(!), (?), and (ha!)

Would you be shocked if I told you that that is the humble beginnings of a sock? Is this not the strangest sock-in-progress picture you’ve ever seen?

Of all the socks I mentioned in my review of Favorite Socks, the Hidden Passion socks stood out as the most interesting ones.

Why? If shadow knitting wasn’t enough, these socks are also unique with respect to construction. Since there’s striping across the instep, but none at the sole, either the instep has to be worked flat, or seamless intarsia in the round must be used.

Leaving intarsia in the round to Priscilla Gibson-Roberts’ Eastern European Footlets in the same book, the designer Jaya Srikrishnan took the following approach:

(1) Cast-on the instep stitches; (2) work the shadow knitting motif flat to the toe; (3) short-row toe; (4) work the sole of the sock flat, attaching it to the instep along the way; (5) knit traditional heel-flap heel, upside down (!); (6) pick up stitches along cast-on and join in the round, work gussets; (7) complete top of sock in the round, as usual.

Clever, isn’t it? You know I’m all about the clever :). The only deviation so far is the initial cast-on: the designer suggests the knitted cast-on, but I’ve done the provisional. Both me and my grandma are blessed (?) with high arches and high insteps, and I can’t imagine a true cast-on being comfortable at the foot’s widest point.

As for my other shadow knitting project… on the one hand, it’s looking quite intriguing. On the other, something about it isn’t jiving with me. I think I’d be wise to set it aside for a little while, let it ferment and marinate in my brain. Clear insight will surely follow (ha!).


55 thoughts on “(!), (?), and (ha!)

  1. Ashley

    I’m first!

    Love the socks, very very clever indeed. Seems like the working of a smart mind determined to get some shadow knit socks off the needles come hell or high water! Can’t wait to see them finished soon!

  2. Ruth

    Nice arrows! I think I would have been too lazy to follow your description without them. That is a clever way to construct a sock — and I agree that the provisional cast-on was the way to go.

  3. Lisa

    All right, now you’re making me want to try that sock. As for the other shadow knitting project — you know, it just might be perfect if you reverse the colors. Just a thought.

  4. Sarah

    Might the second project be a little too southwestern feeling for you? In those colors it has a bit of a navajo thing going on.

  5. Cirilia

    Hi! I am so thrilled with you lately, you’ve helped me without even knowing it. I pillaged that Lorna’s Laces eBay store, you’re correct, she is amazing especially for those of us in Massachusetts.

    Additionally, I’m taking a quantitative research class at the moment and having to design a research project. The least obtrusive method is content analysis (I’m in cultural studies, with an emphasis on consumption). I’ve decided to test some theories put forth by a man named Colin Campell about what he calls ‘craft consumption’. Anyhow, you are one of the most thoughtful shoppers out there so I’ll be culling your archives for examples, with your blessing? I haven’t been sure about what permissions I should aquire since this is only an exercise and will not be published and a blog is public. Hm…thoughts?

  6. Lynn


    That is the coolest thing. You know it’s well designed when you can follow what they are explaining and think, ‘Well hell..that makes sense!’. Would I ever get there on my own, nope. 🙂

  7. Sarah

    That is quite a different method of sock construction to me. I wonder how the finished sock will feel and wear. I am also curious to how you will like knitting the socks in all these directions.

  8. Sally

    Thank you for the “destructions”. I would have NEVER knitted this sock EVER-not even thought about knitting it. Thank you.

  9. Ühltje

    Haha, You are not making this for the finished result at all, are you? You just love the way, the construction of the sock is so different.

  10. Tana

    Okay, I have a pair of socks with shadow knitting on them almost exactly like the one in the picture…and I knit them entirely in the round…and truth be told, it doesnt’ really matter that the top of the foot is garter and the bottom is stockinette…they fit just fine and the shadow knitting part is really cool. I think that pattern is making a lot of trouble for nothing!

  11. TracyKM

    Similiar to how you can do a sock on the knitting machine.

    But why not start at the very top, divide at the instep, work like you say, then graft the top of the heel flap to the back of the ankle?

    I’m going to check out that heel flap instructions. There’s also some at mimknits.com/wordpress. In “Sensational SOcks” by Sharlene Schurch she does a toe up heel flap but it is totally different than the traditional one. I’m not liking the short row heel, even after adding a couple more short rows to the center back of the heel. I could use more sts if I knit them by hand, but that doesn’t work on the knitting machine. I think it’s fabulous that there are so many ‘right’ ways to make a ‘simple’ sock!

