June is the pride month. But public life is still somewhat limited and there won’t be any parades here in Germany in the foreseeable future. I felt like focusing my energies inward and created a sock pattern with some scrap yarns from my recent mushroom projects.
For those who might not know it, “love is love” is a very popular slogan in the LGBT+ community (together with “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” and quite a couple of others). Usually, there’s a rainbow flag somewhere in between.
Much as I like it as a symbol, I don’t actually like wearing rainbow-themed clothes. It’s a flag I gladly wave around but wearing it…hm. So, I went for some different colors. Call it coincidence or subconsciousness, but the colors for these socks seem like quite a statement which is why I love them all the more.
Note: If you enjoy knitting intarsia in the round, also check out my cherry blossom socks.
I do have to admit, that the design for these socks brought me to the brink of madness. I kind of love intarsia, but let me tell you: intarsia in the round on 2.00 mm needles (size 0) can drive you nuts. Once you get the hang of the technique, it’s not particularly difficult. You are basically alternate between knitting the wrong and right side and dragging spare yarn along. But me oh my is it easy to mess stitches up (note: make sure to read my tutorial on advanced intarsia knitting if you are struggling yourself).
I think I did the intarsia section 6 times and the fair isle section 5 times until I was mildly satisfied. I am still not 100% okay with it, but for the sake of my sanity alone, I stopped. I consider myself a very good knitter who knows how to keep an even tension. Getting stitches right in the intarsia section was diiiiiifficult to say the least.
My idea was, that there is a little band of hearts trailing down. I probably should have continued the brown band further down the instep, but I was worried it will look messy (both in terms of stitch definition and the instep being a section where everything is stretched quite a bit more) and stopped. Shoes will cover it anyway.
In case you might wonder about the chart further below: It reads “love is” on both sides the sock. That way, I wanted to create a continuous “love is love is love is love…”. If you’d stop at “love is love”, you’d see a “love love” from a certain angle and I though that makes little sense.
Note: Make sure to check out my tutorial on how to knit socks for beginners.
The knitting pattern
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I have a men’s EU shoe size 42 (8.5 US)and I’ll be sharing my notes here. I’m sure proficient knitters will be able to adjust it to their shoe size. If there’s enough interest I’ll put together (so definitely comment) detailed instructions for other shoe sizes. Here’s how to figure out how many stitches you need to cast on for socks until hen.
- Together I used 520 yards of the Wollmeise pure yarn in three colors: Gianduia (yarn c), Tulpe (yarn b), Good Morning (yarn a). So, one skein of each is more than enough. I didn’t measure them before but it’s probably around (400,60,60). It’s probably better to use a true sock yarn, but as I said, I still had these scraps.
- Double-pointed needles size 0 (2.00mm) and a circular needle 2.25 mm. Frequent readers probably already know that I am a huge fan of the Knitters Pride Karbonz because they are the only ones that don’t end up crooked after 5 minutes.
- A tapestry needle (both to finish and for the embroidery) and scissors.
- Cast on 85 stitches with the longtail cast on alternating 2 knit and 2 purl stitches on the 2.00mm needles (here’s how to cast on purlwise, in case you don’t know how to do this.
- Begin by slipping one stitch to the last needle, and cast off the second stitch over the first for an invisible join
- Round 1-16: *ktbl, p* (so basically a semi-twisted rib stitch) in the red yarn
- Round 17-22: knit across in yarn a
- Round 23-25: switch to yarn c and continue in stockinette stitch
Important note: On the second round of each color change, lift the right leg of the stitch one row below the first stitch (should be a different color) onto the left needle (similar to a KRL) and knit it together with the actual first stitch. That’s a quasi joggless way to join in a new yarn in the round. Do
- Round 26-28: switch to yarn a and knit in st st
- Round 29-31: switch to yarn c and knit in st st
After knitting those 3 stripes, it’s time to start the fair isle section according to the chart (starting from the top!!). Here it gets a bit tricky that’s why I’ll add a couple of notes from my experience here.
- I changed to bigger needles for this section as this was the only way I could meet the same gauge. How much of a difference it really is, probably depends on your personal knitting style. For me, going up one size to 2.25 mm needles was enough.
