Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New (Old) Sock Pattern: the Gansey Sock

This is a sock I designed years ago (in the spring of 2009,) for a now-defunct magazine. I've always loved it, and it's time to bring it back to life.

Traditional gansey pattern stitches make for an attractive, interesting to knit, but not too challenging sock pattern. Suitable for both men and women, in finished sizes Adult XS to XL (foot circumference 7 to 8.5 inches).

I do love the traditional patterning of a gansey, but I'm not always looking for a full sweater project.

This sock design takes a number of key gansey design elements. The patterning is often confined to the yoke area: to conserve yarn, to improve the fit, to make it a bit warmer, and to make future patching as simple as possible. Plain fabric uses less yarn than patterned areas, of course. The patterning improves the fit of the sweater in the yoke area by tightening up the fabric and making it a bit denser , warmer and harder-wearing. And future patching in key areas of wear - the lower parts of the body and the sleeves - is easy because they're worked plain which makes them easy to darn or reknit. And since these sweaters are designed to last, you can also make alterations - lengthening the sleeves for another wearer, for example, by unravelling and just knitting a bit further. And so with the sock, I've left plain the areas that are likely to wear out - the toe and lower part of heel. I have left the patterning on the back of the heel so that it will wear a bit better; pattern stitches are as good as heel stitch in this context. And I've the pattern stitches on the leg keep it nice and snug so it stays up.

I've used a classic regional combination of patterns - a typical Filey cables-and-steps combo. The designs were often very regional, handed down from knitter to knitter verbally, and didn't travel very far, so I stuck with a single region's patterning. I liked the "steps" pattern, since socks are for walking, after all. The reverse stocking stitch ridges are traditionally used to provide some definition to the patterning - I've used them here also as a convenient place to fudge the stitch numbers so that I was able to have my (k2, p2) ribbing with seam work out nicely, independent of the number of stitches required for the patterned area.

Although they're worked in the round, Ganseys often have faux-seams in seed or reverse stocking stitch, which flow up into the classic underarm gusset. The underarm gusset is there to improve the fit of what should otherwise be a fairly snug sweater - as with the gusset of a band-heel, top down sock. I replicated a seam which runs down both sides of the sock and splits - just as with an underarm gusset - to run down the side of the heel and the foot, all the way to the toe.

Pattern is written for DPNs, Magic Loop or 2 circulars. Available on Ravelry and Patternfish. (Note: Patternfish link might not yet be active.)

Thanks again to camera-whiz Claude La Rue who shows up my lame photography skills in the best way possible.

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