Ugly Duckling Socks
NOTE: an updated version has been published, which fixes the problem with the toe instructions.
This pattern is designed to make use of variegated yarns that are too busy, too vibrant, or just plain ugly.
Sometimes, for whatever reason (it’s on sale, it looks great in the hank) we buy yarns, take them home, and, when we swatch them, they disappoint us. There are a lot of sock patterns with stitch patterns designed to minimize pooling, or to better show off the colors of a variegated yarn. Sometimes even those are not enough.
I picked up sale yarn at my LYS, liking some of the colors in it, and when I swatched it, my only thought was “Yuck. What was I thinking?”. So I decided it might be better if I mixed it with a contrasting solid (black). It surprised me: it wasn’t hideous any more. It showed off the colors better. It was actually… dare I say? … pretty.
Sometimes it pays to take a chance on the ugly duckling.
This is a very simple mosaic pattern, easy to use even by somebody who has no experience with color work whatsoever. Mosaic is one of the great, underappreciated color-work techniques. It looks like a lot of work, but only one color is worked at a time, and the pattern is created simply by slipping stitches. It knits up as fast as plain stockinette.
The pattern uses a chart, but also has written instructions for the color pattern. The principles and how-tos of mosaic knitting are explained in the pattern. The size can be altered by changing needle size, or by increasing or decreasing the number of pattern repeats used. Step-by-step instructions for the short-row heel are given, although a flap heel can easily be substituted.
Some people have been bothered by the fact that, when making the sock, the sole appears to be longer than the top of the sock. This is not an actual difference in size - it only reflects the difference in stretchiness between the mosaic pattern and plain stockinette, and it doesn’t really matter.
Anatomically speaking, the sole of the foot is actually wider than the dorsum of the foot. Also, at least on me, the distance (along the top of my foot) from my toes to the point at which my leg starts is about 2 cm shorter than the distance (along the bottom of my foot) from my toes to where the sock heel starts (this can easily be seen in the first photograph). I find that a slightly longer sole fits me much better, and doesn’t give me any extra bunched up sock fabric on top of my foot, which is a problem I have with some commercial socks. Look at your own foot, and mimic what your foot does when walking: your toes contract and flex towards the top of your foot, and the sole extends, which elongates the sole. Don’t you want a sock that stretches a little more in the sole? Also after wearing and washing a few times, it becomes unnoticeable, because the top stretches a little, and the bottom shrinks a little, and they end up matching up. It is really only an aesthetic issue with the unworn sock.
As with all of my patterns, If you want to print off this pattern and give it to someone else without asking me first, that is fine with me (if you sell someone this free pattern, though, I would be mad that you’d rip someone off like that). I also believe that you have the right to sell any item that you make from this pattern, so if you make these socks and want to sell them, it’s your hard work - please go ahead and do so. My ego demands that you not claim this pattern as your own, and that you give me a little credit somewhere.