- I also switched to traveling magic loop for this section, even though I am not the biggest fan of circular needles at all. Why? Well, it’s very tough to keep the floats in the correct length when switching needles. I find it’s much better to keep an even tension across all stitches on one needle.
- Pay extra attention to stretching your knitted stitches (so the ones on the right needle). Don’t bunch them together like you probably usually do. Stretch them out as far as you’ll end up stretching the stockinette stitch when wearing (so 5-10% negative ease). Otherwise, your floats won’t be long enough and this section will form a bottleneck. You don’t want that.
- Cross yarns every 3 stitches to avoid overly long floats.
- Depending on your personal preferences, you can move the letters around as well, so they start at a different position (maybe you want the “Love” to be fully seen from the front, etc). Naturally, you could also add your own message here.
- Round 43-44: knit across
- Round 45-47: Change to yarn a and back to needles size 2.00 and knit across
- Round 48-50: Change to yarn c and knit across
At this point, I recommend slipping your stitches back to the circular needles and try on your socks. They should comfortably hug your mid-calves. In my first attempt, my floats were too short and my knitting was too tight to get the socks past my heels. If that’s the case, unravel the section and try again with more ease, bigger floats or bigger needles.
If you are set, then it’s time to start the intarsia section. Just follow the chart. Depending on how strong your calves are, you might or might not add some decreases here. I have rather skinny legs, so I felt I don’t need them.
Let’s talk about knitting the intarsia panels itself:
- I knit the intarsia by knitting the right and wrong side. When I’ve got time I’ll shoot a video with my exact technique, for now, this tutorial should help you as well.
- The two upper “lobes” of the heart are a combination of intarsia and fair isle knitting. So, the first row is a pure fair isle row. Then I would knit across all stitches until I reached the join again, cross yarns, knit the other way until the next join, knit 5 stitches in color a while carrying color c, knit 6 stitches in orange while carrying color a, knit 5 stitches and turn…etc.
This is a bit tricky and depending on your intarsia experience, you may end up re-doing it. Definitely make sure to cross the yarns as orderly and tug the tails.
- When the heart starts to narrow down, you will have to slip the stitches you won’t knit in color a. The problem: You can really do it with yarn c because those are stitches two rows down that haven’t been knit yet. I didn’t slip stitches there and just knitted across. The right side of the hearts will look a bit different and rounder. If that’s something that bothered you, you have to change to decreasing by two stitches every two rows and not a 1×1 stair.
- In the brown intarsia sections, I ended up reinforcing the joints with a separate thread at the end. I couldn’t get these small panels to close up properly. I picked up a tapestry needle and sort of thread it through the purl pumps a bit like with a mattress stitch.
Heel & Gusset:
I am using a standard heel-flap and gusset heel for this sock. Nothing special other than knitting the heel-flap in yarn a. You could basically add whatever heel you like best. For more detailed instruction of this particular heel, you can read my standard sock pattern here.
I knit the heel flap with 40 stitches. Pay extra attention when placing the hearts (the intarsia section). You’ll want it in the middle and right above your ankles. So, that’s two stitches before and after the last intarsia section (i marked the place with a green square in the chart)
For this pattern, I knit a reinforced heel. So, *sl1,k* on the right side and *sl1,p* on the wrong side.
I changed back to yarn c for turning the heel and then switched back to yarn a when it was time to start the decreases. I didn’t do anything fancy for the toe box, though.
Just <k2tog, k2, SSK> on each side of the sock every two rows until there were only 40 stitches left. Then I decreased every round until there were only 20 stitches left and finished with a Kitchener Stitch. Again, I’m describing it here in my standard sock pattern in greater detail. You may add the toe technique of your choice as well.
Finishing up the socks
You will have an abysmal amount of loose tails hanging out on the wrong side of your socks. So, definitely find yourself a good spot with good lighting to weave in all the tails. I used a sharp-pointed tapestry needle for that, as I feel it’s much easier and faster to split the tails for a secure grip. Here’s how I weave in the ends.
Pay extra attention at the beginning of each intarsia section. If you find a little gap there, you can close it by weaving in the tail through the adjacent stitches and pulling gently (!).
Usually, I am not a big fan of blocking socks, but in this case, you’ll find that it’s worth your while to even out the intarsia and fair isle sections. Mine looked quite a bit better afterward. I was quite a bit worried when I looked the the raw finish.