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Dirt: Basic Toe-up knit sock

OK, so calling it Dirt wasn't the nicest name ever, but once I started using it, well it kind of stuck like mud. Oh, I kill me!!!! To quote my son, "LAWL!!"

This is not the first sock I've ever knit, not by a long shot, but it's the first knitted sock pattern that I've ever put out to the universe. It is done toe-up because you'll have to pay me a lot of money to knit or crochet any sock from the top down. The thought of doing it just makes me cringe. I only had a half a skein of the yarn I chose, which is why toe-up was the one and only design choice, anyway. When you work from the toe up, you don't have to worry about not having enough yarn. Just get that foot out of the way.

This pattern is very basic, with nothing fancy added. We all have our favourite master patterns for things, and for knitted socks, this is mine. I put a moss stitch on the front needle just to break up the striping of the yarn. Moss stitch is probably one of my favourite knit stitch patterns to do because although fairly simple and mindless, it adds a nice organic, rustic texture to just about everything. Perfect for a sock named Dirt:)

This pattern utilizes a few things that not all knitters may be familiar with. The first is that it is written with Magic Loop Knitting in mind. If you aren't familiar with that, go here to the Youtube search results, pick a video, and watch. The second thing that this sock utilizes is Judy's Magic Cast On, which is the only cast-on technique I use for knitting toe-up socks, since I first saw it at Cat Bordhi, a knitting goddess that many of us worship and admire, demonstrates it here. The third technique that my master pattern uses is Elizabeth Zimmerman's Sewn Bind Off. The cast on and bind off that I use here are the two things that keep me knitting socks instead of crocheting 100% of them, because I loathe grafting to the nth degree and it is no fun to sweat and work on a lovely pair of socks that make your feet look absolutely kissable, only to find that your bind off is so $&%$*$ tight, despite doing everything possible to keep it loose, that you still can't get your foot in the bloody thing.

Needle: 3.0mm steel, 100 cm circular needles. This is a UK Size "11" but according to my needle conversion chart, there is no US equivalent. I always deal strictly in mm and not in any national sizing system because I find I get more variety that way.
Gauge/Tension: 7 sts/1"
Yarn: roughly half a ball of Bernat Sox in "Desert Storm" will produce up to a US Women's 9 sock with a 3" cuff
Split ring markers
Darning needle

Take the measurement around the ball of your foot and the length of your foot. They will probably be very close, if not the same. Using the gauge number, calculate how many stitches you will need to go comfortable around the ball of your foot, minus about 1/2 to 3/4" for negative ease. This allows your sock to have some stretch. If you want more negative ease, then factor that into your calculation. I tend to prefer negative ease in the width, but not in the length.

I will use my numbers to illustrate how to make this sock, but unless you have a size 8-9 foot, you will want to put other numbers in there.


Using Judy's Magic Cast On, cast 16 stitches onto both needles. Using the Magic Loop method (or your preferred method, this pattern is pretty simple so it can be shifted around on two circulars, or double-pointed needles) work the first round even. 32 sts. After that, begin the increase sequence:

Round One: K1, kf/b, knit across the first needle to the last two sts, k f/b, k1. Repeat this on the second needle.
Round Two: Work even on both needles.

Repeat these two rounds until you have 28 sts on both needles for a total of 56 sts, or whatever your number is. This is the measurement around the ball of the foot. Using my gauge, this works out to 8" around.

Now work the first needle in Moss Stitch Pattern and work the second needle in Stockinette Stitch. The first needle is the instep and the second needle is the sole.

Moss Stitch, worked over even number of sts:
Row One: *k1, p1, repeat to end of row.
Row Two: *p1, k1, repeat to end of row.

Work like this until sock measures about 3" less than length of foot. Begin gusset incs:

Round One: work needle one even in moss st as per normal, work needle two as follows; k1, k f/b, knit to last two sts, k f/b, k1.
Round Two: work even on both needles.
Repeat these two rounds until you have increased 5 sts on each side. 10 sts increased, 28 sts on needle one, 38 on needle two.

Turn heel:
Begin round by working needle one as per normal, knit across needle two, until you have 11 sts left (the total amount of sts inc'd plus 1). Ssk, turn, sl 1, p across to 11 sts left on other side, p2tog, turn.
Next row: still working on needle two, sl 1, work across to the gap that has been created. Ssk, using the sts on either side of the gap, turn, sl 1, p across to gap, p2tog using the sts on either side of the gap and turn.

Work like this until there are no more sts to be worked and upon finishing, your needles come to the "home" position. You will find that you have also shaped the ankle this way, because there will now be 18 sts on needle two instead of 28. I learned a variation of this gusset/heel from Colin, a lovely knitter who runs a sock-knitting list. I prefer a somewhat snug heel. If you want a more generous heel then simply do gusset increases to 10 sts on either side instead of 5, and when you knit and purl those first two short rows, do not add the total of your increases plus one, simply add the amount on each side plus one (which is still going to be 11 anyway, HA!!!) Both ways make a square heel, but the calculation that I used simply produces a narrower one. From time to time if my focus wavers, I find that I am a stitch or two off when I am done. Teenagers have that effect on me. This is such a forgiving pattern that if you screw up, just k2tog or ssk to get the number that you need on needle two. It won't be obvious, it won't wreck anything, and there is no need to pull your hair out trying to fix things. The fudge factor is pretty good.

Continue working needle one in pattern as established, and work the rear needle in k3, p3 ribbing. I happen to like carrying a pattern all the way up the sock, but some people prefer to work just ribbing. Do whatever you want, it's your sock:) Sadly, I have no special magic method for getting rid of that nasty little hole on either side of your gusset. I usually end up working one round and then taking a crochet hook and picking up a stitch below each hole on the next round and knitting it together with the next stitch to be worked. Sometimes it works for me and sometimes those lovely little holes persist in existing - a good argument for lacy socks.

Work until your sock is as long as you like it, and then cut off a long length of yarn and use the sewn bind off to finish off your sock. You will love this bind off, I promise. Weave in your loose ends and enjoy your socks!!!

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