Under the Ice socks by Madeleine Bowley

Under the Ice socks

December 2018
Fingering (14 wpi) ?
30 stitches and 44 rows = 4 inches
in stocking stitch in the round
US 2½ - 3.0 mm
372 yards (340 m)
6.5 (7.5, 8.5)" circumference, to be worn with 1" negative ease
This pattern is available for £5.00 GBP
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This pattern is available for free until 9.30 am GMT on December 4 2018. No coupon needed - just add it to your basket!

Under the Ice is a pattern for beginner sock knitters. It is aimed at knitters who can work stocking stitch in the round on circular needles, using magic loop (although magic loop instructions are included in the online tutorials). The socks are worked from the toe up, with short row toes and heels, and include some simple striping for added interest and challenge.

Each year, early December is when I realise that the November weather I had mistaken for winter was merely autumn. There are fewer and fewer eggs in the nesting boxes when I go thaw the hens’ drinker, and the birdbath that we keep filled for wild visitors is more often filled with ice than water. I smash the ice on both into a million tiny crystals which glisten on the lawn until the sun finally touches them. But in our little pond, the ice is left intact. There, it sustains life, acting as a strange blanket against the harsher cold above. Under the ice, life goes on. Dormant creatures, from dozing frogs to larvae too small to see lie in the still-wet water beneath. The very depths of the pond are the warmest, where even the coldest Yorkshire night can’t reach.

This is the time of year when I long to knit something small and practical. Somewhere, between the hubbub of nativities, carol concerts, Christmas parties and generally mounting hysteria, I find a bit of time to disappear each day and add a few rows to a simple pair of socks.

These socks are probably the simplest you can make. Knit from the toe up, the heel is constructed in exactly the same way as the toe, using short rows. This has a number of advantages, not least that you have to master only one new technique. If you struggle with the toe (and there’s no reason why you should), you can rip it out without worrying about picking up your stitches, and just start again. By the time you’ve made the pair you’ll have worked four sets of short rows and will be making socks in your sleep.

I’ve kept the rest of the socks really simple, including just a little striping for interest and pragmatism. Nothing looks cosier than off-white cuffs peeping over the top of your boots, but a blue foot is less likely to show inevitable wear and dirt. Of course, you can use whatever colours you choose, or omit the stripes altogether. I’d like to try a pair of tonal ones, next. And once you’ve made one pair and understood the structure of short-row socks, you might want to knit another pair with contrasting toes and heels instead.

Like all my ‘beginner’ patterns, this pattern is written out twice. Seasoned knitters can read the standard pattern code, whereas newer knitters will appreciate the clear instructions in plain, detailed English. A free and comprehensive series of four tutorials with photographs will become available at At Home in the Thirties during December 2018, and will remain available indefinitely.

The pattern calls for Drops Nord, which is a beautifully soft sock yarn in 45% alpaca, 30% polyamide and 25% wool. You will need two balls - one of each of your chosen colours.

Under the Ice socks are intended to be knit with 1” of negative ease. The pattern includes sizes for three finished sock circumferences: 6.5”, 7.5” and 8.5”. It therefore caters for feet with circumferences of 7.5 – 9.5”. You’ll determine the length of the foot and cuff by trying them on as you go. Once you’ve knit one pair, you can use them as a size guide for the next. Because there will be a next pair. As anyone who has a pair of hand knit socks will tell you, they’ll spoil you for anything else.

For more information, visit this blog page.