here.