Free Big Bulky Sock Pattern

  by Nancy T. McGlynn
Big Sock

MATERIALS: Approximately 200 to 250 yards of heavy worsted weight or bulky wool of any yarn that will knit to gauge. Suggested yarns ... Montana, Montera, Tivoli Aran, Manos del Uruguay, Big Socks, Marharaja, etc.*
#6 double-pointed needles
#8 double-pointed needles
1 Marker
Blunt tapestry needle or yarn needle
* Superwash yarn or yarn that contains some acrylic can be machine washed on the gentle cycle, but pure wool socks are wonderful to wear if you don't mind handwashing them.
GAUGE: 4.5 sts. = 1" in stockinette stitch on #6 needles.
As with anything else you knit, gauge is very important. Please take time to work a gauge swatch!
SIZE: Women's Medium

LEG: On #8 needle cast-on 40 sts. Slip 12 sts. from one end of the needle onto another of the #8's and 12 sts. from the other end onto a 3rd #8. This will leave 16 sts. on the center needle. Join, being very careful not to twist the stitches. A good way to join the stitches is to insert the needle into the back of the first stitch you are going to knit (as if to knit) and pull the loose tail of the yarn through.
Give it a tug to join the needles into a "round" and then drop the tail down inside and let it hang there to mark the beginning of your rounds. Then knit the first stitch as usual through the front loop.

A word about casting on for a sock leg:
Your cast-on needs to encompass the widest part of the leg. If it is too tight, the sock will be unwearable, so a flexible cast-on is very important. If you tend towards a tight cast-on, use a needle 2 sizes larger, or cast-on over two needles held together.

Now, work your sock leg in K2, P2 ribbing for at least 8". For a slightly firmer ribbing that always looks neat, use a twisted K2, P2 ribbing:
Rnd. 1: K2, P2 around.
Rnd. 2: K2 through the back loop ( tbl ) P2 around.
Repeat these 2 rounds for 8" or desired length.*

*A woman's sock should have a leg 8 - 10" high These measurements reflect a purely personal aesthetic which tells me that the leg should be proportionately as long or longer than the foot of the sock, but you can use your own judgement, of course!.

At the beginning of the next round work across the first 10 sts. Slip 10 sts. from the end of the 3rd needle onto this "Heel Needle" and divide the remaining 20 sts. evenly on 2 needles - you'll be working these later. Now, work back and forth on the 20 sts. for the heel flap as follows:
Rnd. 1: Slip 1, Purl across.
Rnd. 2: *Slip 1, Knit 1, repeat from * across
Work these 2 rows for 2.5" ending with a RS row.
Now change to the #6 double-pointed needles!

Row 1: Slip 1, P 9, Place Marker, P2, P2 tog., P1, turn
Row 2: Slip 1, K5, SSK*, K1, turn
Row 3: Slip 1, P6, P2 tog., P1, turn
Row 4: Slip 1, K7, SSK, K1, turn
Row 5: Slip 1, P8, P2 tog., P1,turn
Row 6: Slip 1, K9, SSK, K1, turn
Row 7: Slip 1, P10, P2 tog., turn
Row 8: slip 1, K10, SSK
You should have 12 sts. on the needle.

*SSK: slip the next 2 sts. on the left needle, one at a time, as if to knit onto the right needle. Insert the left needle through the front of both stitches and knit them together.

Pick up, through the back loop of the the slipped stitches, 10 sts. onto the heel needle.

This is probably the most difficult part of knitting a sock - getting these picked up stitches to look neat. There is no magic formula, but there are a couple of tricks ... first, after you slip the first stitches of the heel flap, give the yarn a little tug so that you don't have a bunch of loose, sloppy stitches along the edge. You can pick up the bar between the instep stitches and the first row of the heel and knit it through the back to close up any holes in this area. You can even pick up 1 or 2 extra stitches on each side if you have to, just make sure that you do it on both sides and that you decrease them on the instep so that you have the number of stitches that the pattern call for when your decreases are done. Finally, you just have to satisfy your own sense of what looks right - just pull it out and pick up again. After all, it's only a few stitches!