  12. Tana

    Okay, I went and looked at my “shadow socks” and they do have the shadow part on the top of the foot, but the bottom of the foot is striped stockinette, not solid. So they are a bit different…but really cool looking from the top. They also don’t have that solid band around the heel – the pattern just continues from the cuff down the top of the foot.

    Happy knitting!

  13. Toby

    Thank you for that break down! I was skimming the instructions for these socks on Monday and was a bit baffled. They’re on my future projects list so I didn’t worry much, but now that I’ve seen your diagram they’ll probably get bumped up the list.

  14. Jaya

    Hi there,

    I’m glad you like my socks! It is possible to knit these w/o the construction I developed but this construction is useful for avoiding intarsia in the round or even knitting a resoleable sock. And, as to why I did it this way – because I could. I like to play with construction and technique and see what I can create.


  15. Toby

    Delurking twice in the same post! I know you are not necessarily a fan of the multi-colored Lorna’s Laces, but I thought I would share that I just stumbled across Lorna’s Laces for 50% off at Knit Happens (www.knithappens.net). Shepherd Sock and some other LL yarns. My credit card got hurt a bit!

  16. Maritza

    That is some inspired, clever construction there! I am intrigued – intrigued enough to maybe knit a pair of my own. (I have to get this book. I keep thinking about it now.)

  17. mary lou

    Dear Grumperina,

    You are truly amazing! I am in awe of how your brilliant mind works and how your clever fingers fly through your beautiful knitting! Thank you for all your directions and destructions…I am learning alot as I read your posts. These latest socks are very intriguing…can’t wait to see the finished pair.

    Blogless Mary Lou

  18. Reve

    wow. i could barely get my head around that description. but learning that technique sounds fun. can’t wait to see them and the other project.

  19. Yasmin

    You are always an inspiration to me. You always keep knitting interesting and challenging. I cannot wait to see the progress.

  20. Kim

    Wow, that is incredible designing. I probably would opt for provisional cast-on instead of picking up stitches, too, but I’d be confident now that you’ve led the way!

  21. Mrs MJW

    I really really like these socks. I just had to throw an old pair away that looked almost exactly like this. (not knit by me) Nice job once again!

  22. GailB

    The shadow knitting is very interesting. I love the complexity of the sock!

    The colors for the sweater are the school colors for my alma mater, VPI. Think fall leaves. Or welcome relief from cadet gray!

  23. Angie

    Too clever by half. I love shadow knitting. The DNA scarf was a hoot and my friend knit along with the piano keyboard- I’m so making that.

    But this sock construction is boggling. I’m still trying to get used to toe up/toe down.

  24. Juls

    the sock is genius. Have to agree with you on the pillow project–something about the color dominance isn’t highling the wonderful color combo as much as you’d expect. Maybe needs to be reversed?

  25. Ronni

    I love reading your blog. I always find some new fascinating thing to add to the must knit/read/do list. These socks are fantastic. Jaya is a clever lady. They’re totally going on the must make list. Once I get a bit better at socks and small needles, and have made a top down sock I think. It might be a good idea to have made a heel-flap heel right way round first… I’m doing a shadow knit thiny right now too. I love that optical illusion aspect.

  26. Christene / Sheepspyjamas

    Interestingly, I am partway through a pair of “unvented” socks with nearly identical construction, although quite different styling/design. I started off trying out circular intarsia, ripped and ended up with a similar construction to that you describe (thinking, of course, that I had stumbled across a quite interesting and original idea *grin*), and found it to be much easier to work… That project is actually in time out right now, but someday I might be able to offer a picture…

  27. Charli

    Hi Kathy,

    I love your blog. (I may have mentioned that to you before.

    I would love to become a sock knitter, but I’m having a little trouble getting into it. Fist, I bought lots of sock yarn — 2 colorways of basic Regia and some beautiful Koigu and some Opal. Yes, I stocked up because I had decided to become a sock and shawl knitter (for economic reasons). The women in the yarn store told me to use Wendy’s toe up pattern (I’m not sure if they do this because Wendy is very good friends with that store if they really think it’s the best way to go.)

    So I began. With the very basic Regia yarn because I didn’t want to ruin the good stuff with my first pair. I have now knit the first sock about 3 times and I just don’t like it. Each time it’s something new I don’t like.

    In another LYS a women told me that she didn’t think toe up patterns ever worked very well.

    So…. this is my very long-winded way of asking, do you have any suggestions on a pattern or book to start with?

    Thanks so much for your blog, I get many hours of enjoyment (and info!) from it.



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