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Contorto Socks

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One of my favourite ways of showcasing stitch patterns is to knit them into socks; by the time you have got to grips with the stitch pattern you are ready to tackle the heel, so socks always have something interesting going on, even if the pattern is the same throughout the sock. I found this stitch pattern in a stitch dictionary while looking for something else entirely and couldn't get it out of my head! I've named the socks ‘Contorto’, which is Italian for twisted, after the beautiful twisted cables in the stitch pattern.

The Contorto socks are knitted from the toe up and use a gusset and heel flap construction, shaped with short rows, and with a slipped stitch pattern on the heel flap for reinforcement. The gusset length is affected by your row/round gauge, so a table of gauge-dependent lengths is included to help you achieve the perfect fit.

The following options are provided in the pattern:
  • The Contorto pattern on top of the foot and round the leg, with either cabled or 2 x 2 rib for the cuff
  • The Contorto pattern on the top of the foot and the front of the leg only, finished with 2 x 2 rib for the cuff
  • Charts to create either fully matching-socks, or mirrored, fraternal socks
The pattern is needle-neutral and the socks can be knitted using DPNs, short circulars, or long circulars using the magic loop technique.

Sizes
S (M, L, XL)

Finished sock foot circumferences: 15.5 (19, 23, 26.5) cm [6.25 (7.75, 9, 10.5) in] designed to fit with 2.5 cm [1 in] negative ease. These are the sizes of the finished socks; for the best fit, choose a size that is approximately 2.5 cm [1 in] smaller than your foot circumference.

Finished sock leg circumferences:
  • Fully-cabled: 15 (19, 22.5, 26.5) cm \[6 (7.5, 9, 10.5) in]
  • Simplified: 15.5 (19, 23, 26.5) cm \[6.25 (7.75, 9, 10.5) in]
The stitch counts for the cabled portions are modified so that the cabled panels are the same width as the stocking stitch sole, this results in the socks fitting the same as a regular stocking stitch socks with a stitch count of 52 (64, 76, 88) sts.

Tension
33 sts x 48 rnds = 10 cm \[4 in] in stocking stitch worked in the rnd on 2.5 mm (US 1.5) needles, or size needed to obtain correct gauge.

32 sts = 7.5 cm \[2.95 in] in Contorto stitch worked in the rnd on 2.5 mm (US 1.5) needles, or size needed to obtain correct gauge.

Notes are included to adapt the pattern to your rnd gauge.

Yarn
Dedicated 4 ply sock yarn in the following amounts:
  • Fully-cabled version: 260 (390, 550, 740) m \[290 (430, 610, 810) yds]
  • Simplified leg version: 220 (330, 460, 620) m \[250 (370, 510, 680) yds]
Note that these numbers are for guidance only as the lengths of both the legs and the feet are variable to fit. See pattern notes for further guidance on yarn choice.

Needles
  • 2.5 mm DPNs
  • or a 2.5 mm circular needle at least 80 cm (32 in) in length
  • or a 2.5 mm 20 cm (9 in) circular needle
Notions
  • Stitch markers x 4
  • Cable needle
  • Tapestry needle
Pattern notes
The instructions are for the smallest size, with larger sizes in parentheses: S (M, L, XL).

If you want to ensure you do not run out of yarn for the second sock, first wind the skein into two balls, each weighing 50 g, and stop knitting your first sock when your first ball is about to run out.

The socks shown are:
  • Red socks: knitted in Debbie Bliss Botany Lace (4 ply; 410 m \[447 yds] per 100 g skein; 100% merino wool) in the colourway Cadiz (3002) and the medium size for a UK women’s size 7 foot (foot length 25 cm [9.75 in]). The sample socks used 361 m \[394 yds] of yarn. The sample is fully-cabled with cabled rib, and uses the left sock charts for both socks.
  • Lilac socks: knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4-ply (4 ply; 400 m \[436 yds] per 100 g ball; 75% wool, 25% nylon) in the colourway Violet (731) and the medium size for a UK women’s size 10 foot (foot length 27.5 cm \[10.75 in]. The sample socks used 296 m \[323 yds] of yarn. The sample uses the simplified leg, and the cables are mirrored between the two socks.
I would recommend using a dedicated sock yarn for these socks, either a wool/nylon blend or a high-twist wool yarn.

You may find working the cables using a full-length cable needle a little fiddly; you may wish to try using a bulb pin or lever-back stitch marker as a cable needle instead.

Links to the following resources are given at the end of the pattern:
  • Judy's Magic cast-on
  • Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off
  • Wrap and turn
  • Choosing what size socks to knit
This pattern was first published in Knit Now magazine, issue 84.

This pattern was tech edited by Jo Torr.

Note that the version included in Knit Now only features sizes S (M, L).
You will get a PDF (2MB) file

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