Now knit across the 20 stitches on the 2 instep needles, placing them on 1 needle as you knit across. With the 2 free needles pick up 10 stitches along the other edge of the heel flap. Slip the last 6 sts. from the heel needle onto onto your free needle and knit them onto the end of this 3rd needle.

You will have 16 sts. on the 1st needle, 20 sts. on the 2nd, and 16 sts. on the 3rd needle. The "seam", or the beginning of the rounds is in the middle of the heel. The 20 sts. on the "middle" needle form the top of the sock. If you need to remind yourself of where the rounds begin, place a marker between the 1st and 2nd sts. on the first needle.

Rnd. 1: Knit up to the last 3 stitches on the first needle, K2 tog., K1. Knit across the 2nd ( instep) needle. On the 3rd needle, K1, SSK, knit the remaining stitches.
Rnd. 2: Knit
Repeat these 2 rounds until there are 10 sts. on the 1st and 3rd needles. There will be 20 sts. on the 2nd "instep" needle and 6 paired decreases on the 1st and 3rd needles. You have now returned to your original 40 stitches for the foot of the sock.

Work even on these 40 sts. until the foot of the sock measures 2" less than the desired length. You can try on your sock to see how much longer it needs to be - don't worry, the needles won't pull out!

Rnd. 1: Knit to the last 3 sts. on the 1st needle, K2 tog. K1. On the 2nd needle, K1, SSK; knit to the last 3 sts., K2 tog., K1. On the 3rd needle, K1, SSK, knit to the end of the needle.
Rnd. 2: Knit
Work these 2 rounds until there are a total of 16 stitches remaining - 4 sts. on the 1st and 3rd needles and 8 sts. on the 2nd needle.
Now, with the 3rd needle, knit the 4 sts. from the 1st needle. You should have the stitches arranged on 2 needles - 8 and 8 - with the yarn at the end.
Cut the yarn, leaving about a 12" tail and thread the tail through a blunt tapestry needle.
Hold the needles so that the top of the sock is facing you and the tail is coming from the first stitch at the right on the back needle.
Weave the toe as follows:
Step 1: Insert the needle through the 1st stitch on the back needle as if to knit.
Pull the yarn through, but leave the stitch on the needle.
Step 2: Insert the needle through the 1st stitch on the front needle as if to knit.
Pull the yarn through and drop the stitch off the needle.
Step 3: Insert the needle through the next stitch on the front needle as if to purl.
Pull the yarn through and leave the stitch on the needle.
Step 4: Insert the needle through the 1st stitch on the back needle (the stitch you left on the needle in Step 1) as if to purl.
Pull the yarn through and drop the stitch off the needle.
Repeat these 4 steps until all the stitches are worked and have disappeared in a magical, seamless ending to your first sock!
Now, knit another sock and, in order to make it match the first one, use the NOTES below to keep track of what you did.

Other Notes:
Here are some ideas for other socks that you could knit now that you've seen how easy sock knitting can be. Use 3 colors; 1 for the Main Color and the other 2 to make stripes on the cuff. Use 1 of the contrasting colors to knit the heel and the other to knit the toe.
Choose a simple 2-color pattern and, after knitting about 3" of ribbing for the cuff, pattern the leg of your sock.
You can carry the pattern along the top of the sock and knit the "sole" by making a checked pattern of the two colors; Row 1: K1 MC, K1 CC and Row 2: K1 CC, K1 MC. Use the contrast color (CC) to knit the heel and toe. Use all your yarn leftover from other knitting projects to make wildly striped socks.
Search for unusual yarns to use for socks - knit socks with mohair or metallic/blend cuffs, use space-dyed yarns for the unusual patterns they create when knitted, Combine finer yarns to make tweed socks, brush the insides of your wool socks to make them soft and fuzzy - the possibilities are endless!

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