Albanian Socks: Colored Cross Socks

Happy Sock Monday! Enjoy this excerpt from Mimi Seyferth’s eBook PieceWork Presents 5 Traditional Albanian Socks to Knit: A Travel Memoir in Stitches. As Mimi travels the globe, she keeps an eye out for knitted objects and the fascinating stories behind them.

The original socks (shown below) that inspired the project socks were the most expensive socks for sale in the Gjirokastra gift shop where I purchased them. According to the shopkeeper, the higher price was attributable to the fine quality of the heavy wool yarn used to knit the socks; most of the other socks for sale in the shop had been knitted from cotton or synthetic blends.

Albanian Socks

Mimi Seyferth purchased the original pair of socks in a gift shop in Gjirokastra, Albania. They were the most expensive socks for sale in the gift shop. According to the shopkeeper, the high price was attributable to the fine quality of the heavy wool yarn used to knit them. Photos by Joe Coca.

The heavy yarn used in traditional Albanian socks created sturdy footwear. The traditional Albanian shoe—the opinga—was created from a single rectangular piece of leather, sometimes boarskin, which was formed to the foot like a moccasin and tied with leather or wool strips. In the absence of sturdy socks, such shoes would have provided little protection to the wearer’s feet. Socks made with the heavy yarn also could be worn indoors without shoes.

Albanian Socks

Mimi Seyferth’s project socks mimic the original with a combination of Aran-weight yarn and small needle size to produce a very dense fabric suitable for slipper socks to be worn without shoes.

Like the Red Diamond and Butrint Beige Textured Socks in this eBook, the Colored Cross Socks feature a peasant, or inserted, heel. I re-created that design by knitting an extra row with scrap yarn on the side of the sock where the heel was to be inserted. Then, when the body of the sock was complete, I took out the scrap yarn, placed the live stitches on each side on separate needles, and resumed knitting the heel in the round. The regular decreases at both ends of each side gave the heel its characteristic triangular shape.

—Mimi Seyferth


To get the pattern or read more about Mimi’s adventures, get a copy of Mimi Seyferth’s eBook PieceWork Presents 5 Traditional Albanian Socks to Knit: A Travel Memoir in Stitches.


Learn more about knitting socks from PieceWork!

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