Reinventing the Sock: Free-Sole!

Half-Stranded Socks
by Anna Zilboorg

Just when I think there's nothing earth-shatteringly new in knitting, something pops up. Sock knitting expert Anna Zilboorg has figured out how to knit socks with replaceable soles.

Her method is advanced, but worth it. And as Anna says, "This would be a lot of bother if it weren't a lot of fun."

The instep of the sock, or "top" of the sock—in the Half-Stranded Socks at right, the colorwork portion—is knitted first. When the instep is completed, the sole of the sock is knitted, including the heel and gusset. The sole is attached as you knit it; in the photo at right, the sole is knitted on to the colored band that runs around the foot and up the leg of the sock.

Here's what Anna has to say about her socks:

Half-Stranded Socks

The colorwork pattern marches up the front and back of the leg to the cuff. For fun, I reversed the colors on the second sock.

This peculiar sock construction enables a stranded color pattern to be worked on the instep alone, which makes the sock fit your normal shoe size. Furthermore, it allows any portion of the sole to be removed and reknitted. If a hole develops, snip a row of yarn on the sole anywhere between the heel turn and the end of toe, then ravel the sole as far as necessary. Replace the sole by picking up stitches and joining them to the instep in the same manner as originally worked, then graft the live stitches at the snipped row.

—Anna Zilboorg

The sole being knitted onto
the instep
The gusset

I find Anna's technique fascinating. I watched the video and here's a quick run-down on how the sole is connected to the instep.

Joining the Sole to the Insole
The first and last stitch of each row of the sole is slipped. When you get to the end of a row, pick up a stitch from instep, slip it back to the left hand needle, and knit it and the last stitch (the slipped stitch) from the sole together. (See photo at left.)

When you get to the gusset, you pick up stitches on the instep without knitting them together with the sole stitches, thereby increasing a stitch on each side, which creates the gusset increases. (See photo at bottom left.)

Then you get to the heel turn, but for that, you'll have to get the video!

The great thing about this knitting technique is that you can use it to join any two pieces of knitting. You just have to remember to slip the appropriate stitches. I love a versatile technique, don't you?

You can download Knit Free-Sole Socks like I did, or get the DVD. Whichever you choose, you won't be sorry. We already knew that Anna was brilliant, but the idea of free-sole socks really takes the cake!


P.S. What do you think of free-sole socks? Leave a comment and let us know!